Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Vegan Experiment

This semester I am taking a nutrition course, which has been really interesting. In the western world, we place meat on the pedestal of our meal, and accompany it with sides of vegetables and starches. One thing I have discovered is I eat way too much protein. How much, you ask?

About twice as much as I need.

Imagine what I'd look like if I ate twice as much fat as I needed. *Gulp*. Our professor is a dietitian who treats people daily in the "real world", and she stresses balance and habit. You don't become overweight over night. You have to make eating properly a habit. Likewise, eating all the iron you'll need for the week in one day is a bad idea.

For our current assignment, we are supposed to "test drive" a diet. In this sense, diet means what you eat, like "the diet of a lion," not "drop 10 pounds". The options were Mediterranean Diet, Celiac Diet, Vegan, Hypertension Diet, and Local Diet. The point is to see what sort of limitations other people face, and see the financial impact of these diets. Ideally, with careful planning, they should not cost more than you usually spend. Our trial diet is supposed to last 2 weeks.

I am now on day six of my Vegan experience. Vegetarianism and Veganism isn't something that I would support because of moral grounds- I think eating animals is a perfectly moral option, so long as they are treated ethically. The diet was tempting, however, because of the amount of meat I eat. I wanted to see what sort of alternative dishes I could prepare, and what tofu tastes like, again.

So far, it's been a good experience, even though I made some bloopers on a couple days. My "family" (boarding hosts) is joining me on this adventure, and we have had Squash and Lentil Curry; Beans and Rice; and I made myself a stir fry (featuring tofu) one night. Tonight, I am making Peppery Red Wine Capellini... it looks so yummy! Another one I want to try is Stuffed Red Peppers.

One surprising thing is the things you can eat, as a vegan. I was scanning PETA's "Accidentally Vegan" list, and found Oreos. Who would have thought...

Eventually, when I get in the position where I am cooking all the meals, I would like to try to incorporate some vegan or vegetarian dishes. They are full of vitamins and minerals because of the diversity in fruits and vegetables, and cost about the same as featuring a meat dish. They also offer some diversity in the weekly routine of cooking.