So, the month-long vegan eating adventure has come to an end. I planned on posting my big retrospective yesterday, but I was too busy eating meat (and then paying for it dearly -- I get it, vegetables, you rule and meat drools). Despite being a day late to the party I still wanted to talk a little bit about the experience because, while I didn't fully change my views on eating meat vs. not, I did gain a bit of perspective on the matter. I learned a little bit more about how my diet affects my body to boot. Bonus!
Let's do an old fashioned pro/con thing, shall we?
- Much easier to pull off in the "real world" than I imagined. You have to do more research, but many restaurants post nutritional information online. Also, the explosion of allergies among the population actually greatly helps vegans, because allergy information always includes milk and eggs, making it easy to suss out hidden vegan dangers. Non-chain, local restaurants were very willing to work with me as well to make my meals tasty and vegan. (Vegan nachos from Calypso Cafe are almost better than the real thing!)
- I honestly felt really good about my food all month. There is something very satisfying about knowing you are always getting enough fruits and vegetables in your life.
- I discovered that I don't actually need cheese. At all. Ever since I became lactose intolerant, I've maintained a bit of a cheese habit, just in much smaller quantities because I was convinced I couldn't live without it. I made many of my normal dishes just without cheese, and they were just fine. Good, even! (Now, I can't say the same thing about ice cream. I'll always want ice cream.)
- My hunger was completely thrown off all month. I was hungry at weird times, and full at random times when I knew it was technically "time" for a meal. I'm sure this is because I did the vegan thing "wrong," as it probably had something to do with my protein intake.
- It was uncomfortable to refuse to partake in party food at work. I didn't feel like I wanted to fully explain what I was doing, and it was just awkward. Also, I kind of wanted some cake.
- Having to worry about every little thing I put in my mouth was exhausting. So was the guilt I felt when I ate a fortune cookie without thinking and then realized it probably had egg in it. I don't like added food guilt. I get enough of that from the pound of sugar I eat a week.
Overall, I am very glad I took on the challenge and had a lot of fun coming up with creative ways to eat for the month. Do I plan on doing it permanently? No, I don't. I took on this challenge with more of an interest in the dietary aspect of being a vegan, and not the moral aspect, and I think that unless you're being a vegan for moral reasons it's a really difficult thing to keep up. I did take away a new-found respect for the practice, a different way of thinking about food, and a better way of handling my lactose intolerance, so I am grateful for that. I will also probably eat even less meat than I did before, now that I've seen how fun it is to create vegan recipes (and felt really gross after eating some chicken on Sunday, which sort of freaked me out because why is meat making me feel gross now?!?).
But today? Today I ate an egg on my salad at lunch. And some croutons of unknown origin. I didn't feel guilty about it. And it was divine.
Despite not wanting to be a permanent vegan, when looking over the amaze-craze-ness of this week's CSA haul, the first thing that came to mind was a vegan recipe. Hmm. Interesting.
Check out my loot!
I was so excited I almost did a little dance. (This isn't even all of my veggies, there are more hiding behind the melon and on another counter. Yay, produce!) Along with the veggies they also had some very pretty flowers.
They make me smile whenever I walk into the kitchen. Today at the pickup they had some beautiful tomatoes and absolutely gorgeous basil, so the first thing that came to mind was bruschetta. Of course, I had no bread so I improvised. I give you: bruschetta pasta!
Summertime Bruschetta Pasta
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chopped basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced and divided in half
1/2 - 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
~2 tablespoons olive oil
Splash balsamic vinegar
2 servings whole wheat spaghetti
Salt & pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine tomato, basil, onion, half of the garlic, balsamic and salt and pepper. Set aside. Cook pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add the other half of the garlic, crushed red pepper and some salt and pepper and saute until garlic is light brown. (Take careful steps to make sure the garlic doesn't burn, otherwise your pasta will taste like sadness. Trust.) Once the pasta is done, transfer directly into skillet using tongs so some of the pasta water remains sticking to the noodles. If you don't have tongs, you can just drain with a colander and add a splash of pasta water to the skillet. Toss the pasta in the flavored oil and then add the tomato mixture and toss for just a minute to warm. Transfer to serving dish and top with parmesan cheese and extra chopped basil (if desired, I skipped the cheese). Makes two servings.
This is good stuff. Make sure you have good tomatoes, because they make the whole dish. Mmm...tomatoes. Note: if you aren't super crazy about garlic, leave out the raw garlic in the tomato mixture, because this dish is aggressively garlicky. Don't leave it out of the oil, however, because I'm pretty sure the red pepper/garlic-infused oil is what people eat in heaven. If not, heaven sucks.
One Night, Two Recaps
Very belated links to my two Sunday night recaps. I hate Rachel, but apparently all of my readers disagree. But the voice! And the whining! And the ridiculous notion that everyone else in the house somehow wants to "come between" her and Brendon! Ugh. She is the worst.
I'm off to eat a million Pretzel M&M's. Goodnight!