I’m back from Texas! It was a lovely trip and I’ll write more about it later on this week, but we have more pressing things to discuss right now so I’ll just leave you with this photo:
VEGAN CHALLENGE KICK-OFF
Tomorrow, being the first day of September, is the beginning of my vegan adventures! For the entire month of September I will be on a vegan diet. Every day, starting this Wednesday, I will post what vegan foods I ate the day before to demonstrate what kinds of things you can and cannot eat on a vegan diet.
I know, I know, veganism is a lifestyle, and “going vegan for a month” doesn’t really do a lifestyle justice. Being vegan forever isn’t something I’m interested in, however. So I’m doing it for a limited period of time.
Why I’m going vegan for a month
There are a number of reasons why veganism is my current choice for a nutrition challenge:
1. Spreading awareness about animal products. Besides the obvious foods like steak or eggs, there are many foods that we eat which use animal products that we are not aware of. Happy Cow has a list of non-vegan ingredients. Vegetarian action also has a short list, and a longer list from a different website can be found here. Gelatin is an animal product but it goes in all kinds of things (marshmallows are one of them!). Pasta is sometimes made with eggs. Wine and beer usually have animal products in them from the clarifying process. Many types of toothpaste have animal ingredients. Even sugar could potentially have been made with bone charcoal! As with all of my nutrition challenges, the main goal of this challenge is to realize just how much of what we eat includes some kind of animal product.
2. Decrease my carbon footprint. My carbon footprint is massive from all the traveling that I do (I can’t even imagine what damage the flight to and from Cambodia has done) and also from the food that I eat. I import my powdered peanut butter and regularly eat bananas which definitely do not grow in Winnipeg. It’s terrible, it really is. But I’m not exactly willing to give those things up, either (I feel kind of bad, like I’m saying “I love you, environment… just not quite enough to make actual sacrifices”. Ah well. I guess I don’t feel bad enough to stop). So instead I’m taking a month of eating vegan, which will reduce my carbon footprint by a very small amount- it’s alarming how much our carbon footprints are increased by eating meat and products that use animal ingredients. Every bit counts.
3. Increase my knowledge and understanding of different diets and lifestyles. I’ll be honest; I don’t “get” veganism. I’m skeptical about how nutritious it is. But I don’t want to knock it if I haven’t even given it a shot. Even if it doesn’t end up working for me, that doesn’t mean it’s going to not work for everyone else, too. There are all kinds of controversies over how healthy veganism is and I’m on a mission to find out from personal experience.
I should also clear up right now that the handbag I carry every day is leather. And my bike has a leather seat and handlebars. And no doubt my shampoo and my clothes and countless other things I use daily have animal ingredients in them. Oops (bad temporary vegan!). So although I’m raising awareness about the animal products in the food that we eat, I’m not going to be talking a lot about the animal products that we use in non-edible goods, and I will not be avoiding those ingredients in said non-edible products. Because, frankly, that would be a huge amount. And that in itself just goes to emphasize what I’m trying to demonstrate by doing this challenge: animal products are everywhere and it is very, very difficult to avoid them.
Predictions of personal struggles
I eat eggs, cheese, and milk every day, or very nearly every day. I don’t expect that I’ll miss meat (and I’m including poultry/seafood in that category) too much, but I crave eggs all the time. Milk I can substitute with dairy alternatives. The cheese I eat is usually cream cheese on sandwiches or spread on veggies/fruit, so it can easily be replaced with hummus, or I can always experiment with vegan cheeses- though I’d rather try to stick with whole, natural foods rather than processed versions. Eggs, however, will be a tricky one. I can’t think of any replacement to a poached egg on toast.
September also happens to be my birthday month! Unfortunately for me, my two most favourite cakes of all time are angel food cake and cheesecake. Angel food cake is basically egg whites with sugar, so it would be nearly impossible to vegan-ize. For obvious reasons, cheesecake is not vegan. But the vegan community is growing and there are many vegan cheesecake recipes out there so perhaps I will try one of those. Or maybe I’ll just wait until October for cake 😉
Although we don’t exactly “eat” toothpaste and lip balm, I’m including them on the list of vegan products that I’ll be trying out because they’re going near my mouth. Toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balm, and lip gloss/lipstick are the only make up and toiletries that I will be using vegan versions for. I am completely obsessed with Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm, so I have to find a replacement for that during September. I think that not being able to use my beloved Burt’s Bees might be more tragic than the poached egg or angel food cake.
I am, as always, inviting any and all of you to take part in this challenge with me! I like the idea of doing it for a month to see if it has any effect on my body. The controversy about veganism ranges from it being an incredibly healthy lifestyle, all the way to the criticism that it can cause a myriad of health issues and drastically decreases your energy levels. I’ll be interested to see if anything changes for me. As I know that there are a fair number of you who are athletes that have adopted vegan diets, I’m quite excited to experiment with this!
Will you be going vegan for this month? Or a week? Or a day? Even if you decide not to try it at all, hopefully you’ll take the opportunity to read a food product label or two… there might be more animal products in your food choices than you think.