Thursday, November 20, 2008

Skinny Vegan

In early May, I found my weight had crept to the high end of the "healthy" range (I'm 5'7" and I was weighing in at 159.4 LBS). I cranked my running into high gear and cut back on eating veggies cooked in oil--loading up on steamed veggies/salad instead. Then, in June, I picked up Eat to Live and started doing a modified version of that (I don't abide by his "no snacks" rule--sorry, I'm active and I need to stay fueled!) So, between early May and late September, I went down to 133, where I've been ever since. The funny thing--to me anyway--is I've reached a tipping point of some sort, where people have gone from saying "You look great" to "You're getting too skinny!" Funny to me because I'm not even close to being underweight. I'd have to drop below 118 for that.

I'm now reading The Thrive Diet, which is awesome because it's written by a vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier, and he actually gets the whole "needing fuel" thing and is all about meals + snacks. He's got some promising-looking recipes at the end, too, many of which are raw (though not all, and I don't see myself becoming a 100% raw vegan).

In related news, here is where I am with my running progress. In October, I did Race for the Cure, and my time was 26:47. Last year's was 30:28. Average per-mile time went from 9:49 to 8:38. Then, earlier this month, I did my first 15K (longest race I ever did, including high school, when I ran cross country and track). My first mile I did in about 8:42 and I got slower as I went, but I was still happy with my overall time. 1:28:11--9:29/mile average (so still faster than last year's 5K pace!).

My yoga practice has also been developing so that I can do things I couldn't do before and overall I'm stronger than I've been, maybe ever. It's so silly that people have a stereotype of weak vegans--I just keep getting stronger and faster and I've never felt better. 41 years old and I feel younger than I did when I was 21.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Vegetarian Expo

This past Saturday (September 13), we went to the NY Capital Region Vegetarian Expo in Saratoga Springs. Despite the name, it definitely had a "vegan" slant to it, which of course made me very happy. We were lame and slackerly, so only managed to get our acts together to catch the tail end of Jeff Novick's talk and then T. Colin Campbell's talk. Fortunately, this last talk was the one we were most interested in attending. When he asked the audience how many people had read his book The China Study, almost every hand shot up. Later on, Dkat commented, "I'm glad he was treated a little bit like a rock star." :)

The downside to being as late as we were: The exhibitors were packing up once we got out of Campbell's lecture. I would have liked to have gotten the chance to check them out and gather literature. The upside to that is Boykat is only five, with limited patience. Though he was happy to see ponies and greyhounds--albeit briefly. Dkat had been hoping to get a chance to sample foods--which is another thing we'd actually have had the chance to do if we'd gotten there earlier.

Oh, well. Presumably, there's always next year!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Healthy Veganning

Not every vegan vegans alike. There are plenty of foods that are vegan but also junky/fatty/sugary, etc. It would be so easy to live on vegan cupcakes, So Delicious frozen desserts, and entrees laden with oils. Of course doing that would also lead to being a fat vegan and an unhealthy one to boot.

Using The China Study and Eat to Live as our guides, we've shifted to consuming most of our calories from fresh fruits and veggies. We load up on salads, soups, steamed vegetables. Healthy fats come from nuts rather than oils (though a small amount of olive oil with a larger proportion of balsamic vinegar can go with our salads). We have beans and legumes, tofu, and some whole grains, such as barley, quinoa, or brown rice. The idea is to have the most nutritionally dense foods--namely produce. Most people don't realize that veggies are a high-protein food. In terms of caloric composition, many veggies are more than half protein. But it's necessary to eat them in large enough quantities to get a substantial amount of these nutrients.

Eating copious amounts of nutrient-poor food leaves the body looking for those nutrients--hence becoming hungry again and again. Conversely, we're finding ourselves less hungry even with fewer overall calories consumed. I've dropped 13 pounds since last month. Everything's fitting more loosely and best of all, I feel great! Dkat is also having similar results. We can hardly believe how energetic we feel. I know my running is improving.

