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30 Days of Vegan--What Have I Learned?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Today is the last day of my vegan experiment. The only thing I ate that was not free from animal products was my calcium pills, and if I lived somewhere where it was possible to buy vegan ones I would have done so. West Africa is not that place, and I made the decision that getting the calcium was more important than following the letter of the law in that one instance. Other than that though, I was flawless.

What now? I am not ready to be a vegan full time. Even if I lived somewhere friendlier to vegans, I am not sure that I would want to, and here it's been really hard. It's hard to cook, and harder to eat out given the limited number of restaurants around. If I were back home in Chicago, I could keep this up indefinitely, but I am getting tired of the same two restaurants, and I think my friends are getting tired of them as well. I am looking forward to being able to have milk in my coffee again, and to not having to suspiciously question everyone who offers me food.

Full-time veganism is not for me. I don't feel like I need to label myself, or try to fit myself into someone else's narrow criteria. And that is one of the things that has kept me from identifying with a lot of groups in the past. "If you're a Christian you need to believe this" "All feminists think this; if you don't agree you're not a real feminist." I'm not a fan of other people defining me. And to be perfectly honest, I am a fan of bacon. One of my friends refers to herself as a "baco-pescetarian" because she eats bacon and seafood, but no other animals. I think she is actually a lacto-ovo-baco-pescetarian, but she gets to label herself, remember?

So what I have I learned besides the fact that I miss bacon?

I've learned that you get to eat a whole lot more food when cheese is not part of the equation. I think my biggest lesson is that I was entirely too cheese dependent, and that as delicious as it is, it has little redeeming value for the amount of calories that it costs.

I've learned that 100 calories worth of nuts is a tiny amount, but can make the difference between lunch filling you up or not.

I've learned that hummus can be eaten for breakfast. and lunch. and dinner. sometimes on the same day.

I've learned that when I eat 8-10 servings of fruit and veggies a day, my skin looks fantastic.

I've learned that 50-60 grams of fiber a day makes you poop. a lot.

I've learned that I can live without butter, cheese, meat, honey, and still eat well, and cook dinner that is good enough for company.

I'm not going to be a full-time vegan. Or at least I am not going to identify as one, but I have no real interest in eating meat or cheese right now. I joked that I was going to celebrate the end of this by making a dinner of bacon and eggs, but I've made my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow already. Baked apples and oatmeal with walnuts, dried cranberries and soy milk for breakfast, and bulgar and tofu curry for lunch. This experiment pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and made me more mindful of what I ate. Those are the lessons I want to take with me, whether I am eating tofu or bacon.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I, too, tried a 30 day vegan experiment. (I love 30 day experiments!). Except, I quit after two weeks due to misery. I was bloated and uncomfortable and lethargic. It just didn't feel good. My mouth watered when I thought about eggs (not one of my favorite foods).

    Congratulations on making it through your full 30 day experiment, and thanks for sharing your thoughts about it! You are so right about labels and allowing others to define you.
    1950 days ago
    Great post...cheese is my downfall and always get stunned how it wrecks things (sodium, fat etc etc....)
    1950 days ago
  • MUFFIY831
    That's an excellent summary, and good lessons learned. Veganism is not for everyone. I'm out in the suburbs and my restaurant choices are limited, so I can only imagine the limitations in West Africa! You did a great job, you learned a lot, and I hope you will take some of those lessons and apply them going forward. Cutting back on animal products is still better for you, better for the animals, and better for the environment. Good job!
    1950 days ago
  • HHB4181
    I couldn't give up bacon either.... too yummy.

    Great job! You really stuck with it!

    1950 days ago
    Way to meet your goal! emoticon Not only have you taught yourself but you ended up teaching us a few things! On more than one occasion I ate vegan because of you! Enjoy a slice of emoticon this week! Keep up the good work! You ROCK! emoticon
    1950 days ago
    Sounds like you got a lot out of your experiment!
    1950 days ago
    I've been considering doing this experiment, but simply vegetarian rather than strictly vegan. That fiber statement made me laugh, it really did.
    1950 days ago
    Every step on the journey is helpful. I enjoyed reading your blogs!
    1950 days ago
    Wow! Great recap of your experience and insightful lessons. It sounds as if you may end up practicing an 80/20 Vegan lifestyle (unofficially of course). I'm impressed by your journey.
    1951 days ago
    Very cool! I did this last year. It definitely changed the way I eat now even though I am not a vegan, I eat like one on most days! You don't need to be a vegan to be healthy but eating like one sometimes does not hurt!
    1951 days ago
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