On Sunday morning, I rose from bed and it dawned on me… My week of being vegan is over. And, you know what??? I was kind of sad about it. I got up to make my morning coffee and sat in front of the fridge. Soy milk or half and half. What do I do?
I ended up picking the soy vanilla milk. Sure, I prefer half and half, but this week has taught me a lot. Like eating less dairy feels better to me. And that I can eat a largely plant-based diet and not feel like I’m missing out. For me, meats and dairy products can be treats.
Next up, was to choose my breakfast. Honestly, of all of the meals, my morning Greek yogurt was what I missed the most. I eventually found an almond milk yogurt that was palatable, but the texture was a lot-bit off. Excitedly, on Sunday morning, I grabbed my Greek yogurt. And then it dawned on me…
I don’t have to be a die-hard vegan. I can make choices where it makes sense, and I can choose plant-based products when the taste is more or less the same, and in some cases even better.
Sure, I goofed up several times this past week. I never knowingly ate anything with animal products or by-products in it, but if you’re going hard-core vegan, it’s T-O-U-G-H. The area where I struggled the most was to decide if I could eat regular refined sugar. Apparently, sugar can either be beet or cane-based (both vegetarian options). But, if it’s cane-based, there’s a chance it could end up going through a charcoal purification process involving animal bones. Hence, the not being vegan part. The problem is that food products aren’t labeled animal-bone sugar or vegan-sugar. It’s just sugar.
When I was at home, I replaced sugar with succanat and agave nectar, but when I was out, I decided to just go with the flow and not worry about the sugar. Maybe this made me less-vegan, but hey, a vegan’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.
It was easier to replace animal fats than the sugar. Vegans have an amazing selection: coconut oil, non-dairy spreads, and soy based cheeses that make the vegan sacrifice not so terrible. I have a lot to learn in the vegan-cooking department, but for my first week, I think I did pretty darn well. And coconut oil, BTW is amazing.
Which leads me to my final conclusion: On a day to day basis, I will read food labels. I will pick the non-dairy option if it is reasonable to do so. We will continue to eat a largely vegetarian diet. And, once a week for the next few months, I will continue to have a Vegan Week. If for no other reason than to try new foods, show some respect to the animals that produce the foods we consume, and to be more conscious of what I put in my body. Interested in trying out some of my new favorite vegan recipes? I’ll be posting several over the next few weeks.
First up, Roasted Veggie Flatbread inspired by Vegan Yack Attack. Yum.
Vegan Pre-baked Pizza Crust. (I found an amazing one at Health Home Market with Millet and Flax Seed)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in room temp. water for two hours
2 tb. of nutritional yeast (available at health food stores and Earth Fare)
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups baby arugala (or mixed baby greens)
1 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
Aged Balsamic Syrup (or 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, simmered on medium until reduced, approx 3-5 min.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and brush crust with olive oil.
In a food-processor combine drained cashews, 1/4 cup water, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper and process until smooth. Spread the cashew mixture evenly over pre-baked crust. Top the cashew mixture with arugala, squash and peppers. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is golden and flat bread is warmed through. Drizzle with balsamic syrup, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.