Last month I passed the one-year mark as a vegan. How am I doing? Awesome! I've lost 15 pounds. My cholesterol has been lowered without medication. I'm eating well and feeling great. At the end of last summer I rejoined the gym and get there about three times a week. Here are some regular people, places and things in my life after a year:
VegNews Magazine: I love this so much I won't throw old issues away, and after reading it for a year, starting while I was still a vegetarian, I re-upped for two years, and got a cool eco-grocery tote bag as a gift. The recipes are great, but so are the product reviews and even advertisements for vegan products. Just this week I bought a bottle of vegan calcium after seeing it in VegNews. I give away old issues when I've totally wrung every treasure out.
Baking and Cooking: I have the most awesome cookbooks now (see previous posts) and regularly make cupcakes, cookies, and other treats. I've learned to make my own seitan and started with chicken fried steak and now make veggie meatballs with it.
SparkPeople: I joined SparkPeople, a social networking site focused on diet, nutrition, fitness, and related health topics, with teams for every imaginable interest from birding, to 12-Step Recovery, to Tarot cards. I use the awesome Nutrition Tracker to log in my foods every day. That's right, every day! This is how I am able to eat bread and "butter" (Earth Balance) and dessert practically every day and still lose some of the weight I gained after giving up the high-protein, low-carb and terribly unhealthy diet I'd been following until 2008. The site offers recipes that can be searched by dietary category such as vegan, and you can add your own recipes in, getting an exact calculation of calories and nutrients, and the portion of any SparkRecipe can be added into your day's entries in their Nutrition Tracker. I've "met" some really great people through the various teams I've joined and learned about foods, fitness routines, books, activities and more. I've given and received support for problems shared. Of all the social networks out there, this one seems to have just what I need.
It's better if you make it yourself: Foods I prepare are usually healthier than any convenience foods I buy, even thought they are usually organic and always vegan and I'm lucky enough to shop regularly at Whole Foods and several other excellent grocery stores who stock robust natural foods sections on shelves and freezer cases. I've made homemade Peanut Butter Cups, thanks to Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet. I've made gorgeous cookies and cupcakes no one would guess weren't loaded with butter and eggs, and yet they're not. The wreath at the start of this post is one I made myself after a trip to a crafts store. We went in to buy a ready-made wreath and came out with a bare grapevine wreath and the makings for a gorgeous spring statement for our front door. It felt so amazing to hang it and feats our eyes on it every time we come home.
Live and Let Live: I have adopted a dramatically different way of eating and living and this sets me apart from the vast majority of friends and family members in my life. Rather than try to convince or convert others to seeing things my way, I just stick to my values and try not to flaunt it. Okay, being vegan is a huge attitude commitment for health, compassion for the animal world and the environment, but that commitment is totally personal. So I may say "I'm vegan" when I order in a restaurant or check out at the grocery store, but it's an explanation and not a proselytizing statement. Leading by example is often our best strategy.