The 30 Days blog has come to an end - but it's not too late to relive the experience.
Option 1 - Click on the links below "Read it!" to read from Day 1-Day 30
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Beyond the Experiment - Brendan's Take on Veganism

It's been 30 days now since my last animal product. I am glad to report that I didn't perish from malnutrition or grow dreadlocks and start using hemp in my everyday life. I did not become a hippie.

They might be vegan, but that doesn't mean they're not weird...

What I have done in the past month is get an enormous amount of information on food, health, the food industry, and how they relate. It's pretty eye-opening to see the process and effects of meeting the demand for the food that we as a nation are consuming in larger quantities. It all really boils down to the average consumer not really caring what's on their plate or where it came from, as long as it tastes good. That's what it seems like to me anyway.

For me, Veganism is a way to get back to the way food should be. It's a crash-course in how to eat like you care. You read so many labels, look at so many ingredients, and interrogate so many waiters, that you start to realize what ELSE is in your food. It makes you think about what you are eating, rather than just chowing down.

So, do I want to continue being a Vegan? Yes, I think that by making myself aware of all the issues of eating the "Standard American Diet", I couldn't just go back. There are some things that I will have to change though.

How will this affect my health?

How will THIS affect my health?

A big part of our trying Veganism was for sustainability reasons. It takes a lot fewer resources to consume a vegan diet than a meat diet. This comes into play with my clothing as well. I have a lot of wool and leather that has been sitting in the back of my closet for a month now. I COULD just get rid of it and buy all new stuff, but that means more resources are consumed to make more clothing and belts. My plan is to wear what I currently own, and to simply replace it with a vegan alternative when it's worn out.

We've also experienced the hard times of being vegan. The parties, BBQ's, dinners out with family, these are all times when it can be very hard to stay true to your lifestyle without affecting others. We both have very understanding families though, and I think that we will approach each situation as it arises. We don't want to force our friends and family to only eat vegan when they are with us, just as I would hope they wouldn't force us to eat meat if we were with them. It's a choice each person has to make on their own.

No, I'm definitely not going to wait until midnight and fry up some bacon. I don't have eggs and sausages waiting for breakfast tomorrow. This experiment has definitely changed my outlook, and I think it's been for the better. If nothing else, it will make me realize how our choices affect much more than ourselves.

I'm toying with the idea of a blog about vegan running. It'd be quite an endeavor, but it could be pretty interesting. I'll keep you informed.

Be Healthy,

Beyond the Experiment - Katie's Take on Veganism

The 30 Day Vegan Experiment is over and it's time to reflect...

The Verdict
So the big question... will I stick with it? You better believe it! I plan to remain a vegan, or"modified vegan" might be more appropriate. The biggest challenges for me have been Sugar and Leather. When cooking with sugar at home I have complete control over my sweeteners and I choose to use Agave Nectar or Turbinado. (Don't even get me started on why everyone's going to die from artificial sweeteners...) The refined sugar comes into play with condiments, sweets, bread, etc. that have vague "sugar" listed on the ingredients. I plan to do my best to keep sugar out of my diet, but I need to have a little wiggle room. I might not be perfect but I can take a stand when it comes to meat, dairy, and eggs.

Leather is the second big issue in my life. I own A LOT of leather shoes that I love and cherish, they are the best part of my wardrobe. Financially and emotionally I cannot justify getting rid of all of these items. I plan on no longer purchasing leather goods, but everything in my closet will be slowly purged from my life. I just don't think I can do it cold turkey.

Favorite Dankos , Favorite Aerosoles

Losing It
When it comes down to it, being Vegan for a month was actually pretty simple for me. I started making small changes to my diet about four months ago which made it a relatively easy transition. I've lost weight, quite a bit actually, but I can't contribute it all to being Vegan. I've been running, watching my portions, and saying no to junk food - it makes a big difference! I've lost about a pound a week for the month of August, which is exactly what I was losing before I made the decision to become Vegan. If you decide to go Vegan for the weight loss you might be making a poor decision. It is easy to be a junk-food Vegan, and on the flip side you can be a healthy meat eater. Veganism is not a miracle diet, its a lifestyle. If you are not dedicated to doing it for the welfare of animals, the environment, and your body, Vegan is not for you.

New Finds
A few things that I'm proud of - I went an entire month without wearing leather. That is surprisingly hard to do when all of my belts, shoes, and purses are leather. This required me to purchase replacements which was fun because shopping always is, and yet really challenging! I've found that most items that aren't leather are just cheap and poor quality. It's sad that high quality equates to leather when there are so many other Eco friendly options out there.

