I know it is tuesday again. What can I say? My spirit animals are an owl and a spider. Both dark-liking things. And I know, I was disappointed a bit when I found out. I thought I saw a Mountain Gorilla in a yoga nidra recently and I have always considered myself monkey like. More an animals later, if I get to it. (disclaimer- the owl and spider are very powerful spirits etc. I read about them in depth and can definitely see why).
And now back to the photographic memories.
A Note on the Format. I am working on it. I am more of a writer than a design man and more of a talker than a writer, thus ramblestiltskin.
There are so many memories that I have not shared from my travels. Each of them feels like a lifetime and seems it would take a lifetime to catalog. This is my way of focusing the ADD brain into something constructive. A picture is worth a thousand words, but each of those thousand is different based on whose perspective is shared. Hence, The Photo and snippet style. It also breaks up the 1600+ words into bitable chunks. My copy is often overwhelming in volume. Mainly, this is because I do not edit. If I edited these, I would never post them. I will save that for any future guest posts or books, crosses fingers.
And if you have made it this far, I applaud your tenacity. As a voice/audience finding exercise comment below telling me your favorite memory. The memory with the most votes will get a full 1600+ post delving deeper. Maybe I will be on a limb, out to sea, up a creek etc. but I will post on any of them with the most votes no matter how silly or mundane. I will consider it a writing test of agility.
One of the best parts of the Vegan experiment was the multitude of new foods and food combinations that crossed paths with my palate.
Beets, my new best friend. I had always enjoyed beets before, but not the way I did these last four months. I connected with them wholly. I juiced them, which always added a deep red sweetness to my juices. I roasted them with oranges at the recommendation of new seasons employee. I roasted them with potatoes and marinated them in Balsamic Vinegar.
Balsamic Vinegar, the boss of sauces. I had been using apple cider vinegar for salads and marinades for the last few years. I had also been using it mixed with a lot of water and a bit of lemon to recover after workouts. But in the last two months of my experiment, I fell in love with Balsamic Vinegar. Barrel aged Balsamic Vinegar, almost as thick as honey and complex and rich as port wine. I couldn’t believe how good it was. I started adding it to my sea salt and vinegar chips. And to almost everything I ate. I found a place in my town that sells aged Balsamic Vinegar that is infused with essential oils of lemon or cayenne or garlic. They even have a chocolate flavor. As you can imagine this opened a whole new world for my taste buds.
Kale, I know I am jumping on the bandwagon. Kale is amazing. I fell in love with it last year, it and other things. Its anti-carcinogenic properties and similar taste to brussel sprouts and broccoli, when steamed, make it destined to be a tastebud pleaser. I made Kale Slaw with, you guessed it, Balsamic Vinegar. Kale chips, I threw it in salads and soups, I fried it and stuffed it into peppers and added it to beans and rice. I used it as a wrap for porto-burgers and often just chomped n it raw.
Spinach, I have been eating spinach out of a bag for years. I know it is rabbit food, but rabbits have good taste.
Necessary Shout out to…Seeds – Hemp Pumpkin, Chia, Flax, Oatmeal, Fake bread, Nutritional yeast, and Kombucha
I researched new ways to prepare vegan meals to keep me healthy and satisfy my appetite.
When I started this experiment, four months ago, I intended to write about the experience consistently. The plan was to document the challenges faced and demonstrate the solutions I found. But, as my blogging has often shown, my writing impetus is often inconsistent. A slave to the whims of my situation and the well of my creativity, often dry, it can suffer in the pursuit of its stated goals. And so there are these gaps in time. I have been wrapped up in daily life lately. I was finally able to secure a job, though it was a seasonal one, and the season is now complete. This commitment drew a great deal of my time and concentration away from documenting my vegan experiment.
Despite the inconstancy of the blogging, my dedication to the Vegan Voyage has been complete. I am a very stubborn person and though I have faced many challenges in this pursuit, I have stayed true to the task.
Willpower was not a major issue.
At the end of four months, I can say that I have achieved my goal. I documented my mistakes. In June I ate a Milky Way Dark Chocolate Bar, I checked the label, saw the ingredients and ate it anyway. In July, I went to a friends party at a German restaurant. There is not much Vegan food at Gustav’s, I had a beet salad and lentil soup. The Lentil soup had bacon. I realized this halfway through eating it. Once at the restaurant where I worked, I accidentally ordered a garden patty instead of a vegan hem patty. The garden burger has a bit of cheese in it. My stomach felt it after both the Lentil soup with bacon and the garden patty with the cheese. And I worked in a restaurant, fuck no I am not going to send food back to my own kitchen.
The first two weeks were a definite struggle. I remember feeling as if I would collapse during this transition phase. After that initial struggle, my body became accustomed to the diet. I supplemented using organic brown rice protein powder, it was Sun King. It was not very palatable unless added to a smoothie. I also took sublingual Vegan B12 tabs every day. After the tabs ran out I used Liquid energy B from Yogabody in a tincture form. I believe this helped. At the very least it set my mind at ease, since all the research emphasized the importance of using a B-12 supplement.
