Archive | July, 2018

Veg Curious

17 Jul

I am two weeks into my (mostly) pescatarian diet, so I figured it was about time for an update. Thus far, the diet has been as uneventful as I anticipated. I am right on track with my meat allowance for the month. I have had meat on two occasions which leaves two more for the remainder of the month. The first time, I was traveling and went with what was being offered by Derek’s family: a ham sandwich. I am currently digesting my second serving of meat. I found some chicken tucked away in my deep freeze and decided to use that up by adding it to some homemade Greek pizza. It turned out pretty yummy if I do say so myself (even if the crust was undercooked – I swear to God, this happens every time I try to make homemade pizza dough).

One thing that has been a welcome change with this tweak in lifestyle is that I’ve started to make more exciting, complicated meals again. I don’t always enjoy the obligation of cooking, but it’s fun to branch out sometimes. Some vegan meals I’ve made and enjoyed: dilly dumpling stew, enchiladas, cauliflower curry made with coconut milk and Gardein beefless tips.

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with various store-bought vegan foods. I haven’t been disappointed by many of them. But I haven’t tried anything that’s knocked my socks off either. Some foods I’ve tried: Gardein brand crispy tenders, Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy peanut butter and cookies ice cream, Field Roast sausages, jackfruit carnitas, Follow Your Heart American “cheese”, Just Mayo, and Earth Balance vegan butter.

Even though I haven’t been wowed by any prepackaged vegan foods, I’m not letting myself get discouraged. In general, homemade foods tend to be better than store-bought, right? I imagine this to be as true for vegans as it is for omnivores. For example, store-bought soups of all varieties miss the mark for me.

A few days ago, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough from scratch and veganized it, hoping it could bring my faith back into the possibilities of this diet. Years ago, I discovered an egg-free cookie dough recipe thanks to this cookbook: http://www.cookiedoughlovers.com/. Since the dough is designed to be eaten, not baked, the recipe excludes eggs to avoid the food safety risks of eating them raw. The only changes I had to make was using vegan chocolate chips (I used my favorite – Endangered Species brand 88% dark chocolate bar, chopped into “chips”) and swapping regular butter with a vegan version. I used the original flavor of Earth Balance. The good news is, the changes were easy and more importantly, delicious! The bad news is I ate all the dough way too fast. It was gone within three days…but this is nothing new for me.

Despite my cookie dough binge, I haven’t found my current diet to be problematic in terms of food obsession/disordered eating. Overeating sweets is something I do on occasion, and I don’t really care. The bulk of my diet is healthy, so who gives a damn? I’ve worked hard to achieve this peace with my dietary choices which is why I am using this blog to check in along the way to ensure my gradual diet changes don’t trigger any odd behaviors or fixations.

I joined a local Facebook group created by vegans for vegans (or veg curious peeps like me). It’s been a great resource so far. I discovered an extensive list of vegan options at local restaurants and love how welcoming and encouraging the members have been. I’ve even posted a few of my own questions, such as “How long have you been vegan? What struggles have you encountered along the way and what did you do to overcome them?”

Thus far, I’ve encountered one stumbling block that made me second guess my dietary decisions: my gut. I have this tendency to pretend like I’m a normal person, conveniently forgetting my chronic illnesses until they refuse to be ignored. For some reason, I harbored a false sense of safety about what my digestive system was willing to accept and started eating FODMAPS in excessive amounts. (If you are like FOD who?!, check out this post: https://thehungryguineapig.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/fructose-fructans-just-2-elements-of-the-fodmaps-puzzle/ ). It didn’t go over well. I almost talked myself out of this whole vegan thing until I realized there were other things I could try to make it work. For starters, not eating a bunch of FODMAPS! Also, peppermint pills (which soothe intestinal spasms) and probiotics (which have been helpful in the past). I searched for vegan YouTubers with IBS for meal ideas and a sense of camaraderie. It renewed my resolve, and I now feel prepared to keep on keepin’ on.

I plan to switch over to as many vegan and cruelty-free products as possible. I’ve been buying predominantly cruelty-free soaps, deodorants, shampoos, sunscreen, and other toiletries for several years, but I’d like to step up my game. Not all cruelty-free products (meaning products that are not tested on animals) are vegan (meaning that they do not contain any animal products, such as beeswax or animal fats).  I am a minimalist with very little brand loyalty. While others might find this transition jarring, to me it feels like embarking on a fun challenge, one that benefits animals and my conscience.

What can YOU do today?: The next time you purchase a toiletry or cosmetic product, opt for a cruelty-free option. For example, instead of purchasing L’Oreal mascara, go with E.L.F. cosmetics or Wet N Wild (Bonus: They are cheap and easy to find!) Instead of using Herbal Essences shampoo, use Jason Natural Cosmetics brand. Try Every Man Jack shaving cream in lieu of Gillette.  The internet makes a cruelty-free life that much easier. Here are a couple of cruelty-free databases I found in a matter of seconds: https://mybeautybunny.com/cruelty-free-brands/#W  &  http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

Now, go vote for compassion with your dollar!

 

 

 

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