Tuesday, June 15, 2010
New Tricks: Eating Vegan
I'm three hours from the blustery coast, where two coats, a hat, and gloves are de rigeur. I'm in Eugene, inland, staying at my daughter's while she is recouperating. (BTW Thank you for asking, she is doing great!). It was 80 degrees on Sunday. You would not have recognized me in short sleeves.
I'm cooking for her and her husband: both vegans. Most people in Oregon accept and embrace this way of life without animal products.
When I think of eating vegan, I panic. Literally. How does one cook without animal products? How does one get flavors one is used to? How does one get all the nutritional balanced meals on the table with such restrictions?
My first thought is always this: I will starve under these conditions.
The truth is, five days into this experiment, I do not miss anything. I am feeling great; I'm not hungry between meals and I'm not missing my burger fix. My plan had been to run off in the evenings to a drive-in and fill up on animal protein. I have abandoned that thought completely.
So far, our meals have been complete with a variety of food, flavor, texture and eye appeal. It took a bit of research and thoughtful planning; but, I'm happy to report, everyone is happy.
At lunch, yesterday we had shitaki mushrooms/vegetable soup with pita chips, a garden fresh salad with boiled and marinated edemame, and melon for dessert.
For dinner, couscous salad with broccoli, red onion, cucumber, green onions, parsley and dried cherries, followed by a garden burger with sauteed peppers. Apples for dessert.
I could list the meals we had on previous days. My point is to admit that this experiment is going very well; I'm sleeping well; I feel full of energy.
More importantly, my daughter is loving that someone is cooking for her.
On today's menu:
Lunch--leftover shitake soup and chickpea salad.
Dinner-Baked shells, stuffed with tofu, parsley, olive oil, garlic, topped with a marinara sauce and toasted bread crumbs. Avocado and arugula salad.
For dessert, whole wheat walnut muffins made with apple sauce and a product called egg substitute from Red Mills.
To make my job easier, I shopped at Whole Foods, a gourmet specialty shop that caters to localvores and vegetarians. The place has an entire section of bulk foods, including a product I never knew existed, flaked nutritional yeast, something my daughter swears by. I got lost in the produce section; looked in awe at all the choices of products available to this lifestyle.
The best part of all this? I'm now convinced that this is not a fad; it is a thoughtful lifestyle, where eveything that is ingested is carefully selected for its wholesomeness and nutritional boost.
This old dog needs to shed a few pounds and learn some new tricks.
We are never too old to try something new.