Recounting My Vegan Diet: The First 20 Days

Home grown Basil and Tomato
Why on earth are you going vegan again?” my husband cried as though he has just heard another of my craziest new ideas yet. “Because I want to!” is usually my first stern reaction. It shows that I am the boss of me while at the same time affording me time to collect my thoughts for a much better answer! I then explained to him that my primary motivation is to become familiar with the delicious world of vegan food. I feel towards vegetables and fruits how a connoisseur feels towards wine. I reap immense pleasure from exploring new vegetables and fruits and he, the resident chef, thinks up fresh ideas for us on how to consume them. This “going vegan” move would be the impetus to explore more uncharted territory in vegetable land. That was my primary reason to turn to a vegan diet but certainly not my only one.

Eating is an evolution. We cannot eat the same way every day and every year of our life and expect the same results. Change in our diets is inevitable in order to adapt to our body’s changing needs over time. We should be refining our diets periodically and monitoring our health closely. Complacence here is our shortest path to illness and disease. Sometimes, we choose to listen and embrace the need to change and sometimes, we may fight and refuse to believe that we cannot continue eating the same way as before. Remember, we always make the choice either through indecision or an active decision!

I have eaten relatively healthy all my life but in 2007, I shifted my perspective about food altogether. That was the exciting start of my food evolution: green juices, raw foods, green smoothies, detoxing with juice fasting, and a mainly vegetarian diet. Shifts of those scale produce a completely different reaction from our body and mind than minor changes, such as giving up fried foods or eating less meat per week, would ever produce. It is along this exciting journey that I decided to explore an extreme version of a vegetarian diet, a vegan diet.

What is a Vegan Diet: Avoiding all animal and animal-derived products – no meat, no dairy. That leaves you with the exciting world of vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, legumes, grains and dark chocolate!

Today marks the 20th day of my vegan challenge and here are the highlights of my experience:

The Surprise Reaction:

“Oh My God!”, I gasped the first evening, “I cannot have sushi!”. Real sushi and sashimi, you know, raw fish! Andy was right, I had not thought this through completely! I decided to go about this rather quickly. On July 1st, I posted a little challenge on my Facebook Fan page, “Who wants to go on a vegan challenge?” – A blogging buddy, Tony Teegarden, showed interest and challenged me to start right then and there along with him. Why wait? Why indeed! July 1st thus marked the first day of my vegan challenge. No regrets so far.

The Ease of going Vegan:

The switch from my diet to vegan was sweet, pleasant, warm and welcoming. My normal diet was about 90% vegetarian and 50% raw. While I would generally eat the delicacies of whatever culture we happened to visit during our travels and while I love the creamy Indian vegetarian dishes and my occasional Persian feasts, giving them up (so far) has not been difficult at all. My dependence on meat of any kind as a meal has long since been subsided. The majority of the day, my meals would consist of a mixture of fruits, vegetables, delicious salads and nuts, mostly raw foods. I truly eased into a vegan diet as you would ease into a perfect bed that has been waiting to cuddle you all its life. It felt so good right from the beginning.

The Goal of having a Balanced Nutrition:

Going vegan was a reminder to ensure that I eat a balanced diet. You can go dizzy in just trying to figure whether you are getting every single nutrient and mineral your body needs but a quick assessment is in order. In a healthy vegan diet, you would still need to make sure enough calcium and protein reaches your blood cells. I opted for Pure Essence Labs for minerals and vitamins; they worked so well with me a few years ago. It adds some calcium to my diet and the rest comes from okra, kale, and tahini! Tempeh, seitan, nuts, hummus and legumes hopefully fulfill the protein needs. I admit I do not like tofu much at all! Iron is plentiful in the dark leafy vegetables. And this is as balanced as it gets!

The Healthy Approach to Vegan:

The biggest misconception is that you can eat anything or as much as you like when you are vegan. In fact, this may explain my slight (but horrifying!) 5-lb weight gain even after weeks of cycling and pushing my body to the max so do be ware of portions and quantities. If I could, I would have done a raw vegan diet but it is too much to give up the comfort of warm food just yet. Stay away from packaged and processed foods as much as possible and eat more natural foods in reasonable quantities. Remember this is a move to a plant-based diet and away from manufactured food. Make it easy on your body to adapt to this new diet by staying as natural and unprocessed as possible!