But doesn't it figure I bought Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World? I didn't even get around to baking any of the cupcakes before we banned the flour and sugar from our lives. Maybe for Boykat's birthday next year, I'll make an exception.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Family that Vegans Together

Earlier this week, I checked The China Study out from the public library. Last night, when I got home from yoga, the first thing my husband said was, "After reading The China Study, I threw away the meat and cheese. No more animal products." Whee, I now have a vegan family.

This definitely offsets the vegan sadness I felt last month when I discovered that Food For Thought, Albany's one and only vegan café, was no more. I'd gone in intending to get a smoothie during lunch, only to discover that the café had morphed into a Little Anthony's pizzeria. Little Anthony's already had another location on Central Avenue, and Food For Thought was owned by the same family. In fact, when Food For Thought initially opened, someone who did a write up for the Happy Cow website insisted on referring to FFT as a "branch of Little Anthony's," while another simply wrote up that address as "Little Anthony's." And it came true, jinxers! No, FFT used to be a distinct, all-vegan café, with a menu that was quite different from what LA's has to offer. LA's, to its credit, offers vegan pizzas and calzones. But FFT offered much more. In any event, the guy who was working in there the day I found out this sad news told me that the café was just not making enough money to sustain itself. ::sob::

So now that my family is vegan, we have no place to eat. Well, we can get pizza from Little Anthony's, I guess, but we have no place that is 100% vegan and where we can be 100% confident that there will be no cross-contamination involving egg. That's a related issue. Boykat went to the allergist this week, who did a skin test that confirmed he's still allergic to egg, and the allergist said that he's unlikely to outgrow it. Complete avoidance of egg is the only way to go. Which, of course, having a vegan home supports.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hezbollah Tofu!

This site came to my attention thanks to a post at the "veganpeople" LiveJournal community.

The famed Anthony Bourdain has a hate-on for vegetarians and vegans. I've never seen his show Without Reservations, but he's shown up as a judge on Top Chef, which I do watch. This quote of hate comes from his book Kitchen Confidential:
Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.
The "Hezbollah Tofu" blog quotes this nastiness in its first entry and offers the following message to Bourdain:

So we aren't just going to "enjoy" food, we're going to enjoy vastly improved, veganized versions of your masturbatory, blood-oozing recipes. And then we're going to compile them, sell them in zine form, and donate the proceeds to vegan outreach organizations and farm sanctuaries--in your name. Anthony, I have to say, I'm really looking forward to the great work we're going to do together for veganism.

This is an open call to vegan cooks of all stripes: professional chefs and bakers, cookbook authors, food bloggers, amateur cooks, and--perhaps most importantly--ordinary, everyday people who just want to live their lives and eat their dinners without unnecessary heckling from the heroin-addled peanut gallery.

I have to say I adore this idea. I've come across Bourdain's quote o' nastiness before and found it equal parts baffling and irritating. I can hardly wait to see what people come up with.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Isa and Terry's Books Will Take Over the World!

My mom came up yesterday to celebrate my son's birthday. He's five! Because of his egg allergy, I got a vegan chocolate-cake recipe from the Post-Punk Kitchen site. Would you believe this was my son's first-ever taste of cake? In any event, he enjoyed its chocolaty goodness. Dinner was a vegan pizza of Dkat's invention, which Boykat happens to love.

My mom is a lacto-veg, so she was also happy to have a chance to eat cake without worrying about egg. I showed her Vegan With a Vengeance, and almost immediately she decided she'll have to buy a copy of her own. When I raved about the ease and goodness of the seitan recipe, she looked it over and immediately made a trip out to the coop to buy vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast so she can make some of her own. She also perused Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The Moskowitz/Hope domination is imminent!

In related news, I forgot to report here that I had success a couple of weeks ago with the chickpea cutlets from Veganomicon, which (almost tearfully) I had to return to the library after a scant two weeks, because it was requested. See, these books are taking over the world!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Seitan Success

The seitan was a success. Shockingly easy to make (I love when that happens). We haven't made anything with it yet, though I had some in salad today. Dkat likes the taste and texture, so thumbs up.

