losing my v card.

29 04 2012

ok, not really. i’m not exactly an old french whore or anything, but i am 34 and divorced… you do the math.

but there is an equally scandalous V word that i have been keeping a bit of a secret lately- VEGAN.

now, i’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years now- and that’s no big deal. and for the entirety of that 5 year period, i’ve clutched desperately to my dairy and eggs. oh, i’ll get cage free. oh, i’ll get local. oh, i’m pretty sure that’s responsibly farmed. and i did it not necessarily because i really believed those things i was telling myself, but because cheese and eggs and butter are so ungodly delicious, that i couldn’t fathom giving them up. not ever.

this last week’s rainy days made me think a lot about how i became a vegetarian in the first place.

when i was 4 or 5, on warm wet days when the worms crawl out on the sidewalks, i would stop and pick up every single worm stranded in a heavily foot trafficked area and move it gently to the grass so nobody would step on it. it’s weird really, i hate the animal planet channel, won’t watch talking animal movies, and frisky cat photos do very little for me. but, the idea of those worms getting smushed was too much for my little grade school heart to bear. it’s still too much. i rescued no fewer than 6 worms last week. i hope they’re ok.

and then at some point in my 20s (many rainy days later), i was jogging the back bay- and i came across a field mouse bisected by a bicycle tire, and i burst into hysterical tears. and maybe i was premenstrual. or overtired. or maybe it was just because field mice are really cute. but that was the day that i realized that dead animals make me sad. and slowly, this sentiment would inch its way onto the dinner table, and i would give up all the meats (including the sea meats). even bacon.

but never veganism. no way. veganism was for smug preachy types. veganism was for people who didn’t see the divinity in extra sharp cheddar cheese and perfectly poached eggs. veganism was for soulless masochists who hate food.

never.

not me.

until it happened.

and i’m still not entirely sure what, but a couple of months ago i just woke up and realized that i was ready. sure, i’d always realized/thought/felt that if animals were used for production farming, there was the possibility for exploitation. i knew this, i felt bad about it, but i was unwilling to give up my beloved butter (oh god butter). i fantasized about going vegan the way you fantasize about winning the lottery. sure it would be great, but it’s never really going to happen.

but then all of the sudden it did. unlike the slow creep of vegetarianism, the veganism decision just snapped.

well, sort of. the decision was made, and then i decided that i would do a 50 item farewell tour of dairy and eggs. on last orgy of pizza and eggs benedict. one last make out session with buttered popcorn and chocolate milk. but as i planned the orgy, the list kept getting shorter. it seemed too decadent, too selfish. how could i enjoy it when my personal ethics dictated that it was wrong?

the list went from 42 items at its height, to zero in about 3 days. suddenly, i was vegan with no food in the house.

as you well know by now, i enjoy shopping my way through transition. $150 in two days at 3 different grocery stores (damn you whole foods!).

but imagine how much money i saved by not having the dairy orgy! (yeah, i’m logical)

i had myself well convinced that i NEEDED it to shepherd me through the transition. and even more specifically, that i needed a bunch of comfort food. thanks to this fantastic comprehensive list, i was able to spend my $150 on swedish fish and ritz crackers. a loaf of white bread and a tub of earth balance. lorna doone cookies and fake beef jerky. not a single vegetable was purchased.

i ate nothing but sugar and starch for over a week. starburst jellybeans. munchos. i probably shouldn’t be alive.

a month and a half later, i’m actually doing ok.  it’s forcing me to think about things like protein, and to stay home and cook instead of going eating out (i can pretty much only eat at silly’s and the green elephant now anyway). but i’m still such an amateur. i keep fucking up (i asked for no fish sauce on my drunken noodled, but forgot to say NO EGG- and then i ate it without thinking?!). i’m slowly learning what animal ingredients are hiding in my food (l-cytesine is in my dunkin donuts bagel, but is made out of DUCK FEATHERS- WTF?!), but usually after i’ve purchased them. but i have learned a few things (which will hopefully be joined by more things over time):

1. there actually are a lot of vegan foods that taste amazing (no twigs and berries here). here is my shrine (suggestions welcome!).

2. you can totally make an amazing vegan grilled cheese with daiya cheddar (so not cheddary on its own) and yellow mustard. and it’s only been a month and a half, so you’re damn straight i remember what real cheese tastes like.

3. there is a company named melissa that makes vegan shoes that smell like bubblegum.

4. hell yeah vegan stoner.

