Tag Archives: Cooking

Two Years Vegan

I embarked upon the vegan adventure two years ago today.

They say that the longer one is vegan, the more reasons one finds to stay vegan. I have found this to be true.

First, let me say that I do not miss animal protein one bit. No meat, milk, cheese for me. It was easy to give up. And I am convinced – without a shadow of a doubt – that what I am doing is reversing the heart disease I spent 60 years acquiring with my standard Midwestern meat, milk, and cheese diet. I have read that those eating the standard American diet have heart disease by the time they’re ten years old.

Let me also say that I effortlessly lost 35 pounds, bounced back up 5 pounds, and here I have stayed for over a year. I have never maintained my weight in my life. I was always dieting — gaining or losing. This seems to be my body’s weight, and I’m happy here. I eat everything I want (well, almost everything – I still have to watch my intake of bread and sweets), as much as I want, as often as I want, and my weight remains the same.

My cholesterol and blood pressure are down. I usually have two or three or four colds a year, but my immune system is so rock solid now that I haven’t had a cold in two years. Vegan food is much less expensive. All we eat are fruits and vegetables and grains and legumes. The least expensive food in the grocery store.

How is it that it took me this many years to find this lifestyle? Better late than never, I guess.

Food is delicious and nutritious and beautiful. There are amazing vegan restaurants in town, and while traveling, I never have to worry about finding vegan food, mostly because of the extensive directory of vegetarian and vegan restaurants on Happy Cow, but also because restaurants and chefs seem to have gotten the message. Recently, on a trip to Washington, D.C., when I asked about vegan options, I was actually brought a separate vegan menu! You just have to ask.

I came to this lifestyle for health reasons. I stay not only for health reasons, but because I see no reason to eat an animal. I love animals. I see no difference in eating a cow or a pig than eating my dog, and you know I would never harm a hair on sweet Jook. There are many animal activists in the vegan community who blast us with horrific images and information about how animals are treated in the meat and dairy industries. I don’t want to look at that stuff because it’s so disturbing, but my awareness has expanded, just because I hang out with vegans. Not everybody comes to this lifestyle for health reasons. And I truly appreciate the activists’ efforts.

I saw a statistic not long ago that said if everyone in America went meatless on Mondays, the carbon footprint effect would be that of taking 69 million cars off the road. That is the effect of the meat and dairy industry on our ecology and our climate. Add in antibiotics and meat-borne diseases, and the fact that no other mammal drinks milk after weaning – especially the milk of a different species – and going vegan begins to make really good sense.

I have joined a vegan Meetup group. This weekend, I am going to VegFest in Portland, Oregon. It is through these efforts that I have learned the right cookbooks to have, some tips and tricks, what meat-and-dairy-substitute foods taste good (vegan cream cheese, vegan cheddar, vegan sausages), how to bake without milk and eggs, etc.

My husband has been a very willing participant, and although he has not embraced the vegan lifestyle as I have, we maintain a vegan home (except for the salmon he catches – he prepares and eats that himself), he eats very little meat when we go out. Like as not, he orders from the vegan menu as well. He can tell the difference the past two years has made in his health.

Here are some resources, in case you’re vegan-curious.

  1. Nutritionfacts.org – Dr. Greger scours the scientific reports on nutrition and posts his findings. Don’t miss his informative, entertaining and enlightening hour-long Year in Review videos, Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, More than an Apple a Day: Preventing Our Most Common Diseases, and From Table to Able: Combating Disabling Diseases with Food. These are available for free on his website; they’re also on YouTube if you want to stream to your television.
  2. The China Study – the most comprehensive study of human nutrition ever conducted.
  3. Forks Over Knives, the documentary film, available on Netflix.
  4. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, the documentary film, available on Netflix. Very entertaining and inspiring. I hear Joe Cross has a sequel out now, FS&ND2, but I haven’t seen it yet.

You don’t have to go all-in. Start with going meatless on Mondays. Check out a vegan cookbook from the library and try a few recipes. Do a little research on the internet.

It won’t kill you. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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Bored in the Kitchen? Not Any More!

Alert: This is a not-quite rave review of a new-to-me product.

The product is e-mealz.

For $5 per month (3 months at a time), I download a weekly 5-dinner meal plan, complete with recipes and a shopping list.  If I shopped at Wal-Mart, they’d even tailor the weekly recipes to Walmart’s sales and include prices. This is pretty incredible.

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, so that doesn’t apply to me. And, truth be told, not every one of their meals suits us. (I will personally never eat tilapia, no matter how it’s dressed up to look like real fish, but that’s a different blog for a different time.)

What is true is that I’ve been in such a terrible rut when it comes to cooking. For years! It is absolutely the last thing on my priority list. I cook out of necessity, and my poor husband has to eat whatever I put on the table, which isn’t much, and usually isn’t good. And it’s the same thing, week in, week out.

No more.

I’m cooking delicious things now. Things I would never imagine I would prepare, would never think to prepare, recipes that blow my mind with their simplicity and tastiness. There are always leftovers for lunch the next day, and in fact, sometimes we’ll have an evening of leftovers. Of the five recipes per week, I probably make four.

So we’re eating well (and much healthier), my shopping is so efficient that I’m saving at least $15 per week on groceries (probably more), I’m not spending any more time in the kitchen than I was before, and the food is much better and the variety is delightful.

I’ve rediscovered my kitchen, and am surprised to remember at how satisfying it is to put a plate of something good is front of my husband.  So give it a try. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to cancel. But at least give it two weeks before you do that. I was sold after the first week, but the second week really sealed the deal.

E-mealz. What a great idea and for me, a great service.

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Filed under Marriage, time

Another Ghostly Weekend

Twelve of us survived to retell the tales of the 2008 Ghost Story Weekend. The stories were outstanding! Some very creepy tales (out of very nice people!), some hilarious moments, all in good fun, great fellowship, and I think everybody learned something valuable.  I did, and met three delightful new people as well.

Those who are fixing up Siltcoos Station continue to do a stellar job. It’s better and better, every time we’re out there.

And, I must say, the meals are getting better every time, too. This time Val set the Sunday morning breakfast standard with pancakes and eggs to order from the fancy grill she hauled up the train tracks from Nightingale’s Fish Camp (long story). 

And thanks to Dianna Rodgers, I created a crock pot dish that served twelve, including two vegetarians and one person allergic to tomatoes.  Herewith, the recipe:

Dead-Eyed Peas

Into a big crockpot put: 3 Generous cups of blackeyed peas and 9 same-size cups of water

Let cook on high for about three or four hours.

After the peas have cooked for a while, in a frying pan, saute one big onion, one package of sliced mushrooms and about six cloves of garlic. Add to the crockpot along with a four oz jar of pesto and two packages of 6 Morningstar Farms soy sausage patties, cut into small pieces.

Cook on low for another three or four hours.

An hour before serving, throw in a big bunch of chopped spinach. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop or sour cream and available Tabasco. Cornbread with honey on the side wouldn’t hurt.

And so. The eighteenth annual Ghost Story Weekend has passed. And I know of twelve people already looking forward to next spring.

(Photo by Shannan Sword)

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Filed under Bean soup, Friends, Ghost Story Weekend, Writing