I also made squash-oatmeal cookies. They're really supposed to be pumpkin-oatmeal cookies, but we only had two cans of pumpkin (which I've used) and the rest are squash. I left out the raisins because we didn't have any and left out the nuts because I forgot to put them in. I was going to use almond slivers instead of walnuts, only because I'm not a big "walnut" fan. The cookies are good in spite of everything, so they are going fast.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Dkat made an awesome vegan pizza this past week, completely of his own invention. It was soooo good! He made a pizza sauce with veggies, spices, and tofu. Last night, he used his sauce recipe as a pasta sauce and we brought it to a vegetarian potluck. We are talking about hosting some potlucks of our own sometime.

Yesterday, my office closed to attend a funeral (husband of a co-worker passed away early Wednesday). I've only just started telling people that I'm off dairy and egg. A bunch of us from work were sitting together at the reception held after the burial, and someone asked me what I'd had from the buffet. I had put together a sandwich of lettuce, tomato, cukes, and a bit of baked ziti that, thankfully, was just pasta and red sauce. I mentioned that I was off dairy and egg, so no cheese. Naturally, someone asked where I was getting my calcium. This is kind of funny to me, considering that there are populations all over the world wherein people do no consume dairy, and we're really the only species that not only consumes the milk of another species, but does so throughout our lifespan. But anyway, I told her fortified soy milk, vitamins, and green leafy vegetables.

Another co-worker told me that she'd never be able to give up cheese. I told her that I used to feel the same way, but I am finding I don't miss it. This same co-worker asked me if I skip over baked goods if I know they have egg or dairy in them. I told her not only that, but I will skip over baked goods unless I know for a fact they they don't have egg or dairy in them. She sort of shook her head as if she were talking to a major head case. Then, to top things off? About 20 minutes later, she came to our table with a tray of cookies, offering them to each person there. And she offered them to me. Hello, what were we just talking about? ::boggle::

Though I can't harsh on her too much, I guess. Even Dkat, though he knows I'm veganning and he's supportive, will sometimes forget--like when he was in the hospital, he told me he'd had egg for breakfast and asked if I was jealous. This comes from our egg ban in our home, due to our son's egg allergy. Me: "No, I'm not eating egg anymore, remember?" "Oh, yeah." Same thing last night. He asked me if I'd had one of the [non-vegan] cookies. Nope. Still veganning. "Oh, yeah."

In related news, I have a pot of seitan cooling on the stove. I'm kind of excited since it's pretty easy to make. Will report on the results.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Odd and Ends

Dkat had to spend a couple of nights in the hospital this week. When asked if he had any dietary preferences, he said that he eats mostly vegetarian at home, was interested in becoming vegan someday, but didn't expect to be able to eat vegan while in the hospital. The nurse told him, "Oh, we can do vegan!" They gave fruit and nothing else! After that, he didn't try for vegan or vegetarian again.

Yesterday, I made another dish from Vegan with a Vengeance, the Breakfast Veggie Chorizo. It's meant to be used as a filling for breakfast burritos, and features Textured Vegetable Protein. It turned out really good and Dkat loved it.

We had a family walk to our neighborhood food coop today and picked up a bunch of great vegan staples, like nutritional yeast, flax meal, sunflower seeds, agave syrup, wheat gluten flour (to make our own seitan--see p. 157 of Vegan with a Vengeance), and others I've already forgotten. My confidence in my cooking skills has definitely been boosted.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Awesome Pumpkin Loaf

Since we have cans of pumpkin, I wanted to bake something pumpkinny. I was originally thinking pie, but then I found the recipe for "The Best Pumpkin Muffins" in Vegan with a Vengeance. Besides looking yummy, it's a simple recipe with non-exotic ingredients.

One hitch was that the muffin tray I imagined we have is probably a muffin tray that my mom has, and we don't have any of those little paper/foil muffin cups. So I resorted to making two little muffin loaves instead, using our loaf pans. Also, we don't have molasses, so I substituted 2T tahini for the 2T molasses.

The result? So much awesome! Mm. They are so, so gone and my husband LOVED them. :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Veganning with a Vengeance

I've gone on a binge of ordering vegan cookbooks from the library. True, I've only actually done one recipe so far, but I have a stack of potential.

