It's been almost a year since I started trying to "go vegan," starting with "ethical eating," paying attention to where the foods we eat come from and buying only humane raised meat. My goal was to start by being very selective with meat and dairy and eventually phase them out.
I was able to do this for about four months, and by the end of the four months I noticed the following:
1. I not only no longer craved meat, I found it gross, and had no desire at all to eat it, despite having loved meat all my life more than any other food.
2. I missed cheese intensely and never did find a good cheese substitute.
3. When I consumed even a small amount of dairy at a restaurant, I felt ill. It no longer agreed with me.
4. I felt healthier, and had more energy.
5. I learned how to make a variety of food, and I found that our menus had more variety than they did before, as I was always experimenting and trying new items, substitutes, and recipes.
6. I actually liked Boca Burgers more than beef hamburgers! Less greasy, and very good!
I wanted to keep it up, but I went to Africa, and I did not find it possible to continue to eat vegan there. Also, I had a work commitment for a long period of time in a very small town with very limited offerings in both grocery and restaurants. I was extremely busy and simply did not have the time and energy to dedicate to food choices, so I "fell off the vegan wagon" for a period of time. The busy work period lasted until August. In August, I was so tired and drained from that intense work period I simply didn't have the energy to go vegan again, and then I had another trip to Africa, during which I was almost entirely vegetarian, but not vegan.
So, now I am trying to get back to it, phasing out of the house all the meat and dairy products bit by bit, using up the last egg, tossing the last carton of sour cream, etc. We still have a little meat in the freezer, a tiny bit of cheese and a little bit of butter and then the house is back to vegan.
I rather enjoy resuming the search for recipies and substitutes, and the creativity required. It does still take a lot of time and energy, but I know it will get easier with practice. I have also found that in the last year there are some additional resources: vegan podcasts, more vegan recipie websites and cooking shows, and even a local vegan potluck. Whole Foods is coming, but not here yet.
I can't yet claim to be vegan, but I have a renewed enthusiasm for getting there, and I'm glad that we are able to eat vegan much of the time, becoming most of the time, and soon all of the time.