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One Small Change

Vegan for a Month

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Yesterday I said goodbye to pizza, tenderly caressed a chicken breast, bid adieu to fudge ripple, and gave sushi one last sayonara. In a symbolic eulogy conducted at my local steakhouse, I even had my last bite of dry-aged beef, medium-rare and scrumptious.

And today I am a vegan. I no longer eat things with faces or support animal exploitation. Alicia Silverstone and I—should she ever respond to my countless eCards—will finally have something to talk about and forever bond us. When I awoke, the world was fresh, my intentions pure—but my refrigerator was frighteningly empty.

This isn’t going to be easy.

Tell me, what do people who shun poultry, fish, pork, beef, eggs, honey, and dairy eat? And even more pressing, where do they shop? Certainly not at the supermarket in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania, where I live. When I asked a clerk if the store had a special section for vegans, he said that anyone, regardless of race, was welcome.

Most of the time in this blog I make one small change in my life, see how it plays out for a month, and then deliver a verdict as to whether I think it’s worthwhile or not. Sometimes readers take on the challenge with me, and we compare experiences, which is fun. But this month I may have bitten off much less than I can chew. I mean, I’m hungry already, and there are still 30 days and 17 hours to go.

I decided to try veganism for a number of reasons. First, it sounds so much hipper and exotic than vegetarianism. Mention that you’re vegetarian at a party, even in Schnecksville, and the conversation moves along uninterrupted. But casually let it drop that you’re vegan, and you’re suddenly the center of attention. What’s that? How bold! Did you just fart?!

Second, although I’d never become irritatingly vocal about it, I don’t like seeing animals packed into tight spaces in front of feeding troughs. Besides reminding me of my in-laws at Thanksgiving, it’s inhumane and quite possibly unhealthy for those who eat and use their byproducts. So anything I can do to help Betty White, I’m down with.

Finally, and most important, I’m convinced that if you have the willpower to stick with it, a vegan diet is exactly what the doctor ordered. I’ve been taking cholesterol medication for the last six years and am destined to do so for the rest of my life unless I can find some other way to fight my genetic predisposition to heart disease. A vegan diet contains little if any cholesterol and plenty of fiber, plus it’s ideal for weight control.

Although I’m a firm believer that you should never adopt a diet you can’t maintain for life—pizza! fudge ripple! steak!—I’m still curious about this one and the many new products (hemp protein? almond milk? chocolate green superfood?) that vegans claim can be substituted for old favorites without too much pining.

So join me if you dare in this month’s One Small Change. Over the course of the next 31 days, I’ll be talking to nutritionists and other experts, including a 6-foot-2, 245-pound vegan Collegiate Strength Coach of the Year, as I explore firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of this diet/lifestyle on health, wellbeing and performance.

Hey, do you smell barbecue?

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Food, Nutrients, Health