Vegan Weekend Warrior: The Reckoning

Great success!

The Vegan Weekend was a great success!

I ate really well and felt really good the entire weekend. Everything I ate was freaking delicious and satisfying. I didn’t really struggle with any cravings (I hate when I eat a meal and then only a little later, I feel like my blood sugar is crashing). It was, over all, a great weekend for food. Plus I biked almost 30 miles, got some sun, bought about 15 pounds of fruits and veggies at Haymarket, did some sewing, watched some Farscape, and did some serious cleaning in my apartment.

Anyways, here’s a rundown of what I ate:

Friday: breakfast of coffee with chocolate soymilk, pecan praline granola; lunch of a banana, green tea, and a protein bar; dinner of pan seared ginger teriyaki marinated tofu, red quinoa, spinach, and orange-infused dried cranberries, a glass of wine; late evening snack of a vegan ice cream sammich (om nom nom!)

Friday night dinner!

Saturday: breakfast smoothie of a banana, a kiwi, vanilla soy milk, and flax seeds, a slice of toast with apricot jelly; lunch of salad, raisins, and cranberry juice (okay, that was kind of lame, but I was volunteering at a blood drive (I gave blood while dressed as Princess Leia. I live a very normal life) and it was catered by Olive Garden. I needed to eat SOMETHING or I was going to pass out from giving blood, but salad was the only option. Olive Garden isn’t exactly what you’d call veg-friendly); dinner of vegetable ratatouille, ciabatta, lemonade; dessert of vegan gluten-free almond cupcakes with chocolate almond frosting.

Cuppycakes! Bad photography!

My cupcakes were a huge success. My sister is gluten-intolerant, so I wanted to make something she could eat. I adapted the recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, adjusting to make them a little more almondy because I like almond, and likewise with the frosting. The frosting was chocolate “buttercream,” and was the only thing I was really worried about. I mean, I swear by buttercream frosting.

I have to say, after these cupcakes, I will probably never make normal buttercream again. The frosting was so rich, so creamy, so delicious… We had a ton of leftover frosting, and we kept just taking fingerfulls of it because it was SO GOOD. My sister said it reminded her of chocolate mousse. Oh it was so good.

The cupcakes were a wild success–even after I told everyone they were vegan, everyone still went back for a second. I consider that a win!

Sunday: late brunch of Chesapeake tempeh cakes and iced coffee; dinner of pasta salad with wilted spinach, corn, and sweet onions, tossed in a nayonnaise/mustard/balsamic vinegar/herbes de Provence sauce, and a Blue Moon summer ale.

OMFG CAKES

I got the tempehcakes and remoulade recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen, and you guys, IT IS SO GOOD. I have a ton of leftovers (those three little cakes were more than enough to power me through the day and 15 miles of biking and adventuring) which are currently in a tupperware in my office fridge with sliced red pepper, spinach, and some pitas. I’ll be eating tempehcake sammiches for lunch for the next two days. Fuck yeah.

Those were SO DELICIOUS. I strongly believe that everyone should make them and experience them because holy shit, they had to be one of the more wonderful things I’ve eaten in my life.

I love food. I love food that is creative and exciting and filling and healthy and conscientious of the world we live in. This weekend, I successfully enjoyed all of these things, with a particular elevation of my conscientiousness. I really enjoyed it. I loved the process of preparing my food, nibbling the veggies while I worked, the wonderful smells in my apartment, and I loved how good I felt eating everything.

I’m hammering out my exact food philosophy, but I have a feeling that within the walls of my apartment, it’s going to be more and more vegan (I have some cheese and eggs right now, and I’ll use them up because I can’t abide being wasteful, but I doubt I’ll buy more). I suspect that when it comes to going to friends’ houses, I’ll be fine with holding to vegetarian considerations–I know too many people who are grudging about even that much, and I’d rather slowly expose them through sharing and positive feelings than being militant.

Anyways, I had an awesome weekend. I’ll be back to talkin’ gender and layin’ the smackdown soon, but expect a little bit of reflection on foodie-ism as this continues. Just as where we choose to spend our money is part of everyday activism, so is what we consume in the literal sense.

I leave you with a photo of my beautiful Haymarket haul. This is what $12 will get you on a Saturday morning, except then you have to bike home with it all on your back. As it turns out, that is heavy. X-TREME GROCERY SHOPPING, yo.

That's 3 bunches green onions, a pound of baby spinach, a half pound bundle of fresh basil, a pound of bananas, three lemons, a pound of ginger, 4 sweet onions, 3 red bell peppers, a box blackberries, a box of raspberries, and four limes. We're gonna need a bigger fridge!

