WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO VEGAN?
One random night I decided to watch a health documentary about a plant-based diet. I have a sensitive stomach and I’d say about 75% of foods make me feel less than great, so why not give something totally different a try? I wouldn’t say my choice to go vegan was directly related to animal cruelty or chemical processing of food—although I do hate both of those things—but instead it was an opportunity to challenge myself to stick to something and see if it helped my overall quality of life.
WAS IT HARD TO COOK OR EAT AT RESTAURANTS AS A VEGAN?
I think a lot of people assume being vegan (like being gluten-free) is hard. I determined that when eating out being meat free is a cakewalk; everywhere has a vegetarian option. On the other hand, being meat, dairy AND egg free can be really difficult when dining out. So many things are made with eggs or cooked in/with butter. It must get annoying always having to ask how something is prepared only to find out you can’t eat it. I found that quick casual places offered a lot of VG options but sit-down restaurants were sometimes more challenging, unless I wanted to always resort to salad. Now on the contrary, cooking at home was NO problem. I was able to buy anything and everything vegan such as butter, pasta, ranch dressing, etc. and I made mostly veggie dishes and cooked my own tofu. I really enjoyed trying some new and interesting recipes and learned some new tricks when baking different things.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE VEGAN-FRIENDLY SPOTS FOR A QUICK MEAL
Chipotle – I switched from chicken to sofritas and honestly, I may never switch back, they’re SO GOOD! I am a big hard tacos fan and adding beans helped me get more protein. Just have to skip the sour cream and cheese, sad.
&Pizza – Their regular crust is vegan (the gluten-free is not) and they’ve got a nice vegan cheese. I topped mine with the various veggies they have available like the broccoli, mushrooms and chickpeas. Unfortunately, the mushroom truffle sauce is a no-go.
Devon & Blakely – We have these everywhere in downtown DC where I work. Devon has a TON of vegan options that you can grab quickly on your lunch break which is obviously super convenient.
Beefsteak – Don’t let the name fool you, this Chef José Andrés spot is a veggie lovers dream.
CAVA – Bless. I would’ve been majorly devastated if I couldn’t go to Cava for 2 weeks. Aside from their roasted veggies, their falafel is VG safe.
A FEW VEGAN DISHES I MADE AT HOME
Portobello “Meat” Sauce with Pasta – Hands down my favorite thing I whipped up! I made this a couple times for dinner.
Hibachi Tofu and Veggies – I usually like tofu but cooking it myself was a whole different story. This dish probably would’ve been better had I bought the extra firm tofu.
Chocolate Chip Cookies – I occasionally crave sweets after dinner so I threw together some AMAZING vegan/gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
Veggie-based Smoothies – I’ve been seeing a lot of smoothie recipes with frozen cauliflower or zucchini as the base. I gave them a try and they are really good! I just add a scoop of berries and protein powder along with almond milk and voila!
Blueberry Pancakes – I always make GF pancakes but I substituted the egg with applesauce and the butter with oil for these. OH MY GOD. They were BETTER than any I’ve ever made. So fluffy and delicious, and I added a side of sliced peaches from the farmers market.
I’ll post the full recipes here.
WAS IT EXPENSIVE TO BUY ALL PLANT-BASED FOODS?
No, not really. Most of what I was buying was fresh produce and that is one of the most inexpensive things in the grocery store. I spent less than my usual amount for a week’s worth of groceries. I did find that buying at the farmers market was sometimes more expensive than the store, though. But I love supporting local farms and it’s a fun weekend activity! DC has so many great farmers markets; we even have one right by my work that I was able to swing by on my lunch break. Eating out at restaurants didn’t really change the price much, it is obviously very dependent on what you order/where you are. Typically anything meatless will be a bit cheaper, though.
DO YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENT?
After week one, I can’t say I felt too different but definitely a bit “lighter” and less sluggish. The biggest change is after eating most of my meals I didn’t have an upset stomach, which was the main goal of this challenge. I already have an intense skin regimen and opted to not use heat (blow-dryer/straightener) on my hair for a week so I can’t say either of those things improved because of my diet. I didn’t notice any weight loss at this point.
Week two didn’t start out too well. I realized that eating out at restaurants is even MORE difficult. CONFESSION: I cheated. How could I deny myself the eggplant parm at an Italian restaurant!? The vegan options just weren’t exciting enough for me. The weekend was tough because I wanted to indulge in dishes I stray from during the week when I am trying to be “healthy.” The weekdays weren’t a problem, I kept up with my roasted veggies at lunch and tried some veggie burgers to mix it up. I didn’t lose any weight but I “felt” thinner. But I guess that’s what matters, right? I definitely think it helped a lot with my digestion and overall I didn’t feel heavy and tired after my meals.
WHAT IS THE VERDICT, WILL YOU BE VEGAN FOREVER?
Definitely not, I’m going back to my old ways! Truthfully, I found it to be more inconvenient than anything. I will certainly eat vegan when its easy and continue to make some of my favorite VG dishes at home. There are simple things like buying almond milk creamer for my coffee, vegan butter, and using egg alternatives (applesauce, oil, banana, etc.) for baking that I will continue to do. I realized that overall I do not eat a heavy meat/dairy/egg diet as is. So when I excluded those things from my diet, I saw little (but positive) change. I would think a person with heavy meat/dairy/egg diet would see more significant results. Overall, I personally think it is a great lifestyle change for anyone to try! But for me, I’m #breakingvegan.