So last November, C and I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives (I think we actually watched it on Thanksgiving--how's that for irony) and we both found the message--the health problems of modern America (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are directly linked to the animal-based diet, and that a plant-based diet can prevent and actually reverse those ailments--pretty compelling. So compelling, C bought me the companion book for Christmas.
I've been a vegetarian for more than half my life, and since I do most of the shopping and cooking, the whole family eats a mostly vegetarian diet. But we also eat a lot of eggs, cheese and butter.
Ever since watching the movie, I've made a concerted effort to up the number and quantity of vegetables in the meals I cook, and to pay attention to the amounts of animal products and oil I use. But I wanted to go further and see what it would really be like to eat a plant-based diet for a period of time, so I let the stores of cheese in our fridge dwindle and signed up for The 30-Day Vegan Challenge.
The way it has worked, so far, is that when I cook, we eat entirely plant-strong (though not entirely oil-free, though I'm working on cutting back by water-sauteing, etc.). Things we have been eating: butternut squash soup, lentils and rice with kale and sweet potatoes, bean and rice tacos (on soft corn tortillas, with lots of veggies on top), split pea dal with tomatoes and Swiss chard over rice, rice noodles with tofu and stir-fried vegetables, polenta with mushrooms, potato enchiladas. It turns out that it's not all that different from what we usually eat, only minus the cheese in things like tacos, and minus the muffin/biscuit/Yorkshire pudding that I usually serve alongside soup.
C, it turns out, liked the idea in theory, but balked when it came to implementation. He actually whimpered over the last stick of butter the other day (then bought some more). When he cooks, he just makes things like he always has--pancakes with full butter/milk/egg; soup with buttery/milky/cheesey muffins. And I just eat what he cooks; cause if thirteen years of marriage has taught me anything, it's that you don't do anything to dissuade your spouse from any type of domestic activity.
The kids continue to eat cereal with milk for breakfast, and get milk at school with their lunches--which have always been vegan (peanut butter and jelly or hummus sandwiches)--but I have taken to giving them water to drink at dinner. For my own breakfast I usually make a green smoothie (kale with banana and fresh-squeezed orange juice and chia seeds is my current favorite combo) or some toast with almond butter and jam and for lunch I eat leftovers or a tempeh and veggie sandwich.
The biggest glich, so far, was when Z asked especially for macaroni and cheese last Friday, and I served him this instead. It was good, but mac and cheese it was not. It just lacked that melty, cheese, stretchy good feeling cheese has inside your mouth. Needless to say, Z was not happy with me.
I don't think we will go permanently and totally vegan. I adore cheese far too much for that. Also, I have a hard time buying (coconut) milk from Sri Lanka when I can get (cow) milk from the farm right down the road. But, I think that in the long-run, I'll keep on with my vegan breakfasts and lunches, and make most of our family dinners plant-strong, and just use cheese as a flavor, rather than a main event when I do use it.