Vegan: It’s What’s for Dinner

Julie enjoying her Java Chip ice cream on the AT

Three things I know for sure: I don’t like the taste of seaweed, I’m not a huge fan of pickled things, and I love ice cream. Taking into account those three things, last week’s detox diet that strictly followed our newly purchased macrobiotic cookbook, written by Madonna’s personal chef of seven years, was in a nutshell, challenging beyond belief. I used to be one of those vegetarians that said, “Oh, if it’s vegetarian, I’m sure I’ll like it.” Oh no, definitely not anymore.

Like Matt, I too found my willpower wavering after finishing each meal, two of which I couldn’t finish because of either the flavor of seaweed, or the texture of the food. At times, it was just too much to handle. I found myself asking, “Are we really eating boiled kale for breakfast?” and, “Is that all we get to eat?” It was also my first time eating Sauerkraut straight from the jar, and one time was enough for me.

Unlike Matt, I have two additional vices beyond ice cream that got the boot last week: coffee and Diet Coke. Other than long-distance hiking and random traveling days, I rarely go a day without some type of caffeine, whether it be a cup o’ joe or Diet Coke. Well, this time I went 8 days, and it was miserable, complete with headaches and near cave-ins while walking past the omnipresent Starbucks (we’re in Seattle, for goodness sakes!).

The first day we joined civilization once again and visited our good friends Keith and Karla (and their two beautiful daughters Cameron and Emery) last Friday, I jumped off the deep end and had not only Diet Dr. Pepper, but also two glasses of quality Chardonnay and two cups of coffee the next morning. Throw in a bowl of ice cream, at least four chocolate chip cookies, and I was left feeling satisfied, guilty, and questioning what I took away from the week of macrobiotic detox, other than an intense craving for everything I couldn’t eat.

Fast forward through the weekend in Portland, where I also had Pesto Mac n’ Cheese, a true vegan nightmare, and I woke up Monday morning thinking, “What in the world am I going to eat today?” I felt like I had erased all the good credit I had built up over the week of the detox with the dairy-heavy weekend, but still felt hope that I could incorporate much of the macrobiotic, vegan lifestyle into my diet. So that is what we are doing.

While I promptly visited a Fred Meyer for a bag of Starbucks coffee and a case of Diet Coke, I also made sure the cart was full of the main tenants of the diet, such as whole grains, protein substitutes like tempeh and tofu, root vegetables like carrots, and different types of cabbage and leafy greens. There are lots of other staples in the diet that our kitchen is now stocked with, but that makes it all the easier to keep cooking out of the macrobiotic cookbook, and to come up with new combinations with the different pieces. While the caffeine may be frowned upon in the macrobiotic world, I have my limits. It’s like eco-friendly ads telling me to take a shorter, cooler