Sunday, September 24, 2006

Vegan Navel Gazing: A Three Month Retrospective

So what's it like to go from entrenched semi-vegetarian to completely vegan "cold tofu"? I started off on this adventure 3 months ago, with no particular pre-conceived notion of what it would be like. I thought that veganism would be an ideal way to eat and live in theory, but had only some idea of what to expect in practice. Until I tried it, I didn't know how it would affect me.
Well here is my "highly scientific" list of effects, and observations:
  • I found the changes I needed to make to embrace veganism a lot easier to implement than I would have thought, for the most part. For my own cooking there was just some simple substitutions to make. I was adept at "veganizing" my favourite recipes immediately. Really, a lot of it is a "no brainer", like subsituting soy milk for cow's milk or veggie broth for meat broth. This works for most cooking. For baking, you need a little more expertise, but with a good vegan cookbook by my side I have had no problem with simple recipes.
  • I've noticed being (on average) a little more clear headed, slightly more energetic, and more easygoing about stressful situations recently. The amount of stress I have experienced has been about the same as always, but it has rolled off me just a little easier, and my mind is more free to problem solve, rather than being caught in a rut worrying about the situation. I'll attribute this improvement to veganism because the difference has been noticeable. This was not an effect I was expecting.
  • My average weight has been about 7 lbs less than before veganism, starting shortly after I switched my eating. I don't believe in the concept of dieting at all, my belief is that if you work at being healthy and being kind to yourself, then your body sorts itself out, and you stay in your own personal version of "fighting trim". It works for me, anyway. That said, it is nice to get the compliments. I have been looking very svelte and healthy lately, with less effort than I normally have to put into it. And NOT because I am hungry or am denying myself something. I had Mushroom Barley Stew and homemade "easy biscuits" this evening (recipes courtesy of How it all Vegan), and I don't think I could eat anything more tonight if you paid me (well maybe if the pay was reeeal good)
  • It has been easy to keep vegan at home (starting with eating). My personal belongings still include leather, etc. as most people's do, but I am trying to make all new acquisitions fit vegan standards as well. For example, I passed up buying a beautiful sweater a few weeks ago because it contained wool. But not to worry, in this consumerist culture there is always another sweater around the corner, and the next one(s) will suit my specs. It is getting easier to narrow down the endless choices that we have.
  • Not always so easy is eating out, and I'll admit I have not had a perfect score on this point in the past few months. My particular downfall has been a few baked goods with whom I have had a "don't ask, don't tell" relationship, especially when I have been too busy (or maybe that should read too disorganized) to plan or to go get a proper snack for myself. Thus I have room for improvement to reach the standard I want to hit. But I have done pretty good. Previous to this change, I would buy my lunch almost every day. With my increased cooking, there has more often been tempting leftovers for me to bring for lunch (saving money), but I still eat out for lunch often, and I have more vegan choices near work than you would think. And more servers and sales clerks have been savvy to my questions about animal products than I would have thought. Then again, I live in a town with a lot of veggie people.
  • You would think there would be cravings for particular types of food because I am "denying myself". I can't say I have particularly experienced this, with the exception of the aforementioned baked goods, which were really more about convenience than cravings. The only thing I have wanted that I have not yet created a substitute for is stuffed pasta (i.e. ravioli or something similar). The ones that you see premade always contain eggs, and often cheese. My chiropractor suggested I just get a pasta maker and make my own ravioli "shells" without eggs, and stuff them with squash, pumpkin, or, his favourite, pureed peas (I had never even heard of that possibility). I just might do so (although it sounds like a lot of work & equipment), or I might find a recipe that's even easier one day.
  • Can't say that I have craved cheese, which seems to be a commonly cited reason why vegetarians don't want to go vegan My tastes are changing, as they do when I try something new. Cheese really is a weird, goopy substance if you think about it. Just imagine smearing it directly on your arteries, yummmm! I bought some vegan "tofutti" brand cheese, it is ok for once in a while, but not too exciting.
  • My cravings have been more about information. I have had a really interesting time doing research on veganism, and reading all that I can. I have had to impose a moratorim on buying more cookbooks, as I am so enthusiastic about the subject I want to read and/or try recipes from every book that looks good or comes recommended.
  • In my first post on this subject, I was wondering how my diet would affect my meditation practise. Well I will have to continue to wonder a while longer, as I have not been disciplined enough to have a daily meditation practise (bad Kareno BAD!). But I can't beat myself up about it too much, as overall I have accomplished a lot in these past few months.
  • And I can't forget to mention the support I have received online. I had expected to be going this alone as this is a highly personal change to make. But it hasn't felt like that. Thanks too all who have either helped show the way and/or shown support.

This is not every change that I have experienced, but just a few that are at the top of my head at the moment.


Blogger KleoPatra said...

What a validating, wonderful post, kareno.

Keep up the excellent "work" (and it's not always work, is it?!) for the rewards are so worth it!

11:58 p.m.  

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