Friday, April 20, 2012

The Reluctant Vegan, Day 1

The night before my Vegan-until-6 experiment... I feel unsettled.  I can't figure out what to pack for lunch the next day.  Usually I take leftovers, which are decidedly not vegan (and won't be, either, if I continue to stop the vegan by 6).  My husband steps in, and starts whipping up concoctions.  In no time at all he has white beans in the slow cooker, and tupperware containers lined up.
I'm nervous about the 'rules.'  Do vegans eat fish, and can I eat fish even if vegans don't?  Am I allowed to lick the cheese off my fingers when I serve burritos to my kids for lunch?  I pack up a littany of random foods (because the beans aren't done yet) and sleep on it.

For day 1, my answers become clear. Yes, I am going to allow myself some fish, at least this week (even though I've learned that strictly speaking, vegans don't).  And no, I am not going to lick the cheese off my fingers.  Here is what I learned my first day of vegan-until-six:
  • Soy milk is a fine replacement for cow milk, except that it does break down in my coffee.  This tastes the same but is unpleasant to look at.  If I wanted tofu in my coffee I would have chunked it in there myself.  Solution: change coffees, shake the milk really hard, or use a covered travel mug so I don't have to look at it.  Still tastes great.
  • Avocados are so awesome as to be their own reward.  Score one for the vegans.
  • Most of what I ate today was snacks, and not full meals.  I never really felt satisfied.  I need to come up with meals that are sustaining, and not piecemeal fruits and veg.  There is more out there.  For breakfast, I will consider oatmeal and toast with peanut butter.
  • Bananas and walnuts go great together as a snack.
  • No matter how many cucumber and carrot sticks I pack, I will eat none of them. I might as well be on the "starve until dinner" diet if I do that. I do enjoy a good celery stick with pb. Is this going to become the pb diet?
  • It so happens that we were going for burgers tonight, so the change in daily diet didn't seem so big when I knew I could eat something meaty and special later.  Mind you, we don't eat a huge amount of meat to begin with; beef is a treat.  This is a metaphor, I think, for the whole idea.  It's a paradigm shift: if I think of meat as a sometimes-thing, it opens up new ideas for other meals.  But, by the time I got to that burger, I was ravenous.  This isn't how it should be.  It's going to take a while to strike this balance. 
  • I'm really looking forward to those beans.  What's in store for tomorrow?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Relcuctant Vegan

For a long time, I've been fascinated by Mark Bittman's idea of being Vegan until 6 pm.  It was a matter of health, but as a food writer and meat-enjoyer, Bittman didn't want to cut out meat altogether.  This guideline seems to work well for him, and I think it would work for me too.  I don't have Bittman's health profile; but I'm interested in lowering my blood pressure, dropping some pounds, and eating a healthy and sustainable diet.  I also like being creative with food. So it's time.

Here's what hasn't worked for me:
  • Saying, "I'm trying to cut back on meat."  For me, the guideline has to be specific and rigid, like the 6 pm cut-off.  It's easy to do every day, instead of trying to define daily what 'less meat' actually means.
  • Dieting by deprivation.  I, like many of  my generation, have tried more soup diets than I can name.  I've tried the milk-and-bananas, the cabbage, the slim-fast.  They work, for a time, but they're not fun.  I already do a lot of things that aren't fun.  So food deprivation is out.
  • Giving up any food completely (unless I don't like it).  If I want to eat something, I'm going to eat it.  The question here, is when.  Can I wait until 6 pm to eat meat/dairy/eggs?  Let's find out!