Friday, July 6, 2012


After 21 days as a vegan (zero cheating) I celebrated with a nice plate of foie gras, which is now illegal to sell in California - score one for the vegans.

So, after my foie gras feast it's safe to say that I am no longer living la vegan loco.

There were times during my diet when it was hard being a vegan - like when The Herbal Remedy Wife kept insisting that we go out to Mexican restaurants where everything is smothered in cheese and nothing, absolutely nothing, is vegan. 

But overall being a vegan wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. However, while being a vegan wasn't tough it did require a lot of effort. I had to constantly think about what I was going to eat each day and I had to plan accordingly. It's not necessarily a bad thing to give serious thought to your daily diet, but being vegan forces you to become obsessed with your diet and I've got other stuff to worry about - like my fantasy football draft.

I understand and appreciate all the arguments in support of a vegan lifestyle: it's good for the environment, it's good for your health, it's a proper allocation of food resources, it saves the lives of animals, etc. I think all of these arguments have some degree of merit, but what I am personally concerned with the most is the issue of health.

I embarked on this 21-day challenge to see if a vegan diet made me feel healthier - and it didn't.

Within a few days of starting the diet I felt weak, mentally sluggish, and had circulation problems in my hands.  All of these things I attributed to some type of deficiency in either vitamin B12, protein and/or omega-3 fatty acids. 

I know that all vegans reading this right now are mounting their best arguments about how healthy a vegan diet is. Well, save it, because I don't think it's healthy - at least not for me. You know what I think is healthy - a well balanced diet.  And there isn't anything well balanced about being a vegan. People in Japan have the longest life expectancy rate and they are not vegan. In fact, the Japanese are the biggest consumers per capita of fish in the world. 

If I am correct in my assumption that the vegan diet resulted in nutritional deficiencies for me, that means it boils down this - am I willing to compromise my personal health for the other social benefits of veganism? Should I make sacrifices in my health to save the lives of animals? Should I make sacrifices in my health for the very, very minimal (statistically insignificant) benefit to the environment? If I choose ME then am I selfish?  

Well, I guess I’m selfish. At the end of the day I am picking ME. I don't feel bad about it.

However, I am going to draw some arbitrary lines in my diet. For example, I am going to continue to avoid red meat, but I am adding seafood back to my diet, because I need to get the protein I've been missing.  I am also going back to a bit of dairy - like cream in my coffee, because it taste good and soy makes me fart. But I am going to try to go with organic dairy as much as possible. 

And to all the vegans out there - I do admire your commitment to what you believe in. You have my proxy to save the planet. But the vegan lifestyle just isn't for me. The truth is I am just too much of a foodie to be a vegan.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I got 99 problems but pepperoni ain't one.  Seriously, it's hard being a vegan, but it's got nothing to do with red meat.  It's cheese baby, cheese. And it's not because I crave cheese; it's because the world is covered in cheese.

In the past two weeks The Herbal Remedy Wife has forced me to go to two really good Mexican restaurants, where I couldn't eat anything. That is just cruel and unusual punishment, because there's nada for a vegan at Casa Del Cheese.

There is a website called Vegan Eating Out, which is dedicated to informing vegans about what options they have at various chain restaurants in the United States.  You just type in the name of the place and website tells you all the things you can eat, which usually isn't very much. And herein lies the big problem with being a vegan: you've got no social life because you can't go out to eat anywhere! You've got to stay in your house like a hermit and eat tofu and tempeh.

Even if you are a recluse and never leave your house being vegan is still hard, because you have to stay on your toes.  I accidentally cheated on my diet when I ate some Italian Sausage-less sausage. I thought it was safe, but only after I had a couple of links did I take a hard look at the ingredients and discovered that it contained egg white powder. It's vegetarian, but it's not vegan. Can you believe it - foiled by egg white powder! I immediately called the vegan police and reported the crime.  You know, the vegan police.  The people who refuse to sit on a leather couch, and junk like that.

And if all that wasn't bad enough - here is the big kicker.  Last week a hard-core vegan tried to convince me that Guinness, the beer I love, isn't vegan. Whatcha you talkin bout Willis? Beer is barley and hops and stuff.  There's no meat in Guinness!!! But he told me they use isinglass in Guinness, so it's not vegan.  Isinglass?  What the hell is isinglass? Well, I Googled it, and it's the bladder of a fish and it's used - no joke - in the production of some types of beer to remove yeast. If Guinness isn't vegan... well baby, that's a deal breaker!

