The Perfect Vegan?

Sometimes when I am heating up my lunch in the office kitchen microwave, my non-vegan co-workers will ask me, “So what did you make for lunch this week, Susan?” Followed by, “What’s in that?” and I will explain.  One day last week, while I was in the kitchen, a woman who works in another department asked me if I was still “vegan”. I said, “Of course! I just celebrated my 2-year anniversary.”  She paused and said, “Wow! That’s amazing. Do you miss it?” [She said this while sliding her Lean Cuisine in the microwave.  My food was already heating up.] Confused, I said, “Miss what?”  She said, “You know, meat, cheese, eggs?” I said, “No, I do not, in fact I’ve completely lost my taste for dairy, I had given up red meat and pork back in 1986 and I was never a huge fan of eggs to begin with, so it would seem my becoming a vegan is a natural fit.”  I then explained that being a vegan isn’t just about food or diet, it’s an ideology.  Those of us, who are vegan, have made the connection – a hamburger is a ground up retired abused dairy cow, and so on.  She then wanted to know how I felt.  I told her I feel fantastic! I have more energy, can sleep less and go hours without eating, which Dr. Fuhrman  calls, “True hunger.”  And I no longer have that facial puffiness that most dairy eaters have.”  What she said next, absolutely floored me. She said, “Yah, I’ve got all sorts of health issues going on, and I know I’m suffering from some severe inflammation but I cannot imagine giving up my meat, eggs or dairy – I just love it too much.” I cocked my head to the side and said, “Well, then I guess you’ll just have to continue living with all those health issues.” 

When the microwave that was heating up my food dinged, I proceeded to open the door (btw, I work for a very large company so we have 3 kitchens with a total of 9 microwaves). As I removed the bowl, my co-worker commented that my food smelled delicious.  Naturally, her next question was, “What is that?” I said, “Nabe with Udon.” She looked at me squarely and said, “Nabe?”    I proceeded to explain what Nabe is.

As I tested the heat of my nabe, I put the dish back into the microwave as it wasn’t quite hot enough to my liking.  This gave my co-worker more time to ask questions.   Naturally, she asked me about my cooking and how do I find the time.  I told her I set aside every Sunday to cook meals for the week – usually I will make one or two meals so as to have variety.  I told her I’m pretty strict about this, which means I will not allow anyone or thing to interfere with my cooking on Sundays – if I do not cook, I do not eat, it’s that simple.  She told me she “Doesn’t have time to cook.” Sha! Right.  If I may use an expression Somer @ VedgedOut used in this post: Bull!  I work five days a week and commute 2 hours round trip. I’m out of the house before7 :00 AM  and I do not arrive home until after 7:00 PM. If I have time to cook 1-2 meals every Sunday, everyone else has time to cook as well.  My co-worker lamented that in order to be a vegan, you have to be perfect, and everything has to be from scratch yaddah…yaddah…yaddah.

I was quick to set her mind at ease that this belief she has about veganism is not true.  Where is it written that you have to be perfect?  Hearing my co-worker assume that Veganism equates with Perfectionism is what motivated me to write this very lengthy post.

For those of you who believe you have to be perfect in order to be a vegan – basically taking an all or nothing stance, I am going to say to you what I said to my co-worker:

[As previously stated] I am out of the house on or before 7:00 a.m. and do not return until after 7:00 p.m.  Do you think I have time to make things like my own vegan butter, almond milk, vegan *cheese*, home-made stock, et-cetera?  Hell no!  I buy Earth Balance if a recipe requires vegan *butter*,.  I buy whatever brand of Almond Milk is on sale.  If I need vegan *cheese* I buy Daiya and as for stock, well I use vegetable soup base that I purchase at the store.  I do not have time to make all of these things from scratch.  Do I honor and admire those vegans who do, yes, absolutely.

Below are additional *Vegan Myths* I Have Heard People Say:

1.)    Every meal has to be cooked from scratch.

As daunting as that may sound (and it really isn’t) it is not always necessary to cook everything from scratch. And btw, no one is going to come to your home and arrest you if you use something out of a can or a box.  My feeling is if 85% of my food is a whole food(s), the rest can be forgiven.

E.g., cooking with vegetable base vs. fresh stock.

2.)    Canned beans are not as good as dry/soaked beans.

Really? Where is this written?  Do you think I always remember to soak beans? Of course not! I use canned beans all the time and I haven’t died yet.

3.)    Frozen vegetables are not as good as fresh.

Really? That’s interesting because I have heard just the opposite.

Full Disclosure:  Sometimes, especially during Q-end, I don’t always have time to go to the market which means I have resorted to using the frozen vegetables in my freezer. If this is bad thing, well then shoot me.

4.)    I am afraid of becoming unhealthy if I follow a vegan diet.

[Ok  first, I need to get up off the floor from laughing]

Please pardon my bluntness but if I had a dollar for every time some narrow-minded idiot told me that vegans are unhealthy or run the risk of becoming unhealthy, I’d be a rich woman.  Your risks of becoming unhealthy following an animal-based diet far outweigh your risks of becoming unhealthy following a vegan diet.  If you do not believe me then watch any of the following:

Or you can read:  Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

or

Reversing Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard

These are just a sampling of the available information out there.

5.)    I don’t have time to research vegan meals and/or throw together a balanced meal

When I first became a vegan, I was daunted. I had a handful of recipes but most was macrobiotic which made them a bit more challenging.  So what did I do? I began searching for recipes.  I cannot say for certain how it happened (I suppose I could thank my Blog) but I happened upon these two fantastic bloggers who have kept me well stocked [no pun] in vegan recipes.  I don’t always follow their recipes to the letter, but the foundation originated from their recipes:

 Somer @ VedgedOut 

Let me tell you a little bit about Somer. She’s a wife, mother, runner, and I’m convinced a part-time secret super hero. And yet despite all of these responsibilities, Somer has created some amazingly awesome recipes.

Dispatches from the Gypsy Roller

Let me tell you about Gypsy a.k.a Hannah.  Hannah is currently living in a trailer while she remodels her home. She has a baby and yet she manages to put a delicious, healthy vegan meal on the table.

If it wasn’t for Somer and Hannah, I doubt I would have the variety of vegan recipes I have today.

Because of Somer, I am now following An Unrefined Vegan 

Via Unrefined or maybe it was Somer, I am also following In Vegetables We Trust; Post Punk Kitchen ; and In Pursuit of More

And this list goes on and on.   At this point in my vegan life, I have a 3 ring binder FULL of recipes or recipe ideas that I have written that are based off of their recipes. Whenever I hit a cook’s block (you know, sort of like writer’s block) I grab my laptop and start surfing these sites for recipe ideas and 100% of the time, I walk away inspired.

So you see, choosing a vegan lifestyle really isn’t that difficult, nor do you have to be perfect.  Granted there are some vegans out there whose career is blogging about living a full and complete cruelty-free vegan life, but you cannot let those people intimidate you.  What helps me is this:  I do not compare myself to other vegans. When I take into account my work and commuting schedule I am doing the best I can with the resource and time that I have. No one is judging me so rest assured no one will be judging you.

😉

In closing, I could wax on about how you should be choosing cruelty free products in your bath, on your body, in your laundry and home, but that’s another post for another time.  Also, if you’ve been following my blog for some time now then you already know my stance on vintage clothing, especially 1950s vintage – it ROCKS!

🙂

-GE