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Vegan Weekend in Review

Posted Mar 28 2010 6:47pm
The last two days haven't been nearly as hard as I anticipated. There was only one moment when I seriously craved something that wasn't vegan. It was a Werther's Original Caramel. Other than that one lingering second on the candy aisle at CVS,  the last two days flew by without much thought to what I might be missing.

So without further ado, here is a recap of my vegan weekend.

It's an expensive lifestyle. Food for the weekend (and some of it will last a few more days) was about $50. For me that's a lot to spend on four days -- tops-- on food. If I was to make this a permanent lifestyle change, I'd have to really take a closer look at how to make it cheaper.

Vegan alternatives can fail to replicate the originals. Take Soy milk for instance. It is is not tasty. I'd have to learn to adapt or try another alternative. I've been told that hemp milk is a better option. Soy cheese is also awful. That didn't bother me as much, because I'm not a huge cheese fan. I can live without it.

On the other hand, I was actually impressed by the veggie and soy-based meatless Seven Grain Tenders from Gardein and I'm putting them on my regular shopping list. The vegan candy bars made by Go Max Go Foods were really good, too. I wouldn't miss my chocolate fix with those around.

On the nutrition side I felt like I was eating a healthier diet without much effort. After logging in my food for the weekend I did a quick nutritional summary on CalorieCount.com. Based on USDA dietary guidelines I ate a healthy amount of protein and fiber (something I was worried about), but I failed to get enough calcium. My sodium levels were also a bit high, but that was probably due to the amount of frozen foods I based several of my meals around -- a common problem I fight even when I'm not on a vegan diet.

The lack of calcium bothered me. Proponents of veganism would argue I can get enough calcium from a wide variety of foods outside of dairy. According to PETA's Vegetarian Starter Kit you should be able to grab your needed daily intake of calcium from vegetables like broccoli, beans, almonds, and calcium fortified orange juice. PETA also cites a Harvard Medical School study that warned animal-based dairy products could "leach" calcium from the body. That same study is cited in The Kind Life. I should note I haven't, yet, found that Harvard study, so I can't compare the claims.

The verdict? It's hard to ignore PETA's accounts of how meat and dairy is mass produced and the animal cruelty stories that accompany it, but I've approached this weekend strictly looking at the potential health benefits of veganism and whether it was something I could commit to with all my energy and pocketbook.

An animal free diet can be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol not to mention free of those antibiotics we keep hearing about being pumped into meat and milk. That being said, I'm not sold, yet, on veganism. I definitely question how you can get enough nutrients such as calcium without dipping into dairy. Nutrition-wise it would require a lot of work and planning. For now I think I'll continue my small adventures with vegetarianism and veganism. I'll keep meat to minimum in my diet and even do more vegan weekends or even a week here or there, but I'm not quite sold on giving up on dairy and eggs completely.
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