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.
Good luck, Jessica! We will be right there with you as we kick off an elimination diet challenge for our readers tomorrow. Vegan food can be SO delicious and makes for beautiful photos. I look forward to your updates on testing out the vegan lifestyle!
Fantastic Carrie, that’s exciting, I’ll be sure to follow along with you as well. Have a wonderful New Year!
My friend did vegan for a while and started packing on weight. I love the idea of veg and fruit and grains but I still think you need white meat or egg or dairy otherwise you get too hungry. Then you compensate for it with carbs that spike your insulin. Good luck and I’ll follow your blog to see how it goes.
I hear you, you know the biggest reason that I’m doing it is to stay away from the butter, cheese and heavy meats which I tend to favor in the winter. I’ll see how it goes….hoping I’ll be able to lose a few of the lbs I gained over break from sedentary living and waaaay too much food and alcohol. I ate a mostly vegan diet this summer and I felt great on it, so we’ll see, crossing fingers it goes well. I can’t see doing it as a permanent change, but as a reset, I’m open to it. Happy new year!
I’m going to give it a try.The holidays have taken a toll.
How is day 2 going? Yesterday was easier than I thought, today going well too although I’m not loving my almond milk latte. The real deal is so much better. Maybe I’ll get used to it…
Hi Jessica! Stopping over from SITS. I was a vegetarian for 6 years and a vegan for over a year. If you haven’t already, check out Chocolate Covered Katie on the web and the cookbook Veganomicon. Those are more good resources for you.
Hey, thanks so much Tara. Thank you so much for sending those other sites through- will check them out for sure. Thanks for stopping by, and happy new year!
Hi Jessica, stopping by from SITS! Congrats on your feature day!
I’m going into my second year of veganism and I love it. I don’t feel like I lost any of my ability to explore food and cooking since going vegan, but I am much healthier now. Hope it goes well for you!
Hey Martha, thanks for stopping by. That’s fantastic that you’re going into the second year! Are you on Instagram? That’s one of the main reasons I decided to do this cleanse- I follow a bunch of vegan accounts and their food looks insanely good, I figured it wouldn’t feel like a sacrifice if I can cook meals like that. Happy New Year!
First things first: I love that you have a Pinterest board dedicated to kale 🙂
My bf is a (mostly) vegan and I’ve been a vegetarian since ’97. I’ve never gone hungry or had a lack of good foods to eat–it’s all about meal planning and proper food prep (which you are obviously doing). I wish I had Pinterest when I started–I gained a freshman 15 on PB&J sandwiches 🙂
Best of luck and enjoy the cleanse–I should really do one, too. Great time of year for it!
Thanks! I saw so many great kale recipes on Pinterest that I had to create a full board for it. I’m obsessed with it…I feel like I’m going to gain a freshman 15 on hummus since I started this vegan thing a few days ago- I can’t get enough of that stuff and I’ve been too tired from NYE to cook anything. Will fix that today 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by and Happy New Year!