Food & Fitness

Shifting perspectives

The Vegan Challenge may be over, but the effects of it are still lingering, for me, at least.

I’ve decided to go back to my omnivoric ways, the same as I intended before beginning the vegan challenge. There will be a few changes, however; I’ll be cutting out dairy from now on as much as possible. I didn’t miss it during the challenge and although I believe there are plenty of valuable nutrients in dairy, for my body it doesn’t sit very well. I’ll keep drinking my ridiculously over-priced unsweetened Almond Breeze instead of milk. Bean spreads and mustard can be used for sandwich spreads rather than cream cheese. There’s always cheezy sauce made with nutritional yeast, too!

I’m going to incorporate eggs back into my diet and some meat very occasionally. This challenge has allowed me plenty of time to consider my likes and dislikes, and I’ve figured out that for the most part I don’t care much for chicken or pork. They’re usually rather bland meats that take on the flavours of whatever they’re cooked with (much like tofu!). I think I’d rather eat really good quality bison or salmon for my animal flesh intake than meats which are mediocre to my taste buds.

One thing that we can all take away from this challenge is the immense range of possibilities. There are a million options out there! As Bag Lady pointed out a couple days ago, there’s nothing wrong with animal ingredients being used for so many products, but it’s good to know that there are ways to get around it if we so choose.

The Vegan Challenge also demonstrates how much we rely on animals. There are ways to get around the animal ingredients, but for the most part it’s a hassle to find vegan options. That, to be honest, is the main reason why I’m choosing not to remain vegan: convenience.

It is very inconvenient to be vegan (if you’re avoiding everything related to animals, including honey or foods that “may contain traces of milk ingredients”). Going to restaurants is a nuisance because unless you go to a specialty restaurant, it’s difficult to gauge which meals are vegan. Some of the vegan variations on foods- such as nutritional yeast cheezy sauce- might not be enjoyed by people who aren’t used to eating it, so if you’re cooking dinner for other people but you’re vegan you have to take those things into account.

To be a healthy vegan requires a lot of time-consuming food preparation and cooking; far more so than to be a healthy everything-tarian (how many labels do you think we can make to accommodate for a variety of diets? Cheese-less vegetarians, meatarians-minus-the-chicken… I think I’m just having fun making up words now). I adore cooking and I like to plan my meals in advance, but other priorities take precedence over cooking for several hours every day. Also, spontaneous offers to sample food are fun. Any time over the past month that people offered me food, I usually couldn’t accept it because it wasn’t vegan. Travel, of course, would be a major hindrance with this! I can’t imagine how many headaches that would cause, traveling around the world and being barely able to convey the basics with language barriers, without the problems of describing vegan needs.

Stumbling Blocks

The first couple days of the Vegan Challenge were tricky simply because I’d forget. I came very close to using my Burt’s Bees Lip Balm out of habit and had to eventually hide it in a drawer. I didn’t crave eggs, which surprised me a lot, but a few times I felt dissatisfied with what I’d eaten. I’m pretty sure it was the lack of nutrients that I’d normally find in animal products. Since I discovered how tasty beans are, though, that problem hasn’t arisen. Instead I have a newfound obsession with beanballs. Possibly partly because it’s an amusing word to say.

What’s next?

I like the idea of adopting a mostly vegan lifestyle (there I go again with the labels. Us rhetoricians like to have terms to identify with ;)). I’m going to try that out and have meat on special occasions or when I’m out with other people, for the convenience factor and so that I can get the fabulously accessible nutrients from meat products. Although there are plenty of nutrients in plant-based foods, they aren’t always so easily accessible: our bodies don’t process them as well as animal products, so we have to pay more attention to getting a well-rounded diet if it’s mostly vegan.

As a point of interest, my friend Ted also adopted a vegan diet over this month. It sounds as though it was hell for him. He really likes cheese. And I don’t think he enjoys cooking very much. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another!

Next week I really will start posting about other health issues besides nutrition and veganism. Here’s to a healthy weekend!


  1. Hanlie

    I find that’s what works for me too. I eat a predominantly plant-based, dairy-free, whole food diet. I’d say that I eat animal products no more than about twice a week, usually when I’m eating out. Good luck!

  2. Dr. J

    All very interesting!

    When I first heard of being vegetarian, it was VERY uncommon! After a few years, it became more well known. Now it’s considered “normal.” In time, vegan may move toward a more centrist position and be less inconvenient ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The Candid RD

    Great plan. I agree with you that (even though I’ve never tried it) I would think the biggest problem I would have being vegan is that it’s not convenient. It’s so easy for me to grab a cheese stick or yogurt for a snack, and I enjoy those snacks! I’d rather just eat a bit less of the animal products, then give them up for good.

    Thanks for taking us through the challenge with you. I feel like I understand veganism a bit more now, it was very helpful!

  4. JavaChick

    Re: the label thing; I do find it interesting that we seem to need so many labels. I recently picked up a cookbook called “The Flexitarian Table”. The definition given in the book for Flexitarian is either a) someone who is mainly vegetarian but sometimes eats meat or b) someone who eats meat but sometimes enjoys vegetarian meals.

    When I was growing up, sometimes we had meat and sometimes we didn’t. It never seemed remarkable or unusual to me. Back then it was just dinner. Now we have a label for it.

