I am one week into my month of veganism. In some ways, this diet has gone as expected: I’m eating more vegetables. I spend more time reading food labels. I get less enjoyment out of my daily coffee.¹
But there have been some surprises, too. My favorite breakfast cereal? Not vegan.² Weight loss (after months of post-partum struggles)? Surprisingly effortless (more to come on this topic in a subsequent post). But the most surprising discovery of all?
Being vegan is easy.³
I had imagined it would be difficult, and I’m clearly not alone: when I tell people about my month of veganism, the number one comment I hear is, “that’s got to be hard.” And if we mean “hard” as in “hardship,” then yes, there is some hardship involved (see my coffee comment above). But if we mean “hard” as in “challenging,” well, in many respects, it’s easier to be vegan than omnivorous.
Why? Because we face too many choices in our daily lives. And too many choices cause more unhappiness and more stress, not less. (See this article and this one.) Veganism reduces choice. Whether at a restaurant, or at the office, or in your home kitchen- there are fewer options available to vegans. So you go with what you’re “allowed” to eat, and the choice is made.
No more taxing my brain at restaurants as I scan a menu with endless, delicious-sounding options. I just hone in on the few vegan choices (sometimes only one) and go with it. At work, I turn a blind eye to the homemade banana bread that someone’s mom made (with eggs and butter, assuredly); I ignore the salami, cheese and yogurts in the fridge; I know I’m not allowed to eat these, so they don’t even enter into my consideration set. If I’m hungry, I know exactly what my (few) options are: carrots with hummus or peanut butter; fruits; Kind bars.
Granted, this “easy” aspect of veganism is also part of a trade-off, and many of us would gladly accept the pain of more choices if it means we get, say, half and half in our coffee.
Still, this first week has gone tremendously well, and so far I’m rather enjoying my veganism.
Here’s what I cooked this week:
Coconut-Cardamom Vegan Overnight Oat Parfait from Oh She Glows. Easy, if you don’t bother with the jam (I didn’t). A great portable breakfast, but a little too sweet and rich (for me) for breakfast. Grade: B+
Dark Chocolate Quinoa Breakfast Bowl from Minimalist Baker. I messed this up by just making regular quinoa and then mixing the ingredients in (instead of cooking the quinoa in coconut milk & almond milk) but it was still delicious. Grade: A
Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad from Oh She Glows. No idea whether this is “crowd-pleasing” because I made it only for myself, but I’ve eaten it the past three days, so that should tell you how much I like it. Grade: A+
Ultimate Vegan Mac and Cheese from The Glowing Fridge. This is cool because the “cheese” sauce is made from vegetables, but it comes out the same bright orange color as Kraft Mac & Cheese. My kids loved this and even Graham called it “a winner.” Grade: A-
¹ Soy creamer, almond milk, coconut milk, coconut creamer: I have tried them all. They don’t live up to half and half.
² Trader Joe’s High Fiber Cereal. It has whey in it. Who knew?
³ Only in some ways. Being vegan is also hard, which is the topic of my next post.