The General Eating Style:

What do I generally eat? Tons of delicious food and whatever the resident chef feeds me with his stamp of “Yes, it’s vegan” approval! I like to eat in stages and in snack bites but I do eat meals too. For breakfast, I would either have a handful of nuts or a 1/2 banana with walnuts or some fruit (mango, blueberries, watermelon). Then I would make a salad mid-morning with avocado and more nuts. Hummus, lentil soups, eggplant- and mushroom-based dishes, pasta with pesto, sweet potatoes, baked beets, and any other vegetable dishes cooked or baked in the vegan kitchen. I have had a larger appetite but convinced it is the intense cardio and not just going vegan. The vegan food is however very filling so no going hungry! For desserts, I would eat dried figs, dark chocolate, almonds, mango or fresh-cut pineapple. Variety is super important while planning ahead is your biggest challenge.

The Challenge with Restaurants:

Contrary to what my husband thinks, I did not go vegan so that I announce loudly in the restaurant, “Excuse me, I am vegan – What special dish can your chef cook for me because nothing on this 38-page menu will do, thank you!” Much as I enjoy attention, it is rather embarrassing to be a “fussy eater” but alas, you have to deal with it. I happened to have many restaurant engagements during this 20-day period and the experience varied. I recommend always asking very nicely about changes to an existing dish and selecting at least 3 dishes from the menu that you can suggest alterations for, if no vegan options. Be ware of being left with nothing but a tiny salad, bread and olive oil!

The Strike of Weakness:

I had a few moments of weakness and oddly enough, all for one single thing I missed the most: My plain yogurt. My attachment to plain yogurt is rooted in the Iranian culture where we eat this delicious food along with our main dishes, as opposed to consuming an ultra-sweetened-version of it with fruit or granola. Besides, plain yogurt has excellent bacteria for the stomach and makes the most delicious snack with dried dill. Yum! My mouth is watering just writing this. Yes, this was to be my first strike of weakness when one night, my body’s incessant cry for this food sent me into a deep self-analysis of my choice to go vegan and finally, my vegan friend’s super approval sealed the deal: I had a few bites of the heavenly yogurt. Then the next day, the owner of the Lebanese restaurant who is always too happy to see me, added the usual portion of complimentary Baklava to my order and I did not get the memo soon enough on how far the original Baklava falls from vegan land! Second strike but I am not out yet!

The Delicious Favorite Dishes:

Experimenting in the kitchen is always fun and my chef did not disappoint when it came to vegan cooking. I have been eating superbly well and below, you will find a selection of a few favorites from my menu. Having access to plenty of recipes and options is very important for this diet. My favorite website so far is Vegan Yum Yum and for a good vegan recipe book, we opted for 30-Minute Vegan. Of course you must do the shopping often and keep your vegetables and fruits fresh before they perish so planning ahead is imperative!

The Vegan Approach Long-term:

The healthiest approach must feed not just your body but also your mind and your mental well-being. I love vegan cuisine and consider it to be among the most delicious foods even from my short encounter. The vegan dishes are mouth-watering and satisfying! All the same, I have decided that depriving myself of the yogurt and the occasional sushi immediately and indefinitely is too stressful so perhaps gradually, I may be able to make the transition. I seriously plan to continue eating a vegan, a raw-food and plant-based diet as much as possible for the foreseeable future but I will do so while listening to my body and my mind.

My overarching goal is to achieve a sustainable diet promoting optimal health in a strong body and with a happy mind. It is a journey that evolves and I truly believe the vegan experiment has brought me one step closer to finding the most refined balance for that body and mind.

Updated October 2010: I admit that with intense travels to Europe, Canada & Asia, I was unable to stay 100% vegan. I have maintained a mostly vegan diet at home and given in to some non-vegan cravings. My challenge ahead is how to maintain the best diet (for my body) with travels and intense cycling and yoga – a work in progress! Open to suggestions ! Watch for a new update in this space before end of 2010 and always listen to your body!

Share your Food Thoughts:

I would love to know what you eat and who among the readers is a vegetarian, a vegan, a raw foodist, a green juice enthusiast, an omnivore, or perhaps a fusion of all options perfected to your own human individualism. Let’s talk about food!

Eggplant Dish with Tabouli

Baked Beets Salad

Artichoke Hummus and Avocado

Baked Sweet Potato

  • Maggie

    I’m so glad you had a great experience! I really don’t think you need to think of your ‘slip-ups’ as strikes though. It’s not a succeed-or-fail thing to eat a vegan diet, it’s just a process. Like you said, we should always be changing how we eat. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a vegan who truthfully doesn’t eat something non-vegan ONCE in a while. I also make it a point never to say I “can’t” eat something as a vegan. I simply choose not to. As for the yogurt, have you tried some of the soy yogurts? I usually keep a tub of Silk plain yogurt for making parfaits, smoothies, etc. I love your food pictures – so mouth-watering!!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Maggie, good to see you here. Thank you for the vote of confidence on my “slip-ups” – I think you are right and I love your motto – I think that might work better for my husband who still wants to know why I am doing this! Never tried the soy yogurts but my friends also suggested it. I will give it a go! The photos were taken with my new Canon 50D! I am having a blast with it!

