Collard Roll Ups

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Who wants a salad when you can have some of these little collard roll ups?

Instead of using taco shells or quesadillas – I just use some collard greens!  Inside is some guacamole, beans, rice, and corn.

What do you think?  Delicious 😀

 

I have been doing this vegan diet thing for a year and 9 months.  Before that, I was a vegetarian for about a year.  Now, I know I have posted something similar in the past, but I’d like to reflect on how difficult the vegan diet is.

When I say that, I know there are tons of people who will go on about how cheap it is, and how easy it is if you are just prepared etc. and more often than not I would agree.    Basically, I think the vegan diet is completely accomplish-able if you set your mind to it.  Just be ready to eat more, more frequently.  I do think, however, that depending on who you are, where you live, and the circle you have around (for example do your friends always want to go to a steak house?) that there could be more challenges.  It’s obvious, by my 21 months of being a vegan, that it is not impossible even without endless smoothie shops and dedicated vegan restaurants in your area.  I just do my vegan thing using a regular grocery store and some interesting attempts at cooking where I basically alter every recipe I find because I don’t like to have too many steps, and I prefer to use what I have.

I would also like to make a note that in the 21 months I have been a vegan, not a single friend who lives close by to me is also a vegan.  The BF who I live with is also an omnivore, but he is trying to eat more plant based, although he hasn’t made a complete switch.  I have been unable to tap into a local vegan community with real people here where I live to go to places with and try and make recipes.  I have met plenty of people online, and have been completely inspired by the enthusiasm there, but in terms of a real human being in my area – it has yet to happen.  Part of it might be a reluctance to share my information over the internet, and my hope that I will just run into people.  I even went to a local vegan restaurant to read by myself (a book called How Not To Die).  I ate vegan appetizers and expressed to the wait staff that I was hoping to meet some vegans! Guess what? The one I spoke to was a vegetarian.  At least the food was vegan.  I guess it time, maybe it will just happen.

What I am trying to say is, even though I will never eat meat again, it is just exhausting when you go out to restaurants and you have to ask a million questions.  What is this made with? Can I see the ingredient list for your home made “power bars”? Does that have egg in it? Do potato pancakes have egg in them? Can they be cooked with olive oil and not butter?  What about Chinese noodles? Some are rice noodles, some are egg noodles – how do you know?  And Chinese brown sauce? It’s all over the broccoli but is it made with beef broth or oyster sauce and am I allowed to eat that?  Is it thickened with a gelatin? Or agar? Or is it just corn starch to thicken it?  I just can’t tell.  So sometimes, you think you are getting just a veggie dish, and it turns out the sauce might be made from something else – how do you send it back?

That being said, I am still trucking along.  Also, I am trying, to be perfect.  We can’t always be perfect all the time.  Sometimes you mess up.  Sometimes, especially if there is a language barrier, you might now know exactly what is in what you are getting.  The best bet here is to eat out less often, and make more at home.  But guess what? Sometimes you are on the road a lot and it just can’t be helped.  We all do our best.  I do my best, and I will continue to do so, but I recognize that this path is more of a journey, where I find things that work for me, and some that don’t.  And with each little bit of discovery, I try and make it work towards my vegan goals the best I can.  I hope that people can at least recognize my efforts and know that they are based in a strong belief that we are meant to get our nutrients from a plant based diet.

A Heartfelt Interpretation of my Vegan Journey

Being vegan is not easy, at least not for me.  The main reason for my blog and my Instagram account are to hold myself accountable.  That means that I am overly enthusiastic online all the time, showing my success as a vegan.  The truth is, there are a LOT of times where I am successful, but there have been a few setbacks too.  There have been 3 occasions that I can think of when I ate a non-vegan item.  It has been 57 days today that I have been embracing this lifestyle.  The important part is, when I ate the non-vegan item, I just moved on.  I didn’t cave and keep eating that way.  I acknowledged it, and then set my sights on continuing to eat vegan.  In my personal opinion, three small discrepancies (I mean seriously, one of them was one of those little Ferrero Rocher candies) over the course of two months is not too bad! I have to remember that I have been eating a meat based diet for 26 years, and change is not easy.

