Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the official end date of my first my "Vegan Till Thanksgiving" experiment, which has been a totally enlightening and fun challenge.
Before I list what I learned in the process, a couple of confessions (my Catholic upbringing has raised me to reveal these sorts of transgressions):
- I splashed real milk into my coffee on three occasions.
- I ate many, many bittersweet chocolate chips (which I assumed were vegan and then learned that the brand I bought were not).
Now, what I learned:
- I can live without ice cream and cheese pretty easily. This came as a major shock to me.
- I'm not a huge fan of non-dairy "milk" products, particularly in my coffee. The coconut milk creamer was acceptable; soy lattes (purchased only out - I only bought almond milk and coconut milk creamer at home) were good.
- I drink less coffee and more green tea when I'm not doing dairy.
- I eat more and less healthfully when I'm following a vegan diet: more vegetables and beans and far fewer saturated fats (and fatty "junk") but probably more carb-y snacks, like tortilla chips and Triscuits.
- Homemade vegan cookies taste as least as good as non-vegan ones.
- For me a vegan diet is not a way to shed pounds. I didn't weigh in (weight loss wasn't a goal) but suspect I stayed the same or gained, as I ate loads of avocados and nuts - which are staples in my diet typically anyway - and extra servings of higher-cal carbs (wild rice, say) in place of fish.
- Speaking of fish, I missed it a lot - particularly when we went out for sushi. (I ordered a sweet potato tempura roll - again, not as healthy as my typical yellowtail scallion... but perhaps comparable to a spicy tuna).
- Eating out wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be. At even the "super-meatiest" of restaurants, I had the most amazing meal... just requested that my roasted beet salad come without the cheese and the dressing and that they leave the smoked bacon butter off the pickled tomatoes on toast. Which were AMAZING.
- I should have been better about taking a multivitamin. (I did OK with the calcium supplement and somewhat OK with the omega-3s but didn't pick up a multi till last week). And when my arm broke out in hives the other night after prolonged content with a wet sweatshirt sleeve (incurred during bath-time duty) I was convinced I had a vitamin B12 deficiency and would soon start seeing signs of irreversible nerve damage. Ridiculous given that I'd had my fair share of fortified veggie products.
- I have such respect for the commitment it takes to follow a 100% vegan diet, 24/7/365.
- I thought even more about where my food comes than I normally do. The other night, when the boys didn't want to finish their milk at dinner, I found myself saying, "it's fine if you don't want to finish but next time let's not take so much. The cows work really hard to make that milk."
Tomorrow, I will eat on turkey and likely lots of buttery sides. Yum! After that, I will live on a little more vegan than I was in October - "veganish," a la Mark Bittman, as a friend pointed out. (Here's what's definitely coming back: milk in my coffee, fish, non-vegan foods served by friends, probably yogurt, definitely "good" cheeses.)