The 2000-2001 school year was remarkable for several reasons. It was my last teaching experience in Florida, before my husband and I moved to Georgia. It is also during which time I met a teacher who was adhering to a strictly vegan diet. Following our frequent discussions regarding my personal health concerns, she eagerly shared this easy to understand and informative book. I quickly learned that if I removed all animal products, white sugar, bleached white flour, and foods containing hydrogenated oils from my diet, I could experience improved body functions and an overall feeling of well-being. My husband joined me in completely converting our kitchen and diets to strict vegan, cold-turkey fashion. At first, it was quite a shock to our systems. While we had always considered ourselves to be healthy-minded (we are both slender, and enjoy long walks and riding our bikes), it took us the better part of a year to truly educate ourselves regarding optimal healthy food consumption.
By the time I became pregnant in March of 2002, I was the healthiest I had ever been in my entire life. As I entered the second trimester of my pregnancy, I found myself feeling famished and unsatisfied with my strict vegan diet, partially due to the fact that I did not yet have a plethora of recipes. After careful research, I added a select few animal products back into my diet...organic chicken, and a few dairy products (yogurt, mild cheddar, and cottage cheese), as my typically lactose-intolerant body seemed to crave them.
I gave birth to my son on November 17, 2002, at 37 weeks. He was very healthy, and also very lean! He quickly gained weight by consuming my breast milk, as my body weight was rapidly reduced. I had lost quite a bit of blood during the birth, and therefore required iron supplementation. This is when I first researched information about organic beef. We continued to follow a mostly vegan diet, with the occasional meal including chicken or beef. My son remained vegan until his toddler years, when I became concerned about him consuming enough protein for satiation. I spent a lot of time online searching for information regarding animal products (both positive and negative), and increasing my vegan recipe collection, particularly with regards to beans as a protein source.
Today, we follow what I refer to as a "healthy, vegan-ish diet", with a few carefully selected animal products (wild-caught salmon, organic chicken, low-fat yogurt) consumed on a limited basis. I do not use dairy products, eggs, or meat broths in recipes. If I find a recipe I like, I will "veganize" it by substituting vegetable broth for chicken/beef broth, and a combination of applesauce and light olive oil for butter. Eggs are either omitted or substituted. Not only do we not enjoy eating eggs, we also do not appreciate the gas distress they cause us, and therefore refrain from consuming them. I have conducted enough research to learn that soy is not good for everyone...especially developing boys, and women (like me) who can be estrogen dominant. Therefore, I use rice milk when a recipe calls for milk.