I think I finally figured out why being vegan is so hard.  It’s because I’ve been missing the point.

I like eating cheese.  I don’t really think about the cows or the goats.  I like eating eggs.  I’m not overly concerned about the chickens.  The basic principals of veganism lie in the fact that, by being vegan, you are protecting animals from cruelty.  Of course, other benefits come of being vegan – healthier lifestyles and  a cleaner environment (yes, I am of course on vegan.org right now) – but I think the primary reason people opt to live a vegan lifestyle is their concern for the animals.

Don’t get me wrong, I love animals.  I love my dog, I loved seeing the cute little monkeys running around the streets of India, I love hearing the crack-squirrels scamper across the roof.  I hate seeing the images of animals neglected, abused, cooped up, or otherwise mistreated.  But it’s hard for me to translate that into what I eat.

I’m sure you have figured this out by now, but, to me, food is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  I thoroghly enjoy going out to fancy restaurants, making rich, decadent brunches and spending $20/lb on a good chunk of manchego.  I believe dining is an experience, food is to be enjoyed and appreciated, and quality trumps quantity every time.  I’ve always cooked with real butter and kept my distance from processed foods.  I honestly believe that food gives us a profound insight into family values, culture, tradition and history.

It’s hard for me to use a fake, chemically manufactured butter because real butter is made from a cow.  It’s even harder for me to justify snacking on red vines instead of cheese and crackers because that’s all there is in the fridge or buying chemical-laden corn puffs from the gas station instead of the all-natural air-popped popcorn because the popcorn has dairy.

Sorry for all of the preaching, but what I am trying to say is, I can’t justify being vegan.  People choose to be vegan because they don’t want to take part in the cruel treatment of animals – they feel that animals have as much of a soul as humans and shouldn’t be treated as poorly as they are.  I don’t think animals should be mistreated, but, as a student of economics, I see that things are the way they are for a reason.  Ideally, animals should be allowed to roam free and hunted for nutrition, not corralled and pent up to feed the masses.  But it’s more efficient to have a farm and raise cattle to be slaughtered to feed a large number of people than it would be for each individual to go hunting for their meals.  I can go into economies of scale and increasing returns to scale and division of labor and all of that, but (big sigh of relief!) I won’t.

For now, I’m just going to say that being an economics student and being a vegan at the same time is almost hypocritical.


Days 16-19

March 8, 2010

I had a dream last night that I accidentally ate some potatoes with cheese on top.  And boy did I feel terrible about it:

Me: “I had a dream that I cheated last night.”
Chris: “What?  You dreamed about cheating??”
Me: “Yeah, I felt SO bad.  I ate these potatoes and didn’t realize there was cheese on them!”
Chris (with a tinge of relief in his voice): “Ohhhh.  Cheated.  On lent.  I get it.”

Looks like even in my subconscious I’m not quite ready to give up.

So, for today, I was thinking of going into the story of how we ordered off the vegan menu and our waitress was surprised that we wouldn’t eat the non-vegan rice (should I box it up for you then?) or the story of how we went out to dinner with my parents and they ordered the cauliflower gratin (pronounced gra-teen and not grah-tin) and we had to push it to the other side of the table because the aroma was so incredible or the story of how I had a study group who ordered pizza (with cheese of course – people are so picky!) so I had to walk down to Brueggers and ask to look at the ingredient lists of their bagels and jelly before ordering.   But I’m going to go ahead and tell you the story of last night’s dinner.  It’s a good one.

Me: “I’m hungry.  It’s late.”
Chris: “I’m not really that hungry, I think I’m just going to have an apple for dinner.”
Me: “Hmm….I might steam that artichoke and have that.”
20 minutes later
Chris: “I’m hungry.”
Me:  “Ooh lets steam the artichoke!”
Chris, at fridge: “Umm yeah, looks like the artichoke is dead.”
Shows me artichoke with gross brown stem
Me: “Ewww gross. ”
Chris: “Yeah.  I don’t feel like going anywhere.”
Me: “Yeah, I don’t feel like going anywhere either.  What do we have here?”
Chris: “Leftovers; Buffalo Seitan wings and edamame.”
–Side Note:  Last week I had buffalo seitan wings for dinner and ended up getting pretty sick.  Could be because that was all I had for dinner, but needless to say, I was not in the mood to experiment with those again.–
Chris: “Ooh, we have these crackers. And some peanut butter!”
Me:  “I’ve been eating too much peanut butter lately.  Maybe I can make a dip?”
I rummage through the fridge and find 3 kalamata olives.  I mix them in with some veganaise and horseradish mustard (basically just using any vegan item we can find in the fridge) and put them in a cute little glass bowl.  Dinner is served.

