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Annnnnd we’re off to the races. Vegan cleanse is well underway, and to be honest, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Other than the first day when I was suffering from a raging New Year’s Eve hangover and was craving an egg and cheese from the corner deli. But I made do with some terrific quinoa sliders from Bareburger in Chelsea.

On Day 2 of the cleanse I hit Whole Foods. There was no leaf unturned, no fruit unsqueezed (gently of course). It was fun to visit my usual stomping ground with a new lens. All of a sudden the once-neglected veggie burgers in the freezer case became a source for inspection, label reading and indecision.

But it was my healthiest shop in months, maybe years, with far more fruits and vegetables in my basket than usual. Gone were the packs of applewood smoked bacon, pork sausages, and triple cream cheeses.

Heading into my cleanse, I promised myself that I wouldn’t load up on vegan versions of the real thing, the Tofurky burgers and the Vegenaise. But once I was in the store, I started to second guess my ability to subsist on vegetables alone, so I made a few exceptions.

Here’s a snapshot of what I bought this week: 

As expected, a healthy dose of fruit and vegetables, including plenty of citrus, pomegranates, kumkuats, Japanese sweet potatoes, and a week’s pay in avocados.

Knowing that I should be drinking more, I got some detox teas and a few fresh-pressed juices. The French Vanilla soy creamer seemed like an indulgence (and not particularly healthy) but black coffee just doesn’t cut it for me. It has yet to be sampled, but I’m guessing that it won’t be my favorite purchase.

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From my research on vegan eating, I felt I’d be amiss if I didn’t include a truckload of hummus in my diet. I’ve made hummus at home and would prefer to eat a homemade version, but wanted to have enough on hand in case of a hummus emergency. That situation where you’ve turned vegan, you’re starving, and the only thing that you can make quickly is hummus and crackers. And yes, that is vegetarian chopped liver that you see at the top. It’s made with lentils, peas, and all kinds of spices. I don’t even like chopped liver but something about this called to me. My intuition was right. It’s good…Really good.

Like any good vegan/vegetarian, I had to buy a sampling of tofu products. I’m not the biggest fan of tofu, but figured I’d give them another go. While the Tufurky chorizo actually seems appealing, the Asian pressed tofu is an unattractive shade of brown. I’m expecting to eat it the day before its expiration date, swayed by guilt more than appetite.

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And now let’s talk about dairy. I was going to bypass this category altogether, but the fabulous write up about Kite Hill cheeses in last month’s Food & Wine magazine gave me pause. The cheesemonger convinced me to try Treeline as well. Once I’d passed the fake dairy threshold, coconut milk yogurt didn’t seem like a far stretch. I’ll now admit that The Earth Balance buttery spread was  the worst kind of impulse buy. Maybe I’ll fry my Asian tofu in it and call it a day.

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And here’s where we get into trouble, because a vegan diet lets you eat all kinds of horrible carbs. And I clearly didn’t waste any time taking advantage of that point, filling my cart with tortillas, pitas, and crackers. Feeling somewhat guilty about my purchases, I’ve been dutifully eating my way through the Wasa and Finn Crisps. But you know what, this is a vegan cleanse. Not a gluten free or paleo cleanse. I’m getting rid of saturated fats, giving the animals a break, and if that means eating more than my fair share of white flour and gluten, then so be it. Guilty conscience wiped clean.

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I also happen to be filling my carb allowance with plenty of heart-healthy beans, nuts, and grains. Conscience sparkling clean.

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Owing to the hangover on Day 1 of my vegan cleanse, I felt that, in addition to my containers of hummus, I’d need a few other convenience foods. Enter the meatless burgers, small bites (apparently I’m throwing a vegan cocktail party at some point this month?), and the one product I haven’t seen since college: the soup cup. Pad Thai flavored. Add this to the list of impulse buys that I won’t use this month.

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But even though I bought a few items that will sit and collect dust, there is one impulse buy that I’ve fallen for hard. Whole Foods makes the best granola I’ve ever tried. (I need to whisper something to you, come close….it might even be better than anything I’ve ever made at home)….If you’re ever in a Whole Foods, be sure to look for this – it’s their chunky flaxseed granola. I can’t stop eating it. I’m chewing on clusters as I speak. I’m even considering sprinkling it on the Asian tofu so that I’ll be forced to eat it.

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Total cost for my cleanse? I’m ashamed to say, but I’ll give you a range, it was above $100 and below $400. I won’t tell you how much I spent on the jar of Italian artichokes that are now hidden away in my pantry like stolen jewels. But I’ve rationalized that most of this shop should last me through the end of the month.

Next week I’ll share a few of the dishes I’ve been trying, the hits, the misses, and most important, whether this style of eating is sustainable. For those of you attacking the new year with your own clean eating challenges, I hope that all is going well & as always, keep me posted with any updates.

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