woes of the wanna-be vegan

The other day, Jeremy and I watched Forks Over Knives. This highly informative documentary is about how a “plant-based whole foods” diet is supreme over any other.

As previous posts have mentioned, I am a vegetarian. According to a former roommate of mine, I am (thankfully) a “normal” vegetarian. I’ve deduced that the term “normal vegetarian” means that I don’t go around making people feel bad about eating meat, I have no problem with preparing it and serving it to others, and my main reason to keep it out of my diet is that I don’t particularly enjoy any sort of meat (and because it is healthier to not consume the ridiculous amount of meat that the typical American does). (Amy, if you come across this, correct me if I’m wrong!)

I remember as a child being given steak to eat for dinner, and while I didn’t actively dislike it, I have memories of drowning the bite-sized pieces in steak sauce before putting them into my mouth, and then spending what seemed entirely too long to chew them up and swallow them. I never found any pleasure in that eating experience.

I suppose that’s the reason red meat was the first to go at the beginning of my foray into vegetarianism.

Forks Over Knives is not, however, about simply vegetarianism. It takes this diet to a level I have told myself I will never purposefully reach: veganism.

Giving up meat is one thing. I can still eat egg sandwiches with cheese, the tomato-mozzarella panini from Panera, my second-place-winning homemade macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese with pickles (a childhood favorite), feta cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, red leicester cheese (discovered it while in Scotland), cooper sharp cheese, port wine cheese, and all the other wonderful varieties of and recipes with cheese cheese cheese!

So what’s this vegetarian to do while she watches Forks Over Knives and slowly becomes convinced that switching over to veganism just might be the way to go?

She decides to give it a trial run.

Day 1: Went food shopping. Wanted something salty to snack on so I perused the chips aisle and found the Food Should Taste Good brand on sale (win!). Reached for the cheddar flavored … realized what I was doing … bought the olive flavor instead. Got home from the food store and realized that while I avoided the cheddar chips, I neglected to even think twice about the 3 boxes of Annies macaroni and cheese that were put into my shopping basket (they were on sale for $1 each, what was I supposed to do?!)

Day 2: Did not mix shredded cheese in with my morning meal of quinoa, black beans, and salsa. I can get used to that, it’s how I used to eat it anyway. Went to eat some broccoli soup that I bought the previous day and upon tasting it, realized that it doesn’t taste half as good unless I add cheese to it. Really now: broccoli soup + cheese = the only way it should be eaten. So, there went in the cheese.

Day 3: On top of having to finish my broccoli soup (with cheese) because I didn’t want it to sit in the refrigerator and be forgotten, I needed to start working on those three unnecessary boxes of macaroni and cheese (at least it was organic!)

Day 4: Quick food store run to buy more quinoa (the only healthy thing I’ve been eating consistently while homeless and jobless). I was once again struck with the urge for something salty (it’s all I want when I want to snack. I love chocolate, but that’s not a snack, it’s an indulgence. I need some salt!). I purposefully decided to buy the Pirate brand Smart Puffs. That’s right, purposefully buying more cheesey snacks. Also, I went to a friend’s for dinner and ate some delicious home-made nachos loaded with plenty of melted cheese. My favorite.

Day 5: Jeremy’s birthday. I was doomed from the start, as we intended to get Qdoba to celebrate (I suppose I could stop eating shredded cheese. And queso. And shredded cheese on top of queso). Those plans fell through and I thought maybe I could actually avoid dairy for the day … until, 2 minutes later, I suggested eating Panera. And a trip to Panera means the deliciousness that is the Tomato-Mozzarella Panini. (And a brownie. Because it was free.)

Day 6: I’m ashamed to admit it, but I ate more of the empty carbs that are called “Macaroni and Cheese.” On purpose. After going for a run.

Day 7: That would be today. One week into my exploration of veganism, and I have failed each day so far. This morning I snacked on a homemade fruit bun, and then realized it was made with milk. For a late lunch, there was one box of macaroni and cheese left, and the milk in the fridge was going to go bad soon. Sigh.

The vegan lifestyle: can I do it? I think my love for cheese is too high to avoid it altogether. However, after watching Forks Over Knives, this week has been a painful appreciation of how I could lessen my intake of that glorious processed food. I don’t think that I will be able to eat cheese again without thinking twice about it.

My loose decision:

Stop buying cheese. However, when circumstance calls for it, like I am being offered food at someone else’s house that contains cheese/milk/etc, or I am craving a slice of pizza (a guilty pleasure), or I am out to eat (which doesn’t happen too often), then I can make the exception to eat it. Instead of avoiding cheese altogether, I will do everything I can to drastically lessen the amount that I am eating. I really don’t think that the vegan lifestyle is for me, but I know that I (and the rest of us) can definitely benefit from the idea of it. Thoughts?

Give Forks Over Knives a look, let me know what you think. It’s instant streaming on Netflix currently, or you can buy it through the website.

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3 thoughts on “woes of the wanna-be vegan

  1. I have no idea what you are talking about. Having been born a meatarian with (sub)normal tendencies, I highly value my ability to enlighten vegans around me to the plight of the vegetable world by the bovine and other things with muscles. Have you tried buffalo sauce?

  2. Are there soy-based cheeses? And I know I could NEVER live without cheese. No fondue, no soft pretzel bites, pizza…agh!

    Maybe instead of going pure vegan all at once, take baby steps! Like, you won’t directly add cheese to something, but if it already has it in there, then that’s okay. Or keep eggs in baked goods, but cut eggs out of breakfast/salads/sandwiches…

    I couldn’t even be a vegetarian, and I teach environmental science!(<<fraud)

  3. Jordan, I like how much you are able to make me laugh. Not many people can do that.
    Meghan, there are “vegan” cheeses, not sure what they’re made of. I might try some at some point just to see, but I’m not sold on the idea that a vegan cheese can taste as good as the regular. I’m currently attempting exactly what you suggested: not adding cheese to anything, but if it’s there already, I’m okay with it. I’ve succeeded being entirely vegan for 1.5 days right now. I’m not looking to do it forever or consistently, but as it’s definitely healthier to cut out all the cheese I enjoy, I’m aiming to be more aware of how much I eat.

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