29 October 2009

World Vegan Day

Although I own two vegan cookbooks, I have spent little time pursuing vegan dishes.

Last week I made a black bean vegan soup. Although I realize I would have made it exactly the same way without being conscious to that fact that it was vegan. I believe there are a few staple things in my diet that lean towards a vegan tendency since they overlap with vegetarianism. (But occasionally, I do like my yogurts, cheese...mmmm smoked mozzarella...and I like 2% milk, although I drink almond milk too...) So, some meals are vegan and I don't even realize it. However, it should be noted that I don't adhere to a complete vegan lifestyle, so I can't claim a title that isn't mine.

I'm not sure why I started this on Monday,...perhaps from the black bean soup on Sunday maybe, but on Monday I decided I would try being vegan for the week. But I am honest with myself. So I said, I'd try being vegan for a day. And then the next day and then the next. And hopefully it would add up to a week.

SUNDAY was easy. I had spicy basil with tofu for lunch and black bean soup for dinner

MONDAY was easy too. I had a pear, and a vegetarian gumbo from Qdoba sans the sour cream and cheese, that I normally add on. (I thought it might taste weird without including those but I didn't even notice a difference)

 TUESDAY was an epic fail. First off, I've been snacking on fruit and drinking water and all that good stuff since last week's No Impact Project but then something happened on Tuesday. Because I ate tons of candy...thus producing trash. And I think for breakfast I started out with M&M's. Then someone ordered Thai for a meeting and I looked at the vegetarian option and it was okay. It was tofu with broccoli. I took a few spoon fulls but it wasn't seasoned. (You cannot have unseasoned tofu. That is why meat eaters laugh at you. Although I know meat eaters who don't season their chicken or steak. What is wrong with you people? Have you ever heard of salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, hot shot, chili pepper, garli and onion salt? Something for goodness sake?) Anyways, the food wasn't that great and I was hungry so I cheated...not only did a break a vegan rule, I broke a vegetarian rule. I grabbed some of this spicy chicken dish and it was good! I felt bad later on in the day and for a snack I tried granola cereal with soy milk. Oh hell no! I'm sorry. I just cannot get into soy milk. Some things are an acquired taste and some things just do not work. If I am going to be successful at this vegan thing, I'll have to find the perfect almond milk! Later that night when I went home, I had more of my vegan black bean soup.

Wednesday was okay. Up until rehearsal I was doing fine with all the vegan-ness. And then at rehearsal I had a vegetarian sandwich..it had cheese on it. Crap.

Today...so far...I've been doing well. All vegan food. We will see though what happens later. :)

The final push for me to try vegan-ism this week was after a conversation with one of the actors at rehearsal on Sunday night. He is a vegetarian but says that occasionally he will go a few days without diary products and he achieves a higher level of mental clarity and his body feels a bit better. With that encouragement I embarked on a week of trying a vegan lifestyle.

But I'm a google whore, so I started looking up what vegan's really are, why they are and aside from their diet what else do they do. And actually to my surprise...I promise you this was not planned....but I also found out that coming up in three days is World Vegan Day. I promise you I did not plan that at all.

There is a day for everything, I tell you. When is World Sheena Day?

In a quest to find out what being a vegan was really about I went google crazy and found all sorts of info and helpful websites. It seems like people become a vegan for one of three reasons, if not all of them.

Animal Rights. Environmental Factors. Health Reasons.

(Also as I type this I want to say that I haven't had coffee in a week and I feel a difference. A good difference. My stomach is more settled. My emotions are easier to manage.  My body feels better. The tea I'm drinking instead is more soothing and less heavy.)

I also found that there are dietary vegans and radical vegans. (These are my own terms or maybe someone else uses them. I don't know but they make sense to me) Dietary ones are the ones that just alter their food intake. Radical vegans alter the kinds of shoes they purchase, the kinds of clothes they wear...they alter every single thing! (But just as my director at Redmoon Theater pointed out who by the way is a vegetarian and her husband is a vegan..."ok, you choose to have vegan shoes. You can go to payless and get some cheap synthetic shoes that had no impact on animals but then they were made in China and an 8 year old made them for two cents and they were made under horrible conditions so sure there isn't animal cruelty but there is human cruelty and earth cruelty so where does it end.")

Okay, so she didn't say it exactly like that but that was pretty much it. Its like opening pandora's box. The balance between the human condition, the animal condition and the earth's condition, I suppose.

