Monday, July 20, 2015

Creating Health

Zoodles with garlic and kale

So the vegan journey continues. I am well past the two month mark now and there are some interesting observations. For starters, my overall health has improved. Not surprising. Just about every morsel of food that passes my lips is made from scratch. Yeah, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. For some this may sound like drudgery, but for me it is a little slice of heaven. I find it creative and peaceful and at the end of every session I spend chopping, slicing, mixing and whirring in there, I have a tangible result and I feel productive. Some are more successful than others. 

There was a bitter pot of soup that was a flop and went in the bin and a vegan feta cheese made out of tofu that joined the soup. May they rest in foul tasting peace together. However for the most part the food has been very good, with some dishes deserving of  "seriously awesome". Last night for instance - the recipe was for Vegan Chikin Pot Pie. I did not use the faux chicken that the recipe called for and instead added more veggies and it was a real winner.  I am not a fan of all those fake vegan meats and cheeses that you can buy in the grocery stores. I find they can be as full of weird shit and preservatives as other meat-filled processed stuff that is available, so I make my own vegan burgers and cheeses so I know exactly what is in them and can add things that make them healthier and/or tastier. You could say I have become semi-obsessed with knowing what the hell I am putting in my body, and you would be right. 

I feel the same way now about cosmetics and anything that I slather on my skin. Eating is the not the only entry point for toxins. My household cleansers are all environmentally friendly and I practice organic gardening. One result of all these changes in my daily life is that it has taken away the guilt I used to feel about using toxic products that end up back in our soil and water table. As for the guilt I used to feel about killing animals, well that is a thing of the past now too.

Perhaps the most glaring thing I have noticed is how I feel after I eat my meals. Even when I eat too much at a meal, I never feel heavy or bloated. I like the new feeling. Another thing I like is never having to worry about cross-contamination in the kitchen when I am cooking. With no raw animal products being cleaned or cut up there is no need to worry about that. I have never enjoyed handling raw meat and chicken and I don't miss that at all, especially reaching inside the Thanksgiving turkey carcass to dig out that limp bloody wet bag of organs before stuffing that bird. 

So, those are some of the benefits. The most difficult aspect I have encountered is the challenge of eating out in restaurants as so few of them offer vegan choices and I don't consider french fries a healthy vegan choice. Nor does a pathetic tossed green salad with bottled dressing and a slice of barely ripe tomato excite me. I would rather stay home than eat like that. If I lived in a metropolitan city, I would have more choices, but such is my present situation. There is one restaurant in Bundaberg that can and will cater to vegan diets with creativity and flare, but driving over an hour to go out for a meal is not the most practical choice. 

The other challenge that I have managed to politely deflect so far is having to defend my choices. The big question everyone always asks is how do you get your protein. From now on I am going to just tell people to google it. All the information you need about getting adequate protein on a vegan diet is out there and it is easy and a no-brainer so stop asking. Most people consume way too much protein anyway - you can google that too.  And yes, I do take a Vitamin B12 supplement and I use fortified nutritional yeast in many recipes, so I am not going to shrivel up and die anytime soon for lack of it. 

The best question of all though is ..."What do you eat if  you don't eat meat and dairy?" HUH? I eat every and all types of vegetables, fruits, grains, nut milks, coconut yogurt, nuts and seeds and I experiment constantly with various combinations and seasonings. My meals are inventive and delicious and satisfying. In fact, my cooking is so much more creative now than it has ever been. Now that vegetables are the starring role on my plate, I am finally whipping them into the culinary main event they deserve to be versus the boring sideshow they have been relegated to for way too long.

I have also discovered a whole new tribe. There is a big bad vegan world out there. We may be separated by miles but we are connected in the cyber world any time of day or night with a click. We follow each other on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and it will be a miracle if I ever live long enough to try all the tempting and tantalizing recipes I am accumulating daily. I have new vegan heroes like Angela Liddon, author of Oh She Glows and talented raw chef Doug McNish and Rich Roll,  and blogs like The One Ingredient Chef , The Minimalist Baker, The Sprouted Kitchen, Fork and Beans, Gluten-Free-Vegan Girl, Pickles and Honey, Vegan Richa, Hell yeah it's Vegan and on and on. 

The truth is, going vegan has been like a big new adventure in living for me.

One that hopefully keep me living long enough for many more adventures.

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