#Veganuary

I am a vegetarian with a severe case of cognitive dissonance. You see, I discovered some time in high school that the more dairy I consume, the more acne I have. I can't tell you if dairy is truly linked to skin problems,[1] because I can only speak from my own experiences, but I can assure you that for me, dairy and skin problems go hand in hand. You'd think I would have given up dairy when I figured this out, but for some reason, I'd rather have acne or itchy skin than give up cheese.

When I started my vegetarian journey, I probably had cheese at every meal. Unlike meat, which disappeared from my diet without me even noticing, cheese was a major player in every meal. Breakfast: cheese grits, cheese in my omelette, egg and cheese biscuit. Lunch: cheese on my salad, cheese in my quesadilla, cheese on my rice... Dinner: cheese on my broccoli, macaroni and cheese, lasagna. I honestly didn't know how to make a meal without adding cheese. During this same time I was having a lot of trouble with me skin so I decided to finally back off the dairy products.

Most dairy products weren't hard for me to give up. I have a food aversion to milk, which means the taste and smell of milk actually make me nauseous. This means I can't do melted ice cream or milk shakes. I'm basically a one scoop, kid's size, for all dairy desserts. I only used milk to cook (which mean I wasted a lot of money buying the smallest container of milk I could find for 1/2 cup to bake something). When I discovered almond milk, coconut milk ice cream and yogurt, and vegan butter, I switched to using these products immediately. The skin trouble I had minimized significantly, but it didn't go away. Probably because cheese was still a part of every meal.

These are actually all vegan!
For the past three or four years, I've been slowly removing cheese from my diet. Last year, I attempted to do one week each month where I only ate plant-based. A lot of times I forgot, but when I remembered, I succeeded. So this year, I decided to participate in Veganuary. It's a month to raise awareness for veganism, and encourages people to eat a plant-based diet (and buy plant-based products) for the month of January. I think the goal is to show people how easy it is, and hopefully convert people to veganism.

Did I make it? With the exception of two days I made it the entire 31 days without eating anything that comes from an animal. One day I had a breakfast bar that was actually marked Kosher dairy, I'm not sure if there was actually dairy in it or if it simply came into contact with dairy during the packaging process. The other day, I went to a work function and ate a fruit dish that actually had cream hidden under the fruit. I was actually pretty proud of myself for managing to only slip up twice, especially since there were 3 events at work that had free cake.

The East Part

Since I'm already vegetarian and use substitute dairy products for most things, it wasn't that noticeable that anything changed. To me, ice cream and yogurt made from coconut milk is better than the original, so that's not an issue at all. I can't tell the difference between vegan butter and regular butter. Almond milk, especially if you get vanilla flavored, has a slightly different taste and smell that you have to get used to, but it isn't that much different either. Substituting these guys out in my every day recipes wasn't hard at all.

The Hard Part

Vegan cheese does not taste like real cheese. Period. I had vegan cheese a couple times throughout the month to curb my cheese cravings, but it wasn't as satisfying as real cheese. Also, eggs are a breakfast go-to of mine. When I wake up late and didn't prep anything, fried egg whites or scrambled eggs with spinach is super easy. I also found that many of the breakfast bars I usually eat aren't vegan, so breakfast suddenly became hard. In general, our society isn't set up to accommodate plant-based diets so this lifestyle requires forethought and meal prepping. Most of the food can be made vegan, stores just choose not offer vegan versions, which means you have to make your own.

Noticeable Differences

Ok, so the real question is was I converted to the plant-based life style and what did I notice health wise this month?

Health wise, I feel pretty much the same. I took a B12 supplement every day since B12 deficiency runs in my family and I primarily get my B12 from eggs, which were struck from my diet. My skin did improve and I don't have any acne at the moment. Unfortunately I still caught a bug the last week of the month due to the weather shift, so as I write this I actually feel pretty crappy. However, since the only real change in my diet was the consumption of cheese and eggs, I expect the difference should have been minimal.

Veganism isn't just about what you eat, it's a lifestyle about protecting animals and the planet. It encompasses much more than just what we eat. I'm all about protecting animals, of course, having grown up on a family farm where the chickens are not treated the way they are in factory farms, I don't feel any guilt about eating the eggs from home. Therefore I don't think I'll be 100% vegan any time soon, but you never know what the future holds.

References

  1. Wendy Marcason RD. "Milk Consumption and Acne—Is There a Link?". Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110, Issue 1; pg 152. January 2010

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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