We made it. For six weeks we planned meals without meat, dairy or eggs. And I am so happy we did. As a result of this experiment, we tried some new foods we never would have known about otherwise, added some great recipes to our repertoire, started exercising again, and lost weight. I lost a total of 15 pounds and Rob lost more than that. He is now training for his first 5K and I started taking yoga classes.
Rob is ready to remain a vegan for life, but in my opinion, a life without cheese would hardly be worth living. We are taking dairy and eggs off of our list of banned foods. That doesn't mean we'll be eating them at every meal, but they will be allowed. We may also add an occasional fish dish to the meal plan, but we will continue to eat vegetarian meals most of the time.
The Hardest Part
The one thing that I am looking forward to now is resuming more normal meals with the extended family. Our vegan experiment made sharing meals with others difficult, and we had to carry our own pre-made food with us wherever we went. Just switching from veganism to vegetarianism will allow us to eat more of the foods others would be serving, even if it isn't always the main dish.
Over the last six weeks of this experiment, we celebrated Memorial Day, two birthdays and an anniversary. Hosting an event and making food to please everyone was a challenge, and I'll admit I had a couple of slips as a result. I did partake of non-vegan birthday cake, and sampled a slice of real cheese pizza. (Eating vegan pizza while watching others eat delivery was just too much for this cheese lover.) I did manage to come up with recipes for a vegan BBQ though, and I made it through the experience of ordering food for a car full of people at a McDonald's drive thru without getting anything for myself.
Is Veganism Healthier?
I believe it is the emphasis on produce that makes veganism healthy. Compared to our lifestyle of fast food and processed snacks, veganism was definitely a much better choice. There are still plenty of vegan foods that can't really be considered good for you, however. The next step for us is to compare labels. For instance, is the soy milk really healthier than fat free cow's milk if the cow's milk is coming from a local organic dairy? I'll let you know what I find out.
Shifting the Focus
In an effort to stay on the road to better health, our new focus will be on unprocessed, locally-produced, whole foods. Organics will continue to get priority. Fruits and vegetables will still be center stage. The Farmer's Markets will remain a weekly staple. Purchasing foods containing the least amount of unpronounceable ingredients will be the new goal.
So, this may be the official end to our experiment, but I wouldn't call it the end of our vegan explorations. The adventure continues...