Being a vegan for seven days proved to be the easiest of any of the sixteen new experiences I've had so far for The 52/52 Project. I was due for easy and mortification-free, yes? Sure, eating restaurant refried beans made with lard was a minor fail, but I'm pretty certain guilt by accident doesn't count.
A variety of beans, nuts, raw veggies and hummus, Mediterranean and Mexican foods ended up being my mainstays. These are some of my favorite foods anyway, so it never seemed a sacrifice. I'm not generally a fan of fruit, but I even enjoyed several nectarines and sweet cherries.
The week's big win: I made a huge pot of chili, using my normal recipe but substituting textured vegetable protein for the ground beef. (I used less TVP than planned, since I accidentally dumped the bowl when I was moving it from the refrigerator shelf, and half ended up down my shirt.) I could barely tell the difference in the recipe--especially when I scooped it up with whole-grain tortilla chips. I froze the rest; I'm curious to see if my two sons will notice when they eat it.
I ate French fries one day. *heaven*
Three things played to my advantage.
First, my only Labor Day weekend cookout was at my own house. I made grilled portobello burgers, corn on the cob, and vegetarian baked beans, with frozen banana "ice cream" for dessert. If I'd been someplace where my host was serving up New York strips, hamburgers, deviled eggs, or potato salad, this venture may have had a different ending. A person can only be so strong.
It also helped that it's late summer. Farm-fresh produce in Ohio is as abundant as our cicadas. (No, I won't be eating those; although can they be any worse than the crickets and worms I've tasted?)
And, finally, I just came off an eight-month low-carb, high-protein diet. I've eaten enough meat this year to last any normal person beyond a lifetime. This week, I didn't really miss it much.
What I discovered was I can at least cut back on animal products and still enjoy satisfying and healthy foods. Going forward, I plan to incorporate many more meatless meals into my diet.
I doubt I could ever go fully vegan for good though. From a humanitarian standpoint, it would be rewarding. It's just not realistic for me. Hypocritical a humanitarian as I may be, I can't imagine a life without a juicy steak or a sweet, buttery lobster tail, at least now and then.
Most of all, I missed cheese. I missed it a lot. Eggplant parmigiana, pizza, a humble yet delicious grilled cheese sandwich. Oh, the wondrous meals I could have made with cheese.
Honestly, if God wanted us to be vegan, why did he invent feta?
What's your favorite way to eat cheese? Are you a carnivore, vegan, lacto-ovo, or pescatarian? Is it me, or is the saving grace that vodka, wine, and beer are safe no matter what?