New Project in the Works and a Vegan Fail

March 28th, 2011

I have been working on a new project.  A project that I thought about doing two years ago and then talked myself out of it and then waffled and waffled and debated and hesitated and balked and finally a few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and do it.  I only hope that it turns out to be more exciting that the first sentence of this post.

In other news – I tried to be a vegan.

And I failed.

It was the whole cheese/dairy/egg thing that killed it for me.

I don’t know how to eat food without milk, eggs and cheese.  And then there’s the sugar!  Did you know that animal bones are used in the bleaching process of sugar?  Did you know that honey is basically bee spit?  Did you know that some vegans refuse to eat white sugar, brown sugar and honey because of this?

Did you know that when I became a vegetarian, baked goods became one of the central pleasures of my life?  And then when I became a vegan, baked goods suddenly became excruciatingly painful to acquire or bake myself?  Not impossible, but really, really hard.  I checked out a couple of vegan cookbooks at the library to learn how to bake without eggs and milk and butter, but then I got sidetracked by a recipe for cheese made from nuts.  Did you know that you can make cheese from nuts?  I wonder it if is any good?  Because I really love nuts and cheese from nuts actually sounds pretty good to me.

When I first decided to give veganism a try, I emailed Dear Charles and I told him my plan.  My hope was to somehow ‘one-up’ him as Charles became a vegetarian years before me.   But since I figured that it was going to be hard to give up all foods derived from animals, I decided to confine my veganism experiment to Monday – Thursday and revert back to regular old vegetarianism on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Did you get that?  Should I somehow create a flow chart?  Because if I were you and I was reading a blog and they had just told me that they were going to be a vegan on Monday thru Thursday and then a regular vegetarian on Friday, Saturday and Sunday I think I may have located the nearest butter knife and screwed it straight into my temple until all was silence and black.

But that was my plan and to my utter delight, Dear Charles answered back saying that he too would be willing to be a vegan on the aforementioned days and then also revert to regular old vegetarianism on the other aforementioned days.  But then I failed almost as soon as I started because suddenly it was morning of the first day of my vegan experiment and I was not about to endure a cup of coffee without some half and half and then there was the butter for my toast and the milk for my oatmeal and the eggs for my pie-hole! Breakfast is impossible for vegans!

But lunch and dinner are not nearly as difficult.

Unless I was confronted with a delicious looking slice of pizza!

So then I decided to be a vegan for lunch and dinner (unless it was delicious looking pizza or a fabulous baked good) and be a regular old vegetarian for breakfast.

Are you looking for that butter knife again?

I think I will leave Charles out of my new (vegetarian at breakfast, vegan at lunch and dinner) plan because he emailed me back a week or two later and told me that he did not have any problems at all with his attempt at veganism.  So I decided that I am no longer speaking to Dear Charles. His arrogance is simply intolerable!  I had no ideas that part-time vegans could be such braggarts!

Comments

  • Mo:

    I think I need the flowchart…and please make sure to add a visual of the eggs going into your piehole if possible, ok?

    Hope we get to hear about your project!

  • Irma:

    Being a vegan would be waaaaaay too complicated for my little brain…but I have to admit the “cheese” made from nuts sounds intriguing.

  • Marie:

    I could be about an 80 percent vegetarian…but vegan…no way ever.

  • the editor:

    Vegan = all the sanctimony of organized religion without any of the fun.

    • Rechelle:

      Yes well – maybe vegansim is a way to fill the god shaped hole and I have missed being sanctimonious.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    If it makes you feel any better, I can supply you with eggs from happy little hens. The hens have names, true free range even though they enjoying scratching in my flower beds, and there is no rooster this year, so the eggs are not fertile. Just sterile ova that nature would have just wasted, and yet the eggs provide tasty protein to appreciative humans.

    • Rechelle:

      Nikki – That would be a pretty impressive egg route. Is there a nice coffee shop/bakery where we could meet in the middle and exchange eggs and hopefully not at all blows?

      • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

        ha ha! No blows.
        My arm never needs twisting to go to Bluestem Bistro or stop by the garden center when I’m in town. I’ll use any excuse to go to those places.

    • susan:

      Nikki: You MUST live in Portland, aka, Portlandia! Names for the chickens gave me the clue.

      • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

        Close susan – from Seattle, when it was cooler than Portlandia. But now in rural Kansas, with 9 hens, more chicks on the way, and a need to apply crazy names to everything. For example, in honor of Arrested Development, one hen is named Mrs. Featherbottom. She receives care and affection and a cool name, and she gives us great eggs – fair trade in my book.

        • Carol the Long Winded:

          We name our hens and we live in NV. (Michelle, Claudia, Andrea after the kids’ aunts and Mavis and Edna. Edna after a great aunt and Mavis just because.)

          I’ve never understood the vegan anti egg or honey thing. My uncle was an aprianist and the bees never minded sharing their honey. And backyard hens – what, am I suppose to just let the eggs rot?

