Category Archives: Vegan

Thoughts on Veganism

Let’s face facts, animals are tasty (in case you’ve never tried one) and they smell good when cooked (a fact you can’t deny even if you haven’t had one)! It’s a historically proven fact.

But veganism isn’t about taste, it’s about impact. Or rather lessening impact. They believe that abuse our relationship with animals through exploitation, consumption and experimentation.  During this month, I didn’t take on the full philosophy of a vegan but I did eat like one.  I learned three things by doing so; First is that it’s very hard to live this way. Second, it takes a lot of planning.  And third, a lot of vegans are very judgmental. A good example of this is in the documentary Super Size Me.  Morgan’s girlfriend Alex’s feelings echo a lot of vegans thoughts. It was something subtle that was missed because of the subject of the movie:

http://www.hulu.com/embed/vAG-PZbBn1sfk8E75bRL0g/765/786/i770

http://www.hulu.com/embed/vAG-PZbBn1sfk8E75bRL0g/3853/3965/i3881

That much aside, I can’t say this would be something I’d do full time. Much for the reasons Morgan stated in the second video.

Most importantly from this, I learned that I should better plan my meals.  Vegans can’t go out and just pick something to eat like most of us.  They need to do a little prior to putting food into their mouths or plan what, when and where they are going to it.  It feels very lonely and isolating to be this way.  But I guess if you are around other like minded people it becomes more comforting.

What I Miss

Just a list of the foods I miss this month…

Vegan BBQ

Ever been to a vegan BBQ?  Chances are probably not.  I’m not sure there are enough in an area outside of California that know each other to have one.  I’m not even sure if the items used to have a BBQ are vegan approved.

So what do you do at a BBQ if your vegan?  Mostly, you’ll be watching everyone else who isn’t eat.  Even the less restrictive vegetarians will be chowing down with delight as you watch.  And chances are that you will wear out your welcome as you perform your usual ingredient probe of the food.

At least that’s what I did.  It was a quick lesson in how not to be invited back.  Good thing they were my family though of else I’d be in trouble.

There are vegan friendly foods that can be prepared on a grill (even if they shouldn’t be).  Boca Burgers, soy dogs and tofu all fit the bill.  It may take some trial and error to get them cooked just right.  They may be made to taste like the real thing but they sure don’t cook like it.

All in all it was a success.  A green salad isn’t a staple in my family’s BBQ menu but it doesn’t hurt to switch it up every now and then.  How else do you get to try new foods?

Today in food news

Food seems to be in the news these days more than I remember, food born illnesses aside.  It seems that all the things I have have are popular these days.

Apparently, a woman had her job threatened for eating Doritos at her desk.  Her employer has a policy against eating at ones desk for fear that it would damage the computers.  I haven’t heard that fear since the early 90’s. I think that’s a bit extreme but at the moment, I think I would risk my job for the taste of a Doritos.

Saturday September 18th was National Cheeseburger Day and you’re not the only person that didn’t know.  I celebrated by dropping mine in the grill.  Better luck next yeah I guess.

And finally Chef Tim Love give 5 Reasons Why Not to be a Vegetarian. Of course I agree 100%.

The Vegan Caterer

IMAG0104 You may or may not know that I am also a caterer who specializes in outdoor BBQ.  All food is prepared on a 5 foot charcoal grill. For the record, they were wooden briquettes but you can’t eat then so it doesn’t count.

The other day I had my first job as a Vegan and on the menu were baby back ribs, Italian sausage, salmon, pasta salad and Caesar salad.  All things I can’t eat.  I brought my own food to be prepared for such an occasion.

So what was it like cooking all this delicious food and not being able to eat it?  It’s pretty easy actually.  I’ve cooked for so many years that cooking the food doesn’t trigger a hunger response.  After cooking and serving is a different story however.  That’s when we typically eat and everything smelled good.

To make it through, I eat some celery I brought with me.  For dinner I had brought one of my Boca Burgers that I wanted to try cooked on the grill.  Unfortunately, it fell through the grates into the coals (pictured above) and I was left with lettuce, tomato and vegan cheese on a bun.  It was the saddest catering experience I’ve ever had.

