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Vegan Journey: The Prep

I was pleasantly surprised to receive emails from half a dozen of my blog subscribers last night, sharing their excitement about my new vegan journey. Turns out, many of them have been “closet” vegetarians or vegans for some time. It’s nice to know others have made the same choice and experienced the challenge of adjusting one’s lifestyle.

One email I received was from my friend Patrick, who pointed out the change in senses he has experienced since becoming a vegan:

“Besides increased energy, another interesting thing you will notice after a few weeks is that your sense of taste changes. You will begin to notice new or enhanced flavors, even in items that you have eaten on a regular basis in the past. When I shared this with my doctor, he explained that diets heavy in animal or dairy fat result in a reduced capacity for sensing different flavors. As a result of my new and improved taste buds, I find that I enjoy my food more and tend to eat slowly.”

With that said, here is how I started MY vegan journey…

After I made the decision to go vegan for a month, I went straight to the bookstore. I knew my biggest challenge would be keeping my meals and snacks interesting, as I’ve noticed in the last year that my food just doesn’t seem to taste as good as it used to.

So, I purchased three books that looked interesting and were recommended:

Thrive Fitness The Vegan-Based Training Program

Forks Over Knives This book was the most interesting to me as there are vignettes, personal stories and some recipes. (A paperback guide to the movie I mentioned in my last post)

The China Study (This study is featured heavily in the movie “Forks over Knives.”)

Because I have limited free time during the week, I have only skimmed through the books. But skimming has still provided me with good information and has kept me interested.

Big take-away: Many elite athletes are vegans. Clearly, there is no lack of protein in a plant-based diet.

After the bookstore, I spent about 2 hours visiting my local supermarkets, as I wanted to read ingredient labels to get a feel for foods I could and could not eat. (In addition to my Ralphs I shop at regularly, I checked out Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.)

Observation: There are a lot of dairy products in foods that I never realized before. This is the biggest difference between vegans and vegetarians: when you are a vegan, you do not eat any dairy products.

The last challenge I had to confront before starting my vegan lifestyle was, “What do I order when I go out to eat?” Fortunately, I had plans to go out to dinner the last two nights and was able to experiment.

The first outing was for business, and all my colleagues ordered chicken or salmon. There were two “vegetarian” choices on the menu, but I asked the server if they had any vegan options. He checked with the chef and told me “not on the menu.” So I simply asked him for a vegetable plate with no cheese or butter. I did find the platter of steamed spinach, arugula salad, grilled tomatoes, peppers and grains delicious and, honestly, did not miss the heavy foods my friends were eating. The bonus: I felt fantastic after I ate – no “over full” feeling.

Last night, my husband Garry and I went out to dinner. We went to a Mediterranean restaurant and, in the past, I have always ordered salad with chicken or salmon on top. So, I was relieved when I opened the menu and found a lentil soup with the words “True vegetarian” written next to it. No dairy either. Yeah! I made it through another dinner and felt satisfied afterwards.

So today, I am officially a vegan! Let the journey begin!


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