Wednesday, August 7, 2019

V is for Vegan

Image result for vegetables in the shape of a vPlant-based diets are having a moment, as the expression goes. Even Burger King, purveyor of cheap meat for decades, has hopped on board with the Impossible Whopper. Plant-based proponents cite the health, environmental, and moral benefits of eating less meat, and some of those arguments are pretty convincing.

I am a life-long carnivore who ate at Burger King plenty when I was growing up. These days, I try to make so-called sustainable meat choices when I can. Over the past year or so, I've been eating less in the way of animal products in general. But I've never gone vegan. Until last week.

Full disclosure: I did not adopt a strict vegan lifestyle. I still wore leather shoes and might have ingested honey at some point. But I did make a very conscious effort to remove animal products from my diet. I've been dairy-free for a while now, because I feel better without it, so I didn't have that cheese monkey on my back. (Mmmm, cheese monkey.) Eggs and meats of all kinds, from fish to steak, however, were scratched from the menu.

Here, in convenient bulleted-list format, are my top takeways from Vegan Week:
  • It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be. Breakfast was usually fruit, nuts, and plant-based yogurt. I had salads and beans as my go-to lunches. The dinners were more challenging, but I love roasted veggies and cauliflower in any form, which helped. And pasta made from lentils, that's a thing.
  • It was easy to overdo the carbs. I don't keep track of macros, but I'm sure the quinoa, the hummus and cracker snacks, and my old foe potato chips skewed my totals too far in the direction of The Land of Delicious Starches.
  • I didn't feel more hungry than usual. Sleep and exercise were unchanged, and I felt pretty good getting up in the mornings.
  • Some vegan foods, especially substitutes for meat and cheese, are highly processed and contain a ton of ingredients. Compare a beef burger (Ingredient: beef) with a Beyond Burger [Ingredients: Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Dried Yeast, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Acetic Acid, Succinic Acid, Modified Food Starch, Annatto (for color)] Reading labels can be important.
  • Mushrooms are a vegan's best friend. I'm kind of lukewarm when it comes to mushrooms, and I think I ate more of them last week than I have in the last two years. This included portobellos in my veggie fajitas and surprisingly bacon-y tasting "bacon" that son #1 and I made from shiitakes. (Here's the recipe from Detoxinista if you're curious.) And after a week, surprise! I'm still lukewarm when it comes to mushrooms.
  • Salad with mushroom "bacon"
  •  I not ashamed to admit that I did miss meat. I wanted to share in the chicken wings at a local brewpub. I wanted my husband to prepare something delicious in the smoker. I wanted a non-impossible burger and fries. 
Now, for the moment of truth: I'm not ready to commit to a 100% vegan meal plan, so this week is technically a Leave It. But I am going to try follow the advice of food guru Michael Pollan: 

Image result for michael pollan eat food mostly plants


  1. Speaking professionally (as an enviro sscientist) there are more animals killed in growing plants than in growing meat thanks to killing insects, small rodents etc.

    But I am too much of a carnivore to look at a vegan lifestyle anyway.

    1. That's an interesting perspective I hadn't heard before. I think we tend to look at it more from the "macro" scale!