I am almost 28 years old and I have been a vegetarian since I was 13. For more than half of my life I have lived on a meatless diet. This is a lifestyle that I believe in on so many levels, from health to harmony. But that is not what I’m here to talk about today.

I recently inspired my brother to challenge his own diet. I am happy to say that he has gone roughly 3 weeks without meat, with the exception of one cheat day each week. He also asked me if I had ever tried a completely vegan diet, eliminating dairy and eggs. Though it is something I’ve always been curious to try, I have yet to actually do it.

A few things to note about my current diet:

-My husband and I have 5 happy backyard pet hens, so we have access to cruelty free eggs. Even still, I rarely eat eggs. We usually find ourselves giving the eggs to friends and coworkers.

HappyHens_Soggykitten

-We use unsweetened almond milk instead of cow’s milk. Back when we would buy cow’s milk my husband would be the only one using it, and sparingly at that, so it wouldn’t get used quick enough. We tried soy milk for a while, but we stopped once we discovered the brand of almond milk that we currently use, Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk. It is delicious and perfect for our needs.

-We had been eating ice cream for a while, but we stopped buying it last year when we decided to distance ourselves from processed sugars as much as possible. My husband bought us a Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker, so anytime we have a sweet tooth and desire ice cream we can make our own custom frozen treat using bananas and other ingredients. This encourages us to eat more fruits and berries with their natural sugars instead of dairy and processed sugar. Some ice creams even use eggs, which is something I find disturbing.

-Butter can be found in our fridge, though I use it seldom. Most of the time I find myself substituting butter for coconut oil in my cooking.

-And finally, CHEESE. Oh, tasty fromage. Years ago I discovered that not all cheese is even vegetarian. If you are not careful you might find yourself buying cheese with animal rennet. This is an enzyme that they extract from the stomach lining of young, unweaned calves. The calf must be killed to obtain the rennet. Thus, I always check labels to make sure they use plant based enzymes when I’m buying cheese.

With Lent coming up, my brother suggested that we do a brother-sister vegan challenge. That is the reason for this post!

For a long time now, I have wanted to do a vegan cheese tasting. So this gives me the perfect excuse to discover the world of dairy-free cheese. I also believe this diet will help me to incorporate more raw foods into my routine, which is always a good goal to have.

Lent begins on February 10th and lasts until March 24th. I have already made my way to Whole Foods and stocked up on several vegan cheeses to try during this time. I still have a few days to use up the last of my feta so it doesn’t go to waste. Even though I love cheese, I tend to use it sparingly and I don’t even use cheese in all my cooking, so giving it up shouldn’t be a terrible chore. I will take this opportunity to experiment with some simple vegan recipes here and there. Over this period of time, I will try to document my experience. I will let you know which alternative cheeses I like, which I don’t, and some recipes that I enjoy.

Again, this is a brother-sister thing. My husband won’t be partaking in it, so I will still be making his burritos with a slice of pepper jack and adding shredded cheddar to his salads. His feelings toward vegan cheese, at the moment, are dismal. Perhaps he’ll taste one that will change his mind? Anything is possible.

I hope you will enjoy sharing in my experience. If you are new to the idea of a vegan or vegetarian diet I will refer you to an excellent documentary that explains why this is a healthy step that you might want to consider in your own life: Forks Over Knives.

~Tedra

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