From the Inside Out- My Choice to Go Vegan and Quit Animal Products "Cold Tofu"

This post has been a long time coming, and with my hiatus from blogging it seems like a good one to come back with. Now I know why blogging is a full time job and I admire those who have faithfully posted daily or weekly blogs.

This is about your diet.

Last summer I made the decision to go vegetarian because I wanted to maintain my weight more easily by ridding my body of processed meat, excess sodium, excess saturated fats, and cholesterol by replacing them with wholesome simple foods like fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, nuts, and low-fat dairy. The problem many people have when switching to a vegetarian diet is not doing the research necessary to allow the diet to benefit them. Yes, many foods are vegetarian: bagels, cinnamon rolls, oil fried tofu, m&m's, peanut butter and jelly...
Do you see where I'm going? I see this all too often. Many vegetarians who do not do research beforehand end up carbing and sugaring themselves into not only failing to lose weight, but even gaining it!

Two weeks ago I made the decision to go vegan. Eggs and other dairy products still contain saturated fats that I do not want in my body. Because of this sudden revelation, I took out a book from the library to help me gain a little more knowledge about the diet. I took out Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World. It really opened my eyes about not only the health benefits of veganism, but also the cruelty of the dairy industry. Veganism, I found, is not simply a diet, but a movement for the freedom of animals from torture , death, and ownership.Simply being the ends to someone's means- a satisfaction of the craving for meat. While there are other viable options out there, why should animals be put to such a fate? So, I stopped giving my money to support an industry that I find appalling.

Now, let me tell you, it is much more difficult to be vegan than vegetarian in this world. Your life becomes far more centered on food. Pick up 5 packages of foods you would expect to contain no animal ingredients next time you're in the store and then read the package. If it does not say "Contains milk" or "Contains eggs" look for whey, or gelatin among the ingredients. I work a job where I am surrounded by delicious junk during my breaks from a 10 hour day. It is hard, let me tell you. There was a time when I would grab a chocolate milk and a bag or Doritos for lunch. Not gonna lie. But now I have to plan for when hunger strikes. Yes, the taste of green pepper pales in comparison to the salt and flavor covered chips, but I remind myself every day why I'm doing what I'm doing (partially to look like Jenna Marbles). If I cut up enough peppers, apples, avocados, pears etc. I have no excuse to eat poorly at work. The good part is- you can pretty much overdose on veggies without health problems. Eat all you want. Just be smart about it. 5-7 veggies a day is not supposed to be avocado, avocado, avocado, avocado, avocado you see what I'm saying? Too much healthy fat is still bad.

Anyway I really am going somewhere with all this- I promise. For those of you who are interested in vegetarianism and (hopefully) veganism (since there is no such thing as ethical vegetarianism) I want to give you a step up with some of my tips for transitioning. Plus some factoids to get you motivated.

Factoid #1 Veganism lowers your bad cholesterol levels and decreases your risk for heart disease, stroke, food poisoning, bowel diseases, and cancer (among other health complications).
Factoid #2 Vegans live longer! You will also look better for your age due to high intake of antioxidants through colorful fruits and veggies and avoidance of unhealthy fat and refined sugar.
Factoid #3 Eating meat is entirely unnecessary. It is a significant source of iron and vitamin B12, but these can be obtained through a multi-vitamin.
Factoid #4 It's cheaper to buy plant products than animal products.
Factoid #5 Eating vegan is environmentally friendly, while eating meat causes methane pollution and excessive waste of water.
Factoid #6 If everyone went vegan, we could end world hunger (and salvage the national debt).

This is the Hints & Tips section

Hint #1 To make veggies more flavorful, find a vegan marinade you like and then pan fry or roast them.
Hint #2 Cheeseless pizza is really very good if the dough has enough flavor. Try Amy's Cheeseless Pizza for topping and flavor inspiration.
Hint #3 If you're stuck out somewhere, you can get salad at any fast food place, but be careful with dressings since many contain milk. Collect packets of vinaigrettes to keep in the car for such occasions. Make salads more flavorful by adding a variety of toppings such as garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds, or apples.
Hint #4 Eat Ezekiel Bread with margarine or almond butter for an all-in-one vegan protein punch.
Hint #5 Keep snacks in the car to avoid getting over-hungry and feeling the need to fast food (I know it's tempting sometimes). I really like dried fruits, like mango from Trader Joe's. Also I keep Eden Organic spicy pumpkin seeds in my car (so delicious) as well as a couple of vegan Luna bars. You can get packets of peanut, almond or hazelnut butter (Justin's Nut Butter) which taste amazing for protein on-the-go.

I would love to hear from people who are vegetarian or vegan, who are interested in transitioning, or who have questions. As always, I love to learn new things and would enjoy hearing your tips too!

Love and healthy intestines,

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