My first week as a vegan only involved two slip-ups:
- My company had an end of summer barbecue. I didn’t know exactly what was on the menu, but figured it was not vegan. Originally, I’d planned on bringing my own veggie burger, but in the end I didn’t have any left at home and I was too lazy/busy to stop by the store to get some. I did bring a meal alternative, but it was a recipe I’d been eating for the past few days (since it made enough to feed 10.) When the barbecue finally rolled around, I was helping set-up, and everything looked and smelled SO delicious. We had marinated chicken breasts, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, TWO homemade cheesecakes and a marble sheet cake with Bavarian cream frosting. I decided to eat a company-provided veggie burger, salad, and potato chips. What is the slip-up? The veggie burger was not vegan as it contained both egg whites and milk ingredients. I let it slide since I wanted to feel at least a little part of the festivities. Next time I’ll bring my own (it was delicious, though.)
- After soccer on Friday, I went out drinking with some teammates as is our usual tradition. Another tradition, for whatever reason, is that we always have car bombs. On this particular night, we were especially depressed from losing very badly, so we each had two. It wasn’t until my run the next morning that I realized Bailey’s is made of cream. Whoops.
Other than that I did pretty well. I try to read all the ingredients on things, and to get information online about what does and does not contain animal products, but it’s not as easy as you might think. For example, most refined sugar uses “bone char” as it goes through processing (animal product) but it’s not listed in the ingredients since it’s not a main component. Only if you use beet sugar can you be 100% sure that your product does not contain “bone char”. All the better to not eat sugar, I guess?
Also, I find it confusing when a product lists many ingredients that I don’t know. It’s hard to tell if these chemical-sounding ingredients are animal- or plant-based. Reading online has helped a little, but I still feel suspicious if there are a lot of ingredients I don’t recognize. I do the best I can and don’t expect perfection, but still it’s just another reason to eat less-processed foods.
It felt very strange to me this week to actually tell people that I’m eating vegan or that I’m a vegetarian. I’m usually one of the most laid-back eaters you can find (especially after my days of eating anything and everything Spanish mom put in front of me…and let me tell you not all of that was easy to swallow.) Having a dietary restriction, especially one so new and with implied strong convictions behind it, was weird for me.
Example: Since I’m on the “morale committee” at work, I volunteered to help set-up for the barbecue. I chopped tomatoes, set-up tables, etc. Then someone asked me to flip some burgers. I didn’t mind at all, but then she asked me if I was a vegetarian, to which I hesitantly replied that I was. Then she felt bad making me flip the burgers. The thing is, flipping the burgers didn’t bother me at all (besides the fact that I might burn/ruin them). I just choose not to put it in my body, if that makes sense.
Being vegan is really extreme and I think people expect a lot of passion or anger behind the decision. That’s not the case with me…it’s a logical decision I made to do better for myself. I hope one day our methods of producing animal products changes, but until then (or until I decide otherwise) I am abstaining.
Which brings on another harsh reality: Can I never eat another M&M? Do I always have to refuse the homemade cheesecake (in raspberry gingerbread and chocolate mocha crunch)? Will I never enjoy another garlic-chicken pizza from Papa Murphy’s?
I did only commit to Thanksgiving, right? So I can make those decisions then.
This week, I discovered the wonders of almond butter. Yes, it’s kind of expensive. But the things I like about it are as follows:
- Basic almond butter has one ingredient: almonds
- It has fewer calories than peanut butter
- It has more calcium than peanut butter
- It’s yummy
My sister likes to have her almond butter on a whole-wheat rice cake with some honey drizzled on top (is honey vegan? I don’t know, decide for yourself.)
This weekend, I had mine for breakfast on two gluten- and dairy-free waffles, and then drizzled with real maple syrup. Yum. I was really full and happy after that breakfast, even though I’d just run 8 miles and done weight training.
Speaking of running, my foot/ankle/calf area was sort of bothering me on my run and then all day afterwards I got shooting pains starting from my foot up through my calf. The next day, the pain was localized to my foot. I’m worried I have a stress fracture there. I still played soccer on it, though, and it’s feeling OK today, but I made a doctor’s appointment just in case.
I really want to continue my training for my 10-mile race on October 30 and my next half-marathon on November 14!