This summer I decided to start trying to eat vegan instead of just vegetarian. After doing this for about 4 months now, I have a few thoughts and some insight.
One of the biggest things I have noticed is that it is harder to eat out strictly vegan than it is just vegetarian. Many of the vegetarian staples – like nachos, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and cheese subs – are not options anymore. It definitely takes more effort to find vegan options. While most restaurants have at least something to offer for vegetarians, I am finding more places just don’t have anything at all for vegan options. Eating vegan has been eye-opening and I have figured out what I can and can’t eat, and places that are more friendly or have regular options or ways to order dishes to make them vegan. I’ll do some future posts on how to order at typical places.
I coined the term “approximate vegan” to describe how I have been eating. It is, simply put, making a best effort to eat vegan without sweating the small stuff. When I can, I avoid dairy and eggs. I no longer order dishes that are mostly cheese or have obvious eggs in them. On the other hand, I will still take my kids out for sandwiches and for myself I get just veggies or hummus on bread or sub rolls that probably have dairy and eggs in them. I do try to find places with vegan bread – Thundercloud Subs in my part of the world is a good one – but I don’t stress if it is a small amount. Another example is we went to Disney World in August. I ate mostly vegan, but some of the dishes and desserts sounded and looked too good to pass up. Again, I didn’t eat anything majorly made out of cheese, but I did eat some dairy and probably some eggs in things. One restaurant had a fabulous buffet with a dessert spread with tiny little individual desserts so I tried a tiny caramel cheese cake and a chocolate mousse with chocolate ears shaped like Mickey Mouse. It enhanced my experience without diminishing my veganism by much.
So is an approximate vegan a true vegan and is it good enough? I’m not really concerned with being able to properly label myself, I am more concerned about trying my best to be healthy without adding a huge amount of stress to my life. Eating with the kids is a bonding experience, and it already is restrictive being vegetarian. I don’t want to expose them to a huge production of talking to the chef every time we go out and making a big deal out of getting a pure vegan meal. So what is your opinion on this best effort vegan eating?