Going Vegan? – Undertaking a 30 Day Challenge

July 3, 2011 § 29 Comments

As I’ve mentioned, I’m reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver’s words and widsom have been weighing heavily on my mind as I consider my usual shopping patterns. Never before had I really thought about the produce at the grocery store – juicy, ripe fruit mid-winter probably should have been a warning sign but to be honest I never gave it much thought. The more I read, the more concerned I am. This isn’t only about the environment. I’m not a real green person if we’re being honest. Sure I recycle, but that’s about the extent of it. And I don’t stress out too much when I’m handed a plastic to-go cup. For me the bigger issue is the idea of being neighborly. I long to live in a place where I know my neighbors and care about their well being. This is as much my fault as modern society’s that I do not have that relationship today. But I can change – I can go to the farmer’s market and meet the person growing my food. I can ensure my hard earned dollars stay in my community rather than going to some huge enterprise that’s likely to ship that money elsewhere. I can ensure the farmer actually makes a good profit off my purchase as opposed to a marginal wage selling to those powerful enterprises.

Now, all those reasons are valid – but as long as we’re being really honest, you know what else really makes me want to eat local? Taste. I long to have fresh apples right off the tree or tomatoes fresh off the vine. The lovely produce you see in the photo above is from a beautiful market in Valencia, Spain – I’m fairly certain all that food came from within 50 miles and it was so delicious. As I walked the stalls, I dreamed of a day when I could cook with food this fresh. We can still remember the taste of the freshest fish we’ve ever had over a year later – ironic as we live in Florida.

So, I’ve become a bit more conscious about my food sources and coincidentally met someone who does reflexology and specializes in healing foods. She’s been educating me on toxic foods – the biggest surprise to me was dairy, especially milk. I suffer from some inflammation – a pesky cyst in my left wrist being the most problematic – among other things she’s diagnosed just by poking on my foot (which is surprisingly painful I might add). I used to go to power yoga up to 5 times a week and couldn’t get enough of it. Three years later I can barely manage a downward dog due to the pain from that darn cyst. A $5,000 surgery with a month recovery and no computer use was out of the question, so I’ve given up yoga for the past three years and for the most part been able to ignore that little cyst as a result of not putting any pressure on my hand. Anytime we do work around the house or I carry something heavy I can feel that dull pulsing pain. Hearing the recommendation of eliminating dairy from my diet to reduce this pain and possibly be able to return to yoga was all I needed to get started. Further googling showed that the cyst aside – milk is pretty bad so eliminating it was a good idea.

Now eliminating dairy isn’t going to magically reduce the pain in my wrist but it may help along with eating the right foods to heal it. Since learning of this a few weeks ago, I gave up all dairy products except for the occasional serving of cheese – cheese pizza that would be! For me, this mostly means milk, cream, and yogurt. I picked up some So Delicious hazelnut coconut milk creamer for my morning coffee and I have to say, it is “so delicious” and I like it even better than my previous “had to have” vanilla creamer. I’m taking Good Belly’s probiotic drink now that I’m not eating yogurt which surprisingly doesn’t taste bad at all and in fact does put a smile on my face as the marketing promises. I figured I might as well give this a real try and I’m trying to cut out sugar and I’ve successfully cut out Diet Coke – something I was previously addicted to, known for drinking several a day at a minimum. Aside from a sleepy day yesterday and longing for some mid-day caffeine – I haven’t missed the Diet Coke. I’ve been able to avoid desserts and my one indulgence has been Coconut Bliss ice cream – amazingly delicious and you can’t even tell there’s no cream.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress and I want to take it further. I’ve been reading a lot about veganism and the health benefits. I’m enticed to give it a try at the promise that it will help trim my waistline and give me more energy – win win! However, I’m not sure if I can really handle eliminating all animal byproducts. So, I’m embarking on a 30 day challenge. Last night we dined at Ceviche and I got to enjoy many favorites that won’t make the cut anymore so I figure now is as good a time as any to give it a go.

What do I expect to be the most challenging? Pizza. No doubt about it. Crisp dough oozing with bubbly cheese – mmmm. Fresh pasta topped with parmesan will be another. I’m not sure long term I can fully give them up but I’m willing to try. Fish is another – I’m not too worried about giving up chicken but the fish part will be tricky. Eggs will also be extremely challenging as I do love my weekend omelets. At the end of the day I figure its 30 days – I’ll give it a try and we’ll see what happens.

Hopefully I won’t be counting down the days eagerly awaiting the end (although, can I point out Day 1 is down!) I’m hoping I can challenge myself to continue “cooking con sal” and create flavorful meals even my husband will be impressed by. I’m going to try to blog as often as possible to track progress and see if I really do feel a shift. We shall see how that goes 🙂

Here’s to eating more veggies and finding vegan recipes full of flavor! Oh, and finding something to eat at the Fourth of July BBQ tomorrow – I might be kicking myself for starting today when I see the lineup on the table. Guess I’ll have to swing by the grocery store and whip up something to bring along.

Update: See my 30 day vegan challenge recap and why I’ve decided to stay vegan.

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