Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Simple Life!

"Live simply, so others may simply live." -Ghandi

After chatting with one of my good friends, I realized something. While most books on veganism are wonderful, they are not designed for the beginner vegan. Just like my last post, these are seasoned vegans who have been doing this for years. My last post talks a little about raw, macrobiotic, and alkaline foods, but it is not meant to jump start someone into veganism.

When I first became vegan, I was pretty much lost. I did what most people do in similar circumstance, cease eating common non-vegan foods until I find food I can "now have". Do tons of research. Then I simplified it for myself, and did exactly what this post is meant to do for you, took the guesswork out of this lifestyle. Pillsbury reduced fat crescent rolls are vegan (always check the back of that can, things can change). Some Betty Crocker cake mixes are vegan. Some canned frostings are vegan. Are they healthier than making it raw and from scratch? No, probably not. Will it transition you until you figure out what you want to do with all this new knowledge? Absolutely. After all these years of vegetarianism, I can choose from meal to meal whether I'm going to be gross and eat out of a box or can, or be all gourmet raw foodist, and anywhere in between. But how is someone who is new to becoming vegan supposed to take all this in? How the heck is someone going to go to the grocery store and ask for umeboshi plums and not get a look from the store clerk like, "Lady, have you stepped outside your mind?!"? While introducing oneself to a new lifestyle such a being vegan, I would suggest simplifying.

Firstly, lets start by scanning the ingredients list. Let's use a simple one and not even think about the *sneaky things food companies try to sneak into the food, lets use a simple one, like bread. You see words like yeast, water, salt, flour, whatever. Maybe you see some other things. So maybe you are unsure. Next scan to the end of the ingredients list. Usually there will be words in bold that say something like, "Contains Soy, Wheat, Milk Ingredients" Well the bread might just say, "Contains Wheat". So you're good, but maybe still a little unsure. Next check above the ingredients in the Nutrition box. Check the cholesterol content. If it says 0% most likely you are okay. Are you okay all of the time it says 0 % cholesterol? No, because it might contain gelatin or other *sneaky ingredients.

My point is to make it easier on yourself. If you love a certain kind of food that you normally mix in with meat, if that food is vegan, mix it with vegan fake meat instead. Don't try to get all gourmet macro raw vegan foodist just yet. Introduce these new foods into your diet slowly and eat a variety. Don't just eat raw if you don't want to. As long as you are eating vegan, you are still doing a world of difference for the animals, the environment, and for yourself.

As you may notice in my recipes, they are foods that your carnivorous neighbor might be eating. If you brought it over to your neighbor, they probably wouldn't even think it was vegan. There is a sort of simplicity to being able to say that you want cookies and just substitute for eggs and butter with ingredients that are easily available in the grocery store. You don't have to get all crazy with it right from the beginning. But by all means, experiment when/ if you are ready, that is awesome! Just don't starve! Eat your protein (Primal Strips are vegan jerky sticks and strips that can be as low as 80 calories and have 10 grams of protein!) and eat your grains (hello most pastas, rices, etc.) along with fruit and veggies, as long as you read the label and it is vegan, then don't worry about all the other stuff just yet. Make being vegan as easy as possible on yourself. Do you know how many friends and family members say to me, "I wish I could eat vegan. I just don't know how.". I didn't either. You learn. It is an adventure and a journey; just don't be so hard on yourself and you will do fine. As always, feel free to send along your questions and comments (below). I am happy to be help.

*sample sneaky ingredients: albumen (from eggs), casein (from dairy), L-cysteine (can be synthetic but sometimes can be made from bird feathers), whey (dairy), gelatin (boiled skin, bones, or other, from cows, pigs, horses, or sheep)

These sneaky ingredients do not come out and say that they are not vegan friendly and some look okay unless you know what they are. The above is just a sample and there are many more ingredients like this. Do your best but know that memorizing the list takes a while and I'm sure vegans out there slip up accidentally and when unaware. Just know that what you are doing is good. It is also about a boycott and by you not contributing to the meat and dairy industry, is huge and is a big help for a good cause. Simplify and do the best that you can.

Comprehensive sneaky ingredients lists links:

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