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In the land of (NO) milk and honey....

As I mentioned last week, I'm trying out veganism for a month. I'm on day 11 thus far and still don't have a firm vision as to how this will fit into my life for the long term.

It is certainly a lot more work and has been more expensive for me. The fact that I am rehearsing a show makes it much more complicated and some days I don't feel like I get a "meal" because I don't eat anything hot. Often I get by grazing on random items; combinations of fruits, veggies, hummus and various carbs with lots of salads along the way (and with Lara Bars as my back up fix). I don't know if that is going to be sustainable for me. While I'm adjusting a bit now, initially I wasn't enjoying eating and I've had a few days of not feeling well. Clearly this is a lifestyle that requires time and effort in the kitchen and balancing that with my schedule is going to be interesting. I do think that with time to cook, this would be a very different experience and one that would be much more pleasant and satisfying.

While I grumble, I will say that for the most part I have not had huge cravings for animal products. I have, however, been seriously missing my decaf with half and half - which is one of my favorite simple pleasures. Thus far I have tried coffee with rice milk (plain and vanilla), soy milk (plain and vanilla), almond milk (vanilla) and hemp milk (vanilla). To be honest, for me, none of them hold a candle to dairy.

Soy and hemp milks seem to be the creamiest - but I have big questions about the impact of soy (on my health, the environment and agriculture at large). The hemp milk is quite expensive and while I can see it is distributed from NY (approximately 800 miles away from me and clearly not local), I do not know where the hemp itself was grown nor do I have knowledge of its impact. I have read that in countries where it is illegal to freely grow hemp (as in the U.S.) industrialized hemp is imported from China and the Philippines (YIKES! That is just not going to cut it and had I read that earlier, I never would have purchased it). I plan to try oat milk next, which is as expensive as the hemp milk, but I can apparently make it myself.

And yes. I know I could just give up coffee...*looks pained*.

I'm trying to do research but often I run into a wall due to the lack of information available about food sources. I notice that this feels like a really challenging sacrifice for me and parts of me feel very proud of sticking with it even when I'm not loving it. Other parts wonder about quality of life and whether or not this is actually supporting my values - or if it is equal to, or less effective than sourcing local, ethical dairy.

While in general, I really like reducing my intake of animal products I'll need some time, homework and calculations to determine if this lifestyle choice furthers my goals around sustainability and accountability. If it does, I have a lot of work to do. I'll need to determine my stance on eating honey, wearing leather and silk...etc. I'll need to see if my body is happy with this and if I'm getting enough B-12 and other nutrients. I also would need to learn to shop for and cook meals that I enjoy and to get used to the fact that many people are really uncomfortable with my making this choice and want to tell me all about it (sheesh).

While it's not all that bad, I would likely swoon with delight over a plate of Mujaddara and I can't help but realize how spoiled I am when so many people in the world have such limited access to food (hot, vegan or otherwise).

Perspective, perspective...


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 13th, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
you may want to invest in a crockpot or rice cooker, and a bento box. Cook large amounts and freeze portions so it's easier to assemble good meals. It's also harder in winter.

Bento boxes are good because you can have a balanced hot meal that you assembled the night before and just heat up in the morning and seal in the thermal jar.

Jan. 13th, 2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
I've got a crock pot and will consider a bento box...thanks for the suggestion darlin'!
Jan. 13th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
If you don't already have Diet for a New World, I would recommend picking up a copy. Tons and tons of vegan recipes, including my favorite vegan cream of broccoli soup recipe
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you lady - I do now have a copy. You rock!
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
Soy milk in coffee is a crime against nature. Or it was years ago when I tried it couple of time when I was living in a vegetarian coop and we were out of cow milk. So I'm with you on the whole not-good factor.

One of my favorite, easy things for hot vegan food is chili. Yum! Or a cashew veggie stir fry over rice. Mmmmm....

Good luck with your veganism project! :-)
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:22 pm (UTC)
Yes - down with soy in coffee. Why does it curdle? WTF is that about any way?

Chili and cashew stir fry sound great and I will remember them when I have some time to cook. Until then it's catch as catch can!

