Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy vegan-versary to me

Is that a cute cake or what?

It was a year ago that I read a few books (this one and this one) that convinced me, against my will, I should try to go vegan.

When I became a vegetarian, I took about a year to fully transition (between the ages of 16 and 17). After that year had passed, my vegetarianism was pretty entrenched until I started eating fish on rare occasions again when I was about 28.

It has not been as easy to go vegan. First of all, I freely admit I don't want to be 100% vegan. My goal is to limit animal products to 2 meals a week, which is 10% of my meals. I deeply admire people who are 100% vegan in diet and lifestyle. I also know myself well enough to know that if I am too restrictive in my diet, I can rebound by losing control (I'm not talking true binge eating, just something on the order of a large piece of cake or several slices of pizza). If there is a time that I can kiss cheese, tangy, rich, satisfying cheese, good-bye forever, that time has not yet come. My 2 dairy meals a week are a concession to this realization.

The problem has been that I've done a lot of traveling and socializing this summer. (Since late May, Montreal, NYC, San Diego, Guatemala, and Oklahoma City, each for about a week.) Some places have posed a real challenge to eat vegan. But in others, I let myself be lax because I'm away from home and can't prepare my own food, or because the most tempting thing on the menu is vegetarian but not vegan.

I also just cannot stomach soy cheese. Long-time vegans, do you really like soy cheese? It reminds me of eating fish in a restaurant with one of HS's friends who is a meat eater. I remarked that the fish really tasted like chicken. He took a bite and said that I just thought that because I hadn't eaten chicken in so long. I mean, do you really think soy cheese tastes like dairy cheese?

During the second year of my reluctant vegan-hood, I'd like to stick hard and fast to the 2 dairy meals a week rule. I know there are plenty of vegans who travel a lot, or who live in an unfriendly state and stick to it. I'm also going to re-read Eat to Live to boost my motivation.

As a side note, I think we have found a place that will provide vegan food--really good vegan food--for our wedding!


Theresa said...

Yay about the wedding food, and yay about the veganniversary. Every little bit helps.

I personally don't eat soy cheese, because, well, the stores don't sell it here. I found that going cold turkey was easier than I thought when I didn't try to replace it with anything. Nutritional yeast cheese substitutes are not really cheesy to me, but delicious in their own right.

Whenever I'm feeling like a renewed conviction, I read *Vegan Freak* by Bob and Jenna Torres. It's funny, and easy to read, but a great overview of the many reasons for veganism.

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

I don't like vegan cheese as a side-by-side substitute for real cheese, but I can't stomach real cheese any more, so I do use it in some things - mostly I just go without and really rarely miss it.


I still crave it every once in a while, none-the-less, and will have a thick, wonderous slice of pizza every once in a blue moon. And be miserable for a day or so after...

Good on you though, for the commitment to veganism that you DO have. Anything we can do helps and causes less suffering, whether it's a 90% reduction or a 10% reduction...

ceri said...

hi amy. congrats on your amazing committment to healthy living. i'm not keen on the soy cheese either; tried the slices for veggie burgers, but the consistency was a bit slimey. i can't give up cheese; i'm still learning to cook.

so, which restaurant?


sarah.lawrance said...

ah yes, the big cheese question...

in all honesty, i am not a soy cheese fan in most circumstances, although there are a few rare cases of tasty soy cheese. Well... I can think of two offhand.

1) Govinda's vegan Philly 'chicken' cheesesteak w/ soy cheese sauce. whatever they're putting in that sauce, it's rather tasty.

2) vegan eggplant parmesan: i made this with vegan parm and mozza and it was absolutely delectable! i have never a had non-vegan parmesan dish, so I had nothing to compare it to, but it was lovely in itself :)

Katyola said...

I love eating cheese and crackers, and one substitute I've found is Twin Oaks' extra-firm tofu, Italian or herb flavor. Of course it's not exactly like cheese, but the firm consistency and spices are cheese-like. Amy, you've eaten Twin Oaks tofu when we went to Escafe in Charlottesville. Website:

The Little Vegan said...

That cake IS beautiful! Did you actually eat it, or just find the picture online?

tippitappi said...

that's an incredible cake!
And Yes, I totally agree with you when you say that being to restricted could end in a bad way, if you miss an animal product from time to time, I think it is understandable. Nobody's perfect and most of us grew up with cheese, we are bound to miss it, so being 90% vegan it is better than being 0% vegan... I admit there have been a few rare occasions when I ate cheese, but that doesn't change my ideas and beliefs,
happy veganversary!

Amy said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. The cake is just a picture from Lots of beautiful cakes there, but I have not tried them, and I am sure they're not vegan.

It's nice to have support from real vegans even though I am not one! And I'm glad to see that some people who dislike soy cheese have managed to be vegan anyway!

VeggieGirl said...

happy veganniversary!!! how exciting!!! I actually really like the Follow Your Heart brand of cheddar "cheese" (as do my omnivore parents, haha!).

and that cake looks divine - so artistic!

Vegetation said...

I'm a day late but Happy Vegan-versary!

I don't eat soy cheese at all but I've tried it once and it was like rubber, blech.

I usually stick with making my own cheesy sauces and stuff. Mmmm THEY are good!