But I am one of those people who are all in or nothing. So if you say vegan than alter your clothes, shoes, and complete lifestyle. (It reminds me of black women who wear the banner of promoting natural hair and yet they wear globs of crappy makeup, they eat mcdonald's every night and they use lysol wipes to clean their counters. How the hell is your natural hair better than chemically processed hair when the rest of your lifestyle is chemically processed? That's a tangent for another day. Natural hair and how that helps the environment but all the crazy zealots out there who won't shut up about it. Another post in the making featuring what I learned about the man who invented the chemical hair relaxer in the first place. Her was also the man who invented the first stop light type device and safety helmet.)

I found a list of vegans and some of them are people I admire such as George Bernard Shaw (novelist and playwright), Martin Luther (founder of Protestantism...while I'm not one, I love the rebel that he was), and Voltaire (French author). I even came across some really intriguing quotes too but will post them each day leading up to World Vegan Day.

Want some interesting vegan reads?

Try What is a Vegan Diet? or any page on Vegan.org
There is also the Eating the Earth booklet  and the really helpful Vegan Catering for All

I even went so far as to google Vegan Shoes. While there were some nice ones and they make the world a better place by purchasing them...I am not going to pay an absorbent amount. Remember my Sustainable Guidelines? Aside from those guidelines though, I found one pair that is actually at a reasonable price. They are really cute and I just broke my brown pair of flats. Even after hot gluing them back together. They gave up again. So I need to purchase another pair..

Do I think every person should be a vegetarian and/or vegan and/or eat raw foodist only? No. What I believe in is moderation. I don't believe you should eat steak every day. I also don't believe its possible for me to eat an apple every day because I'd get bored. There needs to be variety, substance and moderation in your diet. (I say there needs to be...but I'm not expert)

Besides, even though I don't think man has dominion over the earth, I still believe an animal dying every now and then is a given that occurs.(hmmm. what do I mean? some of the vegan quotes I came across compared killing animals - slaughterhouse with killing man - battlefields. And just as I feel war is inevitable and sometimes a necessary part of life, so is animals.) I don't think we should be cruel to animals and subject them to harsh conditions. But sometimes, its a necessity that needs moderation. I have no facts on this but I think of native americans who sometimes killed animals for the warmth of their fur in the winter seasons. And yet native americans are hailed for their careful loving treatment of the earth. And yet they killed animals. In moderation for necessity. At least I think. If I'm wrong, tell me the facts. I could be making this up as I type.

On a recent episode of CSI Miami, a young couple dies from e coli poisoning and the harmful side effects of genetically altered corn. The owner of this huge corporate farm when facing off with Horatio says, "If we grew food naturally, people would starve. There would  not be enough to feed people. Therefore if genetically altering food kills one so that five hundred can eat, then that is a good thing."

Wow! I say. Wow! My reactions were...the earth will provide. When we treat it well, when we our stewards over our land, when we aren't greedy capitalist just looking for a profit, there is enough for everyone. More than enough. But we are greedy. We want a 16 oz filet mignon. We are fat with our desires thinking everyone of them is justified and should be satisfied. And while some things are out of our control sometimes I feel like the hurricanes, earth quakes, droughts and famine happen because we helped them happen. When did a whole town starve because nature did not provide in the time of need? Somewhere else in the world there was abundance to assist where there was a lack. But because of politics, culture and bullshit, people did not receive what they needed. So the earth provides, we just mismanage. Have you seen my quote at the very bottom of my blog. I truly believe it!

There is a sufficiency in the world for man's need but not for man's greed. ~Mohandas K. Gandhi

Years ago...I'm talking back when I was in high school I believe, I came across a comic bit in the New Yorks Times or something. I have it in one of my files and will try to find it this weekend to post. But it is the funniest thing. I'll explain it but its much better when you actually see it.

The comic is a picture of a banquet and there is a banner that says something like "PETA 2050". And there are animals dressed in tuxedos and ballroom gowns. And on the banquet table are human skulls and the meat is human meat and stuff.

There are no words or anything. Its just a little funny joke about where we are headed with the extreme rights we give animals. It's an exaggeration but its cute and funny. Although I may have offended vegans and vegetarians everywhere.

What are your thoughts? Do you believe everything should be a vegan or vegetarian? Or even raw foodist? I knew a man who believes that nothing dead should enter his body because it was holy. So that was why he was a raw foodist. Do you think moderation is key? What do you think? Have you tried being a vegan for day? Did it make a difference?

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