Hey Team,

I’ve been out of the daily update game for awhile but hopefully this will bring a little sunshine to your otherwise dreary, winter wonderland. (As I sit here writing this it’s 80 degrees in Southern California (or at least it was when I started writing this a week ago…).)

Most of you probably know I spent the last month as a vegan but only one of you knows my thoughts on the subject. Here’s the background: After Katy’s Ironman she talked about doing the vegan thing as a way to spend her month of recovery; figuring that if she wasn’t going to be able to exercise in the same ridiculous manner she had been then at least she’d have a way to force herself to limit her intake in a creative way.

I was just coming off of a year and a half of Amtrekking followed by NovemBEARD and was seriously lacking in the personal challenges department (not to mention I HAVE considered going the vegetarian route a few times) so I agreed to sign on to the adventure. Since we would be headed into the holiday season, many people told us what a stupid idea it was but even more people told us we would never be able to make it a whole month avoiding the deliciousness of non-vegan Christmas party treats.

Which is why we decided to do it during the holiday season.

Vegan Food Pyramid

When I tried to explain myself, I was surprised to find how many people didn’t understand the meaning of “Vegan.” (The link will do all the explaining for me.) Furthermore, I was quickly surprised to find out that I didn’t fully understand the meaning of vegan.

Bowing to Katy’s wisdom I spent most of the first week and a half asking questions like, “Is shrimp vegan? What about cheese? You mean I can’t have real milk in my cereal? How about bacon? What if it’s organic bacon? Is there such a thing as organic bacon? I can’t even have TURKEY bacon?! But that’s not even meat…is it?!”

Eventually, I came to terms with the obvious stuff but there are some really sneaky animal products that try to wiggle their way into our everyday lives under cover of complicated lexiconography. Gelatin is one of the big ones but there are also things like casein, a milk protein, that’s used in most SOY cheeses, so even they were out of the running. The biggest concession we made was honey but besides that I’m relatively sure we stayed true to the animal free diet. (To be clear we didn’t even bother shooting for an animal free lifestyle.)

I actually really enjoyed being forced to cook creatively…or being forced to cook at all for that matter (I’m pretty sure I doubled the amount of meals I’ve ever cooked for myself in the first day of being vegan.) and being vegan is incredibly easy as long as you never leave the house.

Once you set foot outside all bets are off.

You get no help from anyone and it’s amazing how few waiters act as though they’ve ever even heard the word “vegan” before. Most of my dining out experiences in the last month went something like this:

I’d thoroughly check the menu for any entree without words like “steak” or “chicken” in the title, quickly find that my only options were a side of toast (dry) or applesauce then give up and ask the server.

“Do you have any vegan options?”

Quizzical look, “You mean vegetarian?”

“Um…kind of…but without dairy too…kind of.”

“We have some pasta with meat sauce I could give you.”

“Awesome. Could I have that without the meat sauce.”

“We don’t have any other sauces. You just want dry pasta?”

At which point I would think, “No, I WANT a steak…but I’ve slept on enough park benches that I can settle for dry pasta tonight.” Instead, I’d say, “Yes, please. That would be great” and then drown the pasta in the nearest salsa.

Vegan Insomnia

I probably never would have survived without the support of you people and especially the folks on twitter and facebook who were happy to share recipes.

I didn’t do this for any philosophical reasons (I don’t even like PETA) and for that matter, there are precious few things on the planet I love more than a good cheeseburger. This entire month was done solely in the name of personal challenges. However, I kind of loved it.

Now that the “challenge” is over I wont be adhering to vegan guidelines as vehemently and I HATED feeling like I was an inconvenience whenever I ate out (so those are definitely cheeseburger nights from now on) but I can’t overemphasis how much I dug having rules for cooking. All of a sudden I couldn’t walk down the street and buy something satisfying from the local fast food joint so I felt like I was forced to make myself a delicious treat, which in turn was just plain fun and a great way to spend the evening with friends.

Okay, before I start rambling (more) I’ll just cut it off right there and answer in questions in the comment section. Thanks again, everyone!

I’m done.


Just for the record. Bookingbuddy really is a pretty rad website if you’re looking to plan a trip. It actually allows you to search most of the top website from one location. Pretty handy! But more importantly…our new affiliation with bookingbuddy.com means all you have to do to help out Amtrekker is click on one of their ads and sign up for an awesome newsletter filled with travel deals! Thanks everyone!