I've got one more week to go in this 21-day challenge and my refrigerator is stuffed with vegan options, like a frozen Tofurkey Pepperoni Pizza. It's got meatless pepperoni and non-dairy imitation cheese.  Now, that sounds yummy!  But seven days from now I'm having a Guinness and goat cheese party.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


The Skeptical Husband brings up some interesting points to ponder. Is he losing weight by avoiding fast food alone or is it the vegan diet that is causing him to lose weight? Here’s the deal, one pretty much avoids all saturated fat by eating a vegan diet. That’s big time. So let’s say The Skeptical Husband eats 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. So 5 times a day for 7 days straight he has chosen not to consume saturated fat. That’s 35 times he said no to saturated fat. No wonder he is shedding the pounds.
The other thing is that when you're vegan you say no to the many foods that you are offered throughout your day. You're offered a slice of pizza at a kids party. You ask if it is vegan. Of course the answer is no. This little scenario repeats itself throughout the day and week at potlucks, parties, bake sales, food samples at stores, etc. As a vegan you are forced to say no to most of these calories you never wanted or needed anyway.
Recently we discussed whether a vegan food truck would do well in our community. Here’s what I’ve concluded, unfortunately the answer is NO. Most Americans have developed an addiction to saturated fats because they taste good. That’s why there are so few vegan items on most restaurant menus.  Just think about how the husband said that the vegan cheese was acceptable. Most diners don’t want to part with their money at a restaurant that has acceptable food, they want their food to taste amazing. For most long term vegans health, the planet, and ethical eating are their top priorities when it comes to food. Fantastic flavor is a bit lower on the list. Sadly, for the general population this mindset is rare.
Regarding the husband's circulation issue, I am quite surprised! You would think if a vegan diet causes nutritional deficiencies, the side effects would not be noticeable for months or even years. I’ve read that stores of Vitamin B-12 in your body will get you through the first few months of veganism. Honestly, I think perhaps The Skeptical Husband’s body is undergoing a bit a shock to the system after regularly consuming animal products for his entire life. I’d love to hear a nutritionist weigh in on this issue.
I can say for certain that long term vegans should find out what constitutes proper vegan nutrition, and then, if necessary, supplement any nutritional deficiencies with plant-based protein powders, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D2, vegan DHA capsules, iron, and calcium. Keep in mind that it is not advisable for pregnant women and babies to consume a vegan diet.  

That being said The Skeptical Husband brought up a good point the other day. According to Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, humans are not meant to eat meat. If we were our teeth and digestive systems would be designed differently. The husband’s argument is that if humans are designed to only eat plants then vegans would not experience any nutritional deficiencies and would not need to supplement their diets with vitamins to stay healthy. Hummm??? Food for thought.    


Monday, June 4, 2012


I completed my first week as a vegan. I am proud to report that I went hardcore and there was ZERO cheating.

In just seven days I've lost four pounds.  I don't know if that is normal, but it seems like a lot of weight in just one week - especially considering that I am not starving myself.  In fact, I am eating a lot, but I'm just eating differently.

So here is the big question - did I drop four pounds directly or indirectly as the result of the vegan diet?  Is my weight loss the result of not eating any animal products or is the weight loss the result of not going to Taco Bell because a 7 Layer Burrito isn't vegan friendly? What I am wondering is this - could I have lost four pounds last week if I continued drinking milk and eating meat at home as long I just simply avoided going to fast food restaurants? 

The weight loss has been a nice benefit to the vegan diet, but the diet has not been all positive.  I have some tingling in my hands, which I have never experienced before. I am guessing that the tingling is some type of blood circulation problem.  I did a bit of internet research and discovered that blood circulation problems are a common side-effect from a vegan diet.

I read that vegans are vulnerable to deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish. Your body needs omega-3 fatty acids for brain memory and performance, behavior, vision, reduction of tissue inflammation and heart and nervous system health.  A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can cause a lot of health problems, including poor blood circulation - which I suspect is what is going on with me. 

The Herbal Remedy Wife gave me a vegan omega-3 supplement to take, which tasted like this awful "medicine" my Aunt Versie would cook up in the hills of Kentucky in the 1970s. 

If a vegan diet is so healthy why do I have to take supplements? Seriously, if a vegan diet is so great than shouldn't the diet by itself provide a person with all of their nutritional needs?

Maybe I was a bit naive, but before I started the vegan diet I thought the only potential risk was that it would be low in protein and I'd have to eat a bucketful of nuts each day to make sure I was getting the amount of protein I needed. But it turns out there are a lot of potential health concerns with being a vegan.  But if you don't believe me then listen to Lance Armstrong:  

Friday, June 1, 2012


Nothing makes my mouth water like the sound of these two little words… vegan cheese. Hmmm, yum. Just the thought of this dairy substitute stirs me into a frenzy. I jest of course. Vegan cheese is totally nasty, or so I thought.

Last night The Herbal Remedy Wife made me a vegan pizza, using a vegan mozzarella cheese.  I didn’t have high expectations.  It looked like cheese.  It felt like cheese.  But would it taste like cheese?