  • http://ngmarley.com/ Nathan

    I love that you did this Farnoosh. I’ve been vegan for 4 months now, and have never felt better or been healthier.

    You can eat sushi! Sushi isn’t technically raw fish, but rather cooked rice complemented with other ingredients. There are lots of types of vegan sushi available.

    I get calcium (and B12) from different types of “milk”: soy, rice, coconut and almond. Quinoa is complete protein, and a favorite food of mine, which I eat in place of rice.

    I got a great recipe from Leo Babauta — every morning I eat 1/4 cup uncooked measure steel cut oats, 1/8 cup raw almonds, 2TBSP golden flax seeds and 1/2 cup raisins. Sometimes I eat it with blueberries or goji berries. I feel great after eating it, and it really fills me up, so I’m not hungry again for a few hours.

    Regarding restaurants, it was difficult for me at first. I just don’t eat out anymore. (It’s really difficult to find vegan options in Arkansas.) I cook my own food, know exactly what goes into my body and save money as well by not eating out!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Nathan, thanks so much for all the info and the encouragement. Why do you not eat rice? I LOVE RICE!!! Calcium I sometimes worry about and I don’t take in any of those “milk” products – I really can’t stand the thought of milk so any fake milk probably will be hard to psychologically get over! I could do the steel cut oats in the winter though – and yes on restaurants but I do go for social occasions and to be with my friends so I’ll have to find a way around it….Oh and sushi and sashimi is raw fish, my dear – the real Japanese would say so :)! But I know what you mean!

  • Jean Sarauer

    Farnoosh, the timing of your post is just right. It was so nice of you to write it just for me :) I’m a vegetarian, and am working my way towards a vegan diet. Eventually, I’d like to eat mainly raw, but that will take some doing in January when it’s 20 below and I want hot soup.

    I am saving this as a resource as I want to explore those recipes and also your supplements. I am always curious to know what my vegan and raw food friends do for supplements.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Jean, I would like to eat mainly raw too and if you find a way around that “hot soup” on a cold day (which is anything under 50F degrees for me!) then please let me know….My supplements are delicious and great so far but you have many options if you choose to research some extra ones too! Good luck and as always, thank you for being here!

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  • http://www.abubakarjamil.com Abubakar Jamil

    Interesting read and very well written Farnoosh.

    As far as I am concerned: Long live the yogurt! :)

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Abubakar, do not mention yogurt to me. It’s very hard to imagine life without it. Long live yogurt – too funny!!!

    • http://www.happyheartandmind.com Preeti @ Heart and Mind

      I love yogurt too! as an Indian, we eat so many food, savory and sweet that are made of yogurt! I am with you, long live the yogurt and that is one of the reason I am only partial vegan.

  • http://Theboldlife.com Tess The Bold Life

    Hi,
    I began running 25 plus years ago. At the time I stopped all red meat because it felt heavy in my stomach. I ran evenings after hubs came home so he could watch the kids. I’ve wanted to quit dairy yet as I age that’s all I hear is “calcium for bones.” What do I do about that?

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Tess, I am no expert but my doctor seemed to think my main concern should be getting enough protein. Calcium is found to some degree in spinach and if you look at Nathan’s response above, he gives some options too, not the least of which I do just yet!!! Keep up the running – that sounds very empowering!

    • Jeanie

      Farnoosh, if I may?

      Tess-
      Essentially, the research can be summed up thus:
      Animal milk is acidic, and calcium is pulled from the bones to buffer the acid. Therefore-dairy is actually *contributing* to osteoporosis.
      I Googled “beating osteoporosis with no milk” and the first result is the more scientific answer I vaguely remembered reading months ago. :)

      Here’s a quote ” On the average, a vegan diet (no meat or milk) provides about 500 mg. per day of both calcium and magnesium. Studies show that vegans have stronger bones than meat and milk product eaters, especially after the age of 50.”

      Hope this helps!

      • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

        You most certainly may – this is a community and responding to any and each reader is highly encouraged.
        I think spinach and some other dark leafy vegetables are a fantastic source of calcium too! Thanks Jeanie, and I hope Tess will get a chance to read this too!