I felt the best during the middle of June through the first week of July. During these months I was using the Protein powder in the morning and drinking 1-2 large glasses of freshly juiced veggies and fruits. It can be hard to get the right number of nutrients if you have a limited amount of time. When I had the time to make a big salad, roast vegetables, grill mushrooms, and make big batches of soup and beans and rice, I felt wholly nourished.
When I was working out heavily or working a 9-12 hour shift at the restaurant, I found the energy demands could be difficult to meet. I met these challenges as follows: Fresh juice or smoothie at work, packed lunch with a good mix of fats, carbs and proteins example apple, pear, orange, peanut butter sandwich, 1/2-1 cup of almonds and raisins. Though repetitive, it helped get me through my shifts and refuel after workouts.
The main thing I learned was that to stay healthy and keep my energy up, I had to be aware. Planning was important. I could not rely on getting a break at work at the right time, so I had to be sure I took care of myself the way I needed.
During the first week I gave myself food poisoning by eating my week old lentil soup. I wrote about that in Vegan Lessons 1 and 2. This lesson reminded me to be more cognizant of freshness of my food and led to multiple grocery visits a week, with less volume purchased during each visit.
In my third week, I went to my normal Hot Yoga class with a friend. As the class progressed I felt weak and a mild headache began in the front of my forehead. I continued through the class, but felt more and more of a challenge. After class, I discussed my issue with the Yoga teacher. My usual large can of coconut water, had little effect and she suggested I take an electrolyte supplement. As I headed out the door I paused, retreated to the restroom and proceeded to vomit two times. I felt so bad, that I just wanted to get home. The friend I was with works at Super Supplements, which was on the way home and luckily they were still open. I got three packets of electrolytes, a can of coconut water and a raw food bar. I immediately took two packets and ate the food bar and sipped the coconut water on my way home. When I arrived I took the third packet and slept for three hours. When I awoke, I felt refreshed, but also realized the danger I put myself in. I have a tendency to endure physical suffering to an extreme without changing anything. This is helpful when training, but can destroy ones health in certain arenas.
After this experience, I realized I had to maintain my vegan nutrition with vigilance if I wanted to continue my physical activity. I ended up reducing my practice significantly and adding the Brown rice Protein, hempseeds, and flax seeds to my diet. This is the greatest challenge for me with being Vegan. I have a high caloric requirement just for my day to day functioning. I also enjoy excessive amounts of exercise, from all types of Yoga, Tennis, Cycling, Hiking, Soccer, even an occasional run. I know that with the right combination of quality foods I can sustain myself, even soy and gluten free. It is this that I have to keep in mind for my future dietary excursions.
I know that an active vegan lifestyle is possible thanks to many people, but the first to show me the way was the mustache man.
When juicing, my energy was amazing. I don’t drink coffee or heavily caffeinated tea. But when I drink those juices I feel a great deal of energy that lasts. This was a great discovery and it is something I know I will implement in my future diet. Supplements are okay. As long as you are conscious about your use of value adding supplements, there is no problem with them. The problem arises, when you substitute them for healthy practices, like relying on vitamins instead of eating vegetables or coffee instead of sleep. These are simple but true examples.
Adventures in Vegetables. From Juicing to roasting, sauteeing to steaming, and grilling to raw eating I experienced new foods and old ones in new ways. There will be more on this in a later post.
My digestion was phenomenal throughout the project and my sinuses were clearer.
I felt lighter after meals and could snack all day.
I lost about ten pounds initially, this has leveled out to 7 pounds less than my average, currently 178.
Cultivating my Metamorphosis
This experiment taught me that Vegan is possible. My willpower is strong enough and my taste buds are adaptable. Eating whole food and avoiding processed foods whenever possible has led to a multitude of wondrous new tastes. I am fine without meat or animal products, lowering my carbon footprint and reliance on an energy draining system. The challenge will be maintaining an active lifestyle and my health. I can do this by maintaining honesty and awareness of my dietary needs. And finding inspiration in those forging the path.
“Four months is a very short time, but I want to test it out, at the very least I can eat a bunch of different food and learn new ways of cooking while lowering my carbon footprint. If I can do this and stay healthy, without having to take to many supplements, I will extend it onward.” From my voyage starting, “The Veganing.”
Aside from a few minor bumps, I have achieved my goal. The four months is over. I am giving myself a three week period to re-evaluate my diet. With the chains to the old patterns broken I am free to explore my nourishment without hindrance. I am not sure if I will stay completely Vegan. I will post an update after my three week free period. If I follow through with my intentions.
Special thanks to:
mustachemantraining.com for inspiration and smoothie recipes
yogabodynaturals.com for vegan and raw nutrition advice and supplies.
