S (a dear friend) and I have started a 3 week ‘Going Vegan’ experiment. On day 3 of our experiment, I am happy to report that apart from a few initial setbacks I am quite into the swing of things!
I initially started this with the intention of supporting S but have myself gotten quite into to it now. I have taken this up just to prove that self-discipline is not an impossible thing for me. This was not as scary for me as I’d imagined because I am a vegetarian to begin with. I am a vegetarian by choice. I grew up vegetarian culturally, but now it is a matter of principle. As an animal lover, going vegan certainly fits well into my principles.
So far, the benefits far exceed my temptation. I am not doing this to preach or kill myself over it, but rather just as a small experiment to consciously plan, make my own meals and just be aware of what I eat.
As person from an Indian upbringing, yogurt is my bread and butter! I couldn’t go a day without it and I love ‘yogurt and rice’ as dearly as my life. After a long workday my comfort go to meal is yogurt and rice. Making comfort food without dairy (yogurt, milk, butter or cheese)…..Now that is the challenge!
The tricky part is also finding nutritious substitutes to the protein and calcium from dairy and eggs. Although tough , it’s not impossible and I am now slowly figuring that out as I explore my options.
My friend S is not a vegetarian, her world of cooking was certainly open to a broad variety of proteins. So this is a tougher challenge for her. As a vegetarian in the US, I am now trained to always think about what’s inside what I eat. Even the obvious “vegetarian” soups and salads, have hidden meat products in them. I just interestingly realized that S has never had to find out if it was cooked in the same pan as an egg, or if things were grilled next to bacon, or if the bread has been brushed with an egg wash. She is now is asking these questions she never had to ask before.
This is why I love doing this with her, mutual benefits of knowledge sharing. I opened her to the world of “Eastern world” spices and vegetables which are far more vegetarian friendly. I am learning so much from her because she takes an Indian ingredient and comes up with the most interesting dishes adding things from her own pantry. This helps her keeping her culture and not giving up what she knows and is comfortable with because she is trying to be vegan.
Although it seems like being vegetarian or vegan narrows your options, it’s really the opposite. You actually start thinking more about food. You get more knowledge and understanding of herbs, spices, fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables and their combinations. It opens up your culinary vocabulary and palette infinitely.
I don’t know if I will continue being vegan past the 3 weeks, but I can say being vegetarian defines me.
So to people like Tony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey, I am a fan of what you do but I think you have it totally and completely wrong.