  • http://www.mindadventure.com/blog rob white

    This is an interesting decision, Farnoosh. I consider myself a health food nut, and while I love my smoothies, protein drinks & sushi my most important step to vital living is establishing a mental diet that has me enthusiastic about life. Digesting thoughts that encourage a creative spirit gives an inexhaustible vitality beyond what any energy drink can promise.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Rob, you always twist the question with your own answer…..How can I disagree? A mental diet to “encourage a creative spirit” – I so love it – and I never drink energy drinks – I have more than enough energy… ;)! Thank you for the fresh perspective, as always!

  • Hulbert Lee

    Haha, I like this line, “…my body’s incessant cry for this food…I had a few bites of heavenly yogurt.” It was nice to hearing your experience with your first 20 days of a vegan diet Farnoosh. You definitely are an example of what prolific living means, even in the department of health. ;) I admit I eat both meat and vegetables; I like both worlds. Thanks for this Farnoosh.

    P.S. I spotted this punctuation error in case you want to change it, “…s,weet” under The Ease of going Vegan.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hey Hulbert, thank you for reporting on your diet AND on my punctuation – the latter of which was immediately fixed!!! I love experimenting with food and I encourage you to do the same over time – I am sure you will have lots of fun with it – you are welcome and thanks for stopping by!

  • http://SourcesOfInsight.com J.D. Meier

    I still haven’t figured out what healthy is. There is so much conflicting advice in the world of health. I think the key is knowing what to measure and testing your results. The patterns seem to come down to lower calorie, don’t spike your blood sugar, go for high nutritional density, and movement.

    One of the most interesting Ted talks I saw was on Blue Zones, which are the places on Earth where people live the longest and the healthiest. It’s like patterns and practices for aging well.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi J.D., if you look at more and more natural and simple solutions, you will see more common answers: Raw foods (salads) are great for you – Drinks are best if it’s water or occasionally red wine – Caffeine if you must, go for loose leaf tea – Fried food: Um, no – Quantities, portions: reasonable but don’t go hungry – Also don’t combine food categories like carbs and proteins and sugars….It’s easier on the body to digest them one at a time. And of course cardio cardio and yoga in my book :)! I’ll check out the Ted Talks, thanks!!!

  • http://www.jessilicious.com Jess Webb

    Wow, I love this vegan challenge you’ve been on – thank you for sharing your experience so far. :)

    I am neither vegetarian or vegan or raw, but am fascinated by food and different diets. I do tend more toward vegetarian and like to watch what I eat. I always feel better when I am eating more natural, whole foods as opposed to processed foods and meat. :)

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hello Jess, how nice to see a new face here! I share your fascination – which brings me to all these challenges – And my reason is the same as yours: Feeling better when eating better. Thank you for commenting!

  • http://www.tonyteegarden.com Tony Teegarden

    Hello my friend.

    I’m so glad we engaged in this together. I, like you was already very close to a vegan diet. On occasion I was eating fish and every now and then free range chicken only but also a bit of yogurt from time to time. I’m lactose intolerant so dairy has never really been a optimal choice for me.

    The shift hasn’t been bad at all. I’ve been about 50% raw and the rest vegan. I don’t have a “resident chef” lol so I pretty much do a lot of my preparation in advance. Working from home makes it a lot easier also I believe.

    I think the biggest challenge some folks may fall into is the lack of creativity and thinking vegan or raw has boring taste to it. Nothing can be further from the truth!

    Application of seasonings, oils and mashups or combination is exciting and tasty. (I”m SO going to do the baked beets! YUM)

    Personally I love mini organic sweet potatoes. Baked or raw in a salad they are just amazing. Also a friend of mine got me hooked on avocado, cucumber, kale and broccoli blended with fresh lemon. A pinch of salt, thyme and zip (by Spice Hunter) Just good stuff that fills you up. (and has good fats we need)

    I think an important aspect too to keeping satisfied and full is water. Lots of it. I’ve been drinking a gallon of ionized water everyday. I’ve also noticed I’ve shed lots of excess water by doing so. Plus I feel full and satisfied most of the day too.

    Outstanding insights (And the photos made me hungry lol)

    As far as my sweet tooth? (YES I have one) One of my favorites is frozen banana’s with, organic almond butter and chocolate soy protein. It’s seriously one of my favorite treats. It almost tastes sinful. ;-)

    I would say what I’ve gotten from our commitment is becoming even more creative with my “recipes.” I like your pictures that you shot and as you know I’ve been posting pictures of some of my dishes on my Facebook page. I was surprised because lots of people commented on them. This isn’t something I’ve done a lot of if any but I realize it’s something of interest to my friends.

