Archive for vegan week

Vegan Week Wraps Up

Top Ten Things I Learned by Being Vegan for a Week

vegan pizzaAll vegan!

(You can read Regi’s list here!)

1. Being vegan, even temporarily, is a good way to force yourself to eat more fruits and vegetables. When I’m hungry, I tend to reach straight for the cheese. The ratio of effort to chew to calories in stomach = very low. I tend to forget the slightly more effortful carrots, kiwi fruits, and apples. This week re-set my brain a little bit. It’s like Michael Pollan’s dogma from In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

2. Non-animal foods can be surprisingly filling and delicious. Walnut-based cookies? Soy milk? Potatoes roasted in olive oil? Home made whole wheat pizza crust? Yes, please!

3. Vegan does not necessarily mean healthy. For instance, vegetable shortening? Soy White Russians? Yeahhhhh….

4. Little bits of animal products are in everything. Processed food and restaurant food are rarely as simple as they could be.

5. It’s fun to swap food, especially if your friends are good cooks.

6. Being vegan takes time, and it takes thinking ahead. Shopping for groceries, spending time at home, bringing lunch from home, throwing away less, and planning more – all these things go together.

7. If you are vegan, you can compost lots of your food waste. Composting worms eat a vegan diet.

8. Being vegan isn’t impossible. It is hard if you don’t have a strong belief that you shouldn’t ingest animal products.

I feel a little bit like a traitor here – as a pragmatic vegetarian, I know that the system of meat production in the country isn’t good for the environment in terms of greenhouse gasses (shipping and, well, methane), crop and water use (a pound of beef equals 20 pounds of corn equals 1000 gallons of water), health (antibiotics required to fight off illness for crowded herds), animal rights….

Milk and eggs don’t bother me. I know dairy farms and egg farms aren’t where I’d choose to spend my life as a cow or a chicken, but it doesn’t sicken me to think of cows and eggs loaning us their reproductive products. It’s a compromise I’ve decided to make. I should probably schedule visits for myself to see where my milk and eggs are coming from, and I know I’m probably opening myself up to angry tirades about constantly impregnated cattle. Maybe I’m not educated enough, and maybe that would change my mind.

Being vegan reminded me of trying to fast for Ramadan in Morocco. I think it’s really difficult to deprive yourself of food without a strong belief system. My whole Arabic class started Ramadan 2006 fasting earnestly – we each other, we had host families, and heck, we had a whole country to fast with – but none of us in that class was Muslim. We all lasted about a week before we crumbled. It was so frustrating to feel foggy during class, to feel hungry before sundown, and to forgo coffee breaks with the other Arabic students without a religious framework.

9. Even progressive people aren’t necessarily sympathetic to veganism. Vegetarianness has pretty much made it in mainstream culture, at least in cities. In some circles, veganness is still treated as an affront to human eating. For example, WordPress thinks “vegan” is not a word. To be fair, WordPress also thinks “WordPress” is not a word.

10. You can’t necessarily trust the USDA food pyramid. You can be happy and healthy by eating any number of ways, and the USDA isn’t immune to political forces. I am sure the grain lobbies had nothing to do with people “needing” 6-11 servings of carbohydrates per day. 11 servings of pasta?! Are you kidding me?

 

My next adventure: spending every dollar in May at a local business! Target and Best Buy don’t count.

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Is it already Vegan Day 5?

Another day – a work event – when eating vegan is tough. I’ve started to get a taste of what food allergies must be like. I’ve gotten a little snippier with servers who don’t care. (“Would you care for some vegetarian bean soup?” she asks. “Do you know if it’s cream based or veggie stock based?” I query in return. “It’s vegetarian,” is my only answer. ARGH!) I’ve gotten a lot pickier with things I’ll eat, and often end up deciding I’ll just eat at home. This works well, except when I’m stuck somewhere from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Luckily, Regi and I swapped food, which means she brought over delicious sweet potato and mushroom lasagna (and I forgot to give her her soup). I ate, like, half of it last night. I made homemade vegan Reese’s again – a spoonful of peanut butter covered in melted vegan chocolate on a tinfoil covered plate in the freezer for 15 minutes. I love them. They are so easy, and yet so convincing.

I have also put my camera down somewhere mysterious! I promise more pictures from vegan pizza night when I find it.

Have I really survived 5 full days as a vegan?  I think I have…!

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Vegan Day 4: Compromise

Today’s savior: Chipotle vegetarian bowl with black beans. Hopefully vegan. No cheese or sour cream! If not, well, it’s better than not eating.

homemade vegan pizza

Today’s discovery: home made whole wheat pizza crust. Surprisingly easy. Mix 2 cups wheat flour, 2.5 cups white flour, 3 tbsp. yeast, and 3 tsp. salt in a bowl. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil and mix while adding warm water. Knead, cover, and let rise for an hour. Then pull it out, cut it into the number of pizzas you want to have, and flatten/toss.

 

Also, home made Reese’s (spoonfuls of peanut butter topped with melted vegan Boom Choco Boom chocolate) – surprisingly delicious!

There is lots to talk about that isn’t related to what I ate today. And it is a MetroTransit Wednesday! I legitimately have nothing interesting to say about the 21 this week. There is road construction which has resulted in much confusion along the route. My bus nearly got into a scuffle with a bulldozer this afternoon. 

Until tomorrow – Happy Earth Day!

