Sunday, November 28, 2010
30 Before 30: Item 6
I haven't eaten red meat or pork for approximately nine years. I don't miss it, I'm not gonna lie. I'm asked frequently how I can live without bacon, a good steak or burger. Every so often my brother or sister will waive a piece of sausage, slice of ham or bite of beef in front of my nose, testing me, as if it is willpower that keeps me from delving into a pile of flesh. No willpower needed people....I just don't like or want it.
However, I am not a Vegetarian or Vegan. I eat a lot of different foods that keep me from these categories including our low-flying, fowl friend, the chicken. I consume pretty much all delicacies under the sea from shellfish to cephalopods and every type of gilled, scaled swimmer. And I LOVE cheese...LOVE. love.
All this being said, I respect and encourage those who choose to live a Vegan lifestyle and have always been curious if it might be for me. I couldn't think of a better way to understand the dietary behavior and test it out than to try it myself as Item 6: Go Vegan for a Week.
To get started, I took some time to research Veganism. I recommend a couple of great blogs, including Oh She Glows and Happy Herbivore, if you're interested in checking out recipes and other FAQ's.
To quickly put the biggest Vegan myth to rest, there are a lot of options for a Vegan to get protein and calcium to meet the daily amounts recommended for a balanced diet. For example, did you know that in 100 calories of spinach there is actually MORE protein than 100 calories of steak?
Protein is plentiful in dark, leafy greens, legumes, nuts, tofu, other soy-based foods, brown rice, broccoli, potatoes, beans, lentils, and many other items. Calcium is just as prevalent, being found in a lot of the same foods, including broccoli, tofu, kale, greens, and okra. The key, for carnivore and herbivore, is to eat a variety of foods throughout the day at the caloric intake your body requires.
Vegans are not emaciated, unhealthy individuals. They simply leave out the animal products, but they take the same caution (that any person concerned with a healthy diet does) to incorporate the foods that they need, want and enjoy as part of a nutrient-balanced regime.
Okay....Week of Vegan: I had an incredible week of wonderful food!! For breakfast, I typically had a banana, organic oatmeal and a handful of nuts and dried fruit. When I bored from oatmeal, I enjoyed whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter, banana slices and a small orange.
Like my work mug?? I prefer my breakfast in cups...and at work.
For lunches, I had veggie sandwiches on whole wheat with tomato, avocado, leaf lettuce (or spinach), cucumber and balsamic dressing. On the side I had fruit, usually grapes or apples. Occasionally, I switched it up to a veggie wrap with salsa or had a bowl of vegan chili.
Veggie Chili , Apple & Sun Chips = Delicious Lunch!
(Sun Chips Original flavor is Vegan-approved)
For dinners, I cooked to intentionally have leftovers because, as a busy gal, I couldn't spend each night cooking for myself....and the spouse was not too keen on the whole "cooking for a Vegan" thing (although he did a couple nights anyway). I made a big pot of vegan veggie soup and had that a couple of nights. I also enjoyed tofu stir-fry, spaghetti and veggie burgers. All dinners satisfied my hunger, provided the nutrients I needed, and excited my taste buds.
Veggie Stew & Salad
Spicy Stir-Fry with Oudon Noodles...YUM!
Additionally, I couldn't go a week without ice cream, so I found this fabulous Soy Dream treat and had a scoop or two each night after dinner. :)
Although it is not the ongoing lifestyle choice for me (future food-posts will confirm this), I enjoyed my week of Vegan, am happy to cross it off my list and now know that being a Vegan is just as healthy as any other balanced, nutrient-rich diet.