          Almond “cheese” is okay. But it still isn’t real cheese.

  • Kay in KCMo:

    Mr. Kay in KCMO and I were talking about this kind of thing just the other night as we were eating ribs from Oklahoma Joe’s – how absolutely impossible it would be for us to be vegetarians. And to be vegans! Well, we’ve have to be confined to the loony bin; there’s just no way we could even attempt it. You’re a lot more courageous (or loony) than us, Rechelle.

  • Megan:

    Being vegan isn’t that difficult once you get the basics down. Attempting it without careful planning though would be a real bitch. Soymilk, soy creamer, earth balance spread instead of butter, Ener-G Egg Replacer in baked goods instead of eggs (in recipes from scratch only, nothing in a box, it doesn’t work in them for some reason) and lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

    When my husband and I became vegan soymilk was brown, grainy, stored on the shelf, very expensive and hard to find. We used to eat Grape Nuts with WATER for breakfast. Now you can get soymilk at Target! It’s amazing! Although, oddly enough when I am feeling particularly nostalgic I crave Grape Nuts with water. There is so much vegan stuff out there now including some really good vegan cheeses that actually melt that we use for our weekly Friday night pizzas. Admittedly it takes some effort and planning to make the things you want and it isn’t for everyone, but if you do decide to try it again hit the natural foods section at your grocery store and stock up for you experiment.

    Anyway, what do I know because after 12 years of veganism I am back to omnivore status.

    • Rechelle:

      Megan – I have discovered Earth Balance and it has become my standard bread spread. It is delicious!

    • Renee:

      Hmmm. I never recommend Ener-G to people. I have some and use it very occasionally, but it has a weird flavor in my opinion. In shorter baked goods (brownies, scones, etc.) I use 1/2 banana per egg. For other things where the banana flavor might be problematic, or things where I don’t want much browning, I use 1/4c tofu (whizzed in a food processor) or 1/4c soy yogurt. In cookies, I like to use 1T ground flaxseed soaked for a few minutes in 3T water. In cakes, I just add some acid (for example, 1t apple cider vinegar mixed into the soy/nut milk) and some additional baking soda and baking powder.

      I also agree that the widespread availability of soymilk, and increasingly almond milk, is awesome.

      • Megan:

        I have not had that experience with Ener-G and it’s usually an easy substitute for someone just starting out and experimenting with vegan baking. Vegan baking with tofu or flax, etc. requires a bit more equipment and prep.

    • Carol the Long Winded:

      Soy has lots of phytoestrogens in it and isn’t recommended to those with breast cancer in the family (At least my mom’s oncologist told my sister and me to stop using it.)
      Hemp milk and Almond milk are good though

  • Natalie:

    Come to Lawrence! We have the Merc! You will find such glorious things such as vegan substitutes for these difficult things! Or, really, just any somewhat big supermarket. Stock up on basics like soy/rice/almond/hemp/oat/hazelnut milk when you get a chance or they’re on sale- the aseptic packs don’t require refrigeration until opened and keep for about a year sealed. I prefer almond milk, but rice milk is also pretty good.

    As for baking, pick up a copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, and pretty much any cookbook made by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and/or Terry Hope Romero. (I think these are the right names, it’s 4:30 in the morning.) Their recipes are delicious, and when I bake vegan, I like their stuff. (also try theppk.com, it’s their website) Certain sugars are usually not going to be bleached with bone char, and things like agave nectar can take the place of honey. It just takes a bit of research, and if you’re like me, not always being so strict that you give the waiter at a restaurant a huge list of questions.

    That said, I’m just a vegetarian that occasionally keeps vegan.

    • Renee:

      I have three of their cookbooks. To try out just a few recipes, check out the recipe section of Post Punk Kitchen (theppk.com). They have posted a sampling of recipes from each book. They now have a Vegan Cookies Take Over the Cookie Jar, or something like that, which seems a lot more useful than a cupcake cookbook to me (although I have the cupcake book and not the cookie book).

  • Anoria:

    Veganism makes very little sense to me. There are a lot (though sadly, nowhere near a majority) of happy, well-treated animals that happen to provide food for humans at no real cost to themselves. Are vegans allowed to keep pets? Wear wool sweaters?

    If I ever decide that my distaste for factory farming and other such horrible practices outweighs my taste for a nice grilled steak, I’ll follow my college roommate’s example: she only eats game meat, from animals that have had a chance to enjoy a life in the wild, and cage-free eggs and that sort of thing. I think it’s an admirable way to minimize the suffering involved while still keeping a balanced (and delicious) diet.

    Insofar as I support the bleaching of sugar, which is not much, I think using animal bones for it is sensible. There will always be those among humans who embrace their omnivorous ancestry, so why not use as much from those animals as we can? I suspect they’re not farming and slaughtering animals just to bleach sugar with their bones.

    As you can see, I completely fail at the vegan mindset.

