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Return to being a Vegan

I’ll admit it… about six months ago I gave up the Vegan diet I had been on for close to two years and went off on a meat and cheese (mostly cheese) binge. But now, since my weight stopped coming off and I just didn’t feel as good, last Monday I returned to my Vegan diet (but I will miss that occasional top sirloin!).

et’s see how long I can keep going (says bill as he digs out his Vegan Chili recipe.)

Being a Vegan is paying off…

(co-posted with Panhandle Vegan)

It is now the beginning of September and I am 10 months into being a Vegan… and I have lost 50 Pounds 0ff my 385 pound start (which means I’ve lost as much as Marie Osmond did on Nutri-System, but I am still not pretty!)

If I continue this way I should have at least 60 pounds off by the end of my first year (my ultimate goal, as folks who read my stuff know, is 150 pounds… at least another year away and probably two.)

Now it’s time to increase the exercise (I can actually move around more than I could when I started. Amazing!)

I’m starting a new blog for Vegans who live in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia…

… and nearby places.

It will be called Panhandle Vegan and it’s address is http://panhandlevegan.blogspot.com. If you go there now, you won’t find much except a brief description of what’s coming in the weeks ahead. However, if you are a Vegan, say, who will be coming to the CATF (Contemporary American Theater Festival) in Shepherdstown in July, this will help you find the best places to eat before or after the show.

I’m starting it, of course, because Elly and I have a difficult time eating out with friends and so we started keeping records of the best menu items around. This, I hope, will make other people’s lives easier.

– Bill

New Year’s Eve… Elly and Bill at Home

Yup. No parties, no restaurants, no fireworks… we’ll stay up to see the year turn into 2010 and then go to bed and sleep our way into the next cycle.

I’m cooking a new Vegan Macaroni and Daiya Cheese with Mushrooms casserole and some steamed organic carrots as the evening’s treat. Sounds very simple, but smells and looks (and hopefully tastes) pretty good.

We’ve been keeping a pretty tight budget while I’m out of work… all things being equal. Where we used to do at least a movie a week, we’re doing one every two weeks or longer (saw UP IN THE AIR yesterday when we went on the Wednesday discount food shop at Common Market in Frederick… great film. Loved George Clooney.)

So we’re sitting around watching food competitions on TV (on Food Network) after spending much of the afternoon filling in on-line job applications while watching a Burn Notice Marathon on USA Network. The snow we had this morning got iced over by some rain and I guess the roads around Shepherdstown are a mess anyway.

Not a bad New Year’s Eve at all.

Two days until Thanksgiving… here are some Vegetarian recipes…

I found these on Dr. Ayala’s blog at Salon… so CLICK HERE and get some wonderful vegetarian recipes, and spare the Turkey!

And knowing that this is Thanksgiving Week, we sure could use a little good news (or so Anne Murray says):

Cheese.

Elly and I just got back from an adventure… we set out searching for cheese. Not any old cheese… since we are now Vegans there are no dairy products allowed and our weekly purchase of local cheddar at the Shepherdstown Farmers Market is something we have seriously missed.

No… we set off for Rockville, MD, to find Pangea, a distribution center that wholesales to Vegetarian and Vegan companies (they also sell by e-mail to about 11 states — go to http://www.veganstore.com for Pangea’s listing), but opens a small storefront to retail customers on Saturday and Sunday.

On our way there we made two other stops… the first was at Elly’s friend Lori Jenkins’ jewelry exhibit in Gaithersberg. The second was in Rockville at a Vegan restaurant that we had wanted to try, The Vegetable Garden, which was just spectacular, and not far from Pangea where we went after lunch.

Pangea is the closest store to us that sells two kinds of Vegan (ie:non-dairy) cheeses, The first was Daiya, which we had heard the most about, that came in a shredded cheddar-like form and a shredded mozzarella-like product, both of which are noted both for their flavors and because they melt and stretch. We bought five pounds which have to be kept frozen in storage… we broke up the packages into smaller, refrigerated batches.

The other product we wanted to try was a Vegan cheese brand called Dr. Cow, which is made from soy and nuts, but mixed and aged like cheese by a couple in Brooklyn, NY. The kind we got was a cashew cheese which tasted like sharp cheddar… however, we didn’t buy a lot… one 2 1/2 oz disk of cheese costs over $6.00 and is no bigger than a stack of two or three checkers (when you go to the Dr. Cow website it shows photos of their cheeses with absolutely nothing to compare size to visually, so it’s a huge surprise how tiny these are!) Small or not, the Dr. Cow cheeses have received terrific reviews (like THIS ONE) which refer to the product as “the Best Cheese on Earth.” They may indeed be right.

A warning, however, since I have been adhering lately to the McDougall diet. which avoids oils due to fat content, be aware that these cheeses are loaded with oil. The Daiya cheese is 90 calories for 28 grams, a very small amount.

Anyway, we got our cheeses and returned home in time to walk the dogs and go to a movie (the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man”… great flick) making this a wonderful Saturday.

And the Senate, without one Republican vote, got the 60 they needed to bring the Health Care Bill to the floor for debate around 8 PM. Now we get into the big conflict. More later.

