Hi there, I've been vegetarian now for 1.5 years and today marks my 1 year "Vegan" anniversary (or tomorrow if you go by the date - I'm going by Monday)!!
Back in August when my SIL asked me if I noticed any difference I said no. Having a year for vegan under my belt I've realized that my face doesn't break out anymore ( I think it was dairy), I don't have stomach issues like I used to. I would often eat and have stomach cramps 30-60 minutes after eating most meals. And so much more. I've even stopped gaining weight since cutting out meat. I've naturally been able to stay at my weight since then and I always gained weight. Now I just need to focus on losing what I had already gained.
I do find that I had to educate myself to high protein foods, stay away from the junky processed vegan foods and really focus on eating whole clean foods that satisfy a nutritional need. The beginning is the hardest part. Your probably just going through withdrawls and sadness from giving up certain foods.
Try buying some vegan cookbooks. Food shouldn't be bland. My food isn't. I don't enjoy a plate of rice, greens, etc. All seperate and bland. I like recipes with flavors, sauces, etc. One of my favorite casseroles is in Vegan Yumm Yumm called broccoli mushroom casserole. It's so good and the sauce is made with soy milk or almond milk, tahini, mustard, shoyu sauce, etc. It's so good and definatly not bland or boring. It's comfort food at it's finest and it's all wholesome clean ingredients. I have so many cookbooks I've bought over the past 1.5 years and I use them for inspiration all the time. I don't miss out on dairy or eggs or meat, ever. I have so many great tasting yummy foods that I've learned to enjoy and make. Eating out has been easy too, I've gone on many vacations since then and not had a problem. Stick with it, and even if the changes don't scream at you now, you may find one day you wake up and realize there were subtle changes that make this lifestyle really worth it.
Hey! As for your dislike of collards, I use this one recipe when I don't feel like cooking.
Take one bunch of collards, and remove the leaves from the stems (I usually keep the stems to add to other stir fries and things!). Roll them up and slice, or slice into square, or tear up. What ever floats your boat. Squeeze the juice from one lemon, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, some sunflower seeds, and salt if you want. I usually use a pinch of cayenne (NOT a lot, just enough to bring out the tastes of the other foods). Blend to make a little creamy, or pour over the collards. It is really good, and super easy. No pans, no mess, no cooking.
Also I'd strongly suggest adding some exercise into the mix. When fat is burned you also get the chemicals and other junk you've been ingesting, that's been stored in the fat, to start exiting the body. Unfortunately for some, and this includes me, they get breakouts from all that grossness entering the blood stream. It's something that improves over time as the body is cleaned out by the exercise and clean vegan eating. With this comes the great skin and energy but it can be work. Also you can get a slight flu from the detoxing but again it's all part of the path to getting better.
A great book to read, if I'm allowed to suggest it here, it Jillian Michael's "Master Your Metabolism". She talks a lot about how what we eat and put ON our body can affect our weight and overall health. And she also really likes beans,nuts and seeds and lots of veggies. The book isn't vegan , sorry, but you can ignore the meat/dairy part as the rest of it is really great. Besides TKD this book I've looked to for good help.
And,FYI, I've read she's been flirting with veganism, or maybe is one by now, so there's hope there.