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

13 thoughts on “The Perfect Vegan?

  1. Susan!! Thank you so much for the kind words, you really made my day. I too used to work full time with a long commute (on public transit) in either direction and know how hard it is to find time to cook. If my recipes are making life easier for you, that’s awesome 🙂

    Like your co-worker, I have someone in my life with multiple physical and psychological conditions who refuses to alter her diet, although she knows that doing so would likely reduce her suffering significantly. Makes me want to shake her! It’s frustrating.

    I still come across people who are blown away when they find out I don’t eat meat: “Where do you get protein from… you must eat like a rabbit!” Haha! I can only imagine the questions I’m going to get when they find out I’m trying to raise my son vegetarian… sigh.

    • Hi Hannah!

      So glad I could return the favor in some small way. 🙂 Your recipes are a constant source of inspiration. I see a vegan cookbook in your future — so I hope you’re cataloging all of your recipes. Perhaps you should considering self-publishing? Seriously — I’d buy your book (although I’d expect a signed copy). Wink. Wink. I’m sure you do not have a lot of time right now to think about this but I seriously think you should consider it. Gypsy Roller’s Vegan Cooking. 🙂 Has a nice catch sound to it, no? Or how about Dispatches from the Gypsy Roller – Vegan and Vegetarian Cuisine.

      I hear you about the protein thing — I get that question all the time. It just goes to show how clueless people are about food. If they truly think about it, how do horses, cows, elephants et al. build muscle as vegetarians? Vegetables, Grains (like Quinoa) contain or are proteins — as do most green vegetables. But listen to me preaching to the Choir. Ha-Ha! You already know this.

      Everyone, especially those hung up on believing meat/dairy/fish/eggs are the only sources of Protein really ought to watch Forks Over Knives.

      I love that you are raising your son vegetarian. Actress Alicia Silverstone of The Kind Life and author of The Kind Diet is also raising her son vegan. The 7th Day Adventists do as well… People think it cannot be done but the 7th Days are proof you can raise healthy vegan children. We used to have a 7th Day restaurant here in Boston but the family had to close it down due lack of profits. I can recall speaking with the owner who told me that people used to say to her that her children would be born deformed and malnourished if she didn’t eat meat and drink dairy. She proved them wrong. She has 6 beautiful healthy children and not one of them suffered from any form of obesity.

      Pishaw to those who say you cannot raise a vegan/vegetarian baby!

      😉

      • I really like the idea of writing a cook book! I want to get a better camera and work on my photography skills first, as I think a lot of what makes a cook book (or food blog) good are the photos. You said you follow the In Pursuit of More blog – Shira’s photos are beautiful! Another blog here on WordPress that has great photos is Cook Eat Live Vegetarian (http://foodblogandthedog.wordpress.com/). Have a peek – you’ll find a lot of recipe inspiration there, too.

        I keep hearing about Forks Over Knives. I need to check it out!

        I don’t come from a particularly vegetarian-friendly family, so bringing up my son vegetarian is going to pose a few challenges for sure. Do you know of the Made of Star’s (http://madeofstars1.com/) blog? The author, Alison, has 3 kids and is raising them vegan. Pretty inspiring! Getting your kids off to a healthy (and compassionate) start is one of the biggest favours you can do for them, IMO.

      • Wow! Thanks for those links. I’ll go check those out after I send this.

        I wouldn’t let the fact that you’re food pics are not where you want them to be to stop you from compiling a cook book. Personally, I don’t need a fancy cookbook with hard to find ingredients (I’ve already got plenty of those) what I need is an “everyday vegan” cookbook — something for the working gal who doesn’t have a lot of time to prep/cook but still wants to prepare nutritious meals. 🙂

  2. Go girl! I have been vegan for 18 years. People will say the same things over and over. I used to work in a huge office and shared a cubicle with a coworker who made fun of me constantly, tho I also treated him respectfully. We finally had to have a “talk” where I pointed out that he was being rude and that it was unwarranted. In a surprising turn, he agreed and not only apologized, but explained his daughter was vegetarian, and he was concerned that it would injure her health, and was taking it out on me. Go figure. I have learned to try and meet people where they are. Keep going, you are doing great!

    • Thank you for the supportive words. I do tend to receive a lot of grief when I tell people I am a vegan — I find it puts them on the defensive for some reason. I can no longer count on both hands how many times I have been verbally attacked by non-vegans. It truly is amazing. They behave in a threatened way as if I am going to take their hamburgers away. Would I like it if everyone became a vegan? Absolutely. Would I like to see animals out of factory farms and slaughterhouses? Absolutely. As much as I can dream for this to be our future’s reality I am aware that most people, despite ill health will never ever give up their meat/poultry/dairy/eggs, even if it’s killing them.

      Thanks again for commenting. 🙂

  3. Well said, my friend. One of my biggest hurdles as living a “clean eating” vegan lifestyle is the grief I get from other people. No matter what you do, if its not the “norm” then people have something negative to say about it! Keep doing what you’re doing… you’re fabulous! xo

  4. Girl you give me way too much credit 😉 Healthy eating requires a time and emotional investment. It’s a little shocking that people are willing to sacrifice health in favor of convenience, but I don’t see that changing any time in the near future 😉

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