Observations after a week of basically vegan

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Black bean brownies with peanut butter swirls. Weird but delish.

I feel lighter. Not in the sense that I’m losing weight, but in the sense that my gut–which has never given me problems, thankfully, feels even better (is that the right way to say it ?) than usual.

The closest example I can think of is that heavy feeling you have after eating something quite greasy, fish and chips for instance, and how it feels like a brick in your stomach. I feel the opposite of that. Make sense?

I think my stomach looks less bloated, too. I don’t expect this to be noticeable to anyone but me, but when I look at my profile in the mirror, I see a difference.

I’m becoming more thoughtful about eating because I have to (and I want to). I start thinking about what I’m making for dinner as I drive home. Typically I would plan on popping in a frozen cheese pizza because they are fast and good. Now I get home and snack on avocado and crackers to ease my hunger pangs, and then make spiced quinoa and zuchini.

Avocado. It has become my cheese replacement. Happily, it provides me with the same flavor satisfaction as cheese did. Maybe because it’s also high in fat?  I don’t know, but I plan to have our kitchen stocked with them all the time. And when they get really ripe, they can go in the refrigerator where they will stay in that state for a while.

I feel more creative in the kitchen; I feel more frustrated in the kitchen. It depends on my hunger. It’s hard to rethink my default modes (of grabbing cheese and snacking on it), but it’s also enlightening to see how automated my eating has been. I was quite proud of myself last night for making a vegan “cheese” sauce to pour over a bowl of broccoli and pasta. It tasted pretty okay–I had to diverge from the recipe a bit and deal with the ingredients we had on hand, so I think it will be tastier next time with all the proper ingredients.

It’s fun, however, finding alternatives to all the usual recipes. I’ve made brownies twice this week–once with black beans and once with bananas (plus cocoa/maple syrup/etc.) I brought the black bean brownies to a vegan dinner with friends, but didn’t tell them what they were made from until after they had all tried one. We all liked them, even if they didn’t taste precisely like dairy-based brownies; they were still good.

And thank goodness for culinary adventurous friends. The two people I spend the most time with (in addition to my husband) are the wonderful HK and MC. HK has been a vegetarian for a long time, and MC is not a vegetarian, but she likes interesting food. MC has probably cooked more vegan dishes than I have because she likes to cook and she likes to experiment. It helps so much to have friends who not only sympathize with your vegan efforts, but are willing to indulge them in their own cooking in order to have you over for dinner. And their cooking provides continual inspiration that vegan food can be delicious!

I have another lovely friend I will be seeing in Florida soon; she is moving toward vegetarianism for similar reasons I did. When I learned of a (sort of new) vegan restaurant down that way, I invited her immediately because I knew she’d be game to try it. And she is. So happy to have companions in this effort. 🙂

My next culinary experiment is making a supposedly delicious “cheese” sauce from potatoes and carrots…I don’t see how this will work, but that’s part of the fun.

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