I did run into another fellow vegan at the party who also couldn’t have any of the food we brought.  I understood her plight but she also had access tot the other food at the party so I wasn’t too worried for her.  It happens quite often that a vegetarian will show up to a party but not vegans.

More and more I’m starting to see that you can’t be a vegan without planning for your next meal.

Surviving a weekend with friends

To a great weekend! Nothing like a nice relaxing weekend away with friends at the shore. That is unless you just decided to become a vegan for the month.

After the initial shock, questions and pressure to give in we got a food plan together.  The ladies of the house were willing to read labels for me and pick out the proper foods.  I was impressed.  Thanks ladies.  We were able to eat most of our meals in the house and no one suffered.  They ate what they wanted and I, well ate what I could.

I do have to say that during this trip I had the absolute worse thing I’ve ever had.  Vegan or not.  It was called a Chik’N meatless patty.  I’ve had my share of chicken patties in my day and this was horrid.  Even drowned in some hot sauce, they still maintained their terrible flavor.  I’ll never eat them again.

My next surprise/challenge came on Sunday.  It was opening day for football so we went to Hooters to see as many games as we could.  Sticking to my rigid vegan values, I passed on everything on the menu except for a salad with no cheese.  After some confusion about being out of salad, (I can’t see this as a popular item at Hooters) I settle back and enjoyed a few beers.

The trip back home wasn’t too glorious either.  After passing about 25 or so Hardies we decided to stop in. Again, salad with no cheese.  Thankfully I had some cashews and animal crackers to hold me over.

It was a fun trip and a lot of lessons learned by everyone.  Had I known this trip would happen I probably wouldn’t have schedule this challenge for this month but I did want it to be difficult.

Shop til you drop

Shopping List

That’s how my lists used to look.  Now I can only get one item on that list freely and one item carefully.

After a quick inventory of my personal food supply I realized there’s nothing I have that fits the bill.  I had to go out and shop all over again.  No problem since I love to eat so armed with some knowledge from the internet about vegan friendly foods and ingredients I was on my way to stocking the shelves. Thanks to the people at PETA for giving me a good start on what I could eat off the shelf.  They don’t have a complete list but they do have enough to get you started. They seems to have a handle on the animal not animal thing.

Wegmans, The Fresh Market, Giant and Sam’s Club all contributed to my first nights spoils for a total of $101.06.  A typical food budget for myself so I wasn’t too concerned there.  The experience however was not one I enjoyed.

First thing to do with any product is to read the label.  I often laughed at these people who are in the way at the store reading labels for what seems forever as I try to pas.  But now, I’m one of them.  I actually felt pretty stupid trying to figure out if I could eat something because of an ingredient.  A few times of whipping out my phone to search the internet got to be pretty frustrating.  I’m sure the people who say me figured it was my first time.

Next was the endless circling to try to find something I could eat and trying to create a balanced meal plan for the day.  Being an runner doesn’t seem to be easy while doing this but I was certainly getting a workout.

I was able to score some vegan cheese made of rice, Boca Burgers and some wheat bread that was “safe” to eat.  Paired with some spinach and tomatoes I was ready for my first meal as a vegan (other than the salad I ate at lunch).

And then there it was, my first bite.  It wasn’t the worst thing I had ever eaten but it certainly wasn’t the best.  I was robbed of the flavors I used to enjoy and replaced with this.  And I have to do another 30 days of this?  It’s going to be a long month…

Don’t have a cow

Or a chicken or even a fish.  As a matter of fact, don’t have anything that has to do with them.  That’s pretty much the mantra of a vegan.  No animal products, by-products or items produced from something involving animals.

From the beginning I knew I would have trouble with this one but I didn’t know how much until the last few days in doing research.  No eating chocolate, honey, milk and worst of all, no Cinnamon Toast Crunch?  Man you guys have a tough club.

This isn’t just a way of eating, it’s a lifestyle.  The mantra extends to all products.  Thankfully I’m only focusing on the food because this doesn’t seem like something I can fit into a month.  That’s good because this is going to be one tough month for eating.

So if you know me personally, expect me to be grumpy for the next month.