Last Friday night, I decided to watch the documentary “Get Vegucated.” The documentary followed three people from various walks of life try to eat a vegan diet for 6-weeks. Before I go into this more, let me just say that a moment before watching the documentary I was disappointed to find I did not fit into the once comfy PJs I wanted to “veg-out” and watch the movie in. They used to be baggy and loose. My bad eating, no neglectful and mindless eating caught up with me. I watched the movie and I started thinking about how my Buddhist practice should cover BODY, speech and mind.
Sitting in meditation will not make you thinner. How you treat and train your body is just as important as how you treat and train your mind. Treating your body well is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself.
This is why the documentary hit a nerve with me. What have I been doing? I have been busy meditating, but have not paid a bit of attention to what I have been eating. Yes, there is the whole animal cruelty thing that is bothersome, but this is not what bothered me. My pantry is filled with processed foods, sugar, chemicals, etc. My inner Buddha is not the fat kind.
Why not consider giving this a try and see if it makes a difference in my overall feeling of well-being?
Giving up meat, milk and eggs, I can adjust to this. I am sure family and friends will be supportive. My biggest challenges will be the following.
1. How do I eat vegan and still feed a picky, meat-eating teenager? We will see how this goes.
2. I need to find a good vitamin supplement and then need to remember to take it daily. I am not a big milk drinker anyway, but cut all cheese and other dairy? I need to remember to take my calcium and not forget it. Also, I have read articles that vegans tend to be deficient most in calcium, vitamin D, Omega vitamins. And, my sister stresses B-Complex vitamins.
3. Eating out will be difficult. At some restaurants, wine, pickles, lettuce or going hungry will be the only options. This will require some careful planning before heading out to eat and will limit where I can go.
Mindfulness includes eating healthier.
Last weekend, I got busy stocking my refrigerator with healthy, vegan options. I already have things like quinoa and brown rice in the house. The rest of this blog post contains a list of what I bought with lessons I learned along the way.
1. Purely Decadent Chocolate Obsession Non-Dairy Ice Cream—This is by far my favorite find. It soy based and DELICIOUS. I like this as much, if not more than Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It even has little chocolate crunchy bites mixed in. I can’t wait to try the other flavors. I just want to keep my kids from finding out how good this is! http://www.purelydecadent.com/products/soy-milk-frozen-desserts
2. Kim’s Magic Pop Onion, Plain and Strawberry Flavors—These are awesome and only 15 calories a piece! If you ate the whole bag in one sitting, although that would not be mindful, it would only be 225 calories. My kids and I ate all of them in 2 days and had to go back to the store for more. They are crunch and great for times you just want something to munch on. http://www.kimsmagicpop.com/magic-pop-story/
READ the labels!
3. Go Veggie Smoked Provolone Cheese—This was also pretty good and creamy. However, I read the label yesterday and was disappointed to see there are milk by-products in the cheese. Why do they call this Go Veggie and dairy free! Please note that I learned there is a purple labeled Go Veggie for vegans. Look for the word casein or whey (a.k.a. milk) in the ingredients. Also, do not assume Dairy Free, rice or soy based means it is vegan.
4. Go Veggie Shredded Parmesan Cheese—Same as the provolone, this has milk by-product if you buy the green label.
5. Galaxy Shredded Rice Cheese—I did not open this and will be returned to the store. It has casein in the ingredients. I heard they have a vegan version of the same cheese.
Vegan does not mean it better for you.
6. Earth Balance Natural Spread—Although this is vegan and tastes okay, I question why I bought this. It has as much artery clogging crap in it as any other margarine on the market. If it makes you feel better to buy it because it says “vegan” on the label, go for it! http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/product/original-buttery-spread/
Don’t be afraid to try new things.
7. Sprouted Smoked Tofu—No particular brand to share, but this is pretty good. I love the firm texture and it is already seasoned. This was very convenient when I needed something for my lunch.
8. Regular Firm Tofu—I love tofu and I have learned this week of ways to give it a firmer and meatier texture such as tossing in corn starch and soaking up excess water with a paper towel before cooking. I will keep you posted on how this goes.
9. Kashi Strawberry Fields Cereal—I like this. It is a sweet and crunchy cereal. I ate it with almond milk and tossed in a handful of blueberries. http://www.kashi.com/products/strawberry_fields_original
10. Rainbow Swiss Chard—I never had swiss chard before. It was really good. I sautéed diced swiss chard in olive olive with minced garlic and onion. Then, tossed in some cooked quinoa. This was one of my favorite meals this week. I am proud of this one and so happy to say I tried something new!
Beware of meatless meat food. It will not help your craving for fried chicken.
11. Oven Roasted Tofurky Deli Slices—YUCK! It smelled like dog food. http://www.tofurky.com/tofurkyproducts/deli_slices.html
12. Pepperoni Tofurky Slices—I was hoping to make pizza with this, but after the oven roasted Tofurky, I am taking this back to the store. If you want pepperoni, eat pepperoni. If you want to be vegan, have a veggie pizza. http://www.tofurky.com/tofurkyproducts/deli_slices.html
Fruit! Lots of fruit!
13. Blueberries, Cara Cara Oranges, Bananas—All within easy reach and all good for me.
14. Frozen Mixed Fruit—An easy alternative if I run out of fruit. Also, frozen fruit is a good treat frozen!
The word sprouted not only sounds healthier, but it can taste good.
15. Ezekiel Sesame Sprouted Bread—This is pretty good. I like the fact it is coated with sesame seeds on the outside and the inside of the bread is not loaded with nuts. If you looking for a bread close to good old fashion whole wheat, this is a good choice. The bonus, it is good for you and only 80 calories per slice. http://www.foodforlife.com/product/breads/ezekiel-49-sesame-sprouted-whole-grain-bread
16. Matzo—A good old piece of matzi topped with the Earth Balance spread is vegan! However, it is not real good for you. L
Comparison shop-- Not all products are the same
17. Pacific Brand Unsweetened Almond Milk—This I liked better than regular milk, but ended up disappointed with I saw it only contains 2% of the USD recommended allowance for calcium. I end up pouring this down the drain and buying Almond Dream brand. http://www.pacificfoods.com/our-foods/nut-grain-beverages/organic-unsweetened-almond-original-non-dairy-beverage
18. Almond Dream Brand Unsweetened Almond Milk—This is low in calories and has 30% of the USD recommended allowance for calcium. It is fortified, but better than nothing. Tastes the same as the Pacific brand and has calcium. This is a keeper. http://www.tastethedream.com/products/product/1938/360.php
As my quest for easy and good tasting vegan food continues, I will continue to share my progress during my 6-week challenge. If you have any ideas, please share. I am officially on day 4 and feeling pretty good so far. I feel more satisfied after eating and I have found I am less likely to snack in between meals.
Until next time. May you be happy!