Day 10 as a Temporary Vegan

Chris and I are on day 10 of the 28-day Healthy Eating Challenge Whole Foods Market asked me to try.  Using the lifestyle outlined in The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn, we are avoiding all animal products, dairy, eggs and oils for four weeks.  The first few days were really tough, but every day gets easier and I am starting to enjoy how foods taste without any extra flavors layered in.

Today I cheated for the first time: I ate a falafel.  Since oil is off-limits with this lifestyle, a crispy ball of fried chick peas doesn’t necessarily qualify.  However, we were out-and-about all day and I was starving, so the delightful falafel from Sultan’s Market, our favorite cheap Middle Eastern restaurant, seemed like a fair compromise.  Ohhhhhh…it was delicious!

Because I strive to eat healthy, whole foods on a regular basis, giving up entire food groups is a foreign concept.   I am not used to depriving myself of anything, and so for the past week and a half I’ve been struggling with saying “no” to myself when I’m craving a glass of ice cold whole milk or a juicy roast chicken dinner.  I’m spending too much time thinking about when to eat, what to eat, where to eat.  All these food-focused thoughts have brought me to the conclusion that, for me, food is more than just nutrition.  Food is…

…a hobby. Every month I receive several cooking magazines, and cookbooks tend to be my favorite reading material these days.  I love pulling ideas from these resources to plan healthy and testy meals for the week ahead.  And, nothing is finer than a quiet Sunday afternoon spent baking bread or preserving tomatoes fresh from the farmer’s market.

…a way to connect with people. Meeting my sisters for a quick lunch at our favorite Indian restaurant, checking out the new hot-spot in town with my husband, sitting around my parents’ dining table to celebrate a birthday – food unites people like nothing else can.  Food gives us an excuse to gather.  Food strengthens the bonds of community and family.

…how Evie and I spend time together. On quiet afternoons when Mack naps and I am done with my work, Evie and I like to bake in the kitchen. I pull a stool up to the counter so she can help measure ingredients and sneak licks of batter.  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, homemade strawberry jam, banana bread…it doesn’t matter what we’re making as long as we share a few minutes just the two of us.

…a glimpse back in our past. Heirloom recipes and traditional ingredients are easy ways to connect with the people who came before me.  I am so grateful my husband’s Polish grandmother taught my sister-in-law and I how to make authentic pierogi.  And I loved learning how to create an authentic Mexican meal from my aunt’s mother-in-law.  Food is both a link to our family’s past and a bridge towards its future.

With all that in mind, Chris and I put together a plant-based BBQ dinner tonight.  While he grilled some tofu and corn, I prepared this quick and simple salad. Avoiding oils and most fats has really opened up my taste buds, so the clean taste of these veggies is quite refreshing!

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

3 ears corn, grilled

2 tomatoes, sliced very thin

1 avocado, sliced

handful of cilantro, chopped

juice from 1-2 limes

a bit of salt, maybe some pepper

While the corn is grilling, chop the tomato, avocado and cilantro.  Juice the lime(s).

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir gently. Serve to a happy husband!

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5 Comments for this entry

  1. Kristy says:

    Maureen, I am not sure if you must only use recipes and menus from the Whole Foods designated book, but every year for Easter, it’s a tradition in the Greek Orthodox church to fast for all of Lent with a vegan diet (although you may have oil). Should you wish for any recipes, let me know as I did it every year for 40 days for over 15 years and have accumulated lots of good vegan recipes! It serves it’s spritual purpose, but I am always very glad to get back to my meat and dairy afterwards!

    • Maureen Smithe says:

      We are allowed to use any recipes, but the tough part is no oil. I’d have no trouble with this plan if I could use a swirl of olive oil every now and then! I feel very restricted – I can’t even saute onions or make an easy salad dressing!

  2. Chris says:

    Those who refuse the Sultan often end up beheaded. Was having a delicious Falafel sandwich cheating? Yes, it was but it was deliciously innocent 🙂

    Your article made me think of street meat for some reason. I wonder what the Engine 2 diet would think of a mystery meat & falafel sandwich from the corner of water and wall st in NYC?

  3. Sarah says:

    I have a friend who’s a vegan (although cheats for her mom’s homemade cookies) and we went to a very cool restaurant called the Green Zebra on Chicago Ave. It’s vegetarian but there were plenty of things she could still eat and it would make for a great date spot. I do NOT envy you this challenge. Hang in there!

  4. MarathonVal says:

    Great job hanging in there, so far!!! I agree with you that no oil is by far the hardest part. I also miss the act of baking itself, although surprisingly I’m not cravings sweets like I thought it would, which blows my mind.

    As for the comment above, Green Zebra is great, as is Karyn’s on Green which is a fabulous vegan restaurant in Greektown (though it’s not Greek food)

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