I’m a Part-Time Vegan

What is a part-time vegan and does that really exist?  Well it does in my world.  Let me first apologize to those who live your lives full time as a vegan.  You can stop jumping up and down and yelling at your computer screen.  Oh wait, you’re probably not because you have compassion for animals, of which I happen to be one.

©Diane Eblin

©Diane Eblin

Actually, my friends that do live a vegan life are thrilled that I spend any time of my day not eating any animal products.  So what do I mean by part-time vegan.  For me that means that I only eat gluten free and dairy free plant, fruit, legume, nut, and grain based meals until dinner time.   I started trying this a few months ago in the winter, which for me is a hard time to start anything.  First I hate the cold, dreary and dark days.  I am solar powered and heat loving gal.  This is why I will move to California in a few years.  Living in Northern VA there are not a lot of local vegetables being grown around here in the winter and I like to eat local organic foods.  I also have never been a fan of a lot of the winter vegetables.  I am learning to try them, but slowly.

So now that this year’s local vegetables are beginning to crop up I’m once again back on to eating vegan during the day.  But to be completely up front, I got this last push back to this lifestyle by reading Mark Bittman’s new book Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 RecipesThis is a must read book. He and I share the same philosophy:   eat like your food matters.  His book offers great information on how we are currently eating and what that is doing to our bodies and our planet.  Two things that mean a lot to me.  I won’t go into more about the book just now but look for my book review coming soon.

So exactly what am I eating and how has it changed how I feel?

Well I’m not eating bacon and eggs for breakfast anymore but it’s a great dinner.  Instead I eat a hot grain cereal, always gluten free and dairy free.  I’ll have a fruit or fruit and leafy green smoothie or when I’m pressed for time a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I’ve been eating this great raw peanut butter made from 4 different nuts.  Love it.  I’m also eating my lunches at home because that is where I run our international executive leadership corporation from.  I again will have a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains and beans.  You know how I love pupusas.  When dinner rolls around I have 3-5 ounces of seafood, ostrich, turkey, chicken, pork, beef or bison.  I’ve not totally given up meats but by doing this I have greatly decreased how much I am consuming.

Also, for those who don’t usually read this blog, I don’t eat very many foods of any type from a box.  I make all of my own stocks, beans from dried, and I eat as much organic and local food from farmers as possible.  I’ve also cut back to eating my junk food of potato chips or Fritos to only once a week.  I do however like to eat my Blueberry Ice Cream any time of the day.

Here are some changes I have noticed happening to my body.  I’m not as hungry as I previously was and I don’t miss meat during the day at all.  I have more energy and I sleep more soundly and feel more rested when I awake.  I don’t have as many aches and pains and my shoulder that I’ve been attending physical therapy for has greatly improved at a much faster rate since I started eating this way.  This was my feeling which was confirmed by my therapist yesterday.  Thanks Denise!  I feel more content and relaxed.  Oh, and I am losing weight too.

So I am looking for others who are already eating this way or who might be interested in being a part-time vegan with me.   If you are looking to really read more about this please go to the book store or library and grab Mark Bittman’s book, Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes.  I’ve not even talked about what changing to this way of eating can do for our planet.

So let me hear from you.  What is your opinion on this when asked to join in?  Are you scrunching up your nose and cringing?  If so that’s a sign you might really need a change and should grab that book.  Can’t wait to hear from you.

11 Responses to I’m a Part-Time Vegan

  1. Cordelia June 16, 2009 at 4:13 am #

    I stopped eating gluten in January and it changed my life. I was seriously ill and knew something had to change. So I learned to eat more vegetables and fruit and started trying different grains. I already only ate organic chicken and bison. I guess I'm becoming more aware of how products effect my body or I'm more sensitive, but dairy was starting to cause some problems. I couldn't eat dairy when I was a child. So I cut out milk, yogurt, butter and cheese. A month goes by and it occurs to me that I'm almost a vegan except for the scrambled eggs, chicken breasts and pound of ground bison every now and then. So I start researching what I need to do to replace those. I've been without animal products for about a month now and I feel great! I had been losing weight since January when I went gluten free but by cutting out dairy and meat, I've really started to see a change in the shape of my body, for the better.