5. hell no vegan prawns.

despite the fact that i’ve just adopted this fairly radical eating style, i would like to assure you that this blog is not about to become a vegan conversion factory with PETA grade animal slaughter images. not my style. do i wish that more people felt like i did about animal rights? sure. but, i feel like people need to find their own paths. this is mine, and (as far as i’m concerned) it’s not fair for me to assume that it is right for anyone other than me. so don’t worry. this blog is still just me being stupid and messy and crazy (although if anyone out there has some vegan pro tips that they’d like to share- BRING IT ON).

in fact, there is a DATING POST coming up later this week. just you wait.


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23 responses

30 04 2012
m

Hello. I used to comment now and then but haven’t recently. I still read your blog from time to time and just want to say that this is awesome. I’ve been vegetarian for I guess 17 years now and am still eating dairy out of pure laziness — though only like 15% of my diet is dairy-based anyway. I totally admire your follow-through. It’s inspiring.

Also, I am crazy about Daiya. I’ve never been a huge cheese fan to begin with so I default to Daiya for all my cheese-based needs. I made an awesome baked mac and cheese dish for Thanksgiving this year with it and basically can’t live without it for grilled cheese, pizzas, etc.

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

hi! nice to see you again, and thanks for the words of veg encouragement. i definitely need them in these fetal vegan days. but what i really really need is your recipe for vegan baked mac & cheese. i need recipes. not just any recipes, but TESTED recipes.

11 05 2012
m

This is my favorite mac and cheese recipe:

http://www.toliveandeatinla.com/2009/vegan-macaroni-cheese-daiya/

Note: I recommend cooking the pasta for twice as long because the 5 minutes does not work for me. The pasta is still too chewy. Also, I accidentally reduced the amount of pasta by a bit this time because I got it in bulk instead of in a box. With bulk, I used 2 cups of medium shell pasta and it came out better than using an entire 16 oz. box IMO.

Oh, and I used Field Roast Sage Apple Sausage this time and it was deeeeeeelicious.

If you make it, tell me how you like it!

30 04 2012
lizzielou67

yay, allie! while i am a font of advice and suggestions re: veganism, i’m not at the moment eating entirely vegan myself. but i like to call myself “vegan friendly” or “vegan curious” or a variety of other things. also, the vegans i know personally are not at all preachy, none of them. i hate when vegans are disparaged for their inflexibility, lack of humor, etc.

when you eat out, don’t forget about veranda thai (they’re especially good at making things vegan if you ask), kamasouptra, aroma indian restaurant in south portland (south indian food is cooked in oil, not ghee, as opposed to north indian food), pepperclub, flatbread (they make a great vegan pizza), and the fact that there are lots of delicious sushi rolls that are vegan.

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

you need to introduce me to your awesome non-smug vegan friends! other than my sort-of-boyfriend, i have no one! my coworkers think i eat plastic particles. also, thanks for the fantastic list of vegan fare around town. i had no idea about the india food, and i’m so going to flatbread to get a vegan pizza this weekend. but seriously, WHY HAVEN’T WE MET YET?

30 04 2012
minnehappilos

I checked out your pinterest board and not to be debbie downer, but Morningstar has been on my sh*t list since I discovered they put wood pulp in their products. This just really pissed me off and I have bought their crap since. If you want an amazing fake meat, Field Roast makes a mean Italian sausage.
Oh She Glows is a vegan based blog with some amazing recipes and tips, if you didn’t know, now you do.

30 04 2012
minnehappilos

Haven’t…not have. I should really edit my angry comments before hitting reply….

30 04 2012
m

Field Roast is the most ridiculously delicious fake meat. Their sage apple sausages are seriously the best fake sausages ever of all time.

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

i pan sear them and put them in pasta sauce or trader joe’s vegan split pea soup. field roast is the coolest (and soy free!).

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

i know that morningstar is kind of evil, although i don’t entirely mind eating wood particles. but yeah, it’s a once in a while treat. i would much rather support all-vegan brands like gardein and field roast. FIELD ROAST IS AMAZING. i will never eat another fake hot dog again. i also love that they’re soy free. whole foods had celebration roast on sale recently for $6! i can’t wait to try it out.

30 04 2012
Bobbi Brewer

I have been a vegetarian for the past…fifteen years? I’ve dabbled in veganism, but I have no will power when it comes to gelato, yogurt and milk chocolate. I do love animals like crazy though. I can’t even handle walking outside in the rain due to the worms. Mostly because they scare me/gross me out and I’m petrified of stepping on them and killing them. Worst fear ever.

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

oh god gelato. although all the sorbetto at “gelato fiasco” is vegan, so that takes the edge off. i also found vegan peanut butter cups. basically, i still miss it, but it’s not as bad as i thought it would be. as for the worms, i wish they would just stay in the ground where they belong! they’re causing so much heartache!!!

