Saturday, June 13, 2015

One year of being "one of those people"

Earlier this week, I stopped at Target on my lunch break. It's in a strip mall that includes a grocery store, a Chinese restaurant, and a few other shops. As I was walking towards Target, a woman walking towards me said, "Can you just smell that chicken? Mmmm!" I actually could smell it, but I just thought it smelled like, you know, murder. I just smiled and nodded. There were probably 50 people in various parts of that parking lot at that very moment, so it was just her bad luck that she chose me for her chicken celebration remarks. And for the record, I'm not sure where the smell was coming from. Maybe the Chinese restaurant.

As of today, I've been vegan for one year (following 25 years of being vegetarian). I sometimes hear people use the term "strict vegan." It's hard to be super strict - you'll drive yourself crazy. For example, there is a particular type of vegan granola bar that I like. However, the label says they were manufactured in a facility that also manufacturers products that may contain milk. I just can't lose any sleep over the idea that my granola bar may have caught sight of a granola bar containing milk chocolate. I've also learned to make my own granola bars.

My greatest failing is probably with make-up, chapstick, and that sort of thing. I mean, if you're going to be vegan for ethical reasons, it should be an across-the-board sort of thing. I'm not great about keeping up with which companies test on animals and which don't. It's horrifying that it happens at all in 2015, but I know that it does.

Eating out continues to be the biggest challenge. Occasionally, when my other half wants to go out to eat, I tell him to take the kid and leave me at home where I can make my own stuff. Sometimes I just prefer that and to be honest, I don't really feel like I've missed out on some great dining adventure. We grab lunch at Subway after church from time to time.  I just have them make me a fairly plain Veggie Delight.  Then I go home and add my own stuff, like mushrooms, tofurky, vegenaise, etc.

Speaking of chicken, I tease the regulars at my Weight Watchers meeting about their 8,000 chicken recipes. They are the chicken-eatingest bunch you've ever seen. So, last Saturday, I brought in a tofu scramble for everyone to taste. The week before that, the meeting topic was "trying new things." One member mentioned that she's always been a little bit scared of tofu. So, I thought, "What the heck - I'll bring some in."  Most of the people who tried it said was good. A few declined to try it (I know some people avoid soy for various reasons). A few asked me for the recipe. If nothing else . . . at least now they can say they've tried tofu and didn't die or anything. 

My sisters and I have a Facebook group just for the three of us. We share recipes and talk food quite a bit. I really have to thank both of them for making my vegan transition easier. I also need to thank my friend Jennifer for giving me a list of what to order at local restaurants. I feel like I should also thank Chipotle for the sofritas tacos. Me likey!

I've learned a lot over the last year. Ingredients that used to seem exotic to me are now sitting on a shelf in my pantry. I own a bag of chickpea flour, ya'll. I'm going to a vegan festival at the end of the month and am looking forward to learning some new stuff from the vendors and speakers there.

All in all, I feel really good about my decision to get cheese out of my diet.  That was really the only thing I had to eliminate (and, granted, it's a biggie). I was already drinking/using non-dairy milk and my egg intake was pretty low. So, no more cheese and no more eggs.  The selfish part of me was afraid to give those up because it seemed like the end of cake and lasagna and other good things. However, I've learned to make vegan cakes, cookies, and brownies. I've learned to make sauces that replace cheese in recipes. I have to give more thought and planning to my diet, but it's worth it.

On Facebook, at work, and in other places I frequent, I am not one to blather on about animal rights. However, those who know me well know that my concern for animal welfare was the reason I went vegetarian at 19 and vegan at 44. I don't like to make people feel uncomfortable (though I seem to care less and less about the psychological discomfort of others as I get older). I've been unfriended for some of the few animal rights-related comments I have made on Facebook. People don't like to think about where their food comes from. It's easier to put one's hands over one's ears and sing, "Lalalalala!" (This is why I had to give up dairy - consuming it was tantamount to hypocrisy.) However, just to be clear . . . in order to get cheap meat at the grocery store . . . the only way to make that happen is via factory farming, where animals are treated as products and not as sentient beings. You may have heard some of the buzz about gestation crates for pigs and painful de-beaking for chickens. It's all pretty horrifying. I, for one, am not worth the suffering. It's really that simple, at least for me. Up with tofu!

My breakfast this morning. As you can see, vegans find pleeeeeenty to eat.

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