Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in three months! I had a really crazy and un-Zen holiday season, but I am back with a vengeance.
I’ve been meditating a few times a week, but I still find it difficult. But one of the things that Thich Nhat Hanh recommends is choosing one precept and getting that down perfectly, and the rest tend to follow. Since meditating isn’t going perfectly, I’m going to keep trying but really placing my energy on switching to a vegan diet. And I’m not going to worry about doing it “perfectly” (I will eat a pure vegan diet right off the bat, but not going to also insist on all homemade, all organic, etc.). I may come to that later, but I’m going to give myself a break and just worry about easy recipes and something my busy working mom lifestyle can sustain. I crippled my original attempts to go vegan four years ago by reading too many books and articles about raw foodism. I became convinced that simply being vegetarian or vegan wasn’t enough, that I had to also become an activist, eat complicated raw things, and the list goes on. Not this time. This time, I’m going to eat vegan to reduce suffering in the world, to make myself and the planet healthier, and hopefully to set a good example for my daughter. But if my family, the planet, and the squirrels yelling in my backyard don’t seem to “get” it, I don’t care. I’m doing it anyway. And I’m doing it my way!
For months, maybe years, I can’t remember, I’ve been reading Susan Voisin’s blog, Fat Free Vegan. She is also a mother of one, and every recipe of hers I’ve tried has been really delicious and uncomplicated (as long as you know the cooking basics, which thanks to Mrs. Kattleman’s home-ec class, I do). Even when I wasn’t eating vegan, I tried a bunch of her side dishes, soups, salads, and curries. She is going to make this challenge so much easier with her real-life, normal recipes.
Another indispensable item in my vegan challenge is Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Veganomicon. It’s an oldy but goody—every vegan I know (which I’ll admit isn’t many) cooks from it. The recipes are simple, and again, delicious!
On Saturday, I made a big ol’ batch of thick and hearty split pea soup, the Fat Free Vegan. I ate that soup for days, along with various other vegan treats like butternut squash spring rolls (I used the Veganomicon recipe but the one I linked to is close), and with the leftovers I made broccoli spring rolls that G loved. I was really sick of the soup and sides by Wednesday, so I branched out and made chickpea cutlets and Italian veggie polenta (I just replaced the four cups broccoli with four cups frozen italian vegetable blend from Hy-Vee, thawed and chopped small), served with a store-bought vegan marinara (I’m going for doable, not vegan superstardom). I have had those leftovers for lunch, and have two cutlets and some polenta in the freezer to pull out on those days I just don’t want to cook.
The next night, I was still out of soup, so I pulled some three bean enchilada filling out of the freezer (made before my vegan challenge, but still vegan!), wrapped some up in whole grain tortillas, and topped with some leftover veggie cheese shreds that have lurking in my fridge for a couple months. After baking in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, it was an amazing, wonderful vegan feast in under 30 minutes. And yeah, that’s a nice dallop of guac on the top. Store bought.
Today, I got up early and started some vegan pumpkin chili in the crock pot. I am going to serve it with an Oh She Glows Detox Salad (which she swiped from Whole Foods—love it!). My daughter’s birthday party is tomorrow, and I don’t want to waste hours tonight cooking and cleaning up when I need to be decorating and gift-wrapping!
I’ve noticed that eating vegan has changed my food cravings already. I know I can’t have something really rich and sinful, say potato chips and sour cream dip or cheese and crackers (two of my weaknesses). So without intending it, I’ve been eating a piece of fruit here, then a bowl of soup a couple hours later, then another bowl of soup and a salad at meal time, and maybe a pb&j in between. So the way I eat has changed, even though I didn’t intend to switch to the grazing model. Or even the low-fat model. It’s just that the types of foods available to me as a vegan are naturally more healthy and lend themselves to grazing. I don’t feel like eating a whole loaf of bread smeared with pb or five bowls of soup. Imagine that!
I should mention that G and Q are not into the vegan challenge. Q won’t eat anything these days, and G will reluctantly eat my meals and then snarf down hot dogs when he thinks I’m not looking. I’m convinced that after repeatedly tasting the delicious, wholesome, kind food I’ve been preparing, he will at least begin to enjoy the food while still indulging in processed meat on the side. But if he doesn’t, that’s okay. This isn’t about him!
To summarize, here is my diet plan:
- Vegan all the way
- No “weird stuff” (no vegan hot dogs, vegan hot wings, etc.)
- Lots of soups and salads
- Eat when I’m hungry, trying to avoid chips as much as possible
- Experiment! Make it fun!
I may add some more intentional eating rules after 30 days of living the vegan life, but for now I think this is enough. So far, it’s been more fun than chore, which is what I desperately need in my life!