Veg Out! Why I Became a Part-Time Vegan (Plus, Blueberry Basil Grilled Cheese Recipe!)

Veg Out! Why I Became a Part-Time Vegan (Plus, Blueberry Basil Grilled Cheese Recipe!)

Jennifer Pantin
by Jennifer Pantin
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Veg Out! Why I Became a Part-Time Vegan (Plus, Blueberry Basil Grilled Cheese Recipe!)

Lorimer Street Kitchen
How we eat, and why we eat that way is deeply personal—often, it has to do with how we were raised, habits (good and bad), lifestyle choices, religion, economic factors, and even political beliefs. This is about my own personal path.

I absolutely love food. I love cooking, and I love eating. Unfortunately, I have also always been a stress eater. With only a few exceptions, when I’m going through a rough time, I turn to food for comfort—specifically, sweets. Last year, after my final year of law school and studying for and taking the bar exam, I took a look in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. Months of stress had led me to eat with abandon, and it had taken its toll. I realized that in addition to a diet, I needed to become more conscious of what I was eating.

That’s the beginning of how I became a part-time vegan.

As I changed what I ate, I started to read more about nutrition, and what that meant to me. I decided it felt odd that we were the only species that ate dairy past infancy—or consumed the dairy produced by other mammals, for that matter. Although dairy has healthy fats and calcium, I knew I could find other sources for those nutrients.

I noticed how much cholesterol comes with eating the meats I love, like bacon and beef, and I learned that they are usually pumped full of hormones. I realized that there were other amazing sources of protein that didn’t have these issues, including beans, seitan, and quinoa.

The only problem? I absolutely love cheese. And ice cream, burgers and fried eggs. Plus, I am in charge of the cooking in my home and my boyfriend is a full on meat-eating, the-more-bacon-the-better, can-we-smother-that-in-cheese kind of guy. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time or energy to cook two dinners every night and double meals all weekend.

My solution? I eat vegan part of the time. I found in doing that I make smarter choices. Most of vegan foods I eat are loaded with vegetables and fruits, and are low in calories. I have discovered a world of meat and dairy substitutes and have become more creative in my cooking. And now, when I’m not eating something vegan, I’m more conscious of portion control.

We compromise at home now. The meat-based meals I make are healthier, and my boyfriend happily (ok, maybe not happily, but he does it) eats vegan meals a few nights a week.

I don’t know that I’ll ever go full on vegan. I love plant-based food, but being so strict with my diet doesn’t always fit into my life full time. I started my blog, which is entirely vegan, as a way to share vegan creations, and to encourage me (and others) to eat healthier, plant-based meals more often. It has become one of the most fulfilling parts of my life.

Whether or not you should go vegan—even part time—is your own personal choice. Eating vegan does not automatically mean eating healthier. I just know that for me, becoming a part-time vegan is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

One example of modifying a favorite (but not so healthy food) is this Blueberry Basil Grilled Cheese. I’m an avid skier in the winter, and a full day on the slopes leaves me hungry! After an 8-hour workout, I’ve earned an indulgent treat, and this grilled “cheese” sandwich is my go-to. I find that my body digests the non-dairy cheese more easily, and I like that this dish also sneaks in a serving of fruit. Plus, by toasting the bread beforehand (to help melt the cheese) you can keep it on the griddle for less time—without any oil. It’s satisfying and delish! (You’ll find the recipe in the MyFitnessPal database for easy logging.)

How are you changing your diet to be healthier? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author

Jennifer Pantin
Jennifer Pantin

Writer, lawyer, and healthy-eating proponent, Jennifer Pantin loves experimenting with new, healthy recipes in her Brooklyn kitchen. Her blog, Lorimer Street Kitchen, is where she shares this passion for food and the belief that healthy recipes can be good for you and delicious, too. Connect with Jennifer and Lorimer Street Kitchen on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.

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