Monday, January 14, 2013

Day Fourteen: Gather Vegan Recipes


"Go to your local library or bookstore and browse their vegan cookbook selection. Borrow or buy a book that looks good to you. Also, go online and research vegan recipes."

I actually did this step a few days ago. I have three cookbooks I've checked out from the library, as well as my own copies of "Veganomicon" and "Vegan With A Vengance", which I purchased about 3 years ago when I found them to be the most commonly recommended vegan cookbooks on there.

I do want to get a tofu cookbook, though. There's more to tofu than "toss on pan with salt and pepper" or "serve chilled with soy sauce and green onion and rice as hiyayako". My skills, they need expanding.

Had sweet-and-sour tofu over microwave Asian rice. I actually didn't eat it all, and grabbed four Cuties oranges out of the fruit bowl for the bulk of my dinner last night. The white rice just didn't taste as good as it used to, and the tofu... well, we've established my tofu cooking skils need help.

My taste buds far preferred those little oranges to the white rice, and that came as a bit of a shock to me.

Gotta go to the store and buy some more bananas and frozen fruit and resume my smoothies. I haven't had one in about 3 days because I ran out of bananas. I miss them!

Oh, and casein. Sneaky, sneaky casein. Bought two packages of non-dairy cheeze, only to get home and find that it contains casein, which, if I recall correctly, is the thing in milk and cheese that makes it actually addictive to us. Note to self: do a better job of reading labels. Taking that stuff back and getting the Daiya.

Day Thirteen: Health Food Store Tour


"Call your local health food store and sign up for a tour. After your tour, buy one new product that you've never tried before."

I'll have to ask about this. I generally just wander the aisles in a mind-boggled state from all of the foods I've never heard of and wouldn't even begin to know what to do with.

I did try a new product yesterday: vegan Italian sausages, cooked on my knock-off George Foreman grill. They were very good, but I decided about halfway through the second sausage that I will limit myself to one per meal. I was completely stuffed after eating two of them on buns with yellow mustard.

Also, found that Sprouts' store brand tofu (made with non-GMO soybeans) is 99 cents (versus $3 for non-GMO, $2 for possibly-GMO at Target). I love to toss a slice of tofu on the pan with salt and pepper. It's like a fried egg. Minus the icky yolk. And the cholesterol.

Day Twelve: Eliminate Cheese

Task: Eliminate cheese from your diet and your kitchen.

I didn't have much, just a few boxes of mac 'n cheese I'm going to donate to the food bank, and a little container of parmesan cheese that I used on my rare spaghetti night.

With the delicious melty-ness of Daiya, I don't think I'll miss cheese, though I might miss sharp chedar from time to time. Still, I'll just remind myself of the suffering cows go through for that cheddar to be made. That will curb the craving quickly enough.

And then I'll nom on Daiya cheddar shreds. :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Day Eleven: Fruit and Veg Cleanse

Today is supposed to be the second of two all-fruit-and-veg-cleanse days. I must confess to a sense of utter rebellion on being told when to eat nothing but fruits and veggies, so it's likely I'll pick another day at random on my own and not feel the petulant "I don't wanna!" temper tantrum of a 5-year-old coming on at the thought.

I'm gonna admit: I'm gonna cheat today. I finally got paid, and I want to hit up my favorite local veg restaurant for the first time in close to two weeks. They have a phenomenal vegan sesame chik'n entree with coconut cilantro rice and a sublime kale salad. It's run by Seventh Day Adventists, so they're closed on Saturdays.

Sooo... yeah. I'm gonna cheat for lunch. (Sorry, Sarah!) I'm gonna nosh on Cuties oranges tonight, though. Bought a bag of them today to fill that fruit bowl with, and I have no problem eating 3 or 4 of them in a row.

Actually, I cheated at my mid-morning snack: pretzel crisps, hummus, and dark chocolate from Starbucks. (I gave the salted caramel piece of it to my friend.) But dark chocolate with pistachio or orange peel or ginger and peppercorn counts as veg, right?

