Monday, August 19, 2013

Random thoughts on being vegan

About a month and a half ago, Darrell and I became gluten free vegans. Full-on, no-holds-barred vegan. Before you get all judgy, let me explain. We found out in May that Darrell has several food allergies (eggs, milk, wheat and rye) that cause him not to be able to swallow properly, so we gave up all of those things cold turkey. This sudden dietary shock led to other problems in his body that took us down the path to eliminate all meats other than chicken. Believe it or not, when you can only eat chicken it gets old really fast! After some soul searching, we decided it was easiest for us to just give up animal protein altogether. We’ve never felt healthier for it, either!

Adjusting to being a new vegan has had its struggles, though. You never realize where milk, wheat and eggs hide in your foods. Trust me, it’s in EVERYTHING. Check your labels. I dare you!

Also, when we “come out of the closet” (I do this on a regular basis anyway, so I’m not new to the concept, but now I have to do it for something else…sigh) about being vegan, you’d be surprised at how people react. People really are defined by their food, and that’s unfortunate. I’m told so many times “I can’t live without my meat,” or “that can’t be healthy, don’t you need protein,” or “I don’t see how you do that, I’d be starving all the time.” Truth is, I don’t miss meat at all. I miss other things. Like creamy decadent desserts. Sure, I can substitute other things to make something similar, but I haven’t found anything that’s as lush as full fat cream. I know, though, that if I eat it, I’d be sick for at least two days, and that’s not worth it! So I’d rather be healthy and sacrifice that deliciousness for something else that’s much healthier for me and the Earth. Besides, I’m sure my body will thank me for it later! People think I’ll judge them for eating meat or other things. I tell them: I don’t care what you eat! You’re not hurting my body! You’re only hurting yourself, who am I to judge? It does makes me sad when I see people I love mistreat themselves with food, but they have to find their own way.

Now, on to the whole reason I’m writing this post (I know at this point you’re thinking this was a whole “coming out” post – you’re wrong!). The other day I was feeling pretty bad. When I don’t feel well, my go to meal is mashed potatoes and gravy. Guess how those are traditionally made? LOTS of things that I don’t eat anymore! I immediately thought “damn, what am I going to do?” I went into problem solving mode. We already had solved the mashed potatoes issue. We eat those regularly. We use Idahoan brand instant. I know, it’s not the same as fresh, but ain’t nobody got time for that. The ingredients are: Idaho potatoes with emulicifier, preservatives, and citric acid. Not too bad. I make them with Earth Balance soy free buttery spread and unsweetened almond milk. Tastes just like they were made with butter and regular milk. Now I was more distraught about the whole gravy thing. I had no idea how I was going to do that. I really wanted some chicken gravy. I thought, “OK, I know how to make white gravy, but I don’t want that. Let’s improvise and see what happens.” It was AMAZING! This is what I did: 1 tsp Earth Balance, 1 tsp rice flour and 1 (ish) cup of vegetable stock. I put the rice flour and the butter into a sauce pan and cooked them for a bit until they were starting to “toast” once this happened, I SLOWLY added the stock and whisked my heart out to try to eliminate lumps (it didn’t work, BTW). It got thick immediately, and LOOKED like chicken gravy. I added some pepper because I like it like that. I tasted it, and it was just like chicken gravy from KFC or anywhere else. I was amazed it was this easy, and still vegan! I proceeded to pour it onto my instant potatoes and ran back to the couch.

By the way, I’ve lost about 7 or so pounds so far. Not a ton, but it’s a start!

Moral of this whole narrative is: you can still eat your usual things with a few modifications and be vegan AND gluten free!