Thursday, February 02, 2012

Vegan(ist) Goodies Basket

here's my vegan gift basket for my workplace charity auction containing:

Veganist - the book by Kathy Freston (a great primer for getting started with plant-based eating, and a moderate approach) -

Parma Raw Vegan Parmesan shaker

a Mahalo chocolate/coconut vegan candybar by Go-Max-Go foods

an Alternative Baking Co. cookie (pumpkin spice)

Irish Daisy Vegan Whoopie Pie (local)

Little Lad's herbal popcorn (local)

Primal Strips tempeh jerky

Sweet n Sarah vegan marshmallows

Livin it to let live

Wow, it always amazes me how much time slips by so quickly. I am a naughty blogger.

For the past two months or so (I think...I lose track of that too) I've been vegan. I was ovo-lacto vegetarian for about fifteen years, meaning I ate animal products that weren't meat.

I had tried being vegan a few times over the years but didn't follow thru for several reasons which I guess include:

I wasn't always a confident cook or willing/able to plan meals to support a whole week of eating at work, school, home, out, etc

The past few times I tried vegan the convenience products hadn't caught up to where they are now, enabling vegans to "fudge it" in some of the above situations with great products like daiya, gardein, health is wealth, amy's frozen non-dairy, etc. with more options exploding every day. I didn't always have the internet capacity or skill to order said products when necessary.

ummmm laziness and peer pressure (I sound flip but those are probably the biggest barriers)

and hence a coping mechanism of totally managing to phase out the facts about animal cruelty in the food industry...yes, including (in some cases especially)  eggs and dairy.

But last summer I started really buying more vegan cookbooks, trying more blog recipes, etc. My love of animals was slowly overcoming my self-induced denial fog.

And then my best friend Gwen suddenly suggested we do a 30 day vegan challenge thru PETA. And it appealed to me so I said sure, thinking we'd be gearing up for someday......

well she had started the day before! so boom we were off and running. I went vegan about eleven AM on a workday and if you it then, you've got it made.

Sure the first few weeks had surprises, hurdles, and concessions. Some products I thought were vegan but never bothered to look turned out not to be. Some fast food, same deal. And some things were just hard habits to break. I was shocked by how many vegetarian meat and dairy substitutes have egg in them and even milk derivatives. Hellowwwww people, why are we eating your substitutes if we are willing to consume those ingredients???! I mean I don't mind having vegan cream cheese because it reduces how many adorable baby calves have to die untended and stomped to death on a feedlot floor because their mother's milk was needed for .... But why the hell would I eat fake cream cheese if it has milk in it????! Please.

And why, if I am avoiding meat because I am trying to reduce animal exploitation, would I consume a veggie burger that's second or third ingredient is the egg whites? From the unfertilized ovuum of a feedlot hen, genetically engineered to be so lopsided she can't even stand, housed in an unlit, dusty, filty pen with roughly the floorspace of one sheet of office paper...then likely thrown out to die when she is too old to make more eggs......

Why would I eat a fake burger with those eggs in it??????

Anyhooo, those are some of the primary challenges. I realize this choice is not for everyone and I go out of my way not to make the carnivores/omnivores around me uncomfortable with my choices (not that they always let me stay out of their way no matter how  hard I try). This is my personal decision and since I did it I feel great. Mostly spiritually and morally because it was a conviction I always had but long supressed. But also:

I have tons more energy and memory
I have used said energy to work out more, which I love, and feel much more fit
My allergies and chronic illnesses have decreased
I have lost about thirty pounds
I never seem to have acne anymore (something i just realized the other night during a proactive ad)
I spend LESSSSSSSSSSSS on food (yes, it's true)
I don't binge anymore, presumably because my foods have more nutrients (and I don't stress eat as much)
I deal with stress better at work and at home (no small thing since I work for a crisis response type agency)
I feel like I can tackle other challenges because I tackled this one

I haven't been to the doc for a while but I would guess my blood pressure and cholesterol are much better. There was a learning curve where I ate too many vegan convenience foods, which are too high in fat (just not animal fat) but lately I have been conquering that also with the help of Engine 2, Appetite for Reduction, Forks Over Knives, and Happy Herbivore (all have websites....hit the google).

I donated a $50 vegan gift basket to my workplace charity auction this month. I hope it helps some other traveler with the same convictions as me to begin this great journey that has made me feel so much healthier, more in control, and more hopeful about life.