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There are times in our lives that we may need to follow a restrictive, undesirable diet, because of

food allergies, obesity, upcoming surgery, pregnancy, etc, otherwise it is important to find a healthy one desirable enough to maintain. A vegan diet is probably not desirable to many, but personally, I enjoy weird foods and crave carbs over meat products, so I enjoy it. However, maintaining a vegan diet has always been a challenge, not due to boredom, dislike or health issues, but inconvenience, being around people who didn't care for it and trying to find vegan foods at restaurants. Having wanted to try it seriously for years, I made a goal to eat vegan for a week. This time it was easier, as Troy was supportive, wanting to try my vegan concoctions and more plant-based foods himself. I unintentionally ate some non-vegan snacks, not realizing they contained some dairy, but other than the rice cake and handful of Lay's Baked Chips, I made it a week without much difficulty. For those of you who may be trying or considering a vegan diet, I'll share my experience and recommendations.

Prior to trying this, I did my research, knowing there are risks involved with maintaining a vegan diet. Overall, my research findings (and, I tried not to be biased) showed the benefits outweigh the risks if a balanced vegan diet is followed. So, for those of you, wanting to try this, it is important you do your research and understand what a BALANCED vegan diet is. It is also important to realize that a vegan diet may require more calories, from fat and carbohydrates, than the typical omnivore diet to get sufficient nutrients from plant-based foods. Also, realize that a vegan diet could be just as, or more, unhealthy than the omnivore diet you may be following now. For example, you could eat cereal, french fries and Chick-O-Sticks with soda and consider yourself vegan. A balanced vegan diet includes sufficient nutrients from primarily plant-based foods. I use to track and ensure I am consuming a well-balanced diet.

Deficiencies are probably the biggest risk in following a vegan diet. After following a vegan diet for awhile, vitamin B-12 deficiency may become an issue, so including a supplement will probably be necessary. Iron is another deficiency that may occur among vegans. Though plenty of iron rich foods may be consumed while eating vegan, our bodies may not absorb enough of it, being plant based. Eating vitamin C-rich combined with iron-rich foods may increase absorption, or another method/supplement, may be needed. I will also warn you that a plant-based, balanced vegan diet will most likely contain a lot more fiber than your current, non-vegan diet. So, I highly recommend tracking your current fiber intake, then increase it gradually (maybe 5-10 grams/week) to avoid stomach discomfort. I also recommend telling your general practitioner before going all-in and request blood work, so that it can be checked later, after following a vegan diet, to make sure you improve and not decline in health and optimum nutrition.

Anyways, enough of the boring stuff, here's a recipe for vegan bread. I used this to make hamburger buns for the following vegan burgers I made.

Vegan Bread/Hamburger Buns

- 1 tsp Chia seeds in 1/4 cup water

- 1/2 cup unsweetened Apple Sauce

- 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

- 1 tsp Baking Soda

- 1 cup Oatmeal (Quick Oats)

- 1/4 cup unsweetened Soy Milk

Mix the liquid ingredients and apple sauce first, then add the dry ingredients. I just put them on a sprayed baking sheet hamburger bun-size then Broiled (because the Bake settings on my oven are broken) them until done on top, then flipped them and Broiled the other side. Watch closely if you use Broil, because it cooks them FAST!

Vegan Burgers

- 1 tsp Chia seeds in 1/4 cup water

- 1/2 cup cooked Quinoa

- 1/2 cup raw Walnuts

- 1/4 Red Onion

- 3/4 cup cooked/canned Black Beans

- 1/4 cup Oatmeal

- 1/2 cup Kale

- 1/2 T of each: cayenne pepper, black pepper and smoked paprika

- 2-4 T Southwestern Dijon Mustard (or a sweet Dijon mustard)

Blend all of this in a blender. Make patties and place on a sprayed cooking sheet. I Broiled them, flipping them when the top was done, to Broil the other side.

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