06/21/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

The Weekend Vegan Warrior

I’m embarking on an experiment this weekend. I have basically zero actual obligations for once in my goddamn life, and I feel fantastic about it. Tomorrow I’m volunteering at a blood drive (and giving blood! It’s finally been long enough since I last got tattooed/pierced/traveled out of the country that I can do this!) and then going to my sister’s house for my father’s birthday/father’s day celebration.

I’m bringing a batch of gluten-free cupcakes, as my sister recently developed a gluten intolerance. She’s also historically had lactose difficulties, and I prefer soy milk anyways, so I have a shiny copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (by the same ladies who did my favoritest cookbook, Veganomicon. Check out their ultra-rad website, The Post Punk Kitchen). So, I’m bringing vegan gluten-free cupcakes. Is it possible to get anymore touchy-feely “oh wow, you are clearly a liberal who lived in Cambridge for just a little bit too long”? I don’t know!

But I’m going to try. My experiment: this weekend, I shall be vegan.

I’ve been vegetarian on and off since I was in eighth grade. I really LIKE being vegetarian, even though yes, I do miss meat (I think that is a common misconception–a lot of vegetarians really enjoy meat! It is delicious! But similarly, I really enjoy punching people in the face when they irritate me, but I nonetheless do not do it). I’ve recently been working at steering myself back toward vegetarianism, and it’s going well. I like it.

A weird observation, however: part of the reason I got away from being a vegetarian is my concerns about inconvenience. Not to me–I genuinely love tofu and tempeh and can eat a bucket of raw vegetables for a meal and be incredibly satisfied. I prefer Nayonnaise over mayo (that shit is gross, yo), and any other number of things. However, I don’t like to be the burden. I hate feeling like when I go to someone’s house, they are going to feel obligated to make sure that there is “something Cuppy can eat.” At a wedding a few weekends ago, everyone was piling the chicken and steak on their plates at the buffet while I spooned up the mushroom ravioli. A caterer asked, “Vegetarian?” “Yes.” “Oh, so you’re why we had to bring this stuff.” I know I’m not the only one who ate it–I saw other people with the ravioli–but there was a momentary flash of guilt of, “Oh my god, my friend had to add an entire dish to his wedding catering just because of me!”

And of course, there’s the pointed comments. “Well, we were going to go to XYZ restaurant for dinner, but we have a vegetarian coming.” “For every animal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat TWO!” “I’m going to eat this hamburger right in front of you.” Uh, yeah. Okay. What’s your point?*

And the more I linger on the fringe of being a vegetarian–not putting the label on myself, but simply ordering the veggie burger instead, or ignoring the platter of meaty appetizers at a party–the more I see the weird way we are about them.

If you aren’t one of them, it seems like you’re against them. This isn’t a blanket statement, but it’s a pretty regular trend. If I go out with a group of friends and I order the vegetarian option (say, a veggie burger), I will get mocked. If I make dinner for people and as they’re praising how great it was I toss in, “Yeah, and it was vegan!” they will respond by either saying, “How dare you TRICK me into eating that stuff!” or “Yeah, well, it’d be better with meat,” or both. (Cause yeah, I totally tricked you! You never would’ve eaten… pasta… and… vegetables…) I’ve had people tell me that I’m weak because I choose not to eat meat, I’m a wimp, I’m girly…

Wait, what?

Yes. Eating meat has become GENDERED. And also sexualized!

I’d really like to dig up some images or websites to go with this, but I feel like I can’t be the only one to have noticed this. In the same way in which girls who play videogames are fetishized, girls who eat meat are fetishized. There’s this huge backlash of now when women are asked what their favorite food is, there’s a huge push of “ugh, I hate salad! Give me a bacon double cheeseburger any day!” and so on.

My best guess is that this is a backlash to all the dieting restrictions thrown at women. A woman who shamelessly loves a bacon double cheeseburger is a woman who is not tied to the social mores of what is and is not appropriate for her–she eats what she wants, and, one may extrapolate from that, enjoys all of the hedonistic pleasures of her body. (Personally, I prefer cannolis to bacon double cheeseburgers when it comes to hedonistic pleasures.) There is something, well, sexual about a woman indulging in eating, and eating excessively.

Is abstaining from meat viewed by the male gaze as similar to abstaining from sex? If you don’t know that I’m eating a veggie hotdog, is my consumption of a phallic symbol any less “hurr hurr hurr”-inducing than the girl sitting next to me eating an actual hotdog? Does knowing that it’s vegetarian remove the sexiness from it?

