Archive | September, 2019

Vegan 4 Lyfe?

10 Sep

During July, I followed a 100% vegan diet. For the year leading up to this milestone, I made gradual dietary transitions to prepare. As a result, this was my easiest vegan experiment yet. More companies are cranking out vegan products and more restaurants are catering to vegetarians, but it’s not an easy lifestyle change for most. If you’re feeling veg curious, I recommend a gradual approach.

Here are some products/ingredients I have found helpful:

Nutritional yeast: cheesy tasting flakes that can be added to all kinds of things. Popcorn made with coconut oil and sprinkled with nutritional yeast and salt used to be one of my favorite snacks before I found out my immune system hates corn. Dammit! Please try this combination, so I can live vicariously through you! I promise you will not be disappointed.

Oatly brand oat milk: The first time I tried oat milk, I decided it was gross. But it turned out that company just sucks at making oat milk. The Oatly brand is tasty and easy to find at Target. It’s probably the yummiest non-dairy milk I have ever drank. Some plant-based milks are only suitable for cereal or mixed in with something else, but I am quite happy to drink this oat milk straight up. It’s mildly sweet but not overpowering like sweetened soymilk tends to be. It’s also fortified with good stuff like calcium and vitamin B12.

Miyoko’s vegan butter: I am still impressed by this stuff. To me, it tastes just like the real thing, but it’s made with cashews and coconut. Badass.

Nugo protein bars: I’m pretty picky when it comes to protein bars, but I do appreciate the convenience they provide. I will not put up with Stevia pretending to be as good as sugar or protein bars that taste like brown rice soaked in chemicals. Not all Nugo bars are vegan, but they have a decent selection to choose from. My favorite flavor is the dark chocolate pretzel which is vegan and gluten free.

Legume pasta: I’m a big fan of red lentil and chickpea pasta products. They are full of protein and fiber and have a lot more to offer from a nutritional standpoint than standard wheat pasta.

Tofu: Super versatile and satisfying.  I’m convinced that people who “hate” tofu either never gave it a fair shot or haven’t had it prepared the right way. (Or maybe they were just indoctrinated at a young age by the famous Beets song “Killer Tofu”.)

THe Beets

Vegan cheese: I’m going to be honest. I have yet to find a store-bought vegan cheese that I’m excited about, but if I’m craving a grilled cheese, Daiya or Violife cheddar gets the job done. I have found that I like those cheeses melted but would not want to eat them cold. Miyoko’s makes a mozzarella that is decent as well. I’ve made a homemade cashew ricotta that tasted legit. I also purchased a dairy-free cheese making cookbook but have yet to get my ass in gear to make any. I have high hopes though.

Steel-cut oats: My standard breakfast is steel-cut oats mixed with peanut butter and strawberries, sprinkled with sugar and pecans. Sometimes I’ll throw some hemp or ground flax seeds in there. When I ate instant oatmeal for breakfast, I became hangry before lunchtime rolled around. I discovered I feel better when I eat steel-cut oats as they offer a much lower glycemic load…which is a fancy way of saying they don’t spike my blood sugar, causing dramatic crashes that make me want to murder everyone around me.

Vegan yogurt: I’m picky about my yogurt too. The only two I go back to again and again are the So Delicious coconut vanilla flavor and Silk soy peach flavor.

Vegan cream cheese: Kite Hill makes an almond cream cheese that is pretty good on bagels.

Canned coconut milk: As a creamy soup base and for making curries

Veganaise as a mayo replacement

Aquafaba: This is the liquid in a can of chickpeas which can apparently be used to make all kinds of cool things, from mayo to egg-free divinity and meringue. I haven’t experimented with it yet, but I’m intrigued with the concept.

Ground flax seed as an egg replacement in baking

Impossible burger and other science meat atrocities: If you haven’t heard of the Impossible burger, it’s a weird science burger derived from soybeans that “bleeds” like a real burger and is formulated to simulate the taste and texture of meat. The impossible burger is now available at Burger King which is pretty damn cool. I tried it over a year ago when it was still hard to find outside of trendy restaurants. It’s not a health food by any means, but it’s great as an occasional indulgence. My favorite store-bought mock meats include: Morningstar Chick’N Strips, Gardein cripsy tenders, Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage, and best of all? Field Roast Miniature corn dogs which taste exactly like real corn dogs. Quorn makes a “chicken” nugget out of mushroom mycoprotein which my non-vegan husband prefers to regular chicken nuggets.

Favorite Vegan YouTube Channels: Unnatural Vegan, So You’re Dating a Vegan, The Vegan View, Mic the Vegan, and GojiMan

I’ve procrastinated writing this blog post, because I felt like I needed to know where I would go from here, but the truth is, I don’t know yet.

I have stuck to a vegan diet since July (other than drinking some chicken broth when I was sick with a cold). I made the broth several months ago from the carcass of a chicken I bought for my non-vegan daughter. The jars were taking up precious real estate in my freezer, and I decided consuming the broth fit under the category of freegan* which sounded like a good excuse at the time.

*freegan: a person who rejects consumerism and seeks to help the environment by reducing waste, especially by retrieving and using discarded food and other goods.

I can envision other chicken broth scenarios that might arise where I am able to rationalize making non-vegan choices. I’ve explained in previous blog posts why I am okay with eating oysters (they’re not sentient) and why I struggle to care about eating insects (because it’s likely they don’t feel pain, they emit fewer greenhouse gasses than traditional farm animals, and also, I have a personal bias). Junior Mints are my favorite movie theater candy. They are dairy and egg free. But hold on! They contain some weird beetle derivative? I might be fine ignoring this knowledge and choose to eat them anyway. My cousin keeps backyard chickens that live a very fine life. Would I be opposed to eating those eggs? Not really. Hunting and fishing for sport disgust me, but for food? Maybe I wouldn’t mind eating an occasional walleye my husband caught. And I’m still not sure how I feel about eating honey. The vegan label comes with a lot of baggage, a lot of assumptions I don’t wish to carry. But when it comes down to it, it’s an easy way to describe how I eat. Should I tell people I’m 98% vegan? Veganish?

For now, I plan to continue eating a vegan diet and calling myself vegan for convenience sake (just don’t tell the vegan police! Trust me, they’re out there.) I don’t care to be holier than thou, but I do want to reduce suffering. While I am not against the concept of eating meat, I am against the manner in which most of it is sourced, and becoming a mom made my knowledge of the dairy industry even harder to stomach. The idea that an entire being’s existence revolves around being artificially inseminated and having their babies taken away on a repetitive basis is beyond horrifying.

Comedian Marc Maron once coined veganism as an “ideological eating disorder”. Is he right? I don’t think so. Burning down acres of the Amazon rainforest to grow more animal feed doesn’t makes sense. Condemning other countries for eating dogs and dolphins while chowing down on bacon doesn’t make sense. Eating a diet that reduces my carbon footprint while simultaneously easing my conscience? Makes sense. Veganism, while socially inconvenient and stigmatized, makes sense.

This is where I stop rambling and bid you farewell, lovely readers. I shall retire from this blog once more. Thanks for tagging along on this wild journey.