So, today a friend and I started the 30-Day Vegan Challenge. I thought it would be a good idea to document the next thirty days here as a “journal” of this experience.
The idea of going vegetarian has been something percolating in my brain for years but I never really found the determination to go all out with it. I’ve never been a huge meat-eater and would cook around 3-4 veggie dinners a week. Honestly, I’ve never enjoyed cooking with meat, particularly chicken. Vegan was something I never really considered until this last year as I began to slowly educate myself about my food choices. Even still, going “vegan” always seemed like such a radical idea to me. For me, the thought of living without cheese was inconceivable!
Then I had a good friend introduce me to the challenge. This, along with other factors I won’t go into right now, convinced me that going vegan for 30 days is absolutely do-able!
So, here is what I ate (and discovered) on my first day of getting all vegany:
Breakfast: oatmeal the real deal. Not the instant stuff. I usually eat oatmeal cooked with soy milk for breakfast anyway so this was not a change for me at all. My big worry for mornings was the half and half I usually put in my coffee. Coffee in the morning is non-negotiable-I must have it. I had tried soy milk creamers in the past and found them leaving much to be desired, so I was a little worried. But! I discovered that coconut milk creamers works great and I don’t even miss the half and half. Yep. It’s that good as a dairy creamer replacement. Phew! Lunch: toasted tostada with refried black beans, topped with tomato, avocado, non-dairy cheese and salsa verde. A word about non-dairy cheese: this was my first time trying not-cheese. I went with a brand recommendation from my vegan friend and bought “daiya” cheddar style wedge (“deliciously dairy free”, according to the front of the package). It wasn’t terrible and it does melt well, giving it a very similar texture to the real thing but I would recommend using it sparingly on food. This is kinda weird but the taste actually reminded me of Cheese Whiz or that crappy cheese they put on nachos at the movie theatres. I checked out the ingredients in the daiya “cheese” and they seemed innocuous enough. That got me wondering what exactly is in Cheese Whiz? Turns out, my not-cheese and Cheese Whiz share at least one ingredient: annatto. This is a plant used for coloration. Does it also influence the taste? Hmm… Dinner: Poblano-stuffed peppers with salad. The stuffing included short-grain organic brown rice, corn, black beans, soyrizo, sautéed onions and garlic. The stuffing was great but the poblano peppers were HOT. In fact, they were too hot for me to eat so I just ate the stuffing. It’s really interesting what you find when you start reading labels. I went and grabbed my balsamic vinaigrette dressing for my salad and decide to double-check the ingredients label. Turns out “Cucina Antica’s” balsamic dressing contains milk. Would have never guessed.
So there it is- my first eating day as a vegan. It wasn’t too difficult and I’m beginning to think the lack of cheese won’t be as hard as I thought. Although, it did take some concerted effort not to graze on the cheese I was grating for my husband’s and stepson’s peppers. It just comes so naturally!