Vegan? Or “just” vegetarian?

For many years (I believe about eight) I was a vegetarian – mainly throughout high school and college. At some point after college I started eating fish again, then a year or two later I started eating chicken and turkey again. (I never went back to eating pork or red meat; in fact, if I mistakenly eat some vegetables that have been cooked with pork, I get very sick. This has happened somewhat frequently at extended-family gatherings until I realized the cause and avoided some of the veggies.)

I think at the time the decision to add these foods back into my diet was about convenience and possibly peer pressure. It was a very unsure time in my life. I was in a marriage that wasn’t working, but being so young, I didn’t really recognize that right away and wanted to do my best to be a good wife and partner. This meant cooking nice dinners, and since my husband was a carnivore (and very unadventurous with his diet), I turned to meat. I’m not blaming him by any means – he never told me to eat meat again; I’m just being honest with what happened in my own mind because of the situation I was in.

Fast forward to now. I’m in a very different place. I got divorced, followed my passion back to graduate school, got a great job teaching at NC State University, started Code f.a.d. Company, got married to my high school sweetheart, and found yoga. Life is great. I find myself in a happier place everyday, and yet I’m still making changes for the better in my life. The most recent change is (back) to vegetarianism.

This was a pretty easy decision for me, even though I knew my new (carnivore) husband might be disappointed that my days of cooking chicken tacos were over. What I’m struggling with now is whether I will take that next step and go vegan. I’ve been contemplating and leaning towards giving it a try – transitioning slowly. I have a vegan friend who has offered her support and help, which is definitely making the process a little less daunting. Thanks, Liz/Ellie!

There are a few of my favorite foods that are looming in the back of my mind, though, acting as “don’t go vegan” cheerleaders… deviled eggs, greek yogurt, and cheese (especially goat cheese). I think the yogurt will be the easiest of these to let go of; I know there are vegan yogurts out there, which I’ll probably try, but in the end I’m sure will just change my breakfast routine towards another food altogether. The other two… gulp!

I gave in and had some goat cheese on my plate of kale, garlic and tomatoes, and it was incredible! I think I could easily give up “regular” cheeses if only I could keep goat cheese… So, (thank you google) I’m looking up “vegan goat cheese” to see what I can find. Of course, there are recipes. I’m going to try this out first: http://www.sprint2thetable.com/2012/02/vegan-goat-cheese-tomatoes/

I have hope. Other than when I go to Irregardless Cafe and desperately want their herb and goat cheese salad, I might be able to make it! So I’m left with deviled eggs. I’m confident I can make a vegan deviled-egg-like “stuffing” but what do you use for the egg white part? I haven’t figured that one out yet, but if I do, I know I can tackle all those family gatherings and cook-outs and still bring my favorite dish (just vegan-friendly).

And as much as he protests, there are several vegetarian dinners I have already been cooking for some time that John (the husband) thoroughly enjoys. I am excited to add more to me cooking arsenal, as well, in the coming weeks and months. It should be a great journey.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

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