This is a phenomenal article about the complex situation faced by the food system. The article focuses on chocolate, but the ideas can be applied to a multitude of industrialized rainforest crops. The ideas of the challenges placed on the environment by industrialized crops and population growth can be applied universally.
When I began my 4 month foray into Veganism, I fully intended to update my progress frequently and diligently. I knew that this particular journey would be accompanied by a variety of difficult trials and tremendous discoveries. Going forward I learned that, even though my documentation skills fell short, the adventures were abundant. This will be the beginning of a loosely organized series of Vegan Lessons. As with all of the weird little things I do, I am trying to challenge myself to make myself grow. In the absence of a round the world ticket, a university program, or the advice of an enlightened spiritual guru to follow, it is this. As always the path isn’t altogether clear and distinct, instead its curly and rambly. Now, let’s see if I can adhere to these stringent guidelines. Read on if you have a strong enough stomach 😉
Day 1- As things often do with me, it began fast. Thinking ahead, I had made a big batch of Lentil Soup for so I had something substantial and delicious for my first few Vegan Days. It was a recipe from Joy of Cooking, Lentil Soup with Greens. The Greens were Kale and the Bacon was withheld. I feasted on this double batch for a few days before the 6th. I ate a big bowl that day about two hours before my Yoga Class.
Vegan Lesson 1 – Just because there is no meat or dairy, doesn’t mean it can’t go bad. On my way to Yoga I had to stop and throw up vigorously, 3 times, by the side of the road.
I have always had a strong stomach, so this reaction surprised me. I felt way better after throwing up though, so I decided to go to Yoga anyway.
Vegan (yoga) Lesson 2 – Don’t go to Yoga if you have (self-induced) food poisoning.
I made it through the standing series okay. Though I felt wobbly and worse than ever before, including the double classes I have done. I decided to avoid the floor series, which can cause nausea on its best days and excused myself.
It felt awful, I had never left the room before. And when the cool air hit me and I laid down for a few minutes it felt worse. I thought I could have stayed. Then, I stood up and took a characteristically large gulp of water. I am known to drink a lot of water at a time, sort of a lifelong habit. About 10 seconds after that, I ran to the bathroom and threw up vigorously again, 3 is the magic number. So I was right to evacuate the space.
And after some reflection, I realized that I need to ease up on myself sometimes. I made it 11 months in hot yoga practice without leaving the room. If food poisoning is my line, its a pretty good line to have.
And that is what I learned on Day 1. I still struggled with the diet and have a few more overly detailed experiences to share, but after feeling like my body would collapse from lack of nutrients, I settled. Now I am flowing with it.
After the first two weeks, I found solutions to the problems I encountered and the difficulties transformed into positive experiences for growth.
I learned a number of new recipes and have discovered a vast array of new ways to eat. I will share some of my favorite recipes in the coming weeks. My tastes have changed and broadened even faster than I thought possible.
What I have learned so far, these 24 days, is that it is possible. This is only the beginning and I strive to discover new ways to nourish myself on this plant based diet. I know that there is hope, that I can continue for the entire four months. Furthermore, it won’t be a burden but a dynamic and revelatory experience. After all, the crux is growth.
“Don’t go through life, grow through life.” Eric Butterworth
Stay tuned for more self induced lessons from this hapless vegan.
It was hard to choose what meals I would eat on the last day before the four month vegan culinary journey. The indecision was no problem though, because everything fell perfectly out of Portland’s blue sky. Yes summer in the Northwest is here. The magical 4-5 months where the green on the ground and the blue in the sky meet in perfect harmony and all of the rain soaked spirits rejoice and brighten showing their most abundant happiness. A good day to start a Vegan Adventure.
I woke up, then ate my customary bowl of cereal. Breakfast has been Vegan for the last two years anyways, since my usual fare is a bowl of cereal, pumpkin raisin crunch usually with almond milk. Steel Cut oats with a topping of almonds, almond milk, and brown sugar alternates with that. So breakfast is not anything to worry about.
My friend Dan from high school was in town for the day, so I had to show him a quick four hour sample of Portland. So we went to Cacao for two flights of Drinking Chocolate. The Chocolate is made with cream, it is a rare treat and a perfect thing to have to prepare me for this experience. The Spicy kind was the best, though I did really enjoy the cinnamon flavor. Dan couldn’t believe that they had that kind of thing and is hoping that Denver will have a place like that soon.
Then we went to the Tao of Tea. There we consumed 3 pots of Ayurvedic tea along with spinach wraps and the best dal I have ever had. So meal number two was also Vegan. There are lots of Vegan options in Portland, which will make the experience smoother.
So I said goodbye to Dan and it was almost time for dinner.
I wanted to have Pho, because 4 months will be a long time to go without it. The bad news, it was sunday. So all of the pho places I loved were closed all day or at least by 6pm. Poor planning on my part, is that a side effect of the Vegan diet? Oh no! I am losing my ability to think already. Just kidding. I went to one of my favorite Thai places instead, luckily they keep later hours.
