28 November 2007

And So It Vegan

It was my last Thanksgiving. And on Thanksgiving, you expect tradition. The bird. The stuffing. The yams. The pie. We had all that and then some. I had waited to go vegan until the day after Thanksgiving because my friend had threatened me with Tofurkey. Instead we had Turducken. I’m still not sure which is scarier. In case you aren’t familiar with this “delicacy”, it’s a boneless concoction of a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey. I stayed on the “tur” side of things, enjoyed the vegetarian stuffing my friend made for her daughter, downed heaps of the roasted vegetables, and savored a slice of pumpkin pie. It was enough.

“Why?” was the question most friends asked about my veganism, especially when attempting to figure out what to serve me at a dinner party, as though I wasn’t difficult enough before. The answer isn’t very direct. I’ve been pondering this since Live Aid. Yeah, that concert way back in the day to end famine in Africa. While waiting for David Bowie to take the stage, little punk rocker me I went into my friend’s kitchen to make a sandwich. As I reached for the bologna, I decided to give up meat. And easy decision in that situation, but my friend and I had been talking about going vegetarian in the preceding weeks. That day seemed to be the day to make that choice, and I had a lettuce, mayo and cheese on Wonder instead. That’s pretty much what my diet was for the next year-and-a-half: meat-free, not vegetable-full. Back then, before you could easily reach for tasty vegetarian fare, there wasn’t much for you but cheese pizza and bean burritos, generally made with lard, which isn’t quite a vegetable. Skipping meat was easy. I remember nutritious cafeteria lunches of yogurt and mashed potatoes. See what I mean?

After eighteen months of not getting enough protein (I was a lazy student who had yet to find love of the leafy greens let alone tofu), I stared at a chicken breast for an hour before I could eat it. Fish and fowl were brought back in to the regime, but dairy was out. It made my allergies worse. Snotty is not just an attitude with me. And so, after my final lobster tail and turkey breast, I said adieu to animal food. It was time to vegan.

Being a vegan today is a piece of cake. Egg- and butter-free cake, that is. But, fortunately, those exist. Friends have worried when they call me up to go out, “Oh, can you eat anything there?” Yep. Luckily, most restaurants have these things called “vegetables” and “salads”. There’s always something to eat if you look hard enough, or order off menu. But, if you think that going vegan means a rapid drop in weight, think again. For, I have discovered in the days that have followed Thanksgiving that you never actually have to eat a fresh vegetable or piece of fruit if you don’t want to.

There are vegan blueberry waffles and soy sausage links to have for breakfast. Broccoli soup puree for lunch with Wasa crackers. A bean and rice burrito, vegan Indian cuisine or a “meat” loaf with mashed potatoes, corn and peas all within two-five minutes from freezer to plate if you are so inclined. There is organic, vegan “Mud Pie” rice-cream for dessert, vegan cookies, and most importantly, pomegranate martinis are vegan, too. And I’m pretty sure a vegan fast food chain is not too far off in the future.

Now, I realize eating that way is not the point of being vegan. But, when you are a busy vegan newbie, it’s easy to fall into those bad habits of yore. There is one vice I have given up: Starbucks. Yes, if your stocks took a dive, that is why. My seven-to-ten ventis a week are now a thing of the past. I’m now enjoying organic, decaffeinated green tea...and a bit more money in the bank. (I still love the Bucks though, and do enjoy a soy hot chocolate there every now and again. A tall, not a venti, sans whip.)

No, this isn’t a sign of the apocalypse, just me trying to grow up more and take a little responsibility for my health and that of the environment. Since I’m not going to be driving a hybrid car for a while, I figured going vegan was something I could do for the green team. Cow farts are really what are destroying the ozone. Our water is polluted by our grotesque animal farming techniques. And if you think the FDA, EPA and USDA really give a shit about your health, remember the amount of feces allowed in your food. Do you like your cow pies medium, or well done?

I’m sure tofu and spouts are sounding yummy now.

No comments: