Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Little Herb Garden

I've love cooking with herbs. I think they bring so much flavor to any dish.  In fact, my first wedding present was a rotating spice rack that I just love and still use today.  I keep it right next to the stove so I have all my herbs at reach while I'm cooking.  But since my shift to go vegan, I have wanted to take things to the next level-which means switching to fresh herbs! 

So today I went out and bought my first herb plants to grow at home.  Since I don't really have much yard space, I wanted to grow them in pots to put in the kitchen windowsill.  I'm not really sure how well they will do in the kitchen, but I guess I will find out.  I've never grown herbs before so I don't know which ones do well inside and which are best outside.  I suppose, like everything else, I will learn as I go.

I started with rosemary, basil and mint (for hubby's mojitos).  I already used some of the rosemary in tonight's dinner (which my toddler actually ate all of it).  I just love having the herbs growing right there in my kitchen.  They smell so good, not to mention it makes my kitchen look more like a real chef's kitchen!

I also picked up a Grape Tomato plant.  I have no idea how to grow this thing, but I guess I will learn this as well.  Growing up, my father always grew tomatoes, as well as many other fruits and veggies.  He would spend every weekend outside gardening.  Although I think he did it just for relaxation because I don't remember us ever eating the food he grew. 

Well, I hope some of his green thumb was past on to me so I can be successful in growing my own fruits, veggies and herbs.  Of course, let's see how well I do with this plant and the herbs in my kitchen before taking on more challenges.  It will be so rewarding to literally "eat the fruits of my own labor!" Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Resistant Veggie Kids

It's been eleven days since I started my vegan challenge and I am loving it! As for my children, well not so much.  When I first told them about my decision to go vegetarian, they were not happy but they seemed willing to try. But when I mentioned "vegan", I could feel the resistance.  I know they were thinking that first I took away their meat and now the milk, cheese and cream.  How could I be so mean?   My teenage daughter expressed to me how it was my choice to go vegan and that it's not fair to force her to eat vegan.  I suppose she's right, but as long as I do the food shopping, she's out of luck.  One might think that since her two best friends are vegetarians it would make this process much easier, but sadly it does not. 

My toddler is also having trouble transitioning to vegan.  I have been trying to switch her from cows milk to soy milk for a while now.  But this little girl can tell whenever I put soy milk in her cup.  I have tried putting half regular and half soy and the second she drinks its, she yells out at me "this is not my milk!"  Well, I have stopped buying the cow's milk so I will just keep trying the soy milk until she gives in, or at least until she gets tired of just water and juice.  I also tried to switch her regular yogurt for soy yogurt.  I finally found some this week and in the flavor she likes.  I tried it and it was good.  When I gave it to her I told her that I got a new yummy yogurt just for her.  She tried it and seemed to like it...for about a one minute.  After that, she wanted her Dora yogurt back. 

What is a vegan mother to do?  Can't someone please make non-dairy milk and yogurt with Dora on the box?  Or maybe Spongebob or any other character that will say to my toddler "it is okay to eat this product."  I know that this is a process and one day we will all be there, but it is a bit frustrating.  My teenager called me from school the other day and asked me to bring her something to eat before basketball practice.  So of course when I ask what she will like I just knew what I was going to hear...McDonald's!  This was the last place I wanted to visit, but reluctantly, I went.  I felt so dirty and uncomfortable being there, like a hypocrite. Imagine someone who reads all my vegan postings sees me in line getting a chicken nugget meal!  Why can't they have some veggie value meal that my teenager will like and that I will be happy buying for her?  Why can't all these products and places just cooperate with what I'm trying to do? I guess I'm asking for too much, but sometimes it seems like the rest of the world is against me getting my children to eat a healthier diet.  I suppose all I can do is keep trying...and hope for the best.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vegan Pets?

Now that I have made the transition from being vegetarian to vegan, I have been thinking about other changes that I can make.  I know that being vegan does not just entail the food we eat, but all aspect of our lives.  Things like beauty products, household products, clothes and accessories need to be animal free as well.  So I will take on each of these areas and make the necessary changes needed to make the complete shift to be vegan.  But there is one area that I just can not figure food.   As a person who has taken all animal products out of my diet and is constantly reminding my children why we don't eat meat, I feel a bit hypocritical when opening a can of animal filled dog food to feed to my dog and cat each day. 

So I started to wonder if other vegans feed regular dog and cat food to their pets.  Or, is their such a thing as a vegan dog or cat?  Until now I have just kept telling myself that my pets are carnivores by nature and it would be abusive not to feed them the food needed to keep them healthy.  I mean, wouldn't it be just as bad to bring harm to my pet by feeding her the wrong food just to save the life of another animal?  The question of whether to kill animals to feed humans is easy for me to answer, but whether to kill animals to feed other animals is not so simple.  How do I resolve this ethical issue? 

I started to do a little research to find some answers and a resolution.  Well, I'm even more confused! There is a lot of info about this subject, but I haven't really found anything that gives me a clear answer as to what to do. It seems that many vegans do feed their pets regular store dog and cat food and many make their own vegan pet food.  I haven't even seen anything as of yet that can tell me what is the right thing to do (for the pets, not for me). It's easy to say, well I'm vegan so I will not buy any pet foods made from animals.  But I have to also concider the health of my pets. 

