So, about that time baker’s dozen from Angelic Bakehouse arrived on my doorstep...
Photo: Maiysha Kai

Fun fact, unbeknownst to me before attempting the 22 Days Nutrition challenge: according to PETA (who would definitely know), most bread is vegan (clearly, I haven’t been making a lot of bread). It was a fact lost on me, since like much of the rest of America, despite my profound love of toast, I’ve developed an innate fear of carbs, despite the fact that I am constantly in need of fiber and not in the least bit gluten-intolerant (sometimes, much to my chagrin).

But when you eliminate animal proteins from your diet, said diet naturally becomes a little more carb-heavy, so, when a big box of baked goods from sprouted whole grain experts Angelic Bakehouse arrived in the mailroom of my apartment building (I swear, you make one mention of liking toast, and it’s manna from heaven!), I was intrigued...right after I had a mild panic attack from all the bread in my midst; my carb-bias being instantly at war with my don’t-waste-food morality (and yes, I know food banks and shelters exist).

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Besides, after opting for convenience for most of this challenge—which has unfortunately meant more processed—though still whole—foods than might be ideal, it felt like another cheat. So, I took another glance at my 22 Days plan, to see what was compliant—and, as it turns out, the answer was pretty much everything! That’s right: despite having a focus on whole foods, one of the bonuses of 22 Days is that it’s made for real life—you know, for those of us who have neither private chefs nor a ton of spare time. Bread, tortillas, wraps and more all make their way into the meal plan—and, as fate would have it, all were inside the box from Angelic Bakehouse. But it was something else that caught my eye as I contemplated my dinner options last night; believe it or not, it was a package of hot dog buns.

As those of you following along might recall, I awoke on Day 9 craving meat—a steak, to be precise (get your mind out of the gutter). But by the evening, anything resembling meat would’ve done the trick, and I had an option I’d been dying to try, having picked it up on a whim during one of my multiple trips to Whole Foods at the top of the week.

I wanted a brat.

It’s the one summertime favorite I’d somehow managed to deprive myself of this summer—which is a true travesty to my Minnesota-born palate (we love a damned sausage—again, get your mind out of the gutter). So, when I found out Beyond Meat had created a plant-based bratwurst under their Beyond Sausage label, my inner barbecue lover jumped for joy—had I found a way to scratch that itch?

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Photo: Maiysha Kai

Having picked up a pack from Whole Foods, I feverishly went to work; grilling onions, assembling a tomato and beet salad (because veggies) and broiling my veggie brat, not really knowing how it would perform once nestled inside of my sprouted grain bun. Fifteen minutes, a smear of mustard, dollop of sauerkraut and a couple of sport peppers later, I was staring at a surprisingly familiar plate...and was strangely terrified to take a bite and spoil the illusion...

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Photo: Maiysha Kai

But kids, we have lift-off—and despite the fact that it was the sausage that sent me swooning (though don’t get me wrong; that bun was both fluffy and full of fiber), I have my friends at Angelic Bakehouse to thank for the inspiration (because I doubt I would’ve worked up the nerve to try the brat solo). Bigger picture (especially for those who’ve been critical of my somewhat laissez-faire approach to veganism)? When you’re attempting to make a major lifestyle change, familiarity can be key to staying on course. Remember: Don’t try to be perfect, just try to be good. And while it may feel like a cheat to purists, that damned brat brought me back home yesterday...and that’s a lifestyle I don’t want to change.