The Accidental Vegan

Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian or even more seriously a vegan? I know I never did, it happened quite by accident. If you’ve read any of my previous posts, then you’ve heard me speak of tweaking your eating and exercise habits until you find the right combination of what works for you. If you follow little Miss Cover Girl’s or Swimsuit Edition’s diet that it may not work out with your lifestyle, especially if you are like me and are old enough to be their mother; you just keep adjusting your plan until it is becomes easy for you to follow and one that gets you the results you want.

I have tweaked my diet through the years, mainly with a commuter’s point of view. It had to be simple and filling and something that I could easily eat at the office and at my desk. Of course since then, I’ve learned that it is better to get out of the office to eat, but nevertheless, you get my drift, simplicity was the key for it to become successful for me. I found something I liked and ate it all week long. Boring to many of you I presume, but easy for me because I didn’t have to dream up a different menu every day because I was just fueling my body. More creative menus came on the weekend, while the week was filled with my mainstays.

My work lunch consisted of those fresh bagged veggies that you can buy at Kroger, Publix and Trader Joe’s. 4 minutes in the microwave gave you a plate of steaming veggies! That and a soy burger, because they were easy and lean and low in calories. If I wanted to be fancy, I put salsa on them. At night it was a little different. I loved salmon and my Dad would buy it for me every day and I would have 3-4 oz of that with more veggies. Barring that, I would make a ground turkey burger or something easy.

Some of you may be thinking, “Salmon every day?” Well, most everyday. I told my doctor about this and he told me that although salmon is good for you that eating it more than 2-3 times a week wouldn’t be good for the mercury levels in my body. He also said if I ate it everyday that I should counter the mercury by sitting in the sauna and steam 2-3 times a week. That worked for a couple of weeks. I’m one that doesn’t like the wet area of the gym because it doubles my time there! This idea was becoming too high maintenance for me.

Eventually I evolved towards becoming a lacto-ovo vegetarian. The salmon was gone, but often times I would have turkey bacon and an egg or two for breakfast. Yes the bacon is still meat, but I was down to soy or veggie burgers and veggies and salads before I knew it. Outside of this past Thanksgiving and Christmas, there was very little meat in my diet. Remember I am going for simplicity now. I am sharing a kitchen with my very controlling and territorial 80 year old Dad, so I have to be able to whiz in and whiz out of the kitchen to avoid conflict.

A New Found Interest for Me

As you know by my posts, I’m very interested, okay, I’m obsessed with food. I’m very interesting in eating what is best for my body, so I am open to learning more. The other day I was watching Oprah (isn’t that how life changes occur, by “watching Oprah”?) and saw this beautiful, lean blonde walk onto the set. Lean to me is a very beautiful look and the one that I admire, so I wanted to see what this pretty lady was talking about. Her name is Kathy Freston and she is a huge proponent on being Vegan and just came out with a book called, “Veganist”.

The show was about what happens to animals as they become our food and the over all effect on the environment. Although some slaughterhouses are more humane than others, the total picture of what animals have to go through to supply the world with food was very eye-opening to me. I have been aware of the differences of free range, cage free and factory chickens, but as a busy person, didn’t think a whole lot about it. Since I didn’t eat much red meat to speak of and only ate turkey and fish sometimes on occasion, I didn’t think that it was too bad.

Eating Epiphany for Me

Long story short: this show was a huge awakening for me! Those that know me, know that I am an animal lover who supports the agencies that protect animals. Upon seeing this show, I knew in an instant that VEGAN was going to be my new eating lifestyle. This was just a week ago! I am still very new in the process. I am spending time researching vegan recipes and practices. I consider myself an amateur gourmet cook, so to cook meatless, means that it must be terrific! Food is a celebration for me of not only good nutrition but nutrition that tastes and looks wonderful. Food must not only be healthy, it must be appealing.

Believe it or not, I am thrilled about this decision, for I know it is the right thing to do nutritionally for my body and it is the right thing for me to do humanely for the animal population. I knew instantaneously this was my next step. Oprah challenged her entire staff to go vegan for a week. The results varied, but there was a lot of weight loss! Some of her staff made the switch, some wanted to pare down the amount of eat they ate and others just wanted to continue  to eat meat. It was an interesting study. I am not trying to convince you to go vegetarian or vegan, because it is a big change and it is your decision.

Make Your Changes Slowly

For those who want to become vegan, Kathy suggests that you lean into veganism slowly; take it just one animal at a time. Going from meat eater to vegetarian is a big change and going from meat eater to vegan is an even bigger one, since vegan is no meat or dairy. I jumped right in as all I had to do is just dump the turkey bacon and eggs for breakfast and substitute my proteins from other sources. I was 3/4 of the way to becoming vegan anyway, so it’s not a huge change. I have to learn how to cook differently and substitute for eggs and milk in cooking, but fortunately it can all be done. I will have to learn how to cook again, but that is an exciting creative challenge!

Thank you for indulging me by reading about my excitement for a lifestyle change. This change was not one I was pursuing or even thinking about, it just happened. Has anyone else made any significant lifestyle changes that you feel is beneficial to your health and well-being? Any vegans in the audience? Would love to hear from you!

 

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About Northside Class of '74

Northside Highschool Class of 74: https://www.facebook.com/groups/682629645087315/ and we are also on www.classmates.com
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