We haven't had meat in a month! We are learning about the many delicious and affordable ways that we can continue to be vegan.

One of the hardest challenges we've faced is eating outside of our home. At home we have a controlled environment where we create our own vegan dinners, however, when out, like at gatherings or restaurants, we have succumbed to cheese, eggs and dairy. We are learning to better prepare when going out. For example, we're going to a wedding next weekend and decided to ask our friends, the bride and groom, if our meal can be served vegan. They were glad to accommodate us.

We don't expect everyone to tailor to our needs. At family or friend gatherings we are working on preparing for outings -- which means we will eat before and take snacks of our own. We have also brought our own food and shared -- with the permission of the host, of course.

We enjoy taking the kids to restaurants on Friday or Saturday night. Another challenge we thought would be finding vegan options in the menu. At Chili's we discovered that they will make any burger with a garden patty. We also found several vegetarian/vegan restaurants in our area. One discovery was vegan fast food! Yes! It even has a drive thru in case we need to rush through with all the kids in the car. It's 100% vegan and has great healthy options that taste delicious!!

I've also been learning to substitute the things that I like with other healthier options, which has made the transition easier. I can drink almond or rice milk and replace my eggs with some tofu -- which I mix with some chopped onions, spinach, bell peppers, and add a little pepper.

One of the questions that I have been getting a lot is, "Where do you get your protein?" I also thought that our protein came mostly from animal protein, but now we get protein from a variety sources that are not animal protein; including beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, peas, spinach, broccoli and soy.

I am happy to say that many friends and family have been influenced by my family's experience. As a result, they are substituting their meats with products like Gardein and having meatless dinners a few days a week.

I will admit it does take some legwork at first, but I'm okay with doing that because our health is the most important thing to me. It is not an easy task, so easing into it is important, and remember that it is a transition to a healthier you and a healthier family, so it is worth it! After so many years of being conditioned to eat a certain way, it will take time to condition ourselves to an alternate, healthier diet.

It takes a little work and research, but it is well worth the findings and being able to practice alternative, healthy and compassionate eating!!

vegan life

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