A few of my favorite finds;

Crocs Havana Wedge , J-41 Madrid , Kenneth Cole Reaction Hide N Peek

To be honest I must admit that I knowingly cheated a few times. First of all, we drank a bottle of wine from Brazil in celebration of our move. I'm assuming this was not vegan friendly, but it was a gift! I also ate bread at a BBQ without asking about ingredients, maybe it was vegan, maybe not - I get carb crazy sometimes. Although I nixed the leather, I continued to use my cosmetics, hairstyling products, etc. without really knowing what was in them. I'm working on replacing these slowly. Worst of all...I bought a bag of rawhide chews for the puppy. My dog will probably never be vegan. There, it's out in the open!

The experiment is over and I can finally take a rest from 30 days of blogging. Ive discovered that it takes a lot of effort to blog every day while you're dealing with the challenges of drastically changing your diet, vacationing, moving, and the daily grind. I've never been much of a writer but fortunately Architecture school could care less about your writing skills. Writer or not, I've decided that I LOVE blogging, I love sharing little parts of my life with whoever wants to read it - even if it's only my mom. So thank you Vegan Experiment, you've brought out the blogger in me. You've also convinced me to invest in a nice camera, is it Christmas yet?!

New Inspiration
I've learned to thoroughly inspect every item I put into my body (other than the Soy Joy mistake) and this has made me so much more aware of what I consume. I've started focusing a lot more on where I buy my groceries, where they come from, what chemicals were used to produce them, etc. I want to support local business, I want to be a smart consumer in every way possible. I find it to be interesting most vegan eateries I frequent or products I purchase are by default supporting local business - awesome!

Goodbye 30 Days Vegan blog - Hello new blog! My new blog will be focused on becoming a responsible consumer. This will cover all things that I consume in life - it's so much more than food! It's still in early schematics - check it out! Consumed With Responsibility


Day 30 - Don't Worry Mama

Women are known for two things - loving and worrying about their young'n. Grandmas, Aunts, Moms, Sisters - this one is for you.

Do Vegans get enough protein? Let's look at the protein in the standard American diet vs. a vegan diet. I've included images of the portion sizes to illustrate the point. (I used free portion control website for the images called Figwee check it out!)

Can a vegan diet be too low in protein? Yes, it is possible if the diet is built around soda, chips, and candy. Protein comes from veggies!

Do Vegans get enough calcium? If they focus their diet around the correct foods, they should have no problem getting enough calcium.

Animal Sources
1/2 Cup Milk - 120 grams calcium
3/4 oz Cheese - 152 grams calcium

Vegetable Sources
1/2 Cup Calcium Fortified Soy Milk - 150 grams calcium
1/2 Cup Broccoli - 71 grams calcium
1 Cup White Beans - 220 grams calcium
1/2 Cup Sweet Potatoes - 164 grams calcium

Many soy products such as soy milk are calcium fortified which provides many more sources of calcium. An interesting fact is that consuming meat actually hinders the absorption of calcium because of the protein's acidity. This means that Vegans actually need less calcium in their diet.

Is it safe to be Vegan? Yes, its very safe, but it takes planning to eat a well-balanced diet. The thing is, you can eat bad food as a vegan, omnivore, or whatever it is that you call yourself. The only difference is that if you eat meat, you are eating beef, pork, cheese, and other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. You will still be undernourished, you're just overfed. Unless you plan out a healthy lifestyle and choose GOOD foods to eat, you'll be lacking in nutrients regardless of whether you eat animal products or not.

The most important part of any diet is making sure you get nutrients. Being vegan doesn't make you automatically healthy, everyone needs to eat fewer chips, drink less soda, and get more exercise.

It's all about what you DO eat, not just what you don't eat.

-Katie & Brendan

Day 29 - Milk, does it do a body good?

America is big on milk. We've been brought up from birth with the belief that you need milk to grow "big and strong" and continue that practice throughout our life. I mean, we are mammals right? Mammals drink milk, so we need milk to live.

Well... not quite.

It is true that humans are mammals. We do drink milk when we are born, which is provided by our (human) mothers. It is nutritious and calorically-dense, which is exactly what you need when you are a tiny little baby that needs to get bigger fast.

