Ok, the title is a lie. I haven't been vegetarian ALL month, but it's more truthful than "vegan for a month." I had two pot pies that needed to be eaten from our freezer. (my husband hates pot pie so it was up to me to get rid of these things). I didn't want to waste them and just throw them out. I tried picking out the meat but I doubt I got it all. So yes, I ate some meat this month. But I have eaten A LOT of vegan meals. However, once again, I'm not trying to wastefully throw out non-vegan stuff, so I've had a couple of non-vegan things for sure. Like margarine made with buttermilk, Parmesan on pasta, garlic bread from the freezer, etc. And I'll continue eating those things until they are all out of my house (one package of feta cheese my sister won't eat, two jars of chicken bouillon that are going to take a year to get through, vitamin pills made with gelatin, etc.). As I've been grocery shopping this month, I've picked up as many vegan replacements as I can reasonably find, but it's definitely a work in progress. I'm really happy with the transition so far. :) So let's talk about some stuff I've learned this month. Here we go!
Cooking is fun. Grocery shopping is fun. Looking up new meals is fun. I get so happy looking at my grocery cart. It makes me proud when the items are so much healthier than before. I really was simply stuck in a rut with our everyday meals. Forcing myself to switch things up by eliminating animal products has made the entire process of meal planning more fun.
My husband isn't as terrible as I thought he was. My big fear was that he'd throw a fit and get super pissed over our meals. I thought he would refuse to eat so many things. But that hasn't been the case at all! He's been a great sport. He tries everything and if he doesn't like it, we talk about what he doesn't like so that I can try to alter it next time. Instead of him just refusing to eat it again, he gives his suggestions for improvement. It's really helpful and makes me feel like he actually cares about changing his diet as well.
You don't need cheese on everything! Seriously, looking back on my previous diet, we had cheese all the freaking time. There has only been one meal that I really missed cheese on and that was enchiladas. I bought myself some vegan cheddar and slapped it on my enchilada the next time I made them and it was delicious. It fulfilled my little cheese craving. But I'm not putting that vegan cheese on everything either, like I would have with cow cheese. It's reserved just for that one moment that I really thought cheese would make the meal better. Although I do have vegan cheese in the fridge, it's reserved for occasional meals, not thrown on everything like I did with cow milk cheese in the past.
You have to eat more. I have been starving. It's taken me awhile to figure out how much I need to eat to feel full again. A lot of real foods are less calorie-dense than all the stuff I was eating before, dairy especially. I've had to learn to keep that in mind.
Cravings change. I never thought I'd crave lemon steamed broccoli. Or roasted chickpeas. Since I've started feeding my body all these real foods, I think about them more and I want them. Of course, I still have cookie cravings too, but craving healthy food is definitely a new thing for me.
My skin is happy. I have had oily skin ever since I can remember. Within two weeks on this diet, that was not longer the case. My skin is very normal now, something I never even thought was possible with the level of oiliness I was used to. And ever since I was pregnant with my first son (he's two now) I have had upper arm acne. That's been clearing up too since changing my diet!
I want to grow a garden. I've never had an interest in growing plants. My sister has a nice garden, she's grown random little plants inside her house too. I've never out of the blue, woken up, and just been like, "let's go buy a tiny shrub to put in the living room." But now I want plants. I want to grow zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes?! I want to compost all the random produce scraps we go through now. I want to be able to pick my own lunch right out of the yard!
I was not getting enough fiber. I went on cronometer and threw in my old typical day's diet and I was nowhere near 100% on fiber. Now on this new diet, I am always surpassing it. Along those same lines, I never much cared about what nutrients I was getting each day. I really never gave it a single thought. I thought about calories and carbs when I wanted to lose weight. I thought about protein and fiber a little bit when I was pregnant. But in reality, I didn't wonder about vitamins and minerals. I never once thought, how much calcium or vitamin c am I getting today? Now I enjoy getting on cronometer just to see where I'm at or how to formulate the "perfect" day. It's not about calories or losing weight anymore, it's about getting the important nutrients we all need.
It has been a lot of work transitioning away from a crappy American diet. But it's been a lot of fun too. It's been fun learning how to cook differently and trying new things, and figuring out how to veganize my cravings.
I hope this little post was interesting to you and perhaps it helps you see the positive in changing your diet too. :)
Thank you for reading!