What I Learned Being (Almost) Vegan

How is June over already? It doesn’t feel like the first of July, and I’m not sure I like that the summer is flying by!

The end of June means the end of the Vegan Challenge with Emily and Allison.

While I jumped in last minute and wasn’t entirely prepared the first week, I think I did pretty good.

But.

I was not perfect. The birthday breakfast Nick made me was bacon and huevos rancheros, and I ate every bite. (Pretty sure he didn’t even know I was eating vegan the majority of this month)

Secondly – those couple of weekends I was out of town/on the road were tough. There were a few things I ate that were not vegan simply because there were no other options, but I feel like I did the best I could.

Overall, I had a fun month and I learned more than I thought I would.

Being a vegan in a small town had its challenges. We do have vegetarian/vegan restaurant that I didn’t even get to during the challenge, but other than that, it would be extremely hard to eat out in any other restaurant. Most vegetarian dishes at regular restaurants aren’t exactly healthy and are usually covered in cream sauce or cheese.

I tried so many new things that I now love!

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I had my first ever soy milk experience, and it wasn’t so scary ;)

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I made my own whole wheat pitas and sweet potato falafel!

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I fell in love with Original Coconut Milk Creamer and Coconut Milk Kefir.

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Overnight oats made with the kefir and Almond Breeze is just as tasty as with regular yogurt and milk.

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I made the best chocolate cake so far for Nick’s birthday – and he didn’t know it was vegan until I told him.

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My best batch of sourdough pancakes were vegan, too!

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The most important thing I learned is that I’m not vegan – at least not at this point in my life.

But eating this way for a month was so eye-opening to me! I knew what vegans did / didn’t eat, but actually doing that for a month showed me that I can.

That I won’t starve without animal products.

That my food can be just as delicious (if not more!).

I am really happy I did this challenge. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone (especially with planning meals for myself), but forcing myself to try new things was a good thing.

As for what I’ll be eating now?

I’m going back to what Nick and I were trying to do before and what I kept up for him while I was doing the challenge.

Supporting local farms and markets. Buying organic when we can and when it matters. Keeping to mostly home cooked, scratch made meals.

Whether or not you ever do a vegetarian or vegan challenge or whether you eat that way already, I think the most important thing for all of us to figure out is how we can eat while also supporting things that matter to us and help the world around us.

Nick and I try to buy as much locally as possible. We want our money going back into our community to help the farms around us keep going. That ultimately means eating less meat because buying local and/or organic is more expensive, but it’s worth it.

I shop at the farmer’s market as much as possible to get local produce – it tastes 100 times better, it was probably picked that morning or the day before, and I know exactly where it’s coming from.

I do love vegan baked goods, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing more of that. I almost always have the ingredients, everything is delicious, and it’s typically healthier.

What about you?

Are you vegetarian, vegan, neither?

What do you support with your eating habits?

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33 comments

  1. Looks like you learned a lot!

    I am neither but I don’t eat much meat, it just doesn’t sit well with me. We probably have 3 or 4 vegan or vegetarian meals dinners per week and for me breakfast and lunch is almost always at least vegetarian. As far as what I support, I do buy organic when possible, local when possible while still keeping my budget in mind. I’m a member of a CSA so that helps with getting organic produce at cheaper prices.

  2. looks like a fun challenge. glad you learned a lot, and had fun doing it. those pitas and falafels look amazing…must have missed that post, but i know what i’ll be looking for this morning!
    i don’t consider myself vegetarian, though i pretty much eat that way. i try to support local and organic produce as much i can, though that’s not always possible. even a little bit helps!

  3. Great post. I’m neither, but I do incorporate a lot of vegetarian, vegan meals into my diet. I totally agree with you about supporting local farmers, I am a farmers market addict!

  4. You, young lady, are one of the most beautiful and wise people I’ve ever known! :) Fantastic recap, you did such a fantastic job!

  5. Sounds like you learned some great lessons! I don’t label my eating any particular way, although I often go days without eating meat products without even realizing it. I also think I could handle being vegan (for the most part) except when it comes to yogurt. Although I haven’t tried soy milk yogurt yet, so maybe it would be an easy swap.

