I have become a part-time vegan. What does this mean? Well, I got the idea from Mark Bittman, New York Times foodie columnist and author of one of my favorite cookbooks ever, How to Cook Everything (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition). I had been trying to eat “cleaner”, despite not being sure what “clean eating” really meant, but knowing that I wanted to eat less processed, more whole foods in hopes of having more energy and losing some pudge, when I came across Mark’s new eating plan: VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good. I never actually bought Mark’s book, and now I see that he also has a cookbook of VB6 recipes: The VB6 Cookbook: More than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night. I guess I probably owe it to Mark to buy one another one of his cookbooks since he set me on this semi-vegan path.
In any case, I like this. I’ve always liked the idea of vegetarianism, although I thought vegan was too strict and weird. (And the part about no cheese. That seemed like a deal breaker to me.) I had already been trying to cut down on dairy, so this idea intrigued me. Hmm, I just eat more veggie based meals, but I don’t have to give up macaroni and cheese…I can do that.
I had continuously run up against Oh She Glows recipes for awhile, so I decided to stop shunning them and started slowly trying a few of them. I started with green smoothies for breakfasts and started building from there. Pinterest introduced me to some new recipes, and I began pinning some vegan meals, many of which are surprisingly good, even according to my carnivore husband! I kept going back to Oh She Glows, so I decided to bite the bullet and buy Angela’s book, The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes to Glow from the Inside Out. Totally worth it! The Spa Day Bircher Muesli made with coconut yogurt, oats, apples and other goodies was worth the book alone. I am too lazy to follow many of the recipes exactly, but I refer to the book often now.
I’ve never been a big fan of meat, and my anxiety kicks in if I think there is a chance the meat I had just eaten may make me sick because it hadn’t been cooked long enough, so avoiding meat most of the time hasn’t been a big deal. So far, it has been easier than expected, except for anytime I want to eat anything when I’m out and about. Other than amazingly good, but unfortunately expensive, vegan eateries like The Veggie Grill, it is VERY difficult to find a tasty, satisfying vegan meal, so I doubt I can ever become a full-time vegan. There are some maybe or almost vegan meals that don’t feel like deprivation, yet not as many as I would like. Thai and Vietnamese food are sometimes good options, and I revisited Loving Hut yesterday for lunch. Two spring rolls, pho, and a Thai iced tea (yes, I know that there are no redeeming health benefit to Thai iced tea!), and I was out $20 for a meh meal. Not bad, but not I’d rather get Chipotle’s sofritas in a bowl with brown rice, black beans, veggies and guacamole any day.
Do I feel better? Maybe? I think subbing some vegan meals has helped me lose a little weight, although nothing dramatic. I think my energy level is probably about the same. I do avoid that heavy, I-ate-too-much feeling when I eat vegan, which is a definite bonus, especially before a workout. My protein intake has probably increased with the vegan meals since so many of them rely heavily on beans, legumes, nuts, quinoa, and some tofu. Eventually, I plan on sharing some of those recipes here.
By the way, the image above is a Bombay Bowl from The Veggie Grill. I highly recommend it!