Alicia, I tried the vegan way last year but found that it was very time consuming for me due to my school and work schedule. I have graduated and started working 'YAY' however my biggest issue is the vegan dairy items that have way more ingredients than the usual natural butters, cheeses, yogurts, and other dairy products. I believe I have a wheat allergy as well, because most times when I eat a bread, I start sneezing shortly after I have finished. Can you please enlighten me as to why I should eat items with some ingredients that I can not pronounce, higher sodium, and or more sugar than naturally made items such as; butter, sour cream, cheese, non fat Greek yogurt? I am also on a budget, work either day or night shift, studying to take my NCLEX exam, and moving. I just would love some advice and help with trying some new foods, condiments such as; Agave, Maple syrup, tofu, soy milk, yeast for mac and cheese. My goal is to become a vegan by the end of the year, because of health and predisposed genetic make up. I look forward to hearing from you and others.
Carla - Alicia really only endorses such imitation products only as a transition to whole-foods veganism, and as occasional treats once you are a whole-foods vegan. In her book, she has recipes which use vegan cream cheese, or cheese, or a milk substitute, but she also mentions that these should really not be a regular part of your diet if you want to be at your healthiest. If you want to learn more about the health effects of dairy, try reading The China Study, to get more of an idea of what dairy does to your body.
I would go with pure maple syrup over agave, personally, but it depends on what you use it for. There are many milk alternatives, not just soy, and you can make your own almond milk at home - then it doesn't have added ingredients. You say you are transitioning, so you may want some of the sub foods, but the way to look at is that they are there to help you transition to more whole foods, and you won't be eating them all the time forever. However, the fewer processed foods you eat, the faster you are going to start feeling better.
I don't know why you're tired, there could always be a health issue, but eating more cleanly is sure to make you feel better outside of any other issue which is not food related. With tiredness, you should start by eliminating sugar and caffeine. You may have a wheat or gluten sensitivity, but the only way to know is to eliminate it for a little while, I believe Alicia also mentioned that she had a wheat sensitivity but after eliminating it for a while she was able to eat it again occasionally without the effects. It could be something else, though. The bottom line is, if you want to be the healthiest you can be, you should eliminate as many processed foods as possible.