So I am torn as to what to do.  Maybe I should consult with my veterinarian, but if he's not vegan, I will probably get the same look I got from my pediatrician when I told her I was feeding my toddler a vegetarian diet.  She looked at me as if I was crazy! 

I would love to hear from other vegan pet owners to hear how they tackled this issue.  It you have a story, comment or advice about this subject, please leave a comment below or join the discussion board on my Facebook page. 

Look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vegan Shopping

So yesterday, I did my first vegan shopping trip.  Wow, was that exhausting! I knew that I was going to be there longer than usual but I felt that the day was never going to end.  Before leaving the house, I planned my meals for the week and then made my shopping list (my very long shopping list) and put on my comfortable shoes and then headed out.  I picked up a coffee and then was on my way.  

I wasn't sure which store to shop at; I was torn between three places.  There was Whole Foods, that I just knew was probably the best place to find vegan foods, the grocery store that I usually like to shop at that has quite a good selection of organic and vegetarian foods, and then the store I least like to shop at but is the most affordable.  Since I was not only shopping vegan, but also on a budget, I decided to go to the most affordable place.  Big mistake!! 

You see, not only did I sign up for the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart this week, but I also signed up to join Project: Food Budget where bloggers set a weekly food budget and then each week share their experiences.  I didn't realize at first when I signed up for both challenges that they would begin on the same week.  So now not only am I shopping vegan, but on a budget as well! This just may be a really good thing because I think it would be very easy to go way over budget with the vegan shopping. I have found that the better the food, the more it will probably cost. 

So I went to the cheapest grocery store and I quickly found out that this store does not cater to the vegetarian or vegan kind! I began in the produce section.  This was probably the easiest part of the whole trip since most of my list was fresh produce.  Then I moved on to the rest of the list.  This was not so easy.  I think I read the labels on every item I picked up.  I was very surprised to find out that many products contained milk or eggs, products that I would never havethought  did.  For example, I could not find any bread crumbs or croutons that did not contain milk. I had no idea that there was milk in bread crumbs. Maybe I'm just a bit ignorant but I thought it was just...bread! I guess that shows me that you don't really know what's in your food unless you read the label. 

Well, after about two and a half hours later, I had made it through the entire store. I knew that I was not going to continue going to this store.  This store was a place for people on a budget but not those who are looking for healthier foods.  There was not many choices for vegetarians or vegans. And if there was a vegan option, there was only one option and it was not cheap!  There were some products that I could not even find, such as soy cheese and soy yogurt. It was frustrating!

So I have learned that I need to shop at a place that has more options and keeps the vegetarian and vegan shoppers in mind.  I'm sure that if I went to Whole Foods I would be able to find everything I need, but I still need to try to stick to my budget and I don't think I can do that and shop only there.  So next week I will try the other grocery store that is a bit more expensive but has more choices for vegan shoppers. Let's hope I have better luck! 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Going Vegan!

go-vegan.pngNext month will mark the one year anniversary of my vegetarian life! It was last year on Earth Day that I decided that I would embrace life as a vegetarian. I told myself that I could no longer eat meat and I never looked back. It was not hard at all. I suppose it is harder to keep a promise to another person than to yourself. When you make a commitment to yourself, it's harder to cheat because you will always know it! I didn't want to disappoint myself. I had made a life changing decision and I wanted to be proud of myself...and I am.

Now I am ready to take my commitment to the next step and go vegan! This might be a much harder challenge. Giving up meat was not too bad because I
have always enjoyed veggies and I actually loved eating them. I had like to eat meat too, but I knew I wouldn't go into withdrawal or anything if I didn't have any. I still eat some seafood occasionally and still enjoy sushi from time to time (usually on date night with the hubby, we love Japanese). But now, all that will be over! And now there is a whole list of things that I will not be able to have that just might have me in withdrawal and detox!!

I did some research to see what kinds of things I will have to leave out and I was a little surprised at what I discovered. Along with the obvious things like meat, seafood and dairy, there are some not so obvious items that I'm sure most people would not think of.  Such as:

cochineal- a red food dye made from insects
lecithin- made from animal tissue used in dressings
gelatin- made from boiled animal skin
marshmallows- made with gelatin
whey- made from dairy
honey- what I have discovered is essentially bee throw up
beer- because they use animal products in the production process
sugar- can be made from bone char (who would of thought!)

So I have this little list of things to avoid.  But something tells me that it's going to get a whole lot bigger.  As I sit here typing, I am enjoying my favorite Starbucks coffee.  Will I still be able to drink this? Do they make this with Soy? And what about chocolate? Are there kinds I will still be able to eat (I'm guessing milk chocolate is out)?  I've heard that chocolate has a small percentage of spiders that get inside while manufacturing...I guess that might rule out chocolate!  Chocolate and coffee are my two favorite things!  If I can still have them, then I know I will survive. 

Well, I have decided to take this as a process and make small changes along the way.  I was reading an article this morning that gave me such inspiration and a good way to look at the process.  It said to transition one category at a time and when you run out of categories, you have become vegan! Well, here I go, wish me luck!! :)