After reading the recent vegan thread i wanted to put this out there... When i find time I plan on blogging my experience for my friends and posting what I have made and things I love. until then... I am by no means an expert. I still feel like I have so much to learn and I continue to learn. But on the flip-side I have learned so much and I wanted to share my story! I went vegetarian a few years ago and vegan 18+ months ago. I do consider myself a healthy eater but I also like real food and was afraid to even try going vegetarian much less vegan. I decided to just try going vegetarian for ONE month. To my amazement the month went by and I continued. A year later I was sure I was just going to try being vegan for ONE month (it was on my "do before I die list" LOL) and again it continued. Alicia Silverstone talks about "flirting" with the idea and changes and I agree. Everything was in steps. First no red meat/pork (did that for 12 years before I took the next step LOL!), then vegetarian for a year and then vegan. Nothing was overnight and nothing was really a shock to my system honestly. I would try new meals that would fit my next goals to see how they worked for me. I would try and not use ___ when baking and see how it went. I would order it veggie or vegan when out. It was a slow process but the end was the same but much less painless! LOL! I am very active so I try and accommodate that in my diet. It's not exactly a normal vegan diet i don't think.. But vegan diet's vary so so much i have learned (we are a household of 3 vegans and 2 vegetarians and all vary). I do not at all feel tried, run down or less healthy in a way whatsoever. if you do in ANY diet you are doing something wrong IMO. The only vitamin we need is B12 and I take a spray but foods are fortified with it (like cereal and such). As far as protein goes- We are WAY WAY WAY overdoing it in America when it comes to protein. We should be more concerned about getting too much than too little. More foods HAVE protein than do not. Most educated nutritionists will tell you it's not an issue with a balanced varied vegan diet. I worried because I was told to worry. Then I became vegan and did the diet and I no longer worry about it at all. side note: I do feel I am sensitive to sugar and refined white foods (bread/rice/pasta). Being vegan has not made this worse and it's no harder dealing with it now than before. My breakfasts: Shake- This is my normal breakfast. In the shake it always has a protein powder that is rice/pea/artichoke (no soy). I use almond milk (refrigerated almond breeze or So Delicious Coconut milk YUM the ONLY two my entire family will drink), frozen banana, nuts of some kind (peanut, cashew or almond normally), chia seeds (too much I am sure LOL! But I love it!) and some stevia. Sometimes I will use different fruit or do a coffee shake with cacao. (I also make a protein bars using this powder with oatmeal and peanut butter.. freeze them. My boys love them- idea from XT who many vegan ideas came from :heart: ) Oatmeal (try and do steel cut or Irish although not always), Quinoia, or brown rice served hot. To that I add nuts/seeds and fruit. Sometimes stevia, syrup or agave and almond milk. Trader Joes vegan cinnamon rolls (whole wheat fruit sweetened) or Cinnamon bread (Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain) or vegan bagel with earth balance spread or jam. I make or buy waffles. Make pancakes or french toast (lots of different recipes and such). We use maple & agave syrup or fruit. Cold cereal (granola) and almond milk. Most cereal is vegan (even trashy ones). Tofu scramble with veggies. Sometimes soyrizo. & potatoes Breakfast burritos- potatoes, beans, rice or quinoa, salsa, guacamole, onions and sometimes when I am lazy or craving a meat sub (seitan /TVP, tempeh or tofu) Biscuits and gravy (homemade although the ex found terrible for you canned biscuits he uses) homemade with morning breakfast sausage Homemade muffin (baked ahead and kept frozen) with earth balance spread and some fruit (fresh normally) LUNCH or DINNER (I love Mexican food. I eat it probably 5x a week at least! LOL!) Burritos, Tacos, Tosadas, Enchiladas, Empanadas, Taco Salad, Tamales & Tamale Pie. Most are made with NO meat substitute and even my meat eating family loves them all. We use a lot of black beans and veggie refried beans. I don't skimp on the salsa and buy guacamole at Costco in bulk LOL! I make Spanish rice although I think boxed versions are vegan IIRC. We make our own pizza using extra sauce instead of cheese with tons of veggies. Or we do a basil, garlic and olive Oil