Six Months of the Vegan-ish Lifestyle

A friend of mine from high school posted on Facebook her intent to go vegan. I liked her status and gave her written support in the form of a comment.

But it got me thinking.

As of next week, Mike and I have been vegan-ish for six months. Six months. I don’t know that I have had a diet or shift in lifestyle (other than quitting smoking) that lasted longer than three months.

So, what have we learned?

Easier Than We Thought . . . At Home
The whole foods/plant-based/vegan-ish diet is easier than we thought — at home. While vegan is widespread, we have hit some challenges when eating out or traveling.  Grocery stores with salad bars or Nakd brand bars often come to our rescue. We do hit the road with homemade trail mix and baked goodies — but meals can be difficult and often the “ish” part of our lifestyle.

Takes a Bit More Time
Going the whole food route means that we are making a bit more at home, like sauces and spice mixes, chips and baked goods. We’ve made that choice — but it can add to the menu-planning and daily schedules. It takes planning and preparation.

Cauliflower Shwarma

Nooch is Gold, When Used Sparingly
Nooch is short for nutritional yeast and it is what gives many vegan dishes and sauces the “cheesy” taste. However, we have learned that not all nutritional yeast tastes the same and I’m able to sneak it in to dishes if it isn’t the dominant favour.

Vegan nachos with a cheese sauce made from nutritional yeast!

I’m a Bit More Vegan, Mike is a Bit More Ish
It seems my body is becoming a bit less forgiving when I allow meat or dairy to creep into my body. It reacts like an angry parent who has found out their child has smoked pot. “That’s it. You’re grounded to the washroom for three days.” No excuses. No reasoning. So, I’ve cut back drastically.

Mike’s body is a bit more forgiving and allows him to bounce back and forth with ease; thus, making a half and half diet easier for him to maintain.

Vegan Lentil Loaf

Cheese Cravings
Out of all the items we have been cutting out of our diet or finding substitutes for, cheese has been the hardest item for us to give up. When we go out or splurge, often times it is for cheese items like a veggie pizza with real cheese or mac and cheese. It’s not the meat we miss.

Vegan Cheez-Its (made with nooch)

Sauces & Spices
While the majority of our nutrients come from plants, the flavour comes from the sauces and spices. We have learned how to make our own chili powder, garam marsala, hoisen, orange sauce and hot sauce. We find that making it at home, we can adjust the salt or heat to our tastes.

Ramen with hoison

Vegan Baking
I am learning to adjust recipes with eggs, butter and milk. I have started using flaxseed “eggs”, applesauce, pumpkin and peanut butter in our every day cooking. They are not exact replacements for eggs. Sometimes it turns out. Sometimes it doesn’t. It’s more experimenting than baking. I’m getting better at it!

Failed baking attempt on left, modified recipe with success on right.

While there has been learning lessons and challenges, we have felt better. Like I said, the six month mark surprised me. I take it as a sign that our lifestyle shift is a permanent one for us.

I’m off to make vegan Cheez-its and experiment with a sweet and sour cauliflower recipe. Like I said, more experimenting than cooking. In a good way.