Thanks for the good wishes. I miss you like crazy...you know that?
Jan. 14th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
It was explained to me as having something to do with the acidity of coffee. I have no idea if that has any real basis in fact, but I'm always happy to pass along rumor and speculation. ;-)

I miss you too. I'm bummed that I won't be able to make it to Winter Camp this year. I would love to see you again.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
Damn...I thought you'd be at camp. I will miss you and I hope we can find some other way to see each other soon. Kisses to you - J
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
I too have been exploring food ethics a lot in the last year. I remember reading Barbara Kingsolver's book about her family's experiment with eating local for a year. They allowed each family member to choose one non-local food they would continue to purchase.

I have my own eating restrictions, and am finding myself swinging about trying to find equilibrium. I was mostly vegetarian for almost two years (in the beginning I was still eating limited amounts of fish). Then, between recommendations from my acupuncturist (who I trust), my seriousness about not consuming *any* gluten, and my quest to eat local I find myself eating some meat again. I'm still feeling weird and guilty about that, and don't know where I will end up later.

In my attempt to focus more on local, I have some challenges. I've had to redefine what local looks like for me at this stage in the experiment and what my exceptions are. Since grains are problematic for me (and I can't buy any of the fabulous locally baked bread), I'm concentrating on finding grain that been grown in the US instead of Asia. I'm unwilling to give up avocados, but I'm trying to buy ones from California not Mexico. I'm not willing to give up coffee, but am steadfast to my commitment to organic and fair trade - and buying it in my own container from the bulk area of my coop.

I'm interested to read where your continued experiments lead you. Its such a complicated and emotional topic! Also, I remember you talking about crafting a class for traveling...
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
I hear you darlin' and I am in the same place. It's a challenging balancing act and I try not to beat myself up over my exceptions. I too do fair-trade coffee and chocolate - and would love to source some fair-trade spices...I know those are exceptions that really matter to me. I try to get local produce but in winter here it is impossible, so like you - I look for items from the US (which feels like the best I can do. Until our farmers' markets open even the CSA's have all non-local food in their boxes).

Part of me already feels guilty for not committing to veganism for the long term - but seriously, I don't know that it's going to make my footprint lighter in many cases. I think I'd rather evaluate item-by-item, rather than adopting a lifestyle that will cover all my bases - because I don't think there is such a thing.

We would love to travel with our food activism class and there seemed to be a lot of interest in it when I first posted about it here. I have not heard from folks since then about bringing that work out. I will get a chance to weave a lot of that into the hearth path I am teaching with Copper at Winter camp, and I'm so excited about that.

It's so good to hear from you lady...I wish we lived closer so that I could see you more often. It's been too damned long. Much love to you ~ Jen
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
Wow. Goon on you for taking up this challenge! I used to say I'd be vegan if it wasn't for having to give up dairy. I'd sooner give up sweets and sugar!

Have you tried Silk brand soy creamer. it's the only substitute I've found for dairy in my coffee. Anything else always tasted horrible.

B12 shouldn't eb a problem if you're eating fortified foods or tossing a bit of nutritional yeast into things as you cook. Where I've found most vegans come up across nutritional deficiencies are iron and proein, especially fi you're active, and some of the B vitamins. I've also heard many good arguments for vegans supplementing vitamin D and K.

There is a fabulous book out on vegetarin nutrition: 'The Vegetarian Way" by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD and Mark Messina, PhD . It covers veganism welll. "The Vegetarian Sports Nutrition Guide" by Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD is also good. It's been a while since I was really up to date on what's out there, so it's possible that these are dated.

I ditto the crockpot. Very, very useful to let bean meals simme while you're out of the house. I've also found a pressure cooker to be almost essential as well.

If the vegan thing doesn't work out for you right now, there is always being a most vegan vegetarian.
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the book recommendations...I'll check them out. I have become addicted to nutritional yeast...so hopefully my B-12 will be covered.

I agree that the veganism may not work for me 100%, and if not - I think going back to vegetarianism (with a higher percentage of vegan meals) might be a good fit.

I hope you are doing well and are staying warm! Hugs to you - Jen
Jan. 13th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
have you tried the soy creamers?
Jan. 14th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
I have but I don't really care for them - and for me, they feel like a step away from whole foods, which is a strong value that I hold in my food activism.

Honestly, unless I like and can make oat milk - none of the dairy free coffee options seem as green as local, ethical half and half...but it's hard to calculate with the limited information food producers provide.

But hey...it's an adventure!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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