  6. What a great job!

    It was great watching you put vegan meals together!

  7. Great reflections! I have to admit that sometimes reading your posts I had to remind myself that what you were eating was vegan and not just damn good food.
    I think I’m like you in that I’m not vegan but when I’m not I make a point to support the right causes

  8. What a wonderful recap! I loved these two especially, “That I won’t starve without animal products. That my food can be just as delicious (if not more!).” THANK YOU!! I feel like people think that vegetarians/vegans eat iceberg lettuce and that’s it.

    I’m not vegan myself but vegan baked goods are amazing! Plus, I feel like since they’re vegan I can eat more of them ;)

  9. I don’t consider myself vegetarian, though I pretty much eat that way- another commentator said that and I’m in the same boat! People often think I’m a vegetarian b/c they see me eating salads, veggies and fruit all the time but I just love them.

    That being said, I don’t buy organic on purpose and never will- conventional is cheaper and I’m not drinking the “organic is better” Kool-Aid bloggers espouse. I’d rather direct my money toward better ideas- putting $ aside in my 401k and Roth IRA and for traveling. The thought of paying more for milk or produce just b/c it’s organic when that money can go toward a Spain or Africa trip is just lame, in my opinion.

    • I”ll admit – it took me a long time to even think about buying organic ANYTHING, mostly because my husband and I have an extremely tight budget for everything including food, and we simply couldn’t afford it.

      I do think some things are worth it, but some aren’t and really don’t have much difference. So, we don’t buy organic everything, and I still put local before organic any day.

      I would much rather buy milk from our local dairy (who is probably organic but can’t afford to be labeled so by the USDA) than buying organic just to buy organic.

  10. For a few months, I did Vegan thursday challange from Chocolate covered Katie, but it was hard for that single day too!
    Now as I’m trying to loosen up my eating habbits, I’m not doing it anymore, but it had some benefits. I tried so much good vegan eats, and I love it!
    I know vegeterian diet isn’t for me, but a diet with just a bit meat is. I know I couldn’t live without dairy :)

  11. Good for you for truly giving veganism a shot! It seems like it was an eye-opening experience (and I really appreciate the product suggestions!). I have a few main eating principals. Like you guys, I try to eat local and organic whenever possible. In the last few years, I have strayed away from meat, but I still enjoy well-prepared, good quality chicken, and I definitely eat fish. But I stick to mostly vegetarian sources of protein–beans, tofu, legumes, etc. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your adventures as a vegan!

  12. Nice recap Brandi! It was totally honest and down-to-earth and therefore is a lot more of a realistic perspective. :)

    I don’t buy all organic either. I try but sometimes it’s just not in the cards. Like you, I would rather my money to go back into the community by supporting local farmers and producers. Thankfully when I can’t get to the markets, my local Whole Foods is excellent about stocking produce, eggs, and milk from local farms so I can pick things up there. And like you mentioned, a lot of farms are technically organic but can’t afford the fancy labeling from the government. Either way, I would still rather support local than buying something “organic” from who knows where. :)

  13. I can’t believe it’s already July either! I eat vegan sometimes and honestly, you usually can’t tell the difference. But I don’t want to go completely vegan because I DO love my yogurt and cheese…

  14. I’ve been waiting to hear your take on your vegan month; thanks, it was very thoughtful and well-written.

    Your food looked great all month, and I never heard you say (as I may have) “this is haaaarrrrdddd….” :)
    Actually, it looked as though, with minor modifications between your meals and Nick’s that it wasn’t that hard to incorporate veganism into your already-healthy diet.

    I buy organic produce as much as possible, being a CSA member helps. We bought meat from a local farm last year, (husband loves him some beef); but I think I could do better. I know that when I’m at Costco (it may be organic but it’s certainly NOT local) I feel a twinge of guilt.

    • Definitely!

      I actually found that making meals vegan for me and non-vegan for Nick wasn’t as hard as I originally thought. I would have meat he could grill for himself and I would just have the grains/veggies, etc or I would make dishes and cook up some type of meat on the side for him to add to his dinner. And tacos/taco salads were perfect! I cooked the meat and got out all the toppings and we made our own. I don’t even think he noticed that I didn’t have any meat in my dinner.