Dkat borrowed from me Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Vegan with a Vengeance and was so impressed he decided to buy it. In his words, it's got realistic, doable, tested recipes. He likes the fact that the recipes do not rely on all kinds of processed meat replacements and fake cheeses, but on fresh, whole foods. He's jonesing to try the falafel recipe and I'm very curious about the homemade seitan. I had no idea it could be made so simply (or at least it appears so from the recipe). I've also got her new book, Veganomicon, on order from library.

As a testament to the growing interest in vegan cooking, I found I was unable to renew Vive Le Vegan because someone else had requested it. Part of me thinks, "Harumph" but another thinks, "Go, vegan cooking!"

In other veganning news, I had a dream that I accidentally ate some butter cookies.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Veganning Dream

I actually had a dream about the veganning. In the dream I had to attend a work-related dinner. The cook, I somehow knew, was vegan himself, but he provided an omni array of foods. Initially, I helped myself to a plate of pancakes, for some reason simply assuming they were vegan. But after taking a couple of bites, I realized that they probably had dairy and/or egg in them, and I decided to search for a vegan meal. One of my co-workers told me that she'd just had a delicious vegan entree. I asked her where it was, and she told me that another co-worker had the serving dish. I went over to where co-worker2 had been sitting, and I saw a serving dish next to hers. The entree looked delicious, and there was quite a lot left, but I felt I had to ask the co-worker before taking some. She was not there, so I tried to find her. After I'd been looking for her away from the table without finding her, I returned to the table and found her back at her seat. I asked her if I could have some of the vegan entree, and she told me that she'd eaten it all. I said something like, "Oh. That was the only thing here I could really eat because I'm vegan now." She said, "Really? I'm sorry."

A bit later, I found the chef, and I lamented that I was the only vegan there, yet others had eaten the vegan dish. He expressed regret, but told me, "Remember why you're doing this." And he gave me a carrot. An unwashed, unpeeled carrot. I thought this was pretty unhelpful, but I decided I'd find my own alternative. I put the carrot back in the refrigerator (somehow I was in the kitchen) and found a case of ripe mangoes. I took one and started to look for a knife so I could peel it. Suddenly, a co-worker (who was for some reason Judith Light, who plays Claire Meade on Ugly Betty, and I can assure you does not work with me) started to yell at me. She said, "You vegans talk about compassion for animals, but look at all the suffering you cause for your fellow human beings!" I asked her what on earth she could mean, and she went into a litany of people I'd frightened, to the point where someone called the police and I was nearly arrested (!). I'd apparently scared the bejebus out of the munchkins (this had become a Wizard-of-Oz themed party somehow), one of whom was a "new munchkin." I'd had no recollection of going into the angry tirade she was claiming I had perpetrated, and I told her that I had merely made some inquiries and had a very calm, quiet talk with the chef, but she contradicted me. Then I woke up. I felt the dream was sort of a caveat on how to present my veganning to others. Even if I don't think I'm being strident or judgmental, others might interpret what I say/do that way--they may be so reflexively defensive that they attribute to me motives and thoughts I do not harbor.

Funny thing--I'm already thinking of this annual holiday party my office participates in. We don't host the party, but we are always included, and it takes place at a restaurant that is not vegetarian friendly in the least. This past December, the only items that were vegetarian were the green salad and the bread. They were kind enough to prepare an alternate meal for me, which was a pasta dish--vegetarian but not vegan (I hadn't veganned yet). Assuming the party is in the same place this year (and it is likely), I am thinking I will need to call ahead or not go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Dkat stocked up on soy milk yesterday. A couple of cases worth. Since apparently the price of soy is about to shoot up. (Same story for just about everything these days!) Boykat is drinking copious amounts, despite the fact that it appears to give him the farts. o_0

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skipped the lasagna last night

Last night, when I came home from work, my husband (I'll call him Dkat), said, "You don't have to have the lasagna. There are leftovers from last night." This doesn't sound so great on the face of it, but "leftovers" were a delicious tofu/veggie stirfry, so I was happy with that option. The only downside was there wasn't enough for me to bring in for lunch today. But that gives me an excuse to go to the vegan café I mentioned below.

