Posted tagged ‘cooking’

My 5 Minute Journey Into Vegan-ism

June 3, 2008

Five minutes. Yea, it didn’t go so well. I’m slightly ashamed.

On the other hand, the ice cream I’m eating right now is so damn good.

I started thinking about cutting animal products out of my diet after reading a lot of blogs about how vegan and raw food diets can really transform the way we look and feel, for the better. The testimonials are boundless in praise, relating the stories of people who swear to have twice the energy, half the fat, buns of steel, filled in bald spots, whiter teeth, better LSAT scores, cheaper gas, and farts that smell like roses. And as I’ve been becoming more health conscious, cutting the crap out of my diet and going to the gym more, I said to myself, hey, I want me some roses. And if I can avoid the 2-hour long food coma that I endure after most hearty servings of meat, then that would be an added bonus.

So the next day I wake up ready to live the lean-and-green life. I usually walk straight to the kitchen from bed to make coffee and a small breakfast. That usually includes eggs. (Mmm. Soft, warm, creamy eggs. Vegan diet or not, eating too many eggs probably isn’t good for you, but I haven’t slowed down..theyre so easy to make, can be prepared in so many ways, and are just about the best thing in the world for breakfast. God made eggs so that people could eat breakfast. It’s true.) Clearly, I knew ahead of time that I couldn’t eat eggs if I wanted to be a vegan. I’d just find something else to eat.

Easier said than done.

Cereal? Need milk. Oatmeal? Need milk. (oatmeal with water is NOT an option). Soy milk is an option, just not a good one, far as I’m concerned (although ice cold chocolate soy milk is delicious). Cheese? Uhh, no can do. Bread? Ok, I can eat bread. Let me spread some butter on that…crap, can’t eat butter. Fruit? Why not… oh wait, that orange in my fridge is a big ball of penicillin…ok, how about that banana. Yes, bananas are great. I’ll have a banana with my black coffee. Ugh, I don’t drink black coffee. Guess I will today…gonna have to go a little heavy on the sugar though…there, ok, not too bad. Damn, I’m still hungry. What’s that shiny thing over there? It’s a little heart shaped chocolate thingy…mmm, little heart shaped chocolate thingy looks tasty. Yes it’s the morning, but only good things can come from a little heart shaped chocolate thingy. Gotta get this damn foil wrapper off…mmmm, this is some delicious milk chocolate. Oh, CRAP.

As is usually the case with diets, chocolate was the culprit.

Yes, MILK chocolate. As in anti-vegan chocolate. Ehh, whatever dude. Throw some eggs on the griddle and let me get back to reality.

Now, I know that there were plenty of other things I could have eaten; I’m only pretending to be this ignorant, I swear. But the truth is that being a vegan – or making any other radical change to your diet, or any other daily routine – takes a lot of planning, especially when you start. You need to really make a commitment to it, and that means shopping properly so that you don’t feel like you’re denying yourself every time you see a heart shaped chocolate thingy staring you down. And there are actually plenty of things a vegan can eat…

…but not too many things that don’t cost twice as much as stuff a vegan can’t eat. Vegan-friendly food, and even healthy food in general, is expensive. Everything is expensive these days, but go to a health food store and stock up for a week, and then go to a regular supermarket and compare the bills. It’s crazy! I cringe every time I pass by the produce stand near me and see the price of avocados (my favorite thing in the world…$2 each!), but I still manage to eat healthy by sticking to basic vegetables. And though I save money by never buying prepared foods, I still sacrifice by rarely buying things I love to eat cuz they cost too much — fish, red meat, good cheese, fancy condiments — and being a vegan would take the sacrifice thing to a whole new level.

Not only is price a concern, but the ingredients found in a diverse vegan diet — what planet are they from? Try to make some vegan and raw food diet recipes and you’ll find yourself in Mongolia looking for a rare root that grows only in the mountains between June 4 and June 12. Wheatgrass, hemp seeds, bee pollen, seaweed..this stuff is not found in the typical Queens supermarket. Goya does not make tofu seasoning.

Dinner? Do I look like a freaking rabbit? Diets like this are what make Ben & Jerry’s so successful.

Vegan and raw food diets become especially difficult if you’re trying to cut down on the carbs. It would be a whole lot easier if I didn’t mind eating rice and pasta for dinner every night, but I do, because I’m trying to cut down my body fat and get in shape. That bread I saw that morning for breakfast? i could have eaten it with peanut butter and that would have been fine. But I don’t want a big piece of bread for breakfast every morning…I love it, but it isn’t great for you and it gets boring after a while. Take out the carbs, and these diets become damn near impossible.

Of course I know that it CAN be done, and many people do it everyday. But instead of making a huge leap, I’m just gonna take it one step at a time. I’ve started by adding a lot more veggies to my diet, and have gotten used to eating less meat. After that I can work on cutting back on the eggs and milk. As for the sweet treats like ice cream and chocolate, I actually prefer sorbets and dark chocolate anyway, and buying expensive fresh fruits can be my reward for eating well. I doubt I’ll ever come to the point where I’m having a seaweed shake for lunch every day, but I don’t have to in order to enjoy a healthy diet. I think the moral of the story is that as long as we are conscious of what we are putting into are bodies and moderate our intake, a healthy lifestyle can be achieved.

I’ll start right after I finish this ice cream.