      And we just joined a CSA this year, too and love it so far!

  15. vat a great experience.. u did a perfect job brandy!! i can also coupe like even more than a month only sticking with vegan meals except when it comes to soy milk.. have tried many times but every time i get failed. every time i go to a market i try to buy local food more than the meat products.. have to buy since my family is a non veg family.. but i rili enjoy eating vegan meals specially the meals with eggs and cauliflower :) they are soo good for health
    cheers!!

  16. Brandi – I’m so impressed that you did this for a month! I mean of course a lot of people are vegans but considering you’re not 100% it’s so awesome that you gave it a try and stuck with it for so long! And that chocolate cake is calling out to me!

    I eat pretty much everything – but like you – try and buy as much organic and locally sourced produce, meats and fish as possible.

  17. All the vegan food you made looks delicious! I don’t think I could ever be vegetarian or vegan due to my food allergies, but I think that it is noble way to go. I think what you and Nick are doing by buying locally and organically whenever possible is the way to go. Congrats on finishing vegan month!

  18. you did great on the vegan challenge! loved the reflections.

  19. vegan foods definitely have the potential to get u out there trying new things which is fantastic! i love bob’s red mill and almond breeze. his scottish oats are fantastic too :)

    and i guess its better to accept that we cant be perfect.. and yea small towns have major disadvantages, but on the flip side u get to be more creative and find way to make it work right!

    xoxo <3

  20. I would like to be vegetarian, but I don’t want to be a burden to people when I go over to their house and eat. My mom always serves meat as the main dish at every meal, so it would be very difficult. People in my hometown seem to shun vegetarians, so I try to eat vegetarian when I’m preparing my own meal and I’ll eat the meat

  21. I just started my own vegan challenge for the month of July today! I had kind of a rough start (no groceries in the house led to a scrapped-together lunch/breakfast) but I’m excited to see where it takes me. I’m most worried about eating out for sure.

    I think you did so great! I love that you made a cake vegan and your husband didn’t even know. That’s some skills. :)

  22. I’ve been vegan for 2 years now. I think it’s great that you tried veganism for a month. It can be tricky at first, especially when you go to restaurants.

  23. i’m glad you did the challenge! i eat everything, but mostly vegetarian at home b/c of my husband, and since i try to avoid cheese most of the time due to my high cholesterol, i tend to eat vegan a lot. i actually really enjoy vegan food, i just also really enjoy everything else!

  24. I’ve been following GreenDogWine on her Vegan challenge, and I’ve enjoyed reading your’s and Emily’s recaps as well.

    I was vegetarian for 8 months and did Vegan for 2 weeks just to see if I could do it. The Vegan wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I missed dairy a lot. I took a lot of what I learned as a vegetarian back in to my meat eating ways, so I don’t eat nearly as much meat as I used to and when I do, I buy organic.

    It’s always good to explore new ways to eat, keeps things fresh!

  25. Please keep eating lots of nutritious vegan foods. Your body and the animals will continually thank you!

    Now that that’s out of the way … you made your own pita bread and SWEET POTATO falafel? They look amazing! Recipes, please!!!!!

    I’m so glad you discovered So Delicious coconut milk creamer and kefir. These are such wonderful products. I use the creamer for making the most luscious chai tea, and whenever I start to feel like I might be coming down with a cold or the flu, I drink some of the kefir and feel better the very next day! Plus, they’re both delicious! :)

  26. Hey! I’m a vegan, and that pita & sweet potato ordeal looked fantastic! Could you maybe, possibly, pretty please with a vegan brownie on top give me the recipe?! ;) haha, thanks!

  27. Im not a vegan but I do know that I could probably survive on it. I eat mostly fruit and veggies anyways but I do eat yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs and seafood. Those things would suck to give up because I love them all so much but it’s definitely doable. Do you have the recipe for the cake? It looks amazingly dense and delicious!!

    • I posted the link to the cake recipe on the post where I made it (should have been posted on June 8th since that’s Nick’s birthday). It was delicious!

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