    Thank you so much for posting such an in depth and amazing post on your journey and including me as well! This has been fun and I’ve enjoyed it completely!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      My partner in crime, hello Tony!!! I am so glad you enjoyed the post and the photos (My new Canon 50D, even though I hardly know how to use it yet so it’s all electronics magic and no skill right now!) – So it’s really nice to have your thoughts which are really an extension of the post. You will love the beets. My whole point with this challenge was to explore the world of vegetables but I forgot just how much time and planning that also requires! It’s well worth it though. Keep it up and thank you for egging me on to start this! More photos to come and you can do the same with your Facebook page!

  • Marion Anderson

    Farnoosh

    I come from the land of the deep fried Mars Bar. Scotland is not known for healthy eating. However some years ago I started to grow my own vegetables. Fresh veg from the garden tastes wonderful – I could almost become vegetarian but I would really miss the call of a lamb curry. :-(
    Really well written and interesting post.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Marion, hi! How nice to see you!
      Don’t tell me that; I am going to Scotland soon (well, at least it is in my plans) and would not want to have to be that “fussy eater” in a restaurant!! Lamb curry – gosh, don’t remind me, I did give up a lot. Thank you for your thoughts!!!

  • Sandra Lee

    Farnoosh, I find this a wonderful challenge you are reporting on. I would love to eat vegan because it’s kinder to animals and requires fewer of our strained global resources. My husband is very close to vegan. It’s not possible for me right now due to health considerations, but I hope it may be possible in the future. I never eat raw food which would cause havoc in my digestive system. The ability to tolerate raw food, I think, varies greatly among people. Thanks for the interesting report and the yummy looking photos.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Sandra, nice to see you again – I was sure you’d be here if I talked about food :)! It’s good to know our body’s limitations as well as its strengths – Raw foods have been good to me but I have gone overboard at times, especially with green juicing and I have learned to back down and moderate. I am especially glad that you liked the photos! That’s one project that I am taking very seriously. Thank you!

  • http://daringclarity.com Lana – Daring Clarity

    Farnoosh, that’s a great challenge. I did something similar a year ago and never looked back. My 3 y.o son is vegan too and feels great. I highly recommend hemp seed and quinoa, both contain lots of protein, calcium, iron. quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids. But I am sure you know of all that already:) Really enjoyed the post!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Lana, how nice to see you here! I am very impressed that you feed your son the same way too. Actually I did not know that about Quinoa so I’ll make sure to add it to my diet. So happy you enjoyed the post too!!! Great to see you here!

  • http://www.happyheartandmind.com Preeti @ Heart and Mindz

    Farnoosh,

    This is great Farnoosh. I have been a vegetarian all of my life and I am partial vegan for a few years (I eat yogurt and cheese occasionally) there are lot of wonderful vegan recipes, just like you showed on your post!

    I can see that you like to stay fit and eat healthy. I recently saw your juicing video too, amazing. Being healthy and eating well all in one post! Seeing these pics, I feel like eating at my local falafal place, too bad I am on budget this month, I can make some at home. Now, I am hungry after reading your post. :-)

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Preeti, I had a good feeling you were a vegetarian. The vegan world has got to have some of the most delicious recipes and foods. Yes I am quite the fanatic about staying fit and healthy and I am happy to have transferred that passion over the web to you…..now go get something yummy to eat! And thank you as always for being here!

      • http://www.happyheartandmind.com Preeti @ Heart and Mind

        Farnoosh,

        I am back after yummy filling of food that I cooked. I love love cooking, you know.

        You had a good feeling and hunch, about 30% of Indians are vegetarian. Even though I am in US for 22 years now, some how I never became meat eater. Plus there are so many cool recipes that are vegetarian or vegan that I want to try. Just look at your pictures!

        • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

          The options with vegetarian food, if one is a planner, creative and has TIME, are amazing – it’s a world I wish to explore deeply, Preeti and I am doing ok without the yogurt so far. I think what I had that day really pushed me along! Maybe an Indian favorite recipes post is in order for you? I will definitely be all over it and so will my hubby!