base. Veggie Ciabatta with garlic, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, squash grilled or sauteed. or a Philly cheese steak type with a chicken sub (Trader Joes has an awesome chicken) on a soft tortilla bread. Italian Food- Pasta with marinara, pesto, earth balance or homemade Alfredo. Eggplant Parmesan (homemade modified or you can do a fried fake chicken and do it chicken Parmesan), Lasagna Soups- Corn Chowder, Potato, Veggie, Mexican, black bean and so on. Soups are easy to modify. i throw things together all the time. My biggest feat was chicken and dumplings! LOL! Stew but just veggies in a chicken sub stock pot pie, Sheppard pie Burgers- We do everything from basic to jazzed up. The "meat" is a variety of things from homemade (like the Counter Burger) to Boca to Portabello Mushroom. Stir fry with Fried rice Vegan Mac&Cheese (not a fan but others are... not a huge cheese person anyhow) Chili and cornbread Obviously salads... I am always trying to add things to them. Current kick is artichoke hearts! LOL! I love a salad with kidney beans, garbanzo beans, sesame seeds. I don't use dressing any longer but if I get a craving I do balsamic & oil or a vegan Italian. sides (I feel silly typing out but..) Refried beans Baked potatoes Mashed Potatoes Brown Rice quinoa Risotto Stuffing Pasta Twice Baked Potatoes Stewed potato and carrots Veggies Snacks I see most snacks as vegan anyhow... so this list will be short Hummus Chips and salsa/guacamole fruit with or without nut butters Nuts/seeds (was just eating pumpkin seeds LOL!) Bruschetta There is so much I am missing... This is after only thinking on it for a bit. It's a weird question, "What do you eat?" Well what do you eat? LOL! It's hard to name it all! I didn't become vegan for my health. I did it for ethical reasons and I am sure it's why I won't ever go back. I could easily be the biggest vegan junk food junkie with everything I know (and sometimes my boyfriend is! Oreo cookies are vegan LOL!). BUT I also lost 100+ pounds and care about my health so I eat it in moderation. The idea that we "give up" and sacrifice so much I just don't get. While it is work, it's not near as hard as it's made out to be IMO. It takes longer and is harder to find foods, but most cravings I can find a way to get what I want. I look at recipes and I can normally figure out a way to make them work. I also research a lot online and use to love recipes.com but found Vegan Recipes by Category as a vegan substitute. Most anything I can find a recipe or substitution. But there are some things that are harder than others.Currently I am craving shrimp and this has been the hardest to figure out. BUT there is a place about 45 minutes away that has awesome vegan fried shrimp that I think will do the trick LOL! if they weren't there it's not that big of a deal though and it's not that big of a sacrifice! LOL! Vegans really don't have to be without. In moderation we eat chicken nuggets, chili dogs, Mexican sweet breads, doughnuts, sloppy joes, PB&J sandwich, ice cream, cookies, french fries, chips, drumsticks, soda... I could go on an on. You name it, I have probably had the vegan version or at least tried it. Corn dogs have been an issue because I don't like baked and refuse to buy a fryer! LOL! But I digress. As far as soy goes, I tend to do moderation. Raised on soy formula I would rather not have it all the time or have it be the staple in my diet. I am not afraid of it and I do firmly believe it is better for your health than meat. So in moderation I know of plenty yummy meat substitutes and eat them. But I think i stopped believing in meat being the staple and it's not a meal without it. Most meals are soy free and meat substitute free just from habit and it's second nature now. Tonight I will have a Mediterranean sandwich, black bean soup and salad from Panera. I don't feel like I am missing out at all. Speaking of eating out... I do eat out. Not as much as i use to but more often than most I think. I just research beforehand if I am going to a new place. I ask a lot of questions and modify to my needs. After a bit of research in my area, I eat pizza with no cheese, pasta with olive oil, veggie sandwiches, soups, french fries at certain places (LOL), Mexican food (lots LOL) veggie burgers an so on. I check the breads, doughs and pastas for dairy/eggs and I order without dairy or eggs if they have any. Sorry this is all over the place... i wanted to put it out there. I don't like shoving this down people's throats so I don't talk about it much. But since it's a current topic I thought I would put it out there!