Monday, July 8, 2013

Most Common Mistakes Vegans Make... I've Made 'Em All, Part 1

I have become a little lazy with blogging lately. I noticed that I am spending way too much time on facebook, LinkedIn, and the internet in general. These procrastinatory habits, along with receiving my very first rejection from a publisher letter and my incessant journal-keeping, have all led me to feel like a real writer. Finally! Yet, I think I have stated this before. Why, oh why, do I need to have these rites of passage to feel like a real writer? Well, I think it is because society does not always look highly on writers. I mean, isn't everyone writing a book? Doesn't every celebrity have a children's book or a cookbook? Aren't there a billion blogs out there? Who am I, then? Writer, shmiter. By the way, I am beginning to not like blogger/blogpost (the site in which my blog lives). The formatting over the last year sucks. I can't get the layout right and they keep updating and improving blogger until the features are unrecognizable. On another note... Recently, I have come across a few websites that are talking about common mistakes that vegans make. I found these articles helpful and wish I saw them at about the time I became vegan two years ago. Here are a few examples... These mistakes were written by Jenné Claiborne, a vegan chef, cooking instructor, and health coach from the website Amanda Rose Wellness. Here top 3 mistakes are: Mistake #1. You've unconsciously become a Bread-a-tarian I have totally been there and done that. I have toast each morning and often this is the safe go-to option when I am in a restaurant with no vegan options. Bread and salad (without creamy dressing) to be exact. (Often this is what the sympathetic waiter actually offers me as a meal with maybe... just maybe some plain rice. This is the typical scenario which led me to re-introducing cheese in such scenarios. Sniff. You made me eat... cheese.) The salad is not so bad since it may be packed with ingredients but it is hard to get that "full" feeling on leafy greens. This is where the bread comes in. It is very filling and you can dress it up with ump-teen toppings. Mistake #2: You’re not eating enough Okay, this was the case for me two years ago when I first became vegan. Oh my God. It was the first week of being vegan. The headaches, the fatigue, the bitchiness, the crankiness, the light-headed about-to-faint feeling, the I'm-still-hungry-every-hour feeling... did I mention the light-headedness. (My husband asked me if this was "de-toxing". It felt more like withdrawal from some mind-altering substance... not that I have any idea what that is about.) If you're going through this phase of veganism, get out of it REAL FAST. What did I do? Well, I said to myself, "Der gots to be a better way." I went on the internet and found the vegan food pyramid. Ta da! This Vegan Food Pyramid saved my life. I began to follow it and eat all of the servings suggested. When I did this, bought a few vegan cookbooks, and tried these meals, I not only felt full all the time, I felt GOOD. Keep in mind, while I was becoming vegan, I was also recovering from the removal of my whole thyroid, adjusting to the doses of Cytomel and then later Synthroid (the synthetic hormone to replace natural thyroid), and preparing for "going hypo" (I guess I do know about mind-altering withdrawal after all) and then radiation. Given all of this, with lots of adjustments, going vegan was do-able. Mistake #3: Being unprepared As I mentioned, in my early years of vegan-dom, I was totally unprepared. I did not have any makings of a vegan meal in my house other than a half bag of kidney beans and some rice. After I got the vegan pyramid and my cookbooks, I loaded up on such vegan staples as nutritional yeast (still don't know what that is), extra firm tofu, and almond milk. I learned to cook everything from great stews to casseroles to rice dishes to vegan pie and even Jamaican beef patties. (Please see my Vegan Photo Albums for proof.) I have also learned to travel vegan and be not so the pesky houseguest. I buy my own vegan eatables and also make plans ahead for wherever I may be staying. I go to sites like Happy Cow to find out the vegan restaurants in whichever city or community I will be in. But being unprepared is something that still happens to me. The school I teach at just so happens to be beside a Dairy Queen and a gas station. Uh oh... you can guess what happens when Blue Butterfly is at the school and has had an especially busy, hectic, noisy, hot (the portable and classrooms I teach in have no air-conditioning), long day and she is leaving the school at 6pm or 7pm? C'mon. I'm sure you can take a guess. Let me add that I did not bring any 3pm snacks and I'm also famished and I have a sweet tooth... I buy $2.00 bag of mixed-nuts... $2.00 for 75 grams of something that I can make at home for a lot cheaper and did you see the fat content? 28 grams of fat for a 75 gram bag of trail mix! Half the content of this bag is fat. OR... it gets worse. I tiptoe into Dairy Queen and I check out their flavour of the month blizzard but then I don't buy their flavour of the month blizzard. Instead, I by a mini or small Dairy Queen Turtle Blizzard with cookie dough. This is what I'm eating, people! These foods are not even vegan! Plus, if you look like on my list "Why Did I Get Thyroid Cancer?", milk is on that list. Oh... the horror! Okay, well I know the first step in recovery is to acknowledge that there is a problem. The second is to take the first step in fixing it by stocking up on vegan snacks in my classroom (a nice collection of seeds since nuts are not allowed due to the peanut allergy, dried fruit, soynut butter sandwiches, fruit, soya or coconut yogurt, a mini-fridge in my classroom to store it all) and getting my ass out of the school at a decent hour. (C'mon! Everyone knows teachers finish working at 3 o'clock. Duh!) But I shouldn't be so hard on myself. At least, I try to live a vegan existence in this meat-a-tarian world or at least this side of the world is. If I lived in many rural parts of the world and/or my fish allergy was non-existent, my diet would consist of very little meat. So at least, I am giving myself a pat on the back for making the effort. But still... they made me eat cheese.