  • http://www.wilmasblog.com Wilma Ham

    Hi Farnoosh, You know what I found the most amazing thing, how filling vegetables are. They feel light in your system and yet I have no desire to snack in between meals. We grow our own veggies and as the winters are not super cold here there are still heaps in the garden and of course kale.
    Do you know you can bake kale in the oven and get lovely crispy kale chips?
    Eating something you crave once in a while in not bad at all, what is bad are your feelings about it. You will slowly forget about yogurt in due course but until then eating it when you really want it doesn’t hurt. Soon your system doesn’t want it anyway. That happened to me when I let go of meat.
    I am not a vegan yet, but close and meat we only eat when I occasionally make a lot of Indonesian dishes when we have visitors. Otherwise we don’t. You know what I would miss when going vegan completely, mature cheese.
    xox Wilma

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Dear Wilma, vegetables are delicious AND filling – I have known that for a long time because meat has not played a key role in my life last few years – that and on the other hand, how too filling meat can be when you are not used to digesting it anymore. I grow *some* very little herbs and peppers but having a full garden someday is in the plans. And *thank you so much* for the kale chip tip. I am so very tempted to go to the store right now and buy some kale. I like to juice kale as it’s very hard to eat by itself unless I buy it from Farmer’s Market where it’s a gentler kind…..I think forgetting about yogurt is really going to happen….And thank you for sharing your story, and for stopping by to make my day!

  • http://www.kaizenvision.com Aileen

    I enjoyed reading about your Vegan Challenge – and your choice to go gradual with your favorites, yogurt and sushi.

    I am not vegan or vegetarian I am in the realm of a little bit of everything with large focus on raw & steamed vegetables & raw yummy fruits and nuts.

    :)

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Aileen, thank you for encouraging me – A little bit of everything sounds like my Mom’s theory – everything in balance. Of course I am all for raw fruits and nuts and vegetables!!!

  • http://www.ArvindDevalia.com/blog Arvind Devalia

    Farnoosh, this is the perfect article for me as I though I am a vegetarian, I am not quite yet a vegan.

    This is something I wish to try for a whole month – so 1st of August here I come. I will really miss my Sikhand (indian yogurt dessert) and maybe some cheese.

    I became a vegetarian over 10 years ago and my life transformed over night as I found out I was allergic to drinking milk.. Apparently most people can’t digest milk either, but never really find out until they stop drinking it – suddenly they feel so much better.

    I shall look out for more articles about your veganism:-)

    • http://www.ArvindDevalia.com/blog Arvind Devalia

      I meant to add why I became a vegetarian. Apart from the perceived health benefits, there are various ethical and moral reasons from my perspective, which I shall save for a rainy day:-)

      • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

        Hi Arvind, I think you are eating similar to Preeti – Vegetarian but not vegan The switch for you should be easy and I really look forward to not just reading about an August challenge (I usually like to start my challenges at the beginning of the month too, what’s up with that?!) – and my gosh, I gave up drinking milk in my late teenage years, I can’t stand it. I did used to enjoy cream in my coffee but both have been eliminated years ago! Nothing like Oolong tea :)! Thank you for stopping by !!!

        • http://www.happyheartandmind.com Preeti @ Heart and Mind

          Farnoosh,

          I am partial vegan, no dairy milk, no honey, no other animal products as much as I can possibly know about but I take occasional cheese and yogurt. Like Abubakar and Arvind, I have yet to find a great soy yogurt texture that I like.

          • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

            Preeti, you are the biggest advocate for yogurt – even bigger than me, dear! :)

  • http://welcometojulieworld.blogspot.com Julie

    Oh, Farnoosh, this post… You wrote my thoughts and many of my own experiences. :) Yes, I too am mostly vegetarian and working my way toward a combination of a gluten-free/vegan/raw diet, and I have some hiccups here and there. My hubby is a good sport, but once in awhile he’ll bring home a favorite item from the past.

    My conversion was prompted by listening to my body. I can no longer digest meats (making it easy to give up red meat but I find fish still challenging; I love sushi, too!). I’m lactose intolerant (giving up the dairy was easy, except for cheese garnish; that’s a tough one), can’t eat gluten (talk about a tough learning curve), and can’t digest more than a tiny bit of oils and sugar (which is good, but challenging).

    All that said, learning and experimenting is FUN! :) Now that I’m home, I find it easier to research ideas, shop and prepare. Just having the freedom of more time for these makes the learning curve so much easier. When it comes to calcium and my temperamental system, I make sure to take a daily pill (actually, I take a few).

