About Me

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Clarksville, Tennessee, United States
I have been an Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian for a few years and am considering making the switch to a full Vegan diet. I decided to become a vegetarian because I could no longer disassociate the meat on my plate from the loving, kind and peaceful animal it had once been. I have always been an animal lover, so I guess this was a natural progression. I am not a diet or nutrition expert by any means, I am just a woman on a mission to eat better, feel better and live better.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Getting Ready

Well, I'm writing my shopping list for things I'll need during the week-long challenge, and I'm realizing all the things I eat that contain dairy.  *sigh*  There will obviously be some learning along the way, and I'm looking forward to finding and trying new products to replace the old ones.  I hope they are decent and I don't get discouraged.  

So I went to my local health food store (Health Nuts) and bought some new items - vegan butter, vegan blue cheese, vegan lunch meat (which I've used before), and some vegan sausages to use in the Red Beans and Rice recipe I posted.  I really can't wait to make it, it looks delicious!  I think my family may even try this one!

I tried a bit of the vegan blue cheese and I have to say that it tastes NOTHING like blue cheese.  It doesn't taste bad, and the texture isn't bad, but there is none of the tang you would expect from a blue cheese.  I'll add it to salads and sandwiches, but it's just not the same.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll find some way to "get my tang on".  I'll just have to keep looking.

Now, for any of you that are new to being vegetarian, or are just trying it for this one week, you may find it hard to face the meat substitutions.  My suggestion to you is this:  don't use any of them for this week unless you have tried them before (like tofu) and like them.  If you go straight from eating meat to using a substitution for it, you will hate it.  The texture and taste is never going to be an exact match, but when you haven't had meat in a while, and then you try the substitutes, it is just like having the meat you remember (or pretty close).  If you try to do a side-by-side comparison, you're never going to like the substitute.  Instead, try adding mushrooms, avocados, or roasted bell peppers for the "meatiness" in your sandwiches, and add pickles, shredded carrots and sprouts for texture.  

I already use Vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise), olive oil spread instead of butter, tofu in place of scrambled eggs (sometimes) and have used some vegan cheese slices on sandwiches, so I'm off to a good start, but I do still love real cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, and yogurt.  I've been having some issues with eggs lately and switched to just egg whites, but still having mental issues with that as well, so it should be fairly easy for me to stop eating the eggs....hopefully.  

I am dedicated to doing this, but I know it may take some time to make the full transition.  Hopefully this week will show me that it's a lot easier than I believe it to be, and I'll be able to continue with my vegan diet going forward.  I am so thankful for those of you joining me on this journey and being willing to give yourselves one week to give this new lifestyle a "test drive".  I hope you are all successful in finding your own level of comfort in what you eat, and if nothing else, hope you at least learn about foods you've never before considered, and that you will pay more attention to what you eat and how it affects your body.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Decision

I made the decision 18 months ago to become an Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian.  The main reason I came to this decision was because I am an animal lover, and I could no longer separate the protein on my plate from the lovely living creature it had been.  I am also very disheartened by the treatment of the animals produced for food in this country, not to mention all the steroids and antibiotics given to these animals so the "farmers" can reap the greatest reward.  All life should be cherished and respected, and that is no longer happening in the food industry.   

I also made the decision based on health concerns.  I watch the news everyday and see too many stories about the overall increase of health issues facing our nation, from an increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism to the increasing number of both children and adults being diagnosed with diabetes.  I personally believe there has to be some correlation between these issues and the foods, beverages, supplements and medications we consume.  

So why did I continue to eat eggs and dairy, you may ask, when I am aware of how factory farm animals are treated?  I did so because I felt too overwhelmed making the switch to Vegan right away.  I wanted to ease my way into it.  And let's be honest,  while there are many delicious Vegan substitutions you can use for the taste and/or texture of meat protein, the options for dairy substitutions left a lot to be desired.  At least they did when I had tried them years ago.  But this has apparently changed, and they really are quite good.  Although, I still tell people who are considering switching to a Vegetarian diet not to try the meat substitutions until after they have had no meat for a while, so they're not doing a side-by-side comparison.  I believe you will be more successful that  way.  It is a difficult change to make going from eating meats, cheese, eggs, and drinking milk to going without, and finding substitutions to supply the same nutritional values, but it can be done.  

I try to stick to a "whole foods" diet as much as possible, meaning little to no processed foods, but this can be very difficult.  Especially when I am the only one in the household who follows such diet restrictions.  So, when I do eat prepared foods, I try to find the healthiest versions possible.  One brand I love for prepared meals is Amy's Kitchen.  They make some of the best frozen foods, soups and sauces I've ever had, and they do so in a healthy way, with as many fresh, unprocessed ingredients as possible, and they cater to the vegetarian/vegan diet.  

So, I have finally made the decision to try the fully Vegan diet.  I am still a bit intimidated, but not nearly as much as I was a year and a half ago.  I decided it might be easier if I wasn't doing it alone, so I created the Vegan Challenge event on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/237554403026181/) and invited several of my friends. As of today, there are 12 people joining me in following a Vegan diet for one week, June 3 - June 9.  I believe it will be easier if I have a support system in place for when I am having a difficult time following the diet restrictions.  It will also be a great way to share our stories of what we tried that was successful, and what were total failures. 

I welcome you in joining me for the Vegan Challenge, and thank you for supporting me through my transition.  I remain hopeful and positive that I have the strength and willpower to do this, and I remain......the Wishful Vegan.