I don’t know. But the more I stand around NOT labeling myself as a vegetarian, the more I hear people’s candid remarks on it. For all that I will get mocked and harassed for being a vegetarian, there’s a lot that they don’t say straight up. Vegetarians are painted as being repressed, joyless people. They’re no fun to bring anywhere. They’re buzzkills.

And maybe this is only me, but I started to associate it with how I used to feel about being a female. In high school, I used to proudly announce that “I’m NOT girly. I’m not like all those OTHER girls!” I took it as incredibly sweet when my boyfriend would tell me how unfeminine I was. I feel a swell of pride when my dad jokingly refers to me as his son.

Basically, I had so internalized that it was BAD to be female and feminine that I took great pains to establish that I was not like that, via renouncing my feminism. I had completely internalized the idea of what femaleness is, and it is bad.

I was even told at certain points that I was allowed to participate in certain things–attending autocross events, or LAN parties–because I wasn’t “really a girl.” I was admitted into a special club.

Does anyone else think that is enormously stupid? Because I do.

But I get the same affirmation–when I don’t speak up about dietary wants or needs, when I just go and eat wherever, I get propped up that I’m a “fun girl” because I don’t get obsessive about needing to have access to a salad or whatever. Because now apparently my gender has predestined my meal plan.

Look, I eat vegetarian for personal reasons. Just because it works for me and makes me happy doesn’t necessarily mean the same is true for you. I appreciate some open-mindedness (why yes, if I cook you dinner, it will be vegetarian!) and some sensitivity (how about we DON’T go to dinner at the All-Meat Uber-Meat-o-rama Meatfest?) but you don’t have to change yourself and I am NOT judging you.

I think PETA and the nose-in-the-air-pro-veg-bumper-stickers-on-our-Prius crowd has mucked it up a little. Sort of like people abruptly become deeply defensive about owning a car when they find out my primary transportation is a bike, people become really adamant about loving meat and defensive about that love when they hear me call myself vegetarian. They become really defensive about all their life decisions when they hear I’m a feminist.

Is it subconscious guilt? Do people recognize that using a car as a primary method of transit in Boston is wasteful? Do they get that they probably eat way more meat than they need to satisfy their body’s requirements for protein and nutrients? (And that their meat is likely not produced in the greatest way? I actually have a huge eco-friendly boner for people who care enough to buy only small amounts of locally produced, fairly raised, grass-fed meat. Now that is social responsibility and gourmand-love coming together!) Do they get that they probably passively endorse misogynist behavior?

I do a lot of wasteful shit too. Hell, I occasionally prop up “patriarchy,” or whatever you want to call it, because dudes, I like wearing thong underwear sometimes. I’m no flawless angel. So… I’m not judging. But I guess everyone thinks I am? I don’t know. I don’t understand why what I eat, where I shop, etc, is such a big deal to people. Why is how I curate my body so offensive to you?

But anyways, this has been a way, way longer entry than I ever meant. I meant to just throw out one or two cute little comments on why I’m experimenting with veganism for the weekend. Basically, I’m pushing my own boundaries–I know I can be vegetarian and enjoy it, but I’ve let myself be pushed around by external forces. So I’m challenging myself to be vegan for an entire weekend. It’s going to be tough (I have a brick of parmesan in my fridge right now), but I think it’ll be good for me. It will push me to get more creative in my cooking (I’ve fallen into a rut, and vegan cooking uses such fun ingredients!) and it will remind me of how simple it is to be a vegetarian. It’s not hard for me to live my regular life–including social life–and be a vegetarian. Vegan? A little harder. So I’m going to spend this weekend of lack-of-obligations in treating myself well and spoiling myself.

Tomorrow morning, I’m going to the farmer’s market before I head out to the blood drive. I can’t wait!

I’m really, really looking forward to this weekend. I don’t know to what extent being vegan will stick with me, but I know I want to commit to working more veganism into my diet when I can. I want to keep my vegetarianism going strong. I hope this weekend brings about some positive changes in my life. I’m excited!

Also, I’ll share some recipes and results at the end of the weekend. You don’t have to be vegan (or even vegetarian) to enjoy good food! 🙂

*I get that people do this under the assumption that it will distress and horrify me. But dude, if you’re supposed to be my friend, why do you feel like it’s funny and cool to do something that you think might be borderline traumatizing to me? (I know a very sweet vegan who would be brought close to tears by that behavior, and people know it but do it nonetheless. People who are supposedly friends.) Why will you respect my choice of clothing, or what career path I have selected, or where I choose to live. Why is what I choose to eat so offensive to you?

06/18/2010. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.