Day Ten: Read "Diet for a New America"

Day Ten:

"Read 'Diet for a New America' by John Robbins."

Evidently this is one of the most popular and influential books in the vegan reading repetoire. I don't have a copy, but I'm going to be near the library, so I'll swing by there and see if they have one.

I *am* reading "Main Street Vegan" by Patricia Moran, though. I'm really enjoying it. Her style is not hoity-toity and she doesn't have that Vegan Police snotty attitude towards vegetarians that too many vegan authors do. She provides a lot of information, from nutrition to cosmetic and household cleaners that do animal testing, and a bit (but still shocking in cruelty)on animal farming and slaughter practices.

I find that the horror inflicted upon "food animals" unconscionable, and I can no longer see myself eating dairy or meat. As a Muslim, my faith urges me to compassion, and I am seeing more and more that there is no compassion in eating meat.

The things that "food animals" suffer would carry jail sentences for an individual who inflicted even a quarter of this upon a dog or cat, but because it's big companies, with government sanction, because, hey, these are "only" food animals... they get away with torture. All in the name of making a buck. It makes me feel ill. If more people would educate themselves on the meat and dairy industry, we wouldn't fall for the "Happy Cow" commercials that show cows grazing peacefully in an open field, one of them talking and eager to give over her milk for drinking, butter, and cheese.

Today's smoothie was a truly fabulous banana-blueberry-spinach-vanilla soymilk combo. I think it's my favorite flavor so far.

Day Nine: Salad

Day Nine's task:

"From now on, eat one large salad every day. Start by getting yourself a large bowl that you love, if you don't already have one. Then, make a new salad every day for the next 7 days. Discover salads as if for the first time, and make them different each day."

Well, I don't have a big bowl, but I do have a large plastic food container. I took it to work filled with spinach. I would've added other veggies, but I didn't have any other veggies. Took a little low-fat raspberry vinnaigrette to top it off, and a banana. I chowed down and still wasn't able to finish it. Think it'll be better when I can add some carrots and bell pepper or something to give it some crunch, but it was still good.

Smoothie of the day: strawberry-blueberry-banana-spinach-soymilk

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Day Eight: Eliminate Poultry

Today's task: eliminate poultry.

No problem. I don't have any in the house, and I quit eating chicken a while back when Taco Bell changed their chicken from the old variety to the Cantina Bell stuff. It's gross on a quesadilla, so.... no chicken.

My smoothie today was a strawberry-banana-spinach-vanilla soymilk combo. Very yummy. :)

Day Seven: Green Smoothies

Day Seven's task:

"Make a green smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or a snack today. Commit to having a green smoothie every day for the next seven days. It will become a habit you won't ever want to give up!"

Green smoothie... never had one. I went to HEB and got some frozen fruit (blueberries and strawberries) and a bag of ice - because, yeah, I'm that one person in the world who doesn't have an ice maker or even ice trays in her freezer.

I have a little blender that is actually made for smoothies - the blender container is measured in ounces and the lid has a slid-back tab so you can drink straight from the blender cup. Neat, huh?

Sarah did say that some blenders can't take blending frozen stuff, so I found a way around that: I put the fruit in plastic containers and leave them in the fridge for the next day. By the time I need to use it, it's cold but not frozen. Problem solved.

My smoothie of the day was a strawberry-blueberry-spinach combo. Yum. I'm going to put a bit less spinach in next time, though, because I could taste it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Teensy, Tiny Detour

Gonna take a brief detour from the "Vegan in 30 Days" project to update you guys on my progress in pursuing a minimalist lifestyle. If anyone is still reading or gives two hoots, let me know, okay?

Last night I ditched the box spring. That leaves me with just my lovely, cushy mattress on the floor. My cats like it. I like it.