Dkat is still off of coffee and determined to continue, though the withdrawal has made him more tired than usual. This morning he said he finally felt energetic. I've actually cut back from my usual copious amounts of coffee. If I go off of caffeine, it's going to have to be gradual!

Monday, January 14, 2008

The idea of recipes

I realize that I like the idea of recipes much more than I actually like following them. I have a pile of vegan cookbooks that I checked out from the library, and I was planning to try some new recipes over the weekend, but I didn't. I ended up mostly alternating between peanut butter sandwiches and microwaved frozen veggies with lentils, rice, and recaito sauce.

One reason that I like the idea of recipes more than the actual recipes is I just want to have everything I need. I don't want to have to shop for a recipe! Please note, I think our pantry is reasonably well stocked--wide array of spices, grains, etc. But I don't have tamari sauce or a zillion different types of miso. Just the soy kind from our Asian grocery. I forget what else we don't have that I see showing up in recipes. I confess--I'm prone to laziness, especially on weekends, which is when I actually have time to cook. Also, I don't like having to use our food processor, mainly because it's a pain to clean it up properly. We don't have a dishwasher. If you don't get all the little areas cleaned up, you get mold. Mold is bad!

To my credit, I did try a new recipe during my holiday time off between Christmas and New Year's. I tried the lentil pie from Vive Le Vegan (with some modifications; miso and soy sauce instead of vegan Worcestershire and tamari, for instance; also pan-fried all the ingredients before putting them into the food processor, and lentils pre-cooked in the slow cooker). My husband liked the results enough that he asked me to write out the recipe (with my modifications) on a recipe card for further use. This is a high honor, because he's got very exacting standards when it comes to food.

I've been meaning to check out Food For Thought, Albany's new vegan café, and might do so today during lunch. I brought a peanut-butter sandwich in case the weather fails to cooperate.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I took option #1

I had the lasagna. It turns out I was mistaken about the cheese being one layer on top. It's pretty pervasive. And there are two different kinds.


See, I work M-F, 9-5 and my husband cares for our son and does the cooking. On weekends, we swap. I came home so hungry and I thought, "I hope he didn't make lasagna." And he had. He's had a really bad cold lately and had very little energy today, hence the "throw something in the oven" type option.

I didn't enjoy the lasagna. I used to love it, but it tasted too salty and heavy for me. And almost immediately I had a headache. I don't know if the lasagna is to blame or if it's coincidence (or maybe even psychosomatic). But I'm thinking I'll skip the lasagna next time it comes up. Maybe over the weekend I'll do a bunch of cooking so I have a backup plan.

How slowly am I veganning?

Although I conceived my veganning as a process that would unfold during this year--and I did not have a definite date in mind for when I'd be completely veganned, I've found myself actually consuming a fully vegan diet since the first of this month. And now I don't feel that I want to go back.

Here's my dilemma (and I feel kind of stupid even stressing over it). My husband buys a frozen veggie lasagna from BJ's, and we use it for those "too tired/busy to cook" days. He bought four packages of this lasagna yesterday. Now, he knows I'm transitioning, but as far as he knows, I'll still have the occasional dairy-having lasagna during my transition. I feel kind of bad about the prospect of telling him I won't anymore. So I guess I'm down to:
  1. Have the lasagna
  2. Have the lasagna, but remove the cheese layer (it's strictly on top)
  3. Don't have the lasagna
I'm sort of leaning toward #3, with #2 as a back-up position. Not liking #1.

Oh, well, I'll figure it out.

My yoga instructor has a t-shirt that's all black, with a star in the middle and "vegan" in the middle of the star. I've sort of been thinking "I want to be able to wear that t-shirt!" Which would mean nixing the lasagna. (Oddly, I'm not even sure I'm interested in actually wearing a "vegan" shirt--only being able to. Or rather eligible.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Veganning in 2008

I decided to make 2008 the year I transition from vegetarian to vegan. The egg part is the easiest, because my son is allergic--therefore we don't keep egg in the house anyway. Dairy is a bit more difficult, but so far, less than I thought.

I expect travel and restaurants to be somewhat more challenging. I have a business trip in April--I'll have to request vegan meals in advance. And pack snacks!