I've successfully completed the third week in my month long vegan challenge. The hills and valleys of the second week have been ironed out and the third week was nothing but smooth sailing. Vegan eating feels almost natural to me now. I have a few mainstay recipes in rotation, which keeps meal time interesting and varied. Here are a few personal observations about my third week*:
- I started eating Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa in the morning every day this week and my protein deficiency headaches have completely disappeared (thank goodness). Starting off the day with a protein rich meal seems to be the trick to keeping my body in good health.
- I've also noticed when I reach for snacks, I end up munching on sunflower seeds or spoonfuls of peanut butter (both relatively protein rich). My body still craves protein in large amounts, but eating these small snacks staves off hunger and keeps my body in check.
- Grocery shopping has become a breeze. I can walk in and out of the store in about ten minutes and get a week's worth of groceries at the same time. This is definitely a perk. I'm amazed at how much of the grocery store I can simply ignore.
- Vegan eating has become quite natural for me. When I'm making food for myself at home, I no longer wonder what vegan food I should eat, but rather what food I should eat. It's a small distinction, perhaps completely unnoticeable to most people, but it's a huge step for me. It no longer feels like I'm forcing myself to eat a particular diet. I'm just eating.
- Today I tried northern white beans boiled in salt water (one of my very first bean adventures). The beans tasted exactly like bacon and I proceeded to eat half a cup straight from the pot. My mother says it's my imagination, blaming "vegan brain" for the perceived taste, but I swear I'm not making this flavor up. Maybe I do have a case of vegan brain, but I'd gladly eat these beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- This weekend will be my first real challenge since I've gone vegan. I'm visiting home for a few days, where my non-vegan family will be making many of my favorite cheesy and meat filled dishes, and I will have to use up my willpower not to sneak a taste. My mother is trying to be accommodating, researching vegan alternatives and picking up a few vegan staples (which I greatly appreciate), but this is the first time I will be constantly surrounded by food I simply cannot eat, both in the pantry and on the kitchen table. I'm curious to see how this will play out.
- Should I let you in a little secret? I'm afraid for this challenge to end and I'm nervous about going back to regular food. I honestly don't know where this fear is coming from (I'm not morally opposed to eating meat), but it lingers in the back of my mind and I wonder if I'll continue to eat vegan on July 1st or go out for a dairy and egg filled Sunday brunch to celebrate successfully completing the challenge (no meat just yet—I don't want to shock my system and get sick).
After the third week, I feel pretty comfortable with eating vegan. I've figured out most of the "tricks" and I'm becoming more in tune to my body and what my cravings may mean. Eating vegan this week was surprisingly easy and didn't take too much work or thought on my part. Here's to the fourth and final week of the challenge!
*I mean no offense to those who have gone vegan for moral beliefs and obligations (in fact, you have my utmost respect). This is just a record of my personal experience with the lifestyle.