    I look forward to reading your review on Bittman's book. I'm currently reading Christine Pirello's This Crazy Vegan Life and have learned a lot. Next I'm going to work on getting rid of that organic raw cane sugar. 🙂

    • Diane June 16, 2009 at 6:18 am #

      Cordelia- Wow, thank you for sharing. What an inspiring story. I too have found once I started paying attention to how my body changed when I took something out of my diet the more I can fine tune it. Sugar is a hard one to give up. I think it was harder for me to give that up more than anything. I still have a little bit of agave in my tea and when we bake we use either honey or agave. My body is very reactive so now I know immediately if I've eaten too much. Just can't get away with things like I use to. Sounds like I'm headed to the library and book store to check out a new book. Thanks for sharing that. I really appreciate you taking the time to check out the blog and to comment. I hope you'll come again.

  2. Alisa - Frugal Foodi June 16, 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Hi Diane,

    I am a part time vegan too! My husband and I trialed the vegan diet for 4 months (it started as 1 month, but we just kept going). At first we felt fantastic, it was cleansing I guess. But then, after a while, even eating whole foods and exercising, our energy waned, and while I think the diet works great for many, as full time vegans, it just didn't work with us, especially since we don't consume soy protein either (I think you know I don't do dairy :).

    Now we enjoy our sushi, and we typically eat vegan for the majority of the day like you, and then have chicken, fish, turkey, or other meat at dinner. My husband does sometimes have meat at lunch too. He is a meat man, what can I say? but I prefer a heavy plant diet, I just run better that way.

    • Diane June 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

      Alisa- Yes, I know you don't do dairy. Either that you just had fun writing the book Go Dairy Free. 🙂 We like fish, poultry and meats too. I really like what eating less of it also does for our planet. Plants really help our bodies run well. I also don't eat soy with the exception of a little gluten free soy sauce once in a while. Keep sharing your ideas and recipes!

  3. nebo Restaurant June 16, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    To whom it may concern;

    I am writing to inform you of our new Gluten free menu. About 4 yrs ago my sister Christine and I opened nebo restaurant at 90 N. Washington St. in Boston’s North End. Nebo is a traditional Italian restaurant offering dishes based on recipes that were passed down from our mother and grandmother. After being open for about a year, two of our closest friends were told they had Celiac disease. We then realized just how many people this disease has affected and the need for an alternative for their dining restrictions. Determined to serve our friends their favorites, we set upon making our menu available in a gluten free form. We are thrilled to say that we have now produced 90% of our menu with the same great taste as our regular menu. We don't think there has been an accomplishment that has brought us more pleasure. If you would like us to forward a copy of our Gluten free menu please send a menu request to nebofunctions@gmail.com .

  4. gfe--gluten free eas June 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    I can't give up meat protein. I find I really need it, BUT I do it more and more in moderation–which equates to less and less, I guess. LOL If I have a salad for lunch, I only need a little protein with it like a couple of bites of chicken say, but I definitely need it. Like Alisa, I won't do soy for protein. For folks who have adrenal issues like I do (in my case, a by-product of the gluten issues), a diet of 50% protein, 25% carbs, and 25% fat is what is recommended. However, the majority of the protein and fat should come from plants. So sunflower seeds, nuts, avocados, etc. Carbs should come from fruit and veggies. Like you and others, I find if I listen to my body I do best.

    I know I should almost completely give up dairy and sugar, but I'm not there yet. Giving up gluten was a walk in the park compared to those two. But, I mostly eat real food and make my own dishes from real food versus eating very many processed foods. You already know how I feel about the gluten-free specialty foods. They are in the same category as other processed foods in my mind, having little nutritional value.

    I definitely want to read that book. I'm not that familiar with Bittman, but I know he stirred up a lot of folks a while back with a column on "must have's" in one's pantry and there were no processed foods. I largely agree with that, but I don't have an issue with using canned beans and canned tomatoes.