I find it helpful to have a lot of bananas on hand.  Those work for when I am too tired to make a new recipe or go food shopping, but still need some vegan food to hold me over until I decide what to cook.

I also find it helpful to have peanut butter and vegan dark chocolate.  These are the things that keep me away from the candies! Not to mention, with bananas, these are a treat (see my banana bites post!).

I have to wake up a lot earlier to make sure that I have time to eat an entire vegan breakfast.  Eating fruit takes a long time.  This is sometimes tiresome, but when I get a good nights sleep, it’s rewarding to be up early.

I live in an apartment complex where I try not to make too much noise in the morning.  If I want a smoothie at 6am, I find it helpful to make it the night before, leave it in the blender in the fridge, and then just hit the pulse button once or twice in the morning.  The smoothies still taste just as good, and I don’t feel like a terrible neighbor.

I have a lot more dishes.  This might be because I am packing more food, using more knives and cutting boards, and cooking a lot more – but it adds up to a little more effort.

Sometimes the combination of foods in my stomach does not produce good results, and my day gets slightly changed because of it.  I think this is a food combination issue that I will have to figure out.

I have not yet determined what to do about my B12.  I know that down the line this will present an issue, and I will need to take supplements or get injections.  It has not been long enough to tell.  Also many cereals are fortified with B12, as well as 5 hour energy drinks, etc.  I try to avoid caffeine so I haven’t had any of those, and I haven’t had my levels tested.  That will have to be done shortly to see where I stand!

The purpose of this post is not to discourage anyone from being vegan, but to tell you a few things that I have noticed, and the bumps in the road from a normal perspective, not one that is overly bubbly or focusing only on my successes.  I plan to continue to use this blog, and my Instagram to post all my successes as motivation to continue forward, and I am very happy with the choice I made.  I just want to express that it is not an easy change, but it is absolutely worth it.  It is also completely obtainable.  I feel happier, healthier, and I have more energy than I did before.  Additionally I feel like I have control of what goes into my body and I feel good about it.  I see this as a lifestyle change, not a diet, and longevity is the goal.  To anyone considering being vegan – you have nothing to lose if you just try it out!

Day 10

Vegan life day 10! Here’s the status:

  • I know I want to be healthy. IMG_20150109_174203
  • I know I want to be happy.

I have found an inspiring community of instagrammers and bloggers to reach out to for ideas and motivation.  As you saw in my Instagram post, I have been posting pictures of my own food.  Taking photos of the food forces me to put more love and energy into preparing my vegan meals.

Look at this long list of things I have eaten in the past 10 days! It’s AMAZING how being vegan has forced me to add all this goodness to my life.  I can’t believe all that I have eaten!!

  • TangerinesIMG_20150110_203024
  • Dried Chickpeas
  • Veggie Burritos
  • Hummus
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Pears
  • Raisins
  • Mixed fruit smoothies
  • Blueberries
  • Cabbage
  • Lentils
  • Onions and PeppersIMG_20150110_160954
  • Potato Chips (I’m not sure about this one – only eating them when I have a craving)
  • Sweet potato chips (same as above)
  • Mangos
  • Naval Oranges
  • Kiwis
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Potato Leek Soup
  • Olives
  • Raspberries
  • Watermelon
  • Bananas
  • Kale
  • Stuffed Peppers (with tofu, onions, mixed veggies, brown rice & tomato sauce)
  • Guacamole
  • Indian food (white rice and chickpeas with a vegan sauce)
  • Lots of smoothies of mixed fruits!

I lisIMG_20150111_180731ted everything out to show what a variety of fruits, vegetables, and vegan options there are.  This is not a starvation lifestyle by any means.  I have been completely satiated every day, except for day 6, when I stayed up later than usual watching movies and ate Cheese-Its (NOT VEGAN!!).  But you know what?  I am not going to let that get me down.  One day out of 10 I had one mistake, and a minor one at that.  I am proud of my accomplishments and I feel great!