There is a catch though. If you look at the animal kingdom, there aren't very many other mammals who drink milk after they are weaned. In fact, there aren't ANY mammals that require milk after they stop drinking it from their mothers. Yeah, cats drink milk, but that's because we provide it for them. My dog eats anything left on the ground for more then 5 seconds... that doesn't mean he SHOULD.

An example of what my dog eats:

After being weaned from their mothers, the ability of mammals to absorb lactose (the main sugar in milk) decreases constantly. Essentially the older you get, the less you are able to digest milk. I'm sure you've heard of lactose-intolerance, which is what happens when you finally realize that milk makes you feel crappy. Everyone is essentially lactose-intolerant when they grow up, but a lot of people drink it so often, they don't realize how it makes them feel.

Maybe part of the reason is that we drink cow's milk. Doesn't it seem weird that we drink milk that isn't meant for us? Cow's milk is made for.... well, cows. They are a lot bigger than us, and a heck of a lot fatter. Their milk contains almost 4% fat while ours is right around 1%. Throw in the lactose aspect, and suddenly cow's milk doesn't look like the best option for people to drink.

You can also look at milk in a different way than health. Cows only produce milk after they have given birth, just like every other mammal. This means that in order to get milk from them, they have to be impregnated, give birth, then separated from the calf and milked daily. They are also given hormones and antibiotics regularly to help them reach maturity quickly and keep producing milk. Seems a little mean doesn't it? You also have the whole factory-farm atmosphere of bad living conditions, dangerous crowding and machinery, and general mistreatment by workers.

Not exactly a great life to be a dairy cow...

Yes, milk does have vitamins and calcium in it. These are important for overall health and wellness. Unlike you might be led to believe, milk is NOT the only way to get vitamins and calcium. Almost every plant-based milk is fortified with nutrients that make it equal to, or better than, regular cow milk. You also are spared the lactose, hormones, and bad karma that comes with factory-farming practices. All that advertising about milk "doing a body good" comes from the dairy industry. It says right there in the advertisement.

You can bet that before cigarette companies were forced to put warnings on their advertisements, they made their product seem like a good thing, maybe even healthy...

You have to check this site out. Seems pretty insane these days, but people do believe a lot of what they read and see without questioning it.

Now I'm not saying milk causes cancer... but it's always good to take things you read and see with a grain of salt. Be informed, figure things out rather than have a billboard tell you what to believe. The internet makes it SO EASY to get real information, there's no excuse to not be informed.

Alright, enough of the heavy stuff! Here's a bad vegan joke to cheer you up...

A guy has a steak sticking out of one ear, a hotdog out of the other, and a chicken wing up his nose.
He goes to the doctor and asks him what's wrong.
The doctor tells him, "Well, for one thing, you're not eating right."

Be Healthy (and tell better jokes than me),

Day 28 - Turned Away


I desperately need a new pair of comfy shoes and a few cosmetics. I'm all about shopping online, but sometimes I prefer to have the good immediately! Ive been doing some very unsuccessful hunting downtown. Here is a quick list of all of the places I was recently "turned away" from because they are not Vegan friendly.

Doc Martins
I'm not crazy - I was told they used to carry Vegan shoes, no longer!

Nordstrom Makeup Department
All product lines at Nordstorm contain animal products or are tested on animals

Nordstrom Shoe Department
One Vegan shoe offered, definitely not work appropriate

No Vegan friendly shoes

Shoe Mill
No Vegan friendly shoes

I need to do some major research on these issues. It's sad that I cant frequent my usual shops, but It sure does save money!

More to come on my consumer behaviors....


Day 27 - Farmers Market

Ive decided that I live in one of the best places possible for having a regular selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. I could pretty much fall out of my second story window and end up at one of three places; Safeway, the PSU farmers Market, or the Downtown Farmers Market.

Saturdays: March 21 - Dec. 19
8:30 am – 2:00 pm
Fall Hours (Nov. & Dec.)
9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Wednesdays: April 29 - Oct. 28
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

I love farmers markets because the produce is fresh , ingredients are listed on all products, and it supports local business! We all know cooking isn't my specialty but I did come up with something yummy Wednesday night after I hit up the market.

Kale Salad w/ Kohlrabi, Beets, Peppers, and Pine nuts

Artichoke w/garlic aioli, Kale Salad, Olive Bread, Zucchini-Kale-Onion-Tofu stir fry

Thanks to farmers market I look like a real cook!


Day 26 - The Final Countdown


We have four days left with the Vegan Experiment and then the truth comes out. Will we stick with it? Are we vegan for life?!

The results will be in August 31st, don't miss the blog!