Nothing like waking up on Jan 1 with a mind-blowing hangover. But truthfully, I don’t remember the last time that we actually left our living room on New Year’s Eve, let alone stayed up until midnight. Years, I’m telling you, years.

So it goes without saying that our night out on the town had to be a go big or go home kind of evening. Starting with bowling and ending with dancing at some vaguely European-Middle Eastern-type of swankfest that used to define my 20s but is now just a blip in my hazy memory.

Waking up as a vegan on Jan 1 was no treat. Where were those greasy yet restorative egg and cheese sandwiches? The burgers dripping with fat? I had to console myself with quinoa sliders, which I assure you aren’t at the top of anyone’s hangover list. But Thursday brought some well-needed grease back into my life when I was able to track down a vegan cronut. Nothing like starting a January cleanse with cronuts, vegan or not. Give an inch and I’ll take a mile.

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Although I welcomed cronuts on Thursday morning, it was also time to say goodbye to a few of my favorite places. So long seafood counter at Whole Foods, you’ll be missed. 25 more days until we’re reunited.

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But I’m getting well-acquainted with a set of healing vegan foods this month, including lots of hummus and guacamole, 36 ways.

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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.

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