Now I should preface my review of vegan cheese by saying this - I really like mozzarella cheese. I mean, I really like it. And I am not talking about just any mozzarella cheese.  I love the real stuff – unpasteurized buffalo mozzarella, made from the milk from an Italian water buffalo.
Well, the vegan mozzarella didn’t taste anything like buffalo mozzarella. Not even close.  But it didn’t taste bad.  If I had to describe it in one word I’d say it was “acceptable.” 

On the vegan diet “acceptable” seems to be the benchmark to strive for. So I was pretty happy that the mozzarella cheese passed the test. 

Overall the vegan pizza, with mushrooms, olives and acceptable cheese, was decent.  I am actually looking forward to having it again, but next time I’m going to make it a bit more posh and add some capers.

Oh, one caveat – vegan cheese will make you very, very gassy. The Herbal Remedy Wife is telling me I need to take a digestive enzyme.  Right, either I could do that or I could just eat buffalo mozzarella. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I am on day number four of the vegan diet, and I have no major complaints. In fact, so far it has been really easy.

Before I started the diet I went to the supermarket to take stock of what I could and could not eat. I was disappointed to find out that an Indian lentil dish I really like has cream in it - so it's off the list.  But I was happy to discover that Pad Thai noodles are totally vegan.

My recent supermarket excursion was probably the very first time that I seriously looked at the ingredients on packages of food.  I've looked at price.  I've looked at calories.  But I have never studied the actual ingredients like I did a few days ago. That's really crazy when you think about it.  I am almost 40 and I have never given serious thought about exactly what I put in my body. That's insane, but I am guessing that it's probably pretty typical.

The biggest adjustment in my diet at this point is having to switch to a soy latte at Starbucks, which costs extra unless you have Gold Card. But if you have a Gold Card then there is no extra charge for the soy milk - so at least I've got that going for me.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Top Ten Tips for My 
Newbie Vegan Husband

1. Cheat a Little. I know that when you put your mind to something, you go all out! However, going vegan all at once may not work for you. You may want to give yourself a cheat day once a week. If you continue to stay vegan you can space the cheat days farther apart. If you do cheat (not on me of course!), forgive yourself and don’t throw in the towel over a few poor choices.

2. Experiment. If you try a new vegan food every day you’ll be opening up all sorts of culinary adventures. Have you ever tried tempeh? Coconut ice cream? Meatless meatballs? Hazelnut milk? Veggie burgers? Nutritional Yeast? Vegan pesto? You’ll thank me later.

3. Educate yourself. Find out what constitutes proper vegan nutrition so you won’t simply grab vegan junk food every time hunger strikes. You’ll feel better and your meals will taste better too. 

4. Supplement! If you decide to go vegan long term, plant-based protein powders, Vitamin B-12, Vitamin D2, vegan DHA capsules, iron, and calcium will help ensure that you don’t experience any nutritional deficiencies during your vegan journey.

5. Play the Game. Treat this experience like a game that you want to win! When you are vegan you have to figure out how to take some of your favorite meals and swap out the animal products for vegan ingredients. When traveling you have to find the best vegan restaurant in town. When at Taco Bell you have to tell them what to add and what to subtract from your taco to make it vegan. When attending a potluck you’ll need to dream up a vegan dish that will satisfy you and delight others.

6. Shop Ahead. When shopping for vegan foods, fall in love with the produce and bulk areas at your local health food store. Remember that fruit and nuts are your new fast food. Make sure you read labels for non-vegan ingredients. Most products have an allergen statement listed below the ingredients that will let you know if the product contains milk or eggs. Sometimes the allergens are bolded in the ingredients list. Also, look for whey, casein, rennet, gelatin and carmine in ingredients lists. These items are NOT vegan.

7. Enjoy Accidentally Vegan Items. Believe it or not some items that you already regularly consume are vegan! Peta has a list of accidently vegan items here:

8. Remember Why You’re Taking on this Challenge. Re-read the passages of The World Peace Diet that inspired you the most to make this change. Watch Mercy For Animals’ Farm to Fridge video and other vegan inspired videos on YouTube. Watch Forks Over Knives. Read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Living.

9. Research and Connect. Join Vegan online groups like, buy a vegan cookbook like Vegan Cooking for Carnivores: Over 125 Recipes So Tasty You Won't Miss the Meat, and find vegetarian and vegan restaurants in your area through

10. Celebrate Your Progress! In three weeks time, step back and reflect on the progress you’ve made. Think about what new fruits and veggies you’ve added to your diet, consider the new vegan foods and recipes that you have discovered that you love, and acknowledge any new connections you’ve made as a result of going vegan. Perhaps you’ve even lost some weight and feel more energized. Celebrate the little victories you’ve made and reward yourself accordingly.