At Thai Little Home, I had the Tom Kha soup with squid. It was something new, creamy with mushrooms and large rings of squid. And of course my favorite dish of all time Salmon Pumpkin Curry. It was delicious and creamy as usual. The perfect pumpkin wedges soaked up the curry and the salmon flaked off immaculately.
That was it Drinking chocolate, squid and salmon. I am really going to miss Pho and seafood. I don’t really care about Land meat, except for the broth they use to make pho and ramen. If there was a way that I could eat environmentally sustainable fish or raise my own somehow with some giant underpopulated fish farm, I would. That will be my greatest challenge, the lack of seafood. But I will just keep calm and carry on goin’ vegan.
I have done the research, the vegan cookbook has been creased, and the Vitamin B-12 ’twill be here shortly. At the worst I will lower my carbon footprint for a few months and try a bunch of new foods. At the best I will find a new healthier way of living that I can sustain during my active lifestyle. Not to mention all the things in between.
“Food, glorious food, hot sausage and mustard, while we’re in the mood, cold jelly and custard, peas, pudding and saveloys, what next is the question. Rich Gentleman, have it boys, indigestion.” Oliver.
I love food. It could be said and indeed has been said by more than one person, that I experience life through food. This is an astute observation. It is not the only way that I experience life, but it is certainly a major lens through which I view, absorb, consume(?) experiences. I am always eating and always yearning for a new culinary experience. When I am at home, most of my adventures involve discovery of new places to eat, unique, exotic, interesting places.
The most recent Portland Restaurant month was incredible. I was able to visit ten new places. Each restaurant was as good as the next and offered a new discovery of its own (more on this when I have time use my backlog.) The menu was limited, but it didn’t matter, because the place was new, so the food was new.
What’s more? I was able to collect these culinary experiences in good company. Which is important, because though food makes me happy, and “happiness is real when shared.” Into the Wild.
These days, in Peru I mean, I do not have to go far to find culinary adventure. It is everywhere. Cusco is a great place to eat with healthy variety. Aside from the traditional Peruvian Cuisine, which is unique, in more ways than its obsession for potatoes.
There are multitudes of restaurants catering to the entire array of international tastebuds. It is rather annoying to be on a trip, where I am trying to focus on Spanish immersion, and being surrounded instead by tourists speaking English. I can’t be too disappointed by this, because I am one of them.
The high number of tourists makes the culinary experience diverse and adventurous. I have tried so many different types of food here already and am on a path to try many more. I was going to list them, but instead I will post pictures of as many as possible.
When I got back from the run and recovered from the intoxicating effect of the sunset. I realized that I had not eaten breakfast or lunch save 2 granola bars, one apple (saved from Miami) and a few pieces of chocolate. I hadn’t eaten anything in Peru. My head and my tummy were aligned in their focus on food. My starving stomach compelled me to find something to eat and my mind desired to taste the Miraflores flavor in a literal fashion. The eyes and the heart had been satisfied and now it was time for more physiological and logical concerns. I also needed water since my pee had turned a dangerously dark yellow due to the necessary embargo on importation of tap water that my body had established.
The taxi driver had recommended a place to get a Peruvian style hamburger and Papas fritas. Of course at the time I dismissed this idea as being nowhere near exotic enough. But then when I asked the hostel attendant, he too raved about La Lucha, referencing especially the French fries which are made from local Peruvian potatoes. Peru is home to 500 different varieties. And after tasting them, I believe they all put the cruddy brown russet to shame. He also recommended Lucama juice. Saying that Peru has many rare fruits but Lucama is the best and rarest. He really wanted me to try it.
I went to the ATM at Benavidez and Larco. Then walked to the center of the discotecas where La Lucha was located. The place was packed with tourists and Locals alike. I waited around a while then walked around the square in case there was any other food that caught my interest. There wasn’t and I was starving so I stood in the very long line and eventually put in my order. Un Hambureguesa con papas fritas y un Jugo de Lucuma con leche. I sat at a counter inside and waited for my food.
It took about 20 minutes. It took longer for me to receive the food than it took for me to eat it, which is rare, because I am normally a very slow eater. I devoured the meal and the Hamburger was incredible. There were sautéed onions in the meat and it was on an onion bun.
I couldn’t believe a hamburger could be that good. The papas fritas were amazing as well. It wasn’t just the fried and salty parts that were tasty, but the insides, because of the indigenous potatoes. The Lucama juice was very smooth and unique not my favorite fruit but a very nice accompaniment to the meal. It is also nice to taste a unique and rare food.
On the way back to the hostel, I tried my first Pisco Sour at a bar on the way. It was pretty unique, I like Lime a lot and it is a somewhat similar to a margarita. It is the Peruvian national drink so I will probably be drinking a few of them over the next two months. I am still in search for an authentic traditional Peruvian meal, the adventure continues.