Seven months ago I decided to become vegan and try to live off a plant-based diet. I made the decision on a whim as a personal challenge to myself after watching the documentary “Vegucated,” which follows three meat-loving New Yorkers as they adopt a vegan diet for six weeks.
The very next day I opted for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch instead of my usual chicken caesar wrap. I’m not going to lie, I felt like I was starving by the end of the day, but the cravings eventually faded and I felt like I was putting more thought into what I was putting into my body.
Surprisingly, the first few months of the new diet weren’t too difficult. I was feeling healthier and enjoying a higher intake of fruits and vegetables, but I did miss certain foods. That’s when I found out that some of the snacks I had loved before were still OK to eat.
Before, I never really read the labels on the back of the packages, so I had no idea what I was actually eating. This is something that I learned is very important, especially when spotting animal products. You also learn about sweeteners and other ingredients that are used. And who knows, you might even be eating something that’s vegan right now and not even know it.
I grew up eating animal and dairy products, so this post isn’t meant to offend anyone who eats meat. It’s meant to inform those who might be curious about it or mislead by what veganism means.
A vegan is someone who does not eat or use any animal products. This means they don’t eat dairy products like cheese or wear fur or leather.
With this said, there’s a lot more that goes into it besides not eating animal products. You have to make sure you’re maintaining a healthy diet and receiving the proper nutrients. I found that this was quite possible to achieve and maintain in Oklahoma City due to a variety of restaurant food options, farmers markets and grocery stores that offer meat and dairy alternatives, as well as vegan vitamin supplements.
Here’s a list of other things I encountered and learned along the way:
1. We all greet each other using the Spock hand sign. (Kidding, but you would be surprised by how many times I hear that joke.)
2. We don’t always eat just fruits and vegetables. Nutter Butters, Fritos and Oreos are all vegan and personal favorites of mine.
3. Going to restaurants isn’t as big of a hassle as you may think. Most places are very accommodating. I’ve been to a few Oklahoma City steak houses that were willing to cook fresh veggies on a separate grill. One chef even created a special sun-dried tomato sauce to season the vegetables.
4. Even though it’s bad for you, we do live in a high-paced society; therefore, sometimes you have to pick up some fast food. Taco Bell, Subway, Wendy’s, Starbucks and Jason’s Deli are all said to have vegan options at various locations.
5. We know a lot about protein, partly because we’re asked so much about how we get it without eating meat. We get it from rice, beans, chickpeas, oatmeal, tofu, lentils, quinoa, peanuts, broccoli, soybeans, etc. It’s important to note that meat isn’t the only source of protein.
6. Oklahoma City has a lot of vegan and vegetarian friendly restaurants. Picasso Cafe, The Red Cup, a new food truck called The Loaded Bowl, Saturn Grill, Iguana Mexican Grill, Coolgreens, Cheever’s Cafe, Cous Cous Cafe, Kitchen No. 324, La Gumbo Ya Ya, The Wedge Pizzeria and many other places offer vegan/vegetarian items.
And even if you don’t plan on becoming a vegan or vegetarian anytime soon, you should still try out some of these Oklahoma City plant-based restaurants and dishes. They’re delicious and will keep you coming back for more.
At first, I wasn’t sure I would be able make it an entire year, but now that I’m only a few months away, I’m starting to think this new diet will become a permanent lifestyle choice.
If you’re thinking about adopting a plant-based diet and have questions, feel free to post them below. If I don’t have an answer, I’m sure someone in the community does.
And if you’re already vegan/vegetarian and have recipes to share, please post those below as well! I’m always looking for new ones to try.