    Farnoosh, I just love how you pointed out that “Eating is an evolution. We cannot eat the same way every day and every year of our life and expect the same results. Change in our diets is inevitable in order to adapt to our body’s changing needs over time.” I find this to be very true. And so I have decided to enjoy the process! :)

    Thanks for a fabulous post!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Julie, how very nice to know your eating habits and styles – and so considerate and smart of you to know your body and adapt to it – I think most of us are going to the vegan path one way or another and it may take longer or shorter but it’s just nice to see the awareness toward better eating options.
      On Calcium, I rely on spinach and kale but the multi helps too – and this is entirely too much fun and it makes giving up some favorites a little easier! Here’s to happy meals, our own way!

  • http://www.edenjournal.com Eric | Eden Journal

    I enjoy reading posts like this, I’ve seen a few people in the blogging world writing about vegan or vegetarian diets. I haven’t tried it yet myself, but every once in a while I find myself considering it.

    One problem I have is that I don’t like a lot of vegetables or fruits. I’ve learned to like a lot more than I used to, but I still don’t have enough of a taste for them to completely move to a vegetarian diet. Do you have any tips to learn to like the taste and texture of vegetables?

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi Eric, nice to see you here – let’s see, have you tried to *bake* the vegetables in the oven – my husband has found a way to make me LOVE cauliflower and broccoli, neither of which I am crazy about – and he bakes them with Indian spices til they are soft and crispy in the oven. Baking has helped me a lot. I don’t like broiled and plain vegetables so much but I do love raw vegetables in my salad except mushrooms which must be cooked for me……Experimenting is the key – you don’t have to love all vegetables because the choices are so ridiculously large that you can have your own set of favorite vegetables -just remember that you have lots of options – and same goes with fruits. Always try the FRESHEST of each which makes another layer of huge difference. Best of luck!

  • http://www.timelessinformation.com Armen Shirvanian

    Hi Farnoosh.

    Cool pictures there at the end. Healthy foods can look great. I wouldn’t say I have a vegan diet, but a huge chunk of my diet is vegetables and fruits and whole grains. All the best tasting food is in these categories, like basil in your picture that goes great with certain soups, or tomatoes that are good all over the place. I like your pictures with the beets because beets are very lively looking and taste good. I like to steam these foods like cabbage or beets or sweet potatoes. Some of the nutritional material gets into the water below where they are steamed, though.

    I sure do like eating yogurt with food too like with rice and salad and whatever protein-filled food is on the plate. For this purpose I like thicker yogurt like Lebni if you have had that.

    I eat way too many almonds, so I will cut back on those, as although they are good when eaten at a handful a day, 2 or 3 handfuls a day is a bit much.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Armen, I love Lebni and I love almonds – and I think your diet sounds outstanding – it’s all about how we feel and if we feel as good and young as we really want to, we should not be pressed to make changes…..Glad you enjoyed the photos with my new toy: Canon 50D! And I have no idea how to use it yet, so that’s all-camera and no-skills! :)
      Thanks for sharing your food thoughts! Now I know you heaps better :)!

  • http://www.lessordinaryliving.com Phil – Less Ordinary Living

    Hi Farnoosh –

    You are one for experimenting and I salute you. That is the way to learn quickly. I try to eat a balanced diet – low meat, a little bit of fish, lots of fruit and veg. I can definitely learn from your experiences – there are some brilliant and delicious looking ideas for super healthy food. Good luck with the rest of your challenge – let’s see if you stay vegan (and resist the pull of the sushi!)

    Phil

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Thank you Phil – I like to push myself, as I carefully explained to my husband’s bewildered friend who I imagine will never give up meat but to each his own, I think it’s great that we have so many options in this world and every body requires a different type of nutrition – but NO I will not give in to the pull of sushi – well, the Toronto and New York trips will not make this easy but I shall be strive with both kindness to myself and commitment the diet! Good to know about your balanced diet too and as always, lovely to see you here!

  • http://whisperinggums.wordpress.com whisperinggums

    Fascinating and fun post. ‘Fraid I could never go vegan – much as your dishes look truly delectable – partly (and, I suppose significantly) because I have food intolerances (which result in chronic eczema). There are so many things I can’t eat – wheat, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, peanuts, oranges for example – that going vegan would limit way too much an already limited diet.

    This brings me to my other main point: Restaurants! I have been managing my condition via diet – with only occasional need to recourse to pharmaceuticals – for 25 years now, so I am well-versed in the “I can’t eat this or that or that” problem. Some good restaurants are very happy to put this from this dish together with that from that one to create something I can eat; some wonderful ones will go to an effort to make up something special just for you; but some a little-too-precious ones will say “chef” says he couldn’t possibly serve this without that special sauce (not to mention the one which says they only have enough portions for the set dishes). It’s a challenge!

