I think this is one of the hardest challenges I've ever set myself on. Not only is there the hardship of making a safe and smooth transition to vegan (ish) life, there is the psychological battle. It is very difficult to say "No" to myself when I'm craving my favourite foods that contain dairy or corn. Luckily I have lots of support. I have friends who encourage me, family who is willing to try out the foods I'm eating and a boss who is surprisingly supportive. As she said "Just imagine how much better you're going to feel." That statement really helps me, it means that I can keep working at the restaurant. Although how exactly I'm going to do my job is a little curious, at least in my mind, but I'll figure it out. Worse comes to worse I change course and choose to either change careers or find a vegan restaurant and start a new path of cooking.
Either way this is still a hardship.
I spent a good 45-50 minutes at an organic store just trying to find a good tempeh and tofu that didn't have "natural or artificial flavours". Most of the tempeh does, save for two: the 7-grain and regular. All of the flavoured versions, like sesame ginger, bbq etc, all did. Most of the regular, unflavoured tofus were safe; however, all of the simulated meat products like fake chicken, ground round etc, have the dreaded ingredient.
Now I don't know exactly what Natural Ingredients is. From the research I've attempted it's, well pretty much anything edible. That being said, it is possible that companies are hiding meat in vegetarian products. How terrible would that be? As I don't know what it is, or what's in it I'll just be avoiding it to err on the side of safety. The website I've featured in this post has the most comprehensible description I've read. Another post referred me to the book "Fast Food Nation" by Eric Schlosser the post said that it has a really good insight into the ingredient in it's capacity in fast food.
Another thing I'm attempting to avoid is the non-descript "spices". I know it is most likely just unspecified spices, so that no one can duplicate a trademarked sauce. However, again, to err on the side of safety I'll avoid it. Luckily most sauces that use the "spices" ingredient also have either natural flavours, artificial flavours or corn of some variety making them easy to avoid.
Thankfully I have the backing of a good arsenal. I am a chef so my ideas and skills are endless - making this process so much more comfortable.