Bikram Yoga Fremont for always testing the limits
Blossoming Lotus, making vegan food so much better than I can at home.
Anyone who actually read the entire 1500 plus word post 🙂
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.
There are many kinds of adventures in life. I shared my experiences in Peru and Bolivia and have been conducting my own continuous Yoga adventure.
Now I feel, is time to start a new one. This one will be food based. I have always been the kind of person that experiences the world through food. New places and new tastes are synonymous with joy. The foods I eat are eclectic and I will try almost anything I am not allergic to. By the way, I am allergic to bananas and avocados, sucks right?
I am always up for a challenge, and I love to explore new tastes in all their delectable details.
May 6th, 2013, will mark the Veganing.
I modestly propose to my body that I will be Vegan for the next four months.
When September 6th, rolls around, I will evaluate and decide what do next.
The Veganing as defined for my purposes here is the beginning of my Vegan journey.
And now the digital form of the same question I have been answering in person for the past two weeks.
Well…because I can. And If I can, I must.
This is not a sufficient answer in itself, but it does answer a great deal of the abstract parts of the argument. I always love a challenge, and I enjoy (am absolutely fanatic about) trying new food. This can be seen in the many food based adventures I went on in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
Why not Vegetarian? I already ellminiated dairy, because it causes congestion in my sinuses and leads to sinus infections in the winter and causes greater problems with my allergies in the spring.
It will be a challenge that will I believe I can meet. Last year, I tried something similar during lent. The first time I participated in lent since high school (note: still haven’t gone to church in many years, the time of lent just gave me the opportunity to experiment.) It was a food based restriction. the experiment was as follows.
Sun. – Anything
Mon – Fast
It was an interesting experience. It definitely made me grow. I broke fast one time during the whole event. The interesting thing was that I was able to eat Vegan on my Vegan days the whole time. Then on Sundays I would usually go for Pho or grilled Salmon and sometimes ice cream. The fast on monday would begin the cleanse and then the Vegan days would continue it.
I discovered my taste buds expanding to improve a whole host of foods that I would have normally would have liked. It made me love these foods. Things like Kale, Peppers, and seaweed. I started eating brussels sprouts raw and spinach by the handful as a snack.
Of course I downed a lot of carbs too. Mostly Oatmeal and Pumpkin Raisin Crunch Cereal with almond milk. I ate tons of almonds and peanuts and granola to get through the day. And of course peanut butter sandwiches on Dave’s killer bread and bowls of Annie’s Lentil Soup became my lunch hour staples.
The Vegan-Everything-Fast experiment showed me it was possible.
This time around I am going into it with a lot more thought. To make sure I can continue and sustain myself for four months or more. There is not point setting up expectations, but I do want to get the most out of my journey and I want to enjoy it.
That means keeping the culinary extravaganza lively. To this effect, I am combing through “The Joy of Cooking,” to find great recipes that are already Vegan or can be converted. I am also using “The Veganopolis Cookbook” as a great beginning into the world of Vegan cooking. It is written by David Stowell and George Black who ran the Veganopolis Cafeteria in Portland from 2003 to 2008. I wasn’t Vegan then so I never got to enjoy their cooking, but at least now I can try to recreate some of their amazing recipes. I plan to make a Puerto Rican Style 3 Bean Stew from the book this weekend.
Ensuring my Veganacity, Vegan Tenacity, by cooking delicious food is one of my strategies to make prolong my experience. With some good staying power and kitchen skills, I may be able to turn it into a lifestyle. Which of course would mesh well with the nonviolent ethics of Yoga, already a large part of my life.
So is it just about the challenge and the chance to try new foods and increase my the strength of my taste buds? No it is not.
There are the other arguments as well, and they are important. I will not go into them in detail, partially because I am not an expert, there are plenty of resources to find out about it all. They are as follows.
Industrial meat and bird farms and distribution- Energy use is demanding, animal waste is hard for environment to absorb, seeing the treatment of animals there is too difficult to stomach.
Industrial fishing – Collapse of fisheries around the world, including Nova Scotia.
Farmed Fish – Problematic, sanitation and GMO possibilites
Organic Animal Farms – Not enough of an improvement. Lack of guidelines as to what constitutes organic.
Thea above are just a few of the reasons that made me realize I at least have to try it. They are also not meant to convert anyone. They are simply the reasons that finally pushed me from a plant-based diet that included fish and sometimes chicken to a full Vegan Diet.
There are so many problems in the world. And it is rare to find an issue that one can actively participate in Daily. I eat food, a lot of food, everyday. By choosing to eat this way I can actually do one small thing.
And while it may be “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
So I will be Vegan, because I must be, just for me. The same reason I must do Yoga and Meditate.
Four months is a very short time, but I want to test it out, at the very least I can eat a bunch of different food and learn new ways of cooking while lowering my carbon footprint. If I can do this and stay healthy, without having to take to many supplements, I will extend it onward.