Our dinner last night:
Nita Crisp Crackers
Peanut Butter
Meera’s “Let’s scrape together whatever we have in the fridge” Dip

I’m telling you, once this busy period in our lives slow down, we’re going to actually buy groceries, and actually cook all the delicious recipes we’ve been drooling over.  And then maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to enjoy being vegan.

p.s. Despite all of my complaining and whining and dreaming about cheese, I have to say that I am starting to feel less sluggish and more energized.  Maybe there’s something to this vegan fad after all.  I also want to say that Chris is making this so much more bearable than it would be on my own.  Especially when he brings me a homemade breakfast of couscous and (wheat protein) sausage.  Or when he agrees to eat my gross delicious dip for dinner.  What a guy.

Quote of the day

March 4, 2010

One of my fast-food loving “vegans are crazy” coworker walking down the hall:

“Something smells really good.”  Peers into my office. “Can’t be something you’re eating.”

And yes, this udon is as delicious as it smells.

You guys (all 5 of you!) should probably tell me it’s time to quit my whining.  But it’s hard. WHOSE idea was this whole vegan thing anyway??  I don’t wanna do it anymore!!  Whew.  Okay.  Done whining.

So last night Chris and I had dinner at the Rio with my cousins.  My cheese-less quesadilla (I know, it doesn’t make ANY sense) was good, and Chris’s veggie fajitas looked delicious as well.  My cousin Yash doesn’t eat dairy or gluten, so our veganism wasn’t a huge imposition, nor was there a great deal of temptation around.  Oh, we also devoured I don’t know how many bowls of chips and salsa.  What? Being vegan makes you hungry!

The night before we picked up some udon from Taki Sushi after climbing; Chris went with the tempura udon which, unwittingly, came with shrimp!  Oops.  Luckily, the tempura was brought out after the udon was served, so it was much easier to resist, but Chris, being a don’t-waste-food kind of guy, looked like he felt a little bad leaving the shrimp behind.  Hopefully some rummaging dog/squirrel/rat enjoyed it.

The biggest challenge right now is convenience more than anything.  Since we’re starting to climb more, we definitely need to make sure we get enough protein, and it’s SO HARD to not just fry up an egg or open a can of tuna to get that extra protein boost.  There’s only so much tofu/seitan a girl can handle!

I think we’re going to start experimenting more with beans, maybe learning how to cook lentils (dal!) and chickpeas (channa masala!) in new and exciting ways.  I’ve also heard that black bean burgers are delicious, so maybe that’ll be our next endeavor!  That is, or course, once our hectic lives calm down (finals are next week! need to start on thesis! Chris has a demo today!).

Day 16:
Breakfast: Grapenuts & Soymilk (surprise, surprise)
Lunch:  Leftover udon
Snack: Braeburn apple
Dinner: Artichoke, rice and lentils
Days Left: 31
Attitude: Whiny

Days 11-13…

March 2, 2010

Okay, so we made it through week 1 and half of week 2.  And 46 days is starting to sound like a REALLY long time.

Over the weekend we went to City O’ City; Chris had the animal lovers pizza that we tried earlier, and I had the buffalo seitan caesar wrap which was great.  We also had family in town over the weekend, so we hung out at my grandpa’s house – luckily there are quite a few Indian options that don’t have meat or dairy, so, despite the family’s wariness, we were able to feed ourselves without too much of a hassle.

We tried out scrambled tofu for the first time Sunday morning, and it was great!  The family agreed that it tasted just like eggs.  We sauteed it with some onions and put it on an english muffin with avocado – yum!

Today, however, I forgot to bring breakfast, met Katie for lunch at Noodles & Co.  I had the Indonesian Peanut Saute, which was terrible in my opinion…but watching others order the mac and cheese was SO incredibly hard.  I knew this would be challenging but now that it’s been over a week, 33 days seems like forever!  I think Chris and I are going to have to start cooking up some new dishes to keep things interesting.  Hopefully this is a minor speedbump and the cravings for cheese will die down.

