12 Months of Grieving Series: Good-bye meat and dairy

It’s been five months since I’ve started grieving the loss of my dad. Although he passed in October, it took a thick fog of grief and depression to see through the chaos and start to make sense of the madness. For month 5 of the 12 Months of Grieving series we turned our attention to food, primarily, changing our eating habits. Yes, there is a financial incentive to this, but if you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you’ll see that sometimes we don’t need to hit people over the head with the obvious. By being more conscious of the food we eat, we will see savings in our wallet.

For the majority of August, Tolga and I went on a vegan diet. Now, we didn’t do this 100 percent of the time. With various obligations (such as traveling to BC and dinner outs) we were flexible with our plan. However, when we were at home, we ate vegan for breakfast, lunch and dinners. So, why vegan and not vegetarian? Why eliminate meat and dairy completely? Neither Tolga nor Emily can process dairy, so that is already something we have eliminated. When I was vegetarian a few years ago, I found my asthma all but disappeared and I rarely got sick. Emily was recently diagnosed with mild asthma, so between her and me we can sometimes be a hot mess. One of our family goals this year is to be conscious of our health and integrate food and fitness into a sustainable lifestyle. Starting a vegan lifestyle helps us attain this goal.

I want to add the disclaimer that you need to choose what is best for you and your family. I don’t want to come across as one of those people when it comes to food and diet. If you love meat and dairy and it’s an important aspect of your lifestyle, then keep on trucking my friend. There will be times when we’re out for dinner or having a meal with friends that vegan won’t be an option and that’s okay.

During this month of veganism we were forced to be creative with our cooking, as to not eat beans every day. We often used the Oh She Glows cookbook and app, as well as Thug Kitchen, plus various recipes from Pinterest. Buzzfeed also has some solid vegan recipes. Preparation is key! Meal planning helped us save money at the grocery store and time in the evening.  We saw a 20 percent reduction on our grocery bill when we meal planned and batched cook. We have also saved another 10 percent since going Vegan.  With dinners already made, we spent our nights as a family or doing something active. With eating vegan, this eliminates a lot of fast food options, so we save money by not eating out. Tolga and I noticed that we are creatures of habit and feel thrown off for the week when we didn’t batch cook or meal prep.

Being a vegan in the summer is pretty easy. With farmers markets a plenty, we spent Saturday mornings as a family, shopping for fresh and local produce. Exposing Emily to healthy options at early age can help with lifelong love of food. We used cash and saved a ton on our grocery bill.

I have learned (and I’ve written about it before) that I love baked goods. Thankfully, there are a lot of great recipes now for vegan baking. However, I tend to focus my efforts on cooking and not baking. Something I plan on doing this fall is to focus on adding vegan baking to my meal prep, so I am not tempted by chocolate croissants.

There is no shortage of online articles about this topic. Time Magazine wrote about how vegetarians can save money and the benefits of the lifestyle.  However, the Wall Street Journal offers arguments, both for and against the vegan lifestyle.

This lifestyle may not work for everyone. You can find articles which support or oppose this lifestyle. At the end of the day, you need to decide what’s best for you and your family. For us, we have noticed significant health benefits and my mental health has improved. This change is based on the lessons we learned from my dad’s health journey. You’re only young once and we need to embrace the body we have. Our health isn’t a joke and we need to respect it.

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