Monthly Archives: December 2011

Day of Progress

Yesterday went really well.

Breakfast was typical Quaker Instant Oatmeal and an English muffin smothered with butter.  Then for lunch, a friend and I explored an artsy little used bookstore and cafe where I tried tempeh tandoori.  I’m still not used to the grainy texture of tempeh, but I liked it much more this time than the last time I tried it at my school’s dining hall. My friend ordered the chicken tandoori, but he wanted to try my tempeh – he ended up liking the tempeh more than his chicken.  Oddly enough, when I made those vegan hot dogs, my brother tried one and also ended up enjoying that version more than the meat hot dogs.

We grabbed some hot chocolate (made with hemp milk!) to take with us on our walk, and that was also delicious, although not completely vegan.  Trying hot chocolate with hemp milk just gave it a unique flavor, and that’s something I’m excited (and nervous) about as I try to eat a more plant-based diet: the new flavors that I probably would have missed out on otherwise.

I worried that dinner was going to be an issue since I was eating with my dad, who makes great steaks and other meats, but he suggested that we order Chinese.  I ordered a dish of flat rice noodles with eggs, and I also tried some Kung Pao Tofu, which tasted incredible.

No meat at all yesterday!  That was a good step.  I’ve decided that I’m officially limiting the amount of red meat I eat, and then next I plan to stop eating chicken so much; dairy and eggs will be the last things I work on removing from my diet simply because cooking egg-based meals (fried egg on bread, scrambled eggs in a tortilla, etc.) is easy and usually fills me up.

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One for the Road

“It is a metamorphosis.  I think that’s why people resist it so much…I think people are afraid of change…being vegan is about exploring, and expanding, and evolving.”

Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast, episode “Transitioning to a Vegan Diet – or – Tips for Eating Healthfully” (links to mp3)

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Cooking Problems

For lunch, I tried these “Good Dogs” vegan hot dog in a regular wheat bun.  I couldn’t finish the dog; for me, the texture was too smooth, a bit dry, and the taste made it difficult to get the faux hot dog down.  To fill me up instead, I tried cooking pinto beans and rice.  I may need to sign up for some super basic cooking classes, because I failed miserably.  The pinto beans weren’t nearly as good as I’ve tasted before, and I don’t think I cooked the rice all the way through since it was so chewy.  I added salt, and even butter, for flavor, but nothing worked.

So I ate a Clif Crunch granola bar, which seemed pretty vegan in that it used soy to make chocolate chips, but it also contained honey.

Overall, I was disappointed with lunch and with my cooking skills.  I was going to try a seitan dish for dinner tonight, but I think I’ll save that for a different day and instead have a meal I know how to make properly.

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Bringing Everything Up-to-Date

Two days after watching Forks Over Knives, I had dinner with a different suitemate.  I again grabbed a piece of chicken, and again, I didn’t eat it.  Instead, I ate all of the vegan BBQ seitan that I had piled on my plate, and it was delicious.  Rice mixed with refried beans rounded out the meal.

But now I’m home for winter break, which brings its own set of challenges.  To my family, I am the picky eater that scorns healthy foods, so I don’t feel comfortable telling them about wanting to eat a more plant-based diet; they would actually laugh at me.  And really, I don’t want to make a big deal out of this and be held to unrealistic expectations if I have trouble making the transition.

Before settling in at home, though, I was lucky enough to travel to work on a television production job for a few days.  Staying in a hotel meant only eating out, which can make eating healthy a bit tricky.

Combine eating out with long work days, and throw in something called krafty.  This is the table full of food for the production crew – granola bars, chips, pretzels, sour gummies, mini chocolate pieces, Oreos, and these delicious bite-sized cake balls (when you eat 7 in a day though, I don’t think the fact that they’re “bite-sized” makes a difference).  By the 13th straight hour of work, I easily succumbed to the Rice Krispy treat whispering my name.

Forget about all that though, because today I went shopping at Whole Foods and stocked up on some vegan options, including beans, frozen veggies, seitan, etc.

I heated up a vegan pizza for lunch – Amy’s Non-Dairy Cheeze Pizza with Rice Crust.  I couldn’t get the soy cheese to melt properly, but it was still delicious.  However, I was surprised that this one personal pizza contained 43% of my Daily Value of “Total Fat.”  I thought vegan food was supposed to be less fatty than animal-based food…

After dinner, to get my sweet fix, I had a Tofutti Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich bar, which tasted better than some dairy-based ice cream sandwiches that I’ve had.

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Tempeh vs. Chicken

Finals week means hell.  It also means that this is the last bit of time my roommie and I get to be roommies before she studies abroad next semester.  Naturally, we wanted to have a classy dinner to honor her departure, so we went to the campus cafeteria.

I instinctively headed over to our dining hall’s “Comfort Zone” and grabbed a piece of chicken, rice, and green beans.  And suddenly Forks Over Knives popped into my mind.  I took a few more green beans.

Then I cautiously walked to the vegetarian section.  Tempeh.  I didn’t know what tempeh was, but it was vegan, so I added a few bites to my plate.  Once my roommate and I sat down, I tried a perfectly square piece of tempeh.  Grainy, bland, and dry, I gulped some water to make it slide down my throat.

“So I watched this documentary,” I began to my roommate, and I told her about maybe wanting to eat more healthy foods.  As I tried to chew another bite of tempeh, she knocked some sense into me by reminding me that just because our dining hall tempeh is bland, not all tempeh is.

I ate more green beans and rice, but I couldn’t make myself touch the chicken.  Not that I had stopped eating meat or anything – I had tikka chicken for lunch – but something at dinner got to me.

So tempeh vs. chicken?
Neither.

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The Danger of Netflix Instant Watch

12/11/2011

Well, my roommates and I were going to take a study break by heading out to the national zoo, but we heard that it wasn’t as great as we had hoped it would be.  So I decided to watch Forks Over Knives on Netflix instant watch.  Why this movie?  Well, I read somewhere on Perez Hilton that it had been converting celebrities into vegans, so I was curious.  And I love a good food documentary.

In my senior year of high school, I watched Food, Inc and was awestruck.  I later watched King Corn, which was not as snazzy as Food, Inc., but I enjoyed learning even more about the powerful corn industry here in the U.S.  I wrote a paper my freshman year of college about corn subsidies and their effects on Mexican immigration to the U.S.  I was so fascinated by food policy, that when I began an internship as a 7th grade summer teacher, I focused my social studies class on agricultural subsidies in the U.S.

So I was ready, and eager, for another food documentary.

I was about 15 minutes into FoK when my suitemate came in.

“What are you watching?”

“Another food documentary,” I said through a mouthful of (non-vegan) cake.

“What’s it about?”

“It basically argues that the increase in heart disease and cancer is because we eat animal-based foods, I guess.”

“Like meat?”

“No, like, eggs, milk, everything that comes from animals.”  And another bite of cake.
My suitemate frowned and seemed a bit offended.

“So are you going to become a vegan after this?”

“No, no.  I just like watching documentaries about food policy.”

But after finishing the documentary, I’m not sure how truthful I was.

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