Also, I didn’t eat too much today due to forgetting breakfast and not enjoying lunch, so maybe once I get more food in my belly, I’ll stop lusting after dairy.  And to bide my time until Easter, I think the purchase of this book might be in order…

Days 9 & 10!

February 26, 2010

Well I had requested that Mister Chris put up a post yesterday – I was crazy busy both with work and homework (Mixed Strategy Game Theory anyone?) but as it turns out he was also crazy busy with work.  I hope you didn’t miss us too much.

So, big news, Chris went to Watercourse for lunch yesterday with his friend Lisa and brought me back a hamburger! (see Day 8)  It wasn’t meaty per se (tempeh) but it smelled like a burger and had all the right fixings.  On top of that, he also brought me some [seitan] buffalo wings.  We made a vegan-aioli – veganaise and garlic powder – which ended up being a great dipping sauce for the wings.

Day 9, lets see…oh!   Yes.  It was my coworker’s last day at work, so we had a going away happy hour.  I was famished by the time we got there and had some french fries (which shared oil with chicken – cheating? Maybe a little bit…).  Chris and I then had some thai food for dinner (Swing Thai actually indicates on their menu which items are vegan!).  Their massaman curry is always a favorite of mine – but I will admit that it tastes better with chicken than tofu.

Today, we had Sputnik for lunch, another place that tells us what is vegan.  I’ve always really liked their food – they have an amazing egg sandwich and their mac and cheese is killer.  We were excited because they have a “soy meat” replacement for their sandwiches (which are all amazing) – BUT the soy meat has egg in it, so we both ended up getting falafel sandwiches.  The pita was thick and fluffy and their tahini was really good as well – I’d get the sandwich again (while gazing longingly at the mac and cheese).

Tonight we’re going to finally try a recipe from our gourmet cookbook!  I’m a little nervous, because it uses some fancy schmancy ingredients, but hopefully we can figure it out.

Also, it’s a coworker’s birthday and I was SO tempted to pick up a vegan birthday cake (from here) after lunch today.  I ultimately decided against it; I’d like to try their cakes first to make sure they don’t taste too different, and I’m not sure my coworkers would appreciate me pushing my veganism on them.  Lucky for me I’m not much of a cake person so I guess I’ll let them have their cake and eat it too.

Day 8

February 24, 2010

Whew.  We’ve officially made it one week.  I woke up this morning craving a hamburger.  Uh-oh.

Quick backup, I ended up eating Garbanzo for lunch yesterday in order to get some studying in with a classmate.  Their falafel pita with hummus, cucumber salad, tahini, and cilantro sauce was great – and exactly what I would have ordered as a non-vegan! Perfect!

In addition to eating out for lunch, Chris and I had Chipotle for dinner last night.  Again, oddly enough, my Chipotle order has always been vegan (Rice, beans, pico de gallo, guac.  I know, exciting).  It was really good, and almost made me forget that we were doing this vegan thing in the first place.

But right now…man it is HARD.  I’ve got my leftover salad with the fake sausage and couscous and avocado and spinach sitting in the fridge, but for some reason it just doesn’t sound good.  I want…a bagel with cream cheese.  Or a breakfast burrito.  Or fish and chips.  I think today might be the first day that I can’t think of a single vegan option that sounds appetizing.  Oh well, I guess this is all about sacrifice.  Salad it is.  yum. <sarcasm>

Well I promised you some excitement – due to the end of the month responsibilities at work, homework due for class tomorrow, and a general busyness that seems present in my life right now, the most interesting story I have for you is this, enjoy:

I’m about to leave work, my stomach growling.  I go to the fridge and there, before my eyes, a glistening honeycrisp apple.  I rinse it off and delight in that first perfect bite.  I know I’m not going to be able to eat again until after class at 8, so I really want to savor this apple.  I head to my friend Katie’s apartment to kill time before class, all the while enjoying the juicy crunch of my afternoon snack.  I step out of the car and lo and behold there is a small patch of ice outside my door.  I slip and reach for the door handle for balance and out of my hand flies the remaining 3/4 of the apple.  I pick it up.  It’s covered in dirt.  I contemplate washing it but deep down I know it’s been on the ground longer than 5 seconds.  I throw it out, with a sigh, all the while contemplating the tragedy of lost love.  Let’s hope today’s apple makes it.