1 05 2012
Lisa

My sister in law and a friend just went to a vegan cooking class last week and loved it! I believe the woman holds the classes in Portland and Westbrook, and although it was $35 (ouch) it’s 2.5 hours and you get to learn 4 new recipes and some good tips, so maybe it might be worth it!

http://www.modern-vegan.com/#!cooking-classes

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

ooh. that looks cool (if a little pricey). i’m actually a pretty good cook, but i could really use some inspiration in terms of recipes. one of my friends produces some pretty awesome veg programming (delicioustv.com). i should really shake her down for some vegan guidance!

1 05 2012
jjdactyl

yay veegs. congratulations!

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

thanks jj! i wish you were here to deliver me vegan cupcakes. that would make my life better.

5 05 2012
portlandmisadventures

I guess what I don’t understand about veganse is why they need to have all kinds of substitute meat and dairy products? When you eat fake cheese and fake ribs, I kind of feel like you’re just cheating yourself out of something you know you want. Like hey, remember feta? That’s kind of why I went back to eating meat- I was like, this veggie bacon is good… but you know what’s better? Actual bacon. If I meet a vegan who is like, grains, berries, veggies, rice, bread wooooo! I’ll fully support it.

10 05 2012
bessmarvin

i realize that fake meats are kind of lame. some of them are actually not bad, but none of them are as delicious as meat. i also like grains, berries, and all the other shit. basically, because it’s about the animals for me, the fake meats help prevent me from falling off the wagon. it’s like close enough to scratch the “i want bacon itch”. but yeah, i know that meat is delicious, and not eating it is hard work.

11 05 2012
m

Many vegans and vegetarians grew up eating meat and enjoyed the taste but not the idea of a) being a part of the meat industry and b) eating animals. As a 13-year-old, I decided I couldn’t stop thinking about what I was eating (and being really grossed out by it) so I stopped. But I still ate fake meat because I never hated the taste of chicken, for example.

Meat and dairy is familiar. Just because chicken may taste good doesn’t make me want to eat an actual chicken.

All that said, lots of fake meat doesn’t attempt to taste like meat. It uses some of the same spices because, hey, people enjoy spices. But it’s a whole different texture/flavor. It’s probably called “sausage” or “chicken” so people who do eat meat will consider it as an alternative.

20 05 2012
Amanda

I love this post. I admire your *ahem* cold turkey attitude and your Pinterest finds! I’ve been vegan for a little over two years and I echo a lot of what people are saying here. Regarding dining out in Portland, the possibilities are endless! Most restaurants in Portland know what “vegan” means (El Rayo, Mesa Verde, Sebago, Granny’s, that awesome falafel place in Monument Square, and on and on), so don’t sell yourself short! The only place I ever had an issue was fancy Fore St. They don’t like vegans so much. I hope you’ve tried Blue Mango veggie burgers which are KILLER, and also Little Lad’s First Hand Burgers. I get those at Lois’s in Scarborough and they’re everything a burger should be. Enjoy this new fantastical world! :)

8 06 2012
bessmarvin

thanks for the amazing suggestions! i’m definitely feeling a little less awkward about ordering food as i grow into my veganism. in a couple years, i hope to just be able to walk into a restaurant and order without having to ask a million embarrassing questions. i find the blue mango veggie burgers too starchy for my taste, but i’ve never tried the little lad’s ones. i do love their turnovers though. any other favs i should know about?

12 06 2012
Amanda

Have you ever used VegWeb.com? It has EVERY recipe you could ever want. It’s more like a forum than anything else, so most recipes have notes from readers about how things turned out, or substitutions they made, etc. I’ve found this AMAZING veggie burger recipe that’s wicked easy to make:

http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=21501.0

I have found so many magical things on there, mostly from just browsing. “Hm, I wonder what advice there is for eggplant parm…” BAM. “I’ve always wanted to grill my own portabellas …” BAM.

When I went vegan, I didn’t consider myself much of a cook. Over time, I found that making my meals was more satisfying than most meals out, and now I think I’m pretty a pretty decent chef!

When you are out and about, don’t limit yourself to what’s on the menu. I was at Sebago yesterday and had the chicken portabella wrap without the chicken or cheese, and I added onions and roasted red peppers from another sandwich. If they’ve got the ingredients on the menu, they can make you something awesome. Think outside the box, and the world is your culinary playground. :)

13 07 2012
bessmarvin

i’ll have to check that out! it’s possible that i’ve been there and just not realized. i’m sort of an internet cooking whore. i feel very grateful that i learned how to cook before i became a vegan, and as a result am much more adventurous with my choices. and i totally agree with you about customizing my self a meal from restaurant menus. i was very apologetic and nervous at first, but now i just go in and figure something out. yesterday (thanks to the amazing veganeatingout.com), i went to pizza hut and got at PIZZONE or P’ZONE or whatever. it was amazing.

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