This Whole Vegan Thing

I’m really trying to eat a more vegan-influenced diet. Or rather, I’m trying to cook in a more vegan-influenced way, since it hasn’t really affected how I eat outside of the apartment (not that I’ve done a terrible lot of that). I think the hardest things to avoid are cheese and ice cream (and, to a lesser extent, butter). And sugar and such things — I haven’t bothered figuring out whether such things are okay, given that I’m still eating meat when I’m at restaurants.

I sort of wonder where this is going. I’m not really doing it for animals rights issues (otherwise, I would have be avoiding meat full-stop), although I recognize that there are plenty of those. I suppose part of it is almost because it’s a challenge, to see if I can. A little of it is for health reasons. Also partially because I’m still job-searching, and meat is expensive, as are eggs and dairy products.

Largely, I think the reason why I’m at least trying it out is that I think eating lower on the food chain is better for the environment. It takes far more energy, and many more resources, to produce beans than beef, for example. That reasoning also is more in line with what I’m trying to do (cut down on meat, seafood, and dairy consumption, not cut it out entirely). I’ve been reading a lot of really interesting books about veganism and the locavore (local food) movement, and I guess I’m just trying to patch together my own way of eating, with a variety of influences. I try to be a good person, and I know that our food choices do make a difference.

Unfortunately, this weekend pretty much ended that. Or rather, it was a set-back. It started on Friday night – I was absolutely craving potatoes with broccoli and cheese sauce. So, I headed over to the grocery store with the sole goal of potatoes and milk for the cheese sauce on my mind. I came back laden with two big bags of groceries (or rather, my messenger bag and that cute “one less” canvas bag I found at that eco-friendly store in Winter Park, FL a year or two ago), including a bag of onions that I’m planning to caramelize.

Milk – that’s not so terribly bad, right? I mean, it’s definitely not vegan, but it’s not too much worse than the cheese I got a few weeks ago. Except that while I was at the friendly neighborhood Jewel-Osco, I was struck by a craving for Hollandaise sauce – a real one, complete with egg yolks and butter. I decided that I’d make some today (the 22nd anniversary of my arrival to the States) as a celebration. And if I was going to get a few eggs for the sauce, I might as well get the full dozen so that I could have poached eggs (I’d found a recipe for making them in the microwave that looked really yummy). They were, at least, cage-free and fed a vegetarian diet, so that was something. And then I discovered that Lean Cuisine frozen dinners were on sale, and I really like them, and it’s nice to have a couple of complete meals around so that I have something to eat if I haven’t had a chance to make something real. (Skipping meals is apparently a bad idea.) But, a couple of the Lean Cuisine paninis have meat in them, which make the first (non-leftovers) meat I’ve brought into the apartment. It’s not even vegetarian! And it’s so completely processed. It pretty much follows none of the guidelines I’d set for myself. Not vegan, not local, not even organic or whole-grained or anything remotely similar.

Cheese sauce on Friday, a poached egg on toast yesterday, Hollandaise today. (I feel rather accomplished for making a flawless Hollandaise sauce, though.) Tonight, I helped Karrah make chicken cordon bleu with a really yummy cream sauce. We ate them with waffles – I would never have guessed that waffles with maple syrup and chicken cordon bleu went well together, but they totally do. It’s the first time I’ve cooked meat in the apartment, so that was a little weird, but it was delicious, and it was really great to spend some time with Karrah and Jonathan.

I might have to rethink my ideas on how, and what, I’m going to be eating. I lasted one month without cooking with meat, eggs, or milk. I’m not sure if I can go another month, but I’m also not sure whether I want to. I think I need to figure out the reasons for how I eat; then I can figure out what I will and won’t eat. I still don’t think I’ll cook with meat, and I still think I’ll want to cut back on dairy and eggs. But whether I try to go for none again is an open question.

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4 responses to “This Whole Vegan Thing

  1. Regardless of the reasons of why you’re trying to go vegan, the important thing is that you’re trying to make changes that you feel are right for your health, the environment, or animals, etc. The only people who will fault you for not being 100% vegan are self-righteous, pretentious, proselytizing vegans and nobody likes them except for other self-righteous, pretentious, proselytizing vegans. I say do what you feel is right for you. If dairy and eggs are the exception to your vegan diet, then go for it!

    Congrats on your 1 month challenge and good luck with whatever you choose to do!

    Good Luck with your dietary changes!

  2. Hey Rachel! The most important thing regarding choices in diet is making sure you are still recieving the proper amount of nutrients to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you decide to cut out meat….please please please make sure you get the protein elsewhere. Beans have plenty of protein, and are relatively cheap. Green vegetables, broccoli, kale and spinach in particular are rich in antioxidents and vitamins.

    As for cutting out milk….I would not reccommend that. If you want a healthier option, then take up drinking soymilk. Not only does it have the added protein naturally occuring from soybeans, but it also has less fat, obviously no lactose, and remains a good source of calcium. You need calcium now, as women are more prone to osteoperosis in later years.

    If you decide to go vegan, please consult a dietician to help make sure you are approaching things correctly, because health is something you don’t want to gamble with. Enjoy it while you have it, and do everything to maintain it. Lots of love from your future dietician cousin 🙂

    • Hey, Caitie, I appreciate all of the advice. First of all, I’ve definitely been trying to make sure I get enough protein (if you’ll remember, my mom was a vegetarian for most of my childhood, so I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of where to get protein from non-meat-based sources . . . and that protein is important). As to milk, when I said milk, I meant “cow milk/dairy milk,” although I don’t usually drink milk on a regular basis (haven’t for years and years). I do, however, have calcium supplements, which I know aren’t as good as the actual thing, but there’s something. Additionally, I do have some soy milk in the apartment. (Also, just as a note, I believe it’s females who are more prone to osteoporosis in later years, not women — I have heard that, though, and I promise I’ll try to be careful: it’s not like I want to have brittle bones.)

      Lastly, “future dietician”? I don’t recall hearing that before — we clearly need to catch up! Love you, too!

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