    One more thing: I think a good fresh egg is better for the environment and your body than an ultra-processed vegan substitute carefully constructed of vegetable protein and who knows what flavoring agents. I feel like the substitutes wouldn’t have that much of a customer base if that were the case though, so if any of the vegans who’ve commented would like to change my mind, I’d welcome it.

    • Megan:

      There is no such thing as a vegan egg substitute that is ultra-processed or carefully constructed of vegetable proteins and flavoring. Your choices are: tofu, flaxseeds, Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer (whole soy flour and wheat gluten), Ener-G Egg Replacer (potato starch, tapioca starch and leavenings), bananas and applesauce. All normal, natural stuff.

      Maybe you are thinking of Egg Beaters which contains eggs and aren’t vegan?

  • I think it’s funny how you’ll always know when you meet a vegan– because they’ll make sure to let you know!
    I’m not saying they’re rude or holier than thou about it. Just somehow, someway, it always comes out.

    • Renee:

      That’s probably because if you encounter someone for more than a few hours in life, the topic of eating a snack or meal inevitably comes up. We have the choice of either acting weird/impolite/pretending we’re not hungry, or just making clear what our dietary requirements are. It kind of sucks either way for me, because even when I’m straightforward many people feel compelled to go out of their way to make sure I’m eating. I imagine people with food allergies feel the same way sometimes. Kind of – “I appreciate your concern, but now that we have mutually agreed on a place to eat/I have contributed a dish to our gathering, I have this well under control for myself and don’t need it to be a central topic of conversation for the remainder of our time together. I am happy to discuss veganism in general, and why I believe it is right, but not my individual meal on this specific occasion.”

      I know there are many vegans out there who would like to convert you, but there are just as many who recognize that we’ve made a choice based on what we believe it right and that pushing it on others will only make them angry. That being said, we cannot possibly be expected to keep the fact of our veganism completely to ourselves since eating is such a common social activity.

  • Priss:

    I ate a vegan diet for several years and there are many good reasons to do so. No matter how ethically raised dairy cows are, their babies are still taken from them. I have listened to those mamas since I lived beside a dairy for some years. It is heartbreaking to hear. Their cries go on and on and on. Their agony is palpable. The boy babies from less ethically raised dairy cows often still become veal, which is beyond sad when you learn how veal comes to be. If not veal, they become meat. So the by-product of the dairy industry is meat. There
    are no alternatives to that no matter how ethical and organic the dairy. You can find eggs from chickens who live a happy life, so that’s less problematic if you’re careful, but with egg laying chickens, the boy babies from eggs that are hatched are usually killed immediately. There are also environmental and health benefits along with animal rights benefits to a well-planned vegan diet. I am no longer vegan but my reasons are not good. I’m lazy and don’t always make the effort. Facing that fact makes me want to do better though!

    For those who think vegans are self-righteous and annoying, please realize that the vegans are also facing a lot of rude, insulting behavior from those around them. I can’t tell you how many times I got to hear people tell me how they love to suck on the bones of baby pork ribs. How their mouth watered over the thought of pigs being made into bacon. How they liked their dead cow meat (expressed that way to me entirely for shock value) bloody and barely warm. I was told often that I was crazy to be vegan, how people couldn’t be healthy if they didn’t eat meat, how I must be a self-righteous prig to be be vegan. And this was when I was in a homeschool support group that had several vegetarians and a couple of vegans as well as a number of atheists so we weren’t your standard conservative homeschool bunch. When we’d have potluck get-togethers, the vegans’ food was always gladly eaten by everyone because it was good! But still we heard comments like that. So before you pass judgement on vegans for their sanctimony, think about how they are feeling when they are trying to do what they believe is right and are having to deal with some people who are fairly awful to them.

    Rechelle, I find breakfast the easiest of my meals to make vegan! I like my oatmeal with fruit and nuts. I seldom add sweetener but if I do want some, I use agave syrup which is lovely stuff. It has a very neutral taste, like sugar does, so I have even used it in coffee. You can also buy vegan sugar. Mostly what I have for breakfast though are fruit smoothies made with soy or hemp milk and various fruits and greens. Those smoothies are very filling and somehow when I have them I feel better throughout the day.

  • I can’t wait to hear about the new project!

    • Rechelle:

      Cat – I think you in particular will love it.

  • LucyJoy:

    I’m able to tell all the religious people who come to my door that I’m an athiest so they’ll leave me alone. Last week the creepy guys that sell steak & seafood out of the back of an old beat-up pick-up showed up at our door & wanted to sell me some of their questionable food. I told them hubby & I were vegan – even though we’re not…. Don’t think I’ll see them around again.

  • M.R.:

    Dominos Organic Sugar is not strained through charcoal made of cow bones. When I first heard about the cow bones thing, I thought it was made up. and I emailed Dominos. And they sent me back a nice informative email with more info than I ever wanted to know — for example, those were all-American cow bones! And let me know that their organic sugar did not use any cow bones in the making.

    Been a vegetarian for 30 years. Had some vegan employees once that I would cook for from time to time — sorry world, I will never be vegan! Not even for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday.