Run, Cook, Eat!

Vegan Challenge – One Week
January 8, 2011, 12:33 pm
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One of the things I’m most excited about for 2011 is experimenting with vegan eating. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in doing a month of vegan eating with her. At first I was hesitant, but the more I thought about it, the more excited I got.

We decided to do a trial week in January, which is just wrapping up for me. I don’t want to monkey with my diet too much during marathon training, so we’ll be doing the full month roughly May 15 – June 15. Three of us did this trial week, and there will be 5-6 of us doing the full month.

Amongst the three friends taking part in the week, we individually guidelines for what we did or did not eat, since we had different reasons for choosing this diet (Chinese-medicine related cleansing, weight loss, just generally experimenting). I personally decided to not eat eggs, milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, dairy of any kind, and honey. I’m a vegetarian, so clearly no meat either. Although I occasionally eat meat substitutes (veggie meatballs and such), I wanted to stay away from them for vegan week as to not rely on them. In terms of dairy substitutes, I avoided egregious substitutes like soy cheese (that just sounds icky), but since I hadn’t tried them before, I picked up Earth Balance vegan margarine and some soy yogurt.

What’s been best abut this week so far is that in order to successfully navigate vegan eating, I’ve had to spend extra time planning out meals, shopping lists, and what I’ll eat, cook, or prep on any given day. Time consuming? Yes. Lots of dishes to wash? Yes. But I’m getting to fully indulge one of my favorite hobbies – cooking – while eating good, clean, healthy and budget-friendly food for every single one of my meals.

I’ve also gotten to delve in to a few deserving cookbooks on my shelf. Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian has been my go-to book for so long, so this week I’ve stayed away from it and instead focused on cooking from Veganomicon, Vegan Soul Kitchen, and some vegan (or easily veganized) dishes from my RSS feed’s saved items.

Assuming I follow through with it, in the next few days I’ll be posting a roundup of what I cooked and how it turned out. Veganomicon in particular had a lot of errata, so even though I won’t be posting full recipes, I think it will be useful to provide comments on what worked and what didn’t, and what is worth cooking from these various cookbooks.

As my official vegan week wraps up, I’m actually enjoying it so much that I might extend it a bit longer, until I finish off the recipes in my queue. (Or at least until I finish off this tub of Earth Balance.) Ethically and practically, I don’t think being 100% vegan all of the time is a good choice for me, but this week and this food has definitely convinced me to make vegan cooking a much larger part of my diet.