Herbivorous People

For the last month, we’ve been living a vegan way of life. It’s been one part body cleanse, one part weight check, and one part experiment rolled into 30 days of awareness.

It always takes me by surprise how offended, even incensed, people can become when they hear that you are a vegetarian or (WORSE yet) a vegan.  I’m not sitting up high on my soapbox. I enjoyed cheese pizza, cookies and a few other dairy containing items this weekend. I will say that the way another person chooses to eat is a very personal choice. If you want to jam McD’s in to your mouth all day long, your business. If you want to eat only mescaline greens and toasted pumpkin seeds while standing on your head, your business. If I want to try not eating any animal products for a month to see how my body reacts… well I think you get the picture. Aside from a few naysayers injecting judgy comments, it has been a very educational month.

I haven’t pushed myself this hard as a cook, or opened my mind up to alternative ways of preparing food, in a very long time. When I first decided to take a side step away from the meat industry, I had to re-learn how to make dinner. I was totally lost without my map of one meat protein, a vegetable, a starch, and a dairy item at every meal. I was coming off of a five year stint at a ham shop, followed by three years in Brat country, and here I was deciding I wasn’t going to eat meat for a month. One month turned into two, then three, and continued on as I learned that not eating meat meant seeing vegetables in a new light. Not as the side dish covered in butter, but as a main item packed with vitamins, nutrients, and so many flavors. I discovered that there was a whole world of cooking methods and ingredients, I had never even thought to explore.

We’ve made many incredible dishes over these past few weeks, and I’m thrilled to know that I can make more than just a salad when vegan friends show up for dinner. After our initial research, and first shopping trip, eating vegan was much less daunting than we thought it would be. We found that you need to come in prepared, as just grabbing things to snack on is not as easy as you’d think. There are milk and butter parts/pieces in so many things, that I’d find myself amazed when putting it back on the shelf. It’s also been a really great month of cooking with Anne. She was/is so excited about this challenge and has been holding lively discussions on recipes we should try, the best methods to prepare ingredients, and new places to dine out that cater to vegan eaters. Her excitement helped pull me through some moments of weakness that I’m not sure I could have pushed past otherwise (i.e. our pie filled November birthday celebration at work.

Some of our favorite dishes have been:

Carrots ConfitShepherd’s PieLentil-Mushroom Meatballs with Spaghetti, and the dish that warmed my heart the most: Roasted Butternut Alfredo. Try one or all of these recipes if you want to hop aboard the vegan adventure train. You won’t miss the dairy in any of them!

Life is too exciting to be close-minded. If something is not for you, it’s not for you, but it might be right for someone else. I’m not suggesting you spend a month being a vegan as well, only that trying new things might  open your eyes to habits or thoughts you didn’t know existed. I’m always striving to know myself better, and I encourage any challenge to my routine that will help illuminate those dark spots.

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