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Vegan Day 3: The Swiss-Cheese Shaped White Flag

Veganness requires a lot of planning. As in, when I don’t do it, I am hungry. Very hungry. I didn’t get it together enough to pack a filling lunch today, so… I had a smoothie for breakfast, a PB&J for midmorning snack, and a giant soy latte and an Odwalla for lunch. Now, finally home at 8:30, I am inhaling hummus like it’s my job.

I think I may be waving my flag of surrender to veganism. Thou hast beaten me with thy counter-cultural ways and thy unavailability for purchase in the St. Paul skyway system, o veganness.

So I’ll stick with it through the week… I think. It is pretty amazing to me how much of the food available in our culture is made of animal. I see rice krispie treats in the break room? GELATIN. BUTTER. Animal shaped warning lights! Muffin? COW. Sandwich? CLUCK CLUCK. Many things that approach veganness have one fatal flaw – a sprinkling of cheese in the salad, a bit of egg in the bread. We use animals an awful lot for energy.

Vegans – you have it tough. You have to eat a lot more to get what your body needs, and you have to bring a lot more of it from home. While I’m an economic vegetarian (i.e. I vote with my dollars, so I’m not a purist – if I accidentally buy something meaty, the damage is done and I might as well eat it anyway and not waste it), it’s really really tough to compromise as a vegan. When I don’t eat enough calories, I don’t function well, and the calorie-per-unit-effort-to-eat ratio of vegan food to cheese? Pretty different.

On a lighter note, I am getting my recommended servings of fruits and vegetables for what is probably the first time in a long time.

Maybe a Mark Bittman-style veganness might be in order? Vegan ’till dinner, except for milk in coffee?

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Vegan Week: Day Two

I have to admit.

I am a little bit hungry.

I woke up early today to be sure I had a vegan breakfast: PB&J + chocolate soymilk in iced coffee. I packed tomatillo chili, corn chips, baby banana, and oat/walnut/chocolate cookies for lunch. Caleb made whole wheat pasta and pesto and faux mozzarella for dinner, along with garlic roasted broccoli.

Lisa and Mazey came over (she’d never before seen the BBC Pride and Prejudice?! whaaaaat), and I had a panicky moment – Lisa is gluten intolerant, and the Venn diagram of veganism and gluten freeness features a pretty slim middle section. Then I realized that soy white russians are vegan AND gluten free. As is everything pictured below:

entertaining veganFrom top left to bottom right: strawberries, mangoes, melted Boom Choco Boom chocolate, baby bananas, potatoes cooked in olive oil/salt/rosemary, humus, Caleb‘s homemade baba ganoush, tapenade, and carrots.

Like Regi, I need to buy more fruit already!

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Vegan for Earth Week – Day One

Vegan Week – Day One. So far, we are a little bit hungry but not deprived.

I quarantined all animal products in a section of our fridge. We’ll get to you next week, guys! (Especially you, bottle of Bailey’s. But maybe not you, carton of herring tidbits.)

animal products

The day so far has involved:

  • Breakfast burritos with corn tortillas, black – pinto – and – kidney beans, tomatillo salsa, tomatoes, jalapeños, and a hint of lime
  • Bananas, plums, and pear juice
  • Coffee with chocolate soymilk
  • Papas Bravas à la Popp!!’s appetizer menu
  • Leftover aleche &  ingera with walnut/chocolate/oatmeal cookies for dessert
  • Caprese salad with Vegan Gourmet mozzarella alternative (which is 80% convincing – in taste if not in texture – even to a quesophile such as myself)  

     
    vegan gourmet mozzarella alternative

We cooked up a storm of future lunches for the psycho week ahead, including stew (veggie broth with carrots, potatoes, and green beans), chili (beans, tomatoes, and jalapenos), and home made baba ganoush. 

In terms of feeling, you know, bright green and peppy with my new do-gooder diet? I do feel a little more clear headed than usual, but nothing remarkable yet. I’ll let you know if my skin starts turning green tomorrow, or if I spontaneously start running marathons. 

Delightfully, constant wheedling and acquiescence to the idea of our having a pressure cooker has won me Caleb‘s approval to purchase a worm bin for our apartment. Since worms eat a vegan diet, most of our food trash from this week can be turned into wonderful delicious worm compost.

In other news, we had a stowaway in our groceries yesterday:

stowaway sunflower seeds

Anyone missing $2.50 worth of bulk sunflower seeds?

 

(x-posted at Happy Food)

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Gearing Up for Vegan Week

To celebrate Earth Week (and/or to keep me eating healthy foods during a crazy work week), I am going vegan with the help of the Happy Food team. After a trip to the Mississippi Market, I’m confident we’re going to have a delicious week full of protein.

vegan haul from the mississippi marketFor the sake of my mother and other skeptics – a list of the week’s protein sources:

* Nut-based vegan cheese

* Peanut butter

* Soy-based milk substitutes

* Beans, including hummus and falafel

* Textured vegetable protein

* Whole grains, including whole wheat, buckwheat, and oats (and teff! the foil triangle is ingeera)

 

This looks completely do-able to me. I’ll let you know how things go – read about our adventures at Happy Food.

 

In other news, I am told my bulk food jar collection has gotten out of control.

jar collection from planet packrat(jar collection from planet packrat)

But think of all the delicious bulk foods and delightful bulk soaps (and bulk BEER) that can be held in each of these containers…!

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