  5. Andrea@WellnessNotes

    Great recap. As I said before, I really enjoyed reading your posts during this challenge. I eat little meat and have limited most of my dairy products (but I still truly enjoy cheese). I think eating a mostly plant-based diet works well for me at this point in my life. I don’t know if I’ll ever completely eliminate meat and animal products, but I might… We’ll see.

    Have a great weekend, Sagan!

  6. Jennifer Allwood

    After doing this for the last 8 weeks… I consider myself “mostly vegan” when it comes to EATING only. I gotta say I am too lazy to go to all the trouble of looking at ingredients on shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Good for you for going all out on this!!!!

    My husband and I used to eat meat/eggs 2-3 times a day. We are now comfortable at 1-2 times a week. My concerns are strictly for health reasons. I think it was healthy to eat meat and dairy when we used to own our own cows for milking and raise our own chickens for eating(back in my grandparents days). Now that everything is so processed and shot full of who-know-what to keep it healthy, make it produce more milk, etc….. I am really worried about the amount our country as a whole is eating. I miss meat at every meal…. but I also miss smoking which CLEARLY was never good for me. So… for me…cutting way back is my goal.

    I think meat/dairy in moderation is safest. There is a wonderful book entitled “Healthy at 100” that is not pro-vegan or pro-vegetarian. It simply studies the 4 healthiest people groups in the world. I think its fascinating. The common cord is plant-based, low meat/dairy diet.

    I think you did a great job and I love your new plan!

  7. charlotte

    Loved hearing about your experience! It sounds like you learned a lot and have some fun new recipes to add to your repetoire. You are so right about the convenience (or inconvenience rather) factor. For me the kicker was eggs. It is so hard to bake without them! Plus I really like eating them:) Beanballs…hee.

  8. Sagan Morrow

    Hanlie- and it sounds like it works SO well for you!

    Dr. J- yes. Give it another ten years and it’ll likely be just as convenient as any other way of eating.

    Gina- me too. I like that if there’s no vegan options available, it’s not a problem to eat whatever IS available.

    JavaChick- ahaha. Funny, isn’t it? I always thought the same way, too. I wonder, is labeling a BAD thing? Does it help or hinder us? (I could write a whole paper on that for one of my classes… hehe).

    Andrea- it could be interesting to try it just for a day, anyways. A day here and there could be a nice little peek into a different kind of lifestyle!

    Asithi- I tend to play 21 questions anyways when I eat (“does it have mayo? How is it cooked? What does it come with? Can I substitute…” etc etc. :))

    Jennifer- I’ve only been vegan for the eating as well. The complexity of having it as an actual lifestyle would have been such a drastic change that it’s not something I’m prepared to do (right now, anyways… well, realistically, probably ever). And I COMPLETELY agree with your thoughts on how growing it ourselves is healthier- I’ll have to check out that book, it sounds great!

    Charlotte- Eggs are fantastic, aren’t they?

  9. South Beach Steve

    It is good to read your thoughts of this in a recap Sagan. There is no way I could go Vegan, but I am intrigued by it anyhow. I am almost at the other end of the spectrum, but I have learned that a diet heavily based on healthy veggies is a great beginning.

  10. Mike Foster

    The best part of your challenge was discovering how your body reacts to certain foods it didn’t consume as much before, and how it doesn’t miss a lot of the foods all too many people consume without thinking about it.




  11. Lance

    Hi Sagan,

    So interesting to read your wrap-up here. I think the hardest part for me would be the additional time it would take to prepare everything. And hey, I learned a new word! (everything-tarian!!) Woohoo!!!

  12. Gena

    I’m glad it was a positive experience for you! A few years ago I was a strict vegetarian and really enjoyed trying and tasting new foods. I also had the same epiphany about chicken – it really has almost no taste unless it’s coated in seasoning!

  13. Sagan Morrow

    South Beach Steve- it’s always interesting to learn about the different extremes, even if they don’t work for us personally!

    Mike- yes, that was really neat to see. I wasn’t quite expecting some of it.

    Lance- someone should put together a dictionary of terms that bloggers use. It would be hilarious.

    Gena- it never occurred to me that chicken was like that until this month. Funny how we can be so used to something and not realize it for such a long time!

  14. burpexcuzme

    I personally think it’s silly to label yourself as a “vegetarian” or “raw foodist” or whatever. That just sounds a lot like a clique, and restricts you in unnecessary ways, and sometimes it can lead to a “holier than thou” attitude. I just call it “I do whatever works best for me and my beliefs and morals and health” diet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. westwood

    “As Bag Lady pointed out a couple days ago, thereโ€™s nothing wrong with animal ingredients being used for so many products.”

    My philosophical conscience wrings awkwardly around that one.

    Although I will give you a giant hand, because you have done something extremely cool which I could never have done. My passion for cheese will be my undoing.

  16. Geosomin

    I couldn’t give up cheese either.

    I’ve found that as long as I know the meat I eat comes from ethical local farmers I am OK with some meat in my diet. Soy milk and almond milk are quite tasty. I found just reading labels was a real eye opener…

    To me I’m more concerned about the chemicals used to simulate flavours in the foods I eat…

  17. Pingback: The Phenomenon of Want: my experiences with a vegan dietLiving Rhetorically in the Real World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *