Dominion does not mean domination. We hold dominion over animals only because of our powerful and ubiquitous intellect. Not because we are morally superior. Not because we have a "right" to exploit those who cannot defend themselves. Let us use our brain to move toward compassion and away from cruelty, to feel empathy rather than cold indifference, to feel animals' pain in our hearts.
― Marc Bekoff,
In case you wondered - yes, I am still doing the vegan thing. I've been at it since June 13th. I have learned a LOT. For the first few weeks, grocery shopping was a bear because I had to read every label in its entirety. I had to learn all the different terms for milk, for example. It's gotten a bit easier with each passing week.
One great thing about this time of year, though, is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. I bought so much stuff at the farmers' market on Saturday that I could hardly carry it. I need one of those wheeled cart thingies. I'm also fortunate to have a huge grocery store nearby that carries a lot of vegan products, such as Gardein. Amy's Kitchen makes a lot of good vegan products as well. I've even been eating a fair amount of soup even though, historically speaking, I've not been a huge fan of soup.
I've had some hits and misses, for sure. I attempted to make brownies using egg replacer and what I ended up with was a pan of chocolately glop. I made vegan s'mores when we were on vacation a couple weeks ago. Vegan marshmallows are expensive but are actually really good (or at least the ones I bought were good - Dandie's brand, vanilla flavored). I also found some graham crackers that didn't contain honey and some dark chocolate with no milk fat. Dark chocolate doesn't melt as easily as milk chocolate so I can't say that my s'mores were a smashing success, but they were edible They were just for me, anyway - I bought the "regular" stuff for my family.
I have tried at least three brands of vegan sausage and don't adore any of them. Cheese is another challenge. I'm finding that it may be easier just to live without cheese than to adapt to vegan cheese. Vegan cheese is really pricey so you definitely don't want to keep buying random packages of it until you find one you can stand. I dig the vegan mayo (vegenaise) and vegan butter (Earth Balance). I tried some vegan sour cream that was pretty good, but vegan cream cheese? Blech.
So, I've had a lot to learn. I keep a little notebook with lists of recipes, products, etc. I know several vegans (including my wee baby sister) and they've been very helpful. For a while I kept taking photos of stuff at Costco, sending them out via text, and asking, "Is this stuff vegan?" Fortunately my vegan peeps are also very patient. My friend Jennifer gave me a list of what she eats at local restaurants, which was super helpful. Restaurants can be pretty scary. A while back, P and I ate at The Chicago Diner (located in Chicago, in case you weren't clear on that) and it was the best meal I had all summer, I think. Everything they serve there is vegetarian, with just about every meal also available in a vegan version. Even P raved about it. I wish such a place existed in my neck of the woods. When I do have to go out to eat, I can usually figure out how to alter a dish to make it vegan, but it can be challenging.
I've also learned that when it comes to food choices, I have to draw the line somewhere. I'm not going to sit down and eat an egg or drink a glass of cow's milk, but if something I eat has some tricky sub-ingredient that contains a milk product (and I didn't know about it), I'm not going to worry about it. It's not about being strict with my eating. It's about trying to live more compassionately.
I had hoped that going vegan would have one good side effect: weight loss. However, I can't say that it's happened. P and I are currently doing a health challenge. The rules are pretty basic: work out at least three times a week, limit sweets, and limit alcohol (maximum of four drinks a week). He barely drinks so the last one is easy for him. Last week, I went to the gym three times and to yoga once. He went to the gym once and mowed the lawn. So, naturally, he lost three pounds last week and I only lost two. There is no justice in the world, I tell you.
Whether or not I stick with veganhood for the duration (as in, the rest of my time on the planet) . . . well, at this point I can't say for sure. I feel like I'm doing okay so far. I've been able to figure out plenty of stuff to eat. Many temptations are automatically eliminated, which is probably a good thing. My daughter wants me to take her to Coldstone Creamery later. Knowing that I can't eat anything there keeps me from thinking about it too much.
I might not be too skilled at eating a vegan diet, and maybe recipes with more than ten ingredients make my eyes glaze over, but my conscience rests a little easier at the end of each day. And that, I think, is worth it.