vegankitchen 152

It’s no secret that I’m a little in awe of the vegan lifestyle. I’m in love with the founding principle: that animals are left unharmed and allowed to live as freely as we do. And of course the numerous health benefits of a plant-based lifestyle are hard to ignore.

I do feel though, that if I gave up meat, dairy and other animal-based products, I’d be taming my passion for cooking and food. Sure, I can get excited about vegetables. As excited as I do about high quality bacon or a well-marbled steak. But vegetables have always been a part of the equation, not the full equation itself.

That being said, I’ve always wanted to give vegan eating a test run, and after a month and a half of gluttinous eating  – the turkey, stuffing, egg nog, fruitcake, ham and bread pudding extravaganza that we call the holidays – January is the month to do it.

After all, don’t we all love a fresh start in January? A cleansing of the system, a New Year’s resolution to eat a healthier diet, with more whole grains and plenty of vegetables?

My arteries need a rest from my holiday binge. They’re panting at the finish line. Well done friends, you kept me alive for 60 straight days while I shellacked your surface with LDL cholesterol. Now is your time for reward. I give you vegetables, and lots of them.

Starting on Wednesday (Jan 1) I’m going to kick off month of healthy eating. For 31 days I’m going to eat a vegan diet to see whether eating this way feels like a sacrifice or a triumph.

I’m guessing a little of both.

And I’ve been preparing. I’ve been reading through some of my favorite vegetarian and healthy living cookbooks, including the latest from The Moosewood: Restaurant Favorites, classics like Chez Panisse Vegetables, and more recent additions from vegetarian guru Yotam Ottolenghi as well as Sarah and Hugh Forte, the husband and wife team behind The Sprouted Kitchen.

I’ve also been following some great online resources for vegan receipes, including:

And I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration that I get from one of my favorite people on Instagram, Amber (RawVeganBlonde) who blows me away on a regular basis with what can only be described as fruit and vegetable art.

So despite preparations to give up some of my favorite foods for a month, excitement has been building, I’ve been tagging recipes and making notes.

I’ve also been updating my Pinterest boards to catalog my growing collection of vegan and health-focused recipes, which you can easily follow by clicking on the links below.

New to the mix, are my vegan board; and a few health-focused boards, which although not strictly vegan, have lots of dishes to inspire a healthier 2014 focus whether you’re paelo, gluten-free or dairy-free: Cauliflower, Kale, Quinoa, Coconut milk, Soups, and Salads.

While technically the vegan code of conduct allows me to eat deep fried asparagus for dinner every night, I promise to aim higher than that. My cleanse should have the same impact as pressing the reset button on my digestive tract. It should make my December transgressions a deliciously sinful thing of the past. It should clean out those arteries, remind me of the beauty of plant-based foods, and send me on a healthy eating path for the year.

If there is anyone who is feeling a little sluggish from the holidays and wants to reset with me, please join along. I’d love nothing more than to do this with others and support each other along the way.

Even if you’re not 100% committed to a month of veganism, but are looking to for more ways to include vegetables and plant-based foods in your diet, you’re still more than welcome to join, make comments, ask questions, and get support.

And for a visual snapshot of what I’m eating this month, I’ll be tagging my food #wintervegancleanse on Instagram. If you’re on Instagram, the more the merrier, tag your vegan food as well.

This should be a fun month, an educational month, and who knows, if all goes well, something that will be eagerly repeated down the road.

Happy New Year everyone.

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