Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Vegan Experience: Lessons Learned after Two Days


A few lessons have been learning in a very short amount of time. That is another point of doing unique things, to learn. I have had more quinoa, black beans and rice in the last two weeks than in the rest of 2013. That's not really a lesson learned, eating more of a food, but it's about learning how I like my quinoa or rice. Here are the major things I have learned thus far. 
  1. Really this was the warmup challenge, finding vegan bread. Between Trader Joes Sprouted Wheat Bread found in Madison, WI and Ezekiel 4:9 at The Food Store in Dubuque it looks like I shall survive. I eat a loaf of bread about every five or six days, because I eat 2-3 sandwiches per day at work most days, plus bread with olive oil and vinegar. Point being, I cannot envision going without bread. That seems more drastic to me than being vegan.
  2. Sometimes I feel like an idiot for the length of time it takes me to learn something. For example, [anecdotally] vegans always seem to be really skinny, so if I am a vegan I will probably get really skinny. Not once did I try to reason why vegans are skinny. I thought for some reason they didn't eat as much or something. On day one of my vegan month (August 1st) I discovered why in the evening: I had a craving for ice cream. Vegans cannot eat ice cream, custard, or gelato because all contain dairy products. Suddenly I knew why vegans are skinny. It's not for lack of eating, already two and a half days into the month the volume of food I eat has gone up. The reason vegans are skinny is that many of the vegetarian friendly foods like doughnuts, brownies, pizza, and most baked goods are off limits. Many of the high sugar foods are also high in milk, cream or butter, which tends to contain more fat and often saturated fat. It's as simple as that. Forget meat as a source of high fat and salt, which are not always conducive to weight loss, what about milk and related cream products as a source of fat and sugar? How many calories of that subway sandwich are in the cheese?
  3. Always carry food wherever I go. Often there is one ingredient that makes an entire food inedible to a vegan, like honey or an egg in bread. In short a vegan has to read a lot of labels, which is not a huge change for me because I have been on the lookout for high fructose corn syrup and sugar in foods for some time. This just takes that to a whole other level, instead of eating something I have a craving for, like ice cream, I have to find soy or almond milk to satisfy the craving. The point of this lesson is that leftover pizza and doughnuts are something that might be in my best interest to avoid regardless of my diet, and having my own chosen more healthy food available I am less likely to eat the junk food.
  4. We are not meant to be vegan, because of B12. It's a huge issue for vegans. It basically only comes from animals, really from bacteria, but in a symbiotic relationship with animals. What this means for me is that a vegan diet, even if I stay on it for years, is temporary for me. I like steak, salmon, cheese of course, and especially the occasional sea bass.
On a side note I have been tired all of August. I think that is from passing 300,000 miles on my van, talking to my parents of Africa, traveling to Moline two days in a row, and running over 50 miles in three days. So I don't think it's tiredness from an inadequate diet. 

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