Vegan Food

May. 4th, 2012 10:49 am
lizzie_and_ari: (Ariadne)
When we went away on holiday to Australia and New Zealand, we stayed with my family. Grandma felt sorry for us for living in a place where ethical meat is so expensive, so she fed us lots of beef. Every day, meat. Meat with gravy, meat in pies, meat in sandwiches. Over the course of a week she fed us more meat than we eat in a year, and no fewer than 6 different kinds of cake. By the end of our stay in Australia, we'd had a gut-full. We were saturated in stuff made of animals. 

Our trip to New Zealand was slightly easier. We ate fish and sushi but we were also fed stews, soups and roasts. And scones with jam and cream, three times, and scones containing cheese and bacon, drizzled in honey. It was lovely. But something had to give. I could no longer begin every meal by silently thanking the pig that laid down its life for my bacon, or drinking frothy coffee while trying not to think about the mastitis of the cow clamped to a machine.

We decided to become vegan.

I have been resisting veganism for a long time now. Partly it's because I associate veganism with hippies who can't cook, who, faced with all the fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes in the world, choose to produce inexplicable mush. How many times had I been kindly offered a vegan wrap smeared with white stuff pretending to be mayonnaise made out of god knows what? I had encountered food which was bland and tasteless and above all joyless. I realised my problems with veganism could be overcome if I just bloody well did it myself, cooking the most bloody fantastic food in the world. It would be easy. All I had to do was not eat any fluids, muscles, fats, sweetbreads or ovulations of any animals. Easy.

We've been doing this for a few days now, and I have made some startling discoveries. The first and most alarming is that we are not spending any less money that we usually do on food.

This is because we are buying, and eating, on the same day, a ton of fruit. And fruit is expensive. But this is wonderful. I don't mind spending money on fruit. Before, if I was hungry, I would just put a biscuit in my mouth. Now I'll have an orange, or a banana, or an apple cut up and eaten with crunchy peanut butter. All of these things are delicious. I can already feel my gut thanking me. Plus, an apple with crunchy peanut butter is really filling, and full of protein. This isn't me gloating about how few calories we're incidentally eating, by the way. That's an accident, a biproduct of eating raw food. It's brilliant, but it's not our primary concern. 

The other reason we're not really spending less is because we were more or less vegan before - we just didn't think of ourselves as such. We made curries with coconut milk, and never once, in all the rich flavourful joy did we ever congratulate ourselves for being vegan. We thought we were  being vegetarian. When we made pasta, it was tomato pasta with tons of vegetables. Yes we put cheese on top, but it didn't really need cheese, because properly concentrated tomatoes and onions are sweet and caramelised and olive-oily. It really needs no other embellishment. In this regard, I will not miss cheese. The same goes for pizza. 

Good god I'm going to miss milk in my tea. I've been drinking herbal tea and black coffee, and coffee made with frothy soy milk, but it's not the same as sitting down and consuming a pot of tea in one go. It just isn't. I will experiment with rice milk, and oat milk, and all the other pretend milks, but I think I'm going to have to radically change my drinking habits instead of trying to simulate my old ones and pretending it's just as nice. Peppermint tea and black, strong coffee might be the way forward. It will change the way I consume caffeine, and that, more than anything else, will physically affect me. I suspect this might be the cause of the headache I've had for two days.

So far, being vegan is easy, and pleasantly surprising. We're giving this a month, and then we'll see. We might cautiously eat fish. We might order milk from a guy who delivers it from his farm, where we know his cows are nicely treated. We might buy ethically produced cheese from the farmer's market. But I'm wondering if a return to this is as inevitable as I once thought. We're doing very well with our miso soup and our rice noodles, our fruit and vegetables, our sushi with tofu and avocado, our hummus and good fresh bread. Just for now, we're ok ta. I know it sounds smug. I know. That's because we've only been doing this for a couple of days, and haven't yet turned into the incredible hulk because we miss macaroni cheese and bacon. Give it time. 

Next week: recipes!


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