I'm also cursing vaccum cleaners. Mine has been in the repair shop for about a month now - they haven't called me to let me know it's fixed (though it certainly should be by now), and I have no funds until Friday to pay for it, anyway. My apartment is in horrific need of a vaccuming. Also cursing (yet again) the fact that people think carpet is a good choice for rental flooring. It's all about the wood floors, people. Real or faux, doesn't matter. It will save a crapton of money in the long run.

This underemployment thing? I hope none of you are in a similar situation, because it, quite frankly, SUCKS. People call, wanting money, but I don't even have money for kitty litter. Forget paying credit card or phone bills or electric bills or phone bills. I'm selling off stuff right and left to pay for the basic necessities until I get another paycheck - and then the cycle will begin again, except I'll have less to sell off next month than this month.

I'm comtemplating standing at the intersection with a sign, like I see peole doing all the time. My sign would say "Army vet - Afghanistan 10-11. Not unemployed - badly UNDERemployed. Please help. 4 Cats to feed. Allah bless you."

Those people probably make more begging than I do working.

Day Six: The Fruit Bowl

So, the task for Day Six is to get a "big, beautiful fruit bowl and fill it with your favorite fruits". This is a not-so-subtle ploy to get me to eat more fruit when I'm hungry and/or in a hurry and running out the door, rather than stuff like bagels or doughnuts. Mmm...doughnuts... *shakes self* This is EXACTLY what we're trying to AVOID here!

Okay, snagged a cheapo bowl at the thrift store. It's clear glass. My thought process? I can eat the fruit I put in it before it spoils, as nothing will be hiding on the bottom. It's not a large bowl, but since I'm only one person and I'm generally not home and awake many hours out of the day (not to mentioned possessed of little means at the moment), it's likely just gonna have a little bunch of bananas. Bananas are cheap. Cheap is good.

For the price of a bunch of bananas, task is done. :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Day Five: Find Substitutes

The task for day five is to find substitutes for meat, cheese, and dairy products.

This one is super-easy for me. I already love Silk vanilla soy milk, Daiya cheese, Smart Bacon (veggie bacon), and Morningstar Farms Chik'n Patties. All of these things are currently in my fridge/freezer.

Sarah rightly points out that these should be "transition foods", not a permanent staple of a vegan diet. Vegans who eat this stuff (plus all the vegan junk food out there), but don't eat much by way of fresh veggies, fruits, etc, end up becoming unhealthy "junk food vegans". The key to success with this is to use transition foods wisely, sparingly, and to really get to know your nutrition needs.

Done (and I didn't have to go anywhere or spend any money)!

Day Four: Eliminate Red Meat

Day Four's task, per Sarah's Words of Wisdom:

"Eliminate all red meat from your diet and your kitchen. Remove meat from your refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards. If there are other people in your household who are not going vegan, make specific areas in your fridge, freezer, and cupboards for their meat products, and keep your food separate. Donate any of your remaining meat to a local food bank - they will be thrilled for the unusual windfall!"

Okay, this is alternately very easy and very hard for me. On the one hand, I have no red meat in my house. This meat-free state has been my choice for quite some time prior to finding Sarah's book and choosing to tackle this challenge. On the other, I have a truly vicious, life-consuming, waistline-expanding addiction to Taco Bell. Specifically their crunchy tacos and their cheesy potato burrito. Both of which contain beef.

*braces herself* Well, that's just gonna have to change. Maybe it'll help if I get one of those tapes you listen to while you sleep to program my mind to "Taco Bell is Evil... Taco Bell is Evil..."

Day Three: Fruit and Veg Cleanse.

Okay, so the task for this third day was a fruit and veg cleanse.

"Task: Eat only whole fruits and vegetables today, preferably raw, organic, and fresh from your grocer's produce section. Small amounts of condiments, like vinaigrette dressing, can be used to supplement your food."

