Wednesday, October 1, 2008
VeganMoFo Day 1: I've Given Up Nothing Not Worth Giving Up!
I love food.
I've always loved food. Growing up, I fondly remember my mom's meatloaf (though not the salmon loaf). I remember her cabbage rolls, which I would always have without the cabbage. I remember the rare treat of lasagna (the noodles cost more and my mom was/is frugal ... a trait of hers I wish I had more of).
And mashed potatoes. Holy shit. I loved mash potatoes.
So now I'm almost 30 years old. I'm a stay-at-home dad, so I spend most of my days thinking about food, cooking food, eating food and reading about the animals and animal products that I no longer consider food.
All of the old favorites are still there for me, but now they're vegan.
I always have ingredients for vegan meatloaf when I use Jennifer McCann's Magical Loaf Studio for the recipe. Here's one of the many loaves I've made (note: I double the recipe and cook it in a single bread pan).
I made cabbage rolls with a friend of mine last fall using Gimmie Lean "sausage". And my mom will be thrilled to know that I actually ate the cabbage too!
Lasagna was one of the first entrees I made when I went vegan six kick-ass years ago.
Mashed potatoes are still a favorite.
I have given up nothing worth keeping when it comes to food. I've gained everything. I've gained an appreciation for vegetables. I used to LOATHE vegetables.
My dad has a couple small fields he calls gardens at home and I never appreciated them until I went vegan. Now when I go home in the summer I'm in heaven. Strawberries and raspberries for the picking by the handful. Asparagus! Peas off the vine (actually, peas are the one thing out of the garden that I liked growing up). Cucumbers! Tomatoes! Pumpkins! Onions! Corn! Way more stuff!
What the hell was I thinking? How could I have not liked this stuff as a kid and teenager and even as a young adult? I was missing out on a world of food while chowing down on my microwavable spicy beef and bean burritos (seriously, I had one for breakfast every morning for a year in college), frozen pizza whose texture could only be accurately described as cardboard topped with slime, and Taco Bell's Grade J beef. Where was my head?
I was lazy, for one. I didn't want to cook. But the main reason I ate shit (quite literally, in the cases in the above paragraph) is that I had no reason to think about where my food was coming from. I didn't think about what happened to my food before it hit my plate. A meal wasn't a meal unless 75% of it was meat and/or cheese. I had a tall glass of cow's milk with every meal, even at restaurants.
Six years ago that all changed when I met a guy named Alex at my work. He told me he was vegan and I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. I never said, "Don't tell me. I'd rather not know."
On the contrary, I kept asking him for more and more information, eventually asking to look at a Why Vegan? pamphlet he had. By the time I finished reading it I had made the decision to go vegan. It didn't take me long before I was eating Fantastic brand vegan sloppy joes and chili and microwaving an Amy's black bean burrito every day for breakfast.
A month or so later I showed my girlfriend Meet Your Meat and a few seconds after that she was vegan as well. A couple years later that girlfriend became my wife. Then a year or so after that we had a daughter, Anna. She's the one at the top of this page (though she's a year older than that photo now).
And in January we'll have another. A boy. Liam.
Anna eats like a champ. Her current favorites are frozen peas and frozen blueberries, smoothies and peanut butter sandwiches. And today she chowed down an Aloo Gobi-type dish I made last night. Sweet.