Last September I lived for 30 days as a vegetarian. During that time, Ingrid Newkirk, the president of PETA, challenged me to take it one step further and go vegan. This year I did.
A quick recap: Vegetarians don’t eat anything that— at one time— had a face or a tail. Vegans are vegetarians who don’t even eat anything that came from an animal. Vegans don’t eat eggs or dairy.
Notes from my life as a vegan— Week Three:
1.) I am over the hump. Less than two weeks to go. Everyone asks what I will eat for my first non-vegan meal. I am really not sure at this point. I won’t be staying up late on September 30th waiting for the clock to strike 12:01 a.m. to eat a Ribeye steak. Though I will be having a plate of scrambled eggs the next morning.
2.) I don’t really miss cheese. If my wife or daughter tried this lifestyle/diet, they would be dreaming of cheese nightly. I haven’t missed it at all.
The other day I ordered a pizza to eat while watching football. I ordered it with tons of vegetables, extra sauce, and no cheese. It was good, seriously. I would do that again, even on a normal diet.
3.) I miss milk. Say what you want, but there is no suitable substitute for milk. Soy milk sucks. Almond milk is passable if I put it on cereal, and someone told me to try rice milk. But in the end, they’re all trying to be milk-flavored milk, and they just aren’t. Milk is good. Note to self: Have a glass of milk at 12:01 a.m. on October 1st.
4.) I also miss pancakes. I don’t really eat pancakes very often, but I would eat a stack about 18-inches high while I am typing this column.
5.) This vegan thing has been hard, but, surprisingly enough, it hasn’t been too hard. I learned early on not to eat the foods that are created for vegans. To me, they all fall short and are lesser imitations of the real thing.
I’m eating fruits and vegetables like all vegans do. But items that companies have come up with as vegan substitutes for real food haven’t been very good in my opinion. Maybe it’s just that I am too close to the real thing. Several months from now, if I kept eating like this, I would probably be grateful for anything— even a vegan substitute— that resembled junk food.
6.) I purchased some vegan cookies from The New Yokel Market in Downtown Hattiesburg, and ate them after dinner the other night. They were great. I didn’t know if they were actually really good, or if I was just grateful to have a cookie-like substance pass my lips. Either way, they tasted good to me, so I’m going back to buy more. The New Yokel Market has been a godsend on this diet.
7.) Speaking of cookies, I was doing a cooking demo for a group at the Viking Range headquarters in Greenwood, and a vegan lady in the audience said that Oreo cookies were vegan. Surely this can’t be, I thought to myself.
The next day, on my way to another demo in the Delta, I stopped by a grocery store to check the ingredient list on a bag of Oreos. Unfortunately, she was right. I bought a bag of Golden Oreos and ate half of the bag in the car on the way to the demo.
I was four pounds down after two weeks as a vegan. Now that I have discovered the Oreo loophole, I might be inching my way back up.
8.) I am not 100% sure that I am living up to the ideals of the vegan way of life. I am following the eating lifestyle to the letter, though I don’t think I am living up to the spirit of this existence. I am probably the only vegan in the state who goes dove hunting and eats copious amounts of junk food. Sorry, these are battlefield conditions for someone like me. I am doing what I can to make it through the month.
9.) Speaking of junk food, I have eaten more French fries in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years. Yet, I am still four pounds down.
10.) My go-to salad has been a simple salad of baby arugula, frisee, balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Beautiful. Simple. Delicious.
11.) Everything tastes better as a vegan— the good stuff and the bad. I had a cantaloupe the other day and it was one of the best things I had ever put in my mouth. Then again, had the person who invented Golden Oreos been anywhere in the vicinity of Cleveland, Miss. the other day, I would have bowed down and kissed his/her feet.
2 lbs Asparagus, fresh
1 /4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
1 1 /2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 /4 cup Almonds, sliced and blanched
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet lined with wax paper. Bake 12 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the almonds over the asparagus. Return to the oven for an additional five minutes. Remove and serve immediately. Yield: eight servings