Friday, April 1, 2011

Going Vegan!

go-vegan.pngNext month will mark the one year anniversary of my vegetarian life! It was last year on Earth Day that I decided that I would embrace life as a vegetarian. I told myself that I could no longer eat meat and I never looked back. It was not hard at all. I suppose it is harder to keep a promise to another person than to yourself. When you make a commitment to yourself, it's harder to cheat because you will always know it! I didn't want to disappoint myself. I had made a life changing decision and I wanted to be proud of myself...and I am.

Now I am ready to take my commitment to the next step and go vegan! This might be a much harder challenge. Giving up meat was not too bad because I
have always enjoyed veggies and I actually loved eating them. I had like to eat meat too, but I knew I wouldn't go into withdrawal or anything if I didn't have any. I still eat some seafood occasionally and still enjoy sushi from time to time (usually on date night with the hubby, we love Japanese). But now, all that will be over! And now there is a whole list of things that I will not be able to have that just might have me in withdrawal and detox!!

I did some research to see what kinds of things I will have to leave out and I was a little surprised at what I discovered. Along with the obvious things like meat, seafood and dairy, there are some not so obvious items that I'm sure most people would not think of.  Such as:

cochineal- a red food dye made from insects
lecithin- made from animal tissue used in dressings
gelatin- made from boiled animal skin
marshmallows- made with gelatin
whey- made from dairy
honey- what I have discovered is essentially bee throw up
beer- because they use animal products in the production process
sugar- can be made from bone char (who would of thought!)

So I have this little list of things to avoid.  But something tells me that it's going to get a whole lot bigger.  As I sit here typing, I am enjoying my favorite Starbucks coffee.  Will I still be able to drink this? Do they make this with Soy? And what about chocolate? Are there kinds I will still be able to eat (I'm guessing milk chocolate is out)?  I've heard that chocolate has a small percentage of spiders that get inside while manufacturing...I guess that might rule out chocolate!  Chocolate and coffee are my two favorite things!  If I can still have them, then I know I will survive. 

Well, I have decided to take this as a process and make small changes along the way.  I was reading an article this morning that gave me such inspiration and a good way to look at the process.  It said to transition one category at a time and when you run out of categories, you have become vegan! Well, here I go, wish me luck!! :)


  1. A few things about going vegan:

    WHITE sugar is bleached with bone char. RAW sugar is not. And it's better for you anyway!

    Raw chocolate, dark chocolate, and Enjoy Life brand chocolate are all dairy free. And therefor vegan. I've never heard of any vegans that don't eat chocolate for that reason.

    I'm going to say that there are vegan beers, and would encourage you to ask around.

    Going vegan does not mean that you should deprive yourself or be miserable. And there are lots of people who can help you ease into the transition.

    The best thing you can do: reach our for support. Find other vegans on Twitter. Ask questions. And have fun with it!

  2. Finding vegan sugar is pretty easy nowadays...any sugar that is labeled as evaporated cane juice is vegan. Wholesome Sweeteners is one brand. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods 365 are other options. Evaporated cane juice is a 1:1 sugar substitution.

    Many alchohols are not vegan. However, there are plenty of online lists that detail which brands or what types of alcohol are vegan.

    As for spiders in your chocolate, well unfortunately, little critters can be in every food we eat. The FDA allows a certain percentage of "contaminants" in our food. You really just have to ignore this and move on and not let it stop you from eating. The more you can cook from scratch, the better; but even then, sometimes there are little insects in our produce, etc. It's more important to realize that you are doing the best you can.

    Chocolate options: there are many vegan chocolates! Enjoy Life Foods chocolate chips and some of their boom Choco boom bars are vegan. Go Max Go Foods have to-die-for chocolate candy bars. There are many small, specialty chocolatiers that are vegan. Search your local metropolitan city to see if you can find any that are local. If not, check --there are a lot of chocolates! Whole Foods also has vegan chocolate chips. Hershey's cocoa powder is vegan. There are also organic, vegan cocoa powders. You can use cocoa powders to make your own chocolate mix for hot chocolate or mochas.

    Starbucks. There is a soy frappucino now? There are options that use soy milk; and Starbucks has little packets of raw sugar. If you really want to confirm complete veganism, you'll have to investigate if the coffee itself is vegan. Some coffees use egg shells for clarification (e.g. old recipes for "cowboys coffee" use eggshells)--I do not know if any large manufacturers use eggshells anymore; I do not drink coffee myself. Once upon a time, I did confirm that Folger's instant was vegan.

    Lecithin: sometimes is made from eggs. Most is from soy. Some is from sunflower. If it is sourced from egg, it will have to be labeled on the food label that the product contains egg.

    Coconut and almond products have exploded on the market and many of them are sooo delicious. If you love ice cream, I recommend checking out both So Delicious and also Coconut Bliss. So Delicious has amazing pint ice creams made from either soy or coconut. My favorites are the chocolate chip cookie dough and the new sugar-free toasted almond chip. Coconut Bliss has an amazing, rich dark chocolate ice cream--their frozen bars (like fudgsicles) are soooo good. I also like their Mint galactica ice cream. Tempt ice cream is made from hemp milk; my favorite flavor is the French vanilla.

    Because there are so many good vegan goodies on the market now, it's easy to go overboard buying all these things, so keep in mind that vegans can eat too much sugar, fat, and junk, too. ;) So I recommend to keep an equal amount of focus on trying new healthy foods as well--try new grains, legumes and seeds that you may have never tried before. (Quinoa, amaranth, teff, buckwheat, wild rice, hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, mesquite powder, garbanzo flour, etc.)
    Another staple I recommend is Red Star Nutritional Yeast. I order a large bucket from . NY is great in pastas, in mock pesto, on rice, and sprinkled on popcorn.

    Take your favorite foods and find vegan alternates for them. For example, sushi: I make sushi with sticky brown rice, cucumber, bell pepper, spinach, parsley, carrot, avocado, rice vinegar, kelp noodles, and pulverized pumpkin seeds (instead of sesame seeds, which we can't have in our house due to allergy).

    Good luck! If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I am @AllergicVegan . There are thousands of other vegans on Twitter as well.

  3. Becoming a vegan for my New Year's resolution is simply the best thing I have EVER done for myself...and I do a lot of nice things for myself! Ha.

    The most important thing to remember is that being vegan is NOT about being perfect. You will invariably eat something that you realize afterwards is not vegan...this is fine. The most important part is that you are doing your best. Ease into it. I started by replacing cow's milk with almond milk, then slowly eliminating cheese and eggs. Honey was the last thing I cut out.

    Check out my blog-The Preppy Vegan-it launches Monday and is all about my brand new vegan journey, with great recipes to boot.
    Good luck! You are awesome and you can do it!

  4. When I found out that Yoplait yogurt had carmine in it for food coloring (crushed up beetles) I sent them a nice (or not) little email saying that I bet the beautiful, smiling girl on their commerical and webpage didn't know that she was eating beetles. I normally don't do stuff that this, but I couldn't resist. It just makes me mad that they have to color everything, I wish they'd just leave it plain. But I found out a few months ago that they've stopped coloring their greek yogurt with carmine!