Why going Vegan makes a difference…

There are lots of stats available showing how changing a percentage of our diets to non-meats and milks could benefit a world facing climate change and it’s costs. Here’s one I picked up from the Tofurky site:

If 1/3 of Americans switched from eating one 3 ½-ounce serving of beef, one egg, and a one-ounce serving of cheese each day to a mix of vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains:
(United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, 2006.)

* Acres of cropland spared: 180 million (an area larger than the state of Texas)
* Tons of pesticides eliminated: 9,375
* Tons of fertilizer eliminated: 2 million
* Tons of manure eliminated*: 570 million (* Livestock manure and flatulence generate 30-40% of total methane emissions from human-influenced activities.)

A Sunday Vegan Cooking Experiment

I’ll admit, as a newly minted Vegan, I’m not looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. As usual, we are going over to my daughter Penny’s house where she applies the Restaurant training she had at Cornell to dinner (she’s a great cook) and especially to a large Turkey.

Elly and I debated on whether we could get through the dinner by just eating the veggies and were getting even more worried about breaking the pledge. Then, in my reading, I came across an article on Tofurky, a tofu-based turkey substitute stuffed with wild rice and with a vegan gravy.

p_recipes_tofurkyfeastYou can buy a Tofurky Feast, which is quite large and comes with some extras like dumplings and Tofurky strips for nibbling. Or you can just by the smaller, dinner for 2 Tofurkey roast. So, today I am experimenting with that size, surrounding it as it roasts with carrots, potatoes and onions as it says to do on the package directions.

If we like this, we’ll make the Tofurky Feast and bring it along to Penny’s on Thanksgiving Day.

Just an hour to go… then I’ll whip up the gravy and we try it out. Fingers crossed.

(Tofurky is a registered trademark of Turtle Island Foods in Oregon)

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UPDATE:

The Tofurky is terrific! Best Sunday Dinner we’ve had in a long time. My wife and I are now planning other ways we can serve this wonderful stuff.

If you get a chance to try it let me know what you think of it.

Changing a lifestyle is very interesting…

My readers know that last week my wife and I started eating a Vegan diet, but it is now becoming a more interesting prospect since she received a bunch of books she ordered from Amazon. There were some cookbooks to give us new things to try, which I appreciated since I do a lot of our cooking, and a heavy volume called “The China Study,” by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II. Dr. Campbell comes from decades of scientific research at Cornell, MIT and other institutions and he published this book three years ago. If I had read it then, I would have most likely started this Vegan program much sooner.

I won’t get into the depth of research in this book, but I will say there are hundreds of scientifically proven and published sources here which contradict most of the popular diet plans that I have been addicted to most of my overweight life. Ostensibly, he shows why the basic American diet, especially as it regards protein from meat and large quantities of milk products, not only promotes weight but also heart disease, mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes (which I have developed) and many more things which lead to shortened lifetimes.

Campbell gets into the advantages of replacing an animal protein based diet with a plant based diet as a way of promoting health and reversing some diseases (including diabetes, which he has significant documentation on). As time goes by I’ll keep you updated on things I’ve learned here, and I’d appreciate your comments, too. So many people have done this before me and I have a lot to learn.

Vegan Shopping

I’m in the Cafe at the Charles Town, WV, Martin’s, having spent an awfully long time in their health food department (and some of the regular aisles) looking at labels befor buying anything. I kept a recipe for Vegan Sausages up in my monitor as I shopped and got what I think are workable elements (had to replace the oat flour which they didn’t have with another flour from the same health food company that looked like it would comply.)

My wife asked for frozen Vegan meatballs (not made with meat, of course) and I got 3 kinds for her to try (and had to be careful here… some of the Natural and organic products have some dairy attributes way down on the ingredients list.)

And I splurged on fruit… apples, peaches, oranges and some frozen fruits to use with seltzer fizzees which I make with seltzer, light soy milk and some liquid stevia flavors.

Hopefully I’ll survive the week.

A word about food choices…

My wife has decided to become a Vegan (which, if you don’t now, is someone who eats NO animal products, including milk and cheese, at all.) As it happens in our house, it is easier for us both to eat the same way than it is to buck the system, so, after finishing my assignment to eat the cheeses and stuff that are lef in our refrigerator, I’ll be a Vegan, too. This requires some research, since I do most f the food shopping in our house. So I have posted a new listing in the Reform Agenda section of my Blogroll, VegFamily, which is a very good site I found while nosing around. It has all kinds of articles, plus recipes which I can use.

So, now I’m thinking about how this is going to affect my ongoing search for weight loss. And it looks like it will be a good move. There is enough documentation to show that weight should go down on a normal Vegan diet and many diabetics who become Vegans eventually start seeing some of their symptoms reverse. That would really be nice.

I’m having a cup of cream free coffee and watching Morning Meeting on MSNBC when they come out with an announcement that Coca Cola is releasing a new product, 8 oz cans of Coke in 8-pack containers that have only 90 calories a can (I guess a regular can which holds twice as much has 180 calories). They are marketing this as a way to get the energy from Coca Cola without drinking as much, thus fighting the National Obesity Epidemic. One of the commentators on the show said that the eight-pack would be convenient since he would now have two cans with his lunch.

So much for health.

Onward and upward.