Friday, August 1, 2014
Verging on Vegan
Having just watched Forks Over Knives for the second time, I'm verging on going vegan. The stars of the film are Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn. Silver-haired, ultra-fit, and bursting with energy in their eighties, they made me think that perhaps, if I ate a "whole-food, plant-based diet...centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants" I too could be ultra-fit and bursting with energy.
For a long time now I have been mostly vegetarian, using meat only as a "condiment," in deference to my spouse's carnivorous preferences. And since coming to Wake Robin, which offers a mind-boggling variety of food choices, I have almost completely banished animals from my plate.
I have not, however, abandoned animal products. It would not be impossible to eat a vegan diet at Wake Robin, but it wouldn't be much fun. However, since the Forks Over Knives diet "excludes or minimizes (italics mine)" animal products (as well as highly refined foods, and oils), I figured that a reasonable compromise would be to eat a daily vegetarian meal in the dining hall, and make the two other meals, which I prepare in the cottage, as vegan as possible. And while I was at it, I would give up desserts other than fruit.
The problem with a vegan diet, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's time consuming. It makes sense that, if you take the heavy foods--meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, oils, sugar--out of the diet, you have to put a lot of light foods in. This means a lot of shopping, and a lot of chopping.
The Forks Over Knives site gives a plethora of vegan (as well as mostly gluten- and sugar-free) recipes, all of which sound tasty to me. But oh, the lists of ingredients! A seemingly simple Burrito Bake includes shredded potatoes, nutritional yeast, onion, bell pepper, zucchini, crimini mushrooms, a handful of beans, a lime, basil, garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, pepper flakes, diced tomatoes, black beans, and fresh cilantro. But that is nothing compared to the Shepherd's Pie, which calls for twenty-seven ingredients.
Being an enthusiastic undertaker of projects, I can see myself heading out to the store with a two-page shopping list. I can even see myself doing all that chopping--I rather enjoy chopping, actually. But what gives me pause is what to do with the leftover ingredients.
Say I wanted to make a simple batch of vegan blueberry muffins, which calls for twelve Medjool dates, non-dairy milk, oats, millet, baking powder, cardamom, applesauce, lemon zest, blueberries and walnuts. I assume that Medjool dates, whatever they are, come in packages of more than twelve, so that after eating the muffins I would be left with a considerable number of highly caloric dates which, like the non-dairy milk, won't last forever. I can envision the jar of applesauce moldering in the back of the fridge along with the forgotten remains of the zested lemon. The oats, blueberries and walnuts wouldn't be a problem to dispose of, but I have my doubts about the cardamom. As for the leftover millet, maybe I could buy a canary--canaries will sing for millet.
Still, the radiant health and exuberant vitality of Drs. Campbell and Esselstyn made such an impression on me that I'm willing to give this almost-vegan way of life a try. I'll share my impressions along the way--if suddenly you see me posting daily, you'll know it's working.