    The advantage of all this though is that I CAN have sushi! Life’s not all bad! LOL!

    But, good for you Farnoosh, and thanks for a wonderful-as-usual post.

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Hi dear wonderful non-vegan Sue, :)! So nice to see you here and so cute of you to tease me about my sushi dilemma – Let me just say that the timing is at least right because I have tasted the BEST sushi on the planet not once but many times during 4 trips to Japan so at least, I am not quitting after sub-standard sushi! Thank you so much for the restaurant experience, especially the “special sauce” – My husband has not become that fussy yet, I guess it may be a sign that he is not a real chef yet ;)! – Well, I think it’s wonderful that you know your body so well and treat it in the best way it needs to be treated. That, to me, is the grandest way to eat our way to mental and body health. Lovely to see you here! I am so glad you enjoyed my post!

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  • Akila

    Wow! Good for you. We travel and being a vegetarian who eats dairy and milk is hard enough in other countries. I can’t imagine trying to explain veganism to people in restaurants in languages that I don’t know!

    Japan in particular was tough enough as a vegetarian – though, man, do I love the vegetarian food I found —- the tofu was just scintillating (which meant that I wrote up a whole post on it). I hope you stick with it. Good luck!

    • http://prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

      Akila, I am pretty anxious to see how things will work out during my upcoming travels but I have a healthy approach to it and if I cannot stick to it for one meal, I won’t kill myself over it :)! But it’s a worthwhile effort and I plan to visit Japan many times during my life time – 4 was hardly enough!
      Glad to hear of your vegetarian habits. We can be the walking example in other countries until it becomes the norm! Thank you for your comment here!

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  • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

    You are welcome. I am loving the vegan diet even more on my second try.

  • http://www.onelovemeg.com Meg

    I am so happy that you are doing this. I recently made the switch to the vegan diet when my father passed away from Cancer in November. I went from eating meat with almost every meal to VEGAN. I do still eat fish so I call myself a flexatarian but I did still cut out a lot of the foods I normally eat and rely on. I am also slowing cutting out fish but I grew up living with a charter fisherman. Fish has been that food outlet that reminds me of the good times with my father so I have had a hard time giving it up. Almost like he would be disappointed if I stopped eating fish. Silly I know.

    BUT…. I did gain weight when I made the switch. I try and eat a healthy vegan diet but I think my body may be in shock. Hopefully I can follow along and learn some good tips. I think its key to stay away from processed food which is a huge challenge.

    Thanks for doing this. I am super stoked!

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Meg, there you are again. I am very sorry to hear about your father’s loss and I *totally* understand what you mean about not disappointing those who are gone and to hold on to those reminders…. Oh the vegan journey. I went cold turkey here for a month when I wrote this post but had cravings – so then I went strictly vegan Jan 1st and so far, only one craving that I fulfilled, and I haven’t’ missed sushi or plain yogurt, my comfort foods – so more posts from the vegan journals are coming but suffice it to say, the weight gain: I experienced that only when I went vegetarian but with vegan, I have lost BUT I exercise heavily, do lots of yoga, am blessed with a great digestive system and do a lot of green smoothies, raw foods (lots of raw foods) and Oolong tea and no soda/no coffee/hardly any alcohol…I think vegan alone can be the best or worst diet. It is no magical answer at all. I am sure you will find a way to your optimal way soon. Let me know if you want to chat more! Thanks so much for your comment.

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  • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris

    Hi Farnoosh,

    Just read your article. I noticed a few times where you mentioned cravings for certain foods that are off the vegan path.

    My thought about this is why not let your vegan diet be flexible and listen to those cravings, there maybe something in the food your body needs.

    Anyways- I enjoyed reading this post. I think I will be going through your vegan recipes to try them out- I enjoy cooking.

    • http://www.ProlificLiving.com Farnoosh

      Hi Chris, so nice to see you digging through this archives. Thank you so much for your thoughts. Read this as I was walking into sushi tonight. I replied on your other comment about how this week, it has been crazy with cravings so in a way, I have totally been flexible. I was so, so strict but I am going to allow some leniency. As for my vegan recipes, they are pretty yummy. Go for it! And report back please. :) Thanks for your comment.

      • http://betweenthetemples.com Chris Harris

        There looks to be some really interesting stuff in your archives- just need more time to read ;-)

        That’s great that you allow flexibility for yourself. I will definitely be letting you know how I fare on the recipes.

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