    Thanks for sharing, Diane,


    • Diane June 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

      Shirley- Absolutely grab that book. I like to read Mark Bittman's column in the New York Times and I follow him on Twitter. He shares great info. He's also written some good cookbooks. Now about giving up dairy and sugar. If you have to pick one or the other I would recommend giving up sugar. It's evil. It's addicting too so it's very hard to give up. I'm with you on any processed foods, regular or gluten free. Not very much in there that's good for us. I do keep canned tomatoes and beans on hand. But I have to say there is nothing like the taste of beans and dishes using beans if they are cooked from dried beans instead of canned. The dish has a completely different taste with a lot more depth and complexity. Mark Bittman has some great info on cooking the whole pound of beans and then how to store and use them.

      Thanks for taking time to visit and comment.

  5. Phoebe June 17, 2009 at 7:31 am #

    I am so happy to read your post and feel like I'm not alone. I have struggled with food addictions all of my life (although I didn't know I was struggling when I was younger – I typically thought eating lots of meat, dairy and desserts with a few veggies thrown in was what everyone did for good balanced health). For years I have ridden the roller coaster of guilt and shame when I knew I needed to clean up my diet but I would inevitably fall back into old habits.

    Vegetarianism has been touted for years by those who practice it to be the only way for true health. I applaud how it positively can impact our bodies and our planet. There are however, some of us that have bodies that need some animal protein and I am finally accepting that fact and forgiving myself for enjoying what I eat.

    I agree that it is a noble goal to aim for a diet that features vegetables and highlights some meals with a little bit of meat. That is what I strive for everyday with some days being more successful than others, but your site and others like it are excellent for helping us figure it all out according to our individual needs without the 2nd helping of guilt. So a very long post to say – thank you!

    • Diane June 17, 2009 at 7:47 am #

      Phoebe- You're very welcome. Food has been something I've struggled with all my life. Finding out some foods don't fare well in my body has explained a lot. Also, the addiction to sugar also explained a lot too. I do love a variety of meats, poultry and seafood and I can't imagine totally giving them up. It was really interesting in reading Mark Bittmans' book. If you've not read it give it a go. Thank you for sharing your story. It's great that you've learned so much about yourself. That is the key to being successful at anything we try. Giving up the guilt is excellent. I no longer take the day view but the week and month view on what I eat. It helps spread out the days that are off rail. One thing I never go off rail with however is the gluten free and dairy free. I get really sick. You couldn't pay me to eat gluten ever again. I don't miss it but sometimes would like a little cheese. Not worth it.

      Keep up the great work you are doing at taking care of yourself. So glad you stopped for a visit and left a comment. Hope to hear from you again.

  6. Ali (Whole Life Nutr June 17, 2009 at 8:36 pm #

    Diane – I am a part-time vegan too! I don't eat much animal products and eat mostly whole grains, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, etc. I have tried being totally vegan and found it does not work for me, I just feel better with a little salmon, chicken, eggs, etc. a few times a week. Tom has been vegan for 28 years now! Many of the meals I make are vegan and I do feel that this is one of the fastest ways to slow global warming. I think it would be great if more folks relied on grains and beans instead of meat and fish for protein. I think posts like this will get everyone thinking. Have you watched The Meatrix? http://www.themeatrix.com I think is the link.

    -Ali 🙂

    • Diane June 18, 2009 at 12:00 pm #

      Ali- Thanks for the link to The Meatrix. I'll have to watch it. I still enjoy the tastes of chicken or pork and seafood so I'll most likely keep eating them. However cutting down, even a little, can have a huge impact on the planet. Tom's way ahead of us. 28 years! I'm still learning how to keep going during the day. I do find when I eat the meat proteins I get more hungry. Strange. Forgot to thank you for the freezing info on my breakfast grain cereal I made. It's wonderful to be able to pop it out of the freezer and heat it back up. Thanks!