Yeah, that didn't go as planned... but I ate a banana. That counts, right? Honestly, I was at work and grabbed a wheat bagel before I remembered that I was supposed to be chowing on veggies all day. Organic was a no-go from the get-go. I work at a grocery store, people. Can't nobody afford organic on grocery store wages, mkay?

But it was a really big banana. And I ate it before I ate the bagel. *counts that as a win*

I don't even remember what I ate the rest of the day. Likely not much, as my illness hit with extreme prejudice that day. I just remember collapsing in bed that night and wishing I could crawl under a rock and die.

I didn't die, though. :) On to Day Four!

Day Two: Know The Basics

Sorry I've been off the grid the last few days -- I've been sick and that's thrown a bit of a wrench into my plans. I'm on the path to recovery now; enough, at least, that I can get out of bed and bring Ye Olde Laptop to Starbucks for a blog update. :)

So, let's get back on track with Day Two: Know The Basics.

One can't very well adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle unless they know what exactly it means to "be vegan". A vegan diet, per Sarah in "Vegan in 30 Days", is

"one that does not include any flesh from animals or any animal products." If one plans on expanding this to an entire lifestyle change, then this will also include using up or giving away any leather clothing items or accessories, and checking surprising household items like make-up, shampoo, soap, and even your medicine cabinet for sneaky animal-tested or animal ingredients.

Anyway, we're just focusing on the diet aspect right now. Back in 2009 I developed a real interest in the vegan lifestyle, thanks to that at-the-time famous book (whose title I have censored for Muslim-friendliness, lol), "Skinny B****". You guys can figure out what the "B" stands for.

"SB" became famous, largely for its "no-nonsense tough talk". It contained some good information, but was one of those books marketed as a diet book, when it was actually one of those hardline vegan books that shoved the "meat is murder" slogan down your throat while telling you that meat, milk, and cheese were the reason your butt (not their word) was the size of a small country. Like Guam. Or Cuba.

Not the most pleasant book, but the vegan lifestyle got a lot of attention because of it. I read it, then went looking for other books. Among the ones I read was "Vegan Freak 2.0", which had a bunch of good info, but the authors' attitudes clouded the message. Basically, they dictated what the "right" reasons were to be vegan, and if you didn't fit their criteria, you were a poser.

I also did a lot of reading up online back then. For extra help, I also have a "Vegetarian Times: Vegetarian Beginner's Guide" from when Borders was going out of business and I was working to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle. I've been pretty successful with that - I eat far more veggie food than meat - and I figure, via the power of the magical Interwebs, I can fill in the gaps.

Did you know that Hormel's Vegetarian Chili is vegan? It's also made of awesome with some saltines on the side when you're sick and have no money to go grocery shopping.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Vegan In 30 Days" and Day One.

Happy 2013, folks!

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of "Vegan In 30 Days" by Sarah Taylor at the thrift store. After reading through it, I was impressed with her emphasis on health, rather than the anti-meat message on overdose that I've seen in so many other vegan books.

I have to admit that I haven't been feeling well lately. I haven't been eating even remotely like I should. I've gained a bunch of weight so that I now weigh more than I ever have before. I'm tired a lot. My joints ache. My whole body feels slow and lumbering. I have no energy. I don't sleep as well as I used to.

With that in mind, I figure I have nothing to lose by trying this, but everything to gain. I didn't plan for it to start on the first of January, but... *shrug* All the better to help me keep track of what day it is, I suppose. I can't promise that I'll be able to post every day, but I will take notes so that I can put in an entry for each day.

Each of the 30 days has a task assigned to it. The first task is to clarify the reasons you want to go vegan (if only for 30 days). Sarah encourages us to make it something more meaningful than "I want to lose 10/15/20 lbs". The more meaningful the motivation, the more likely we are to stick with it. So.... here we go.

Day One: Why do you want to be vegan?

I want to be vegan because I want to feel healthy and energetic again. I want to be vegan because it fits with my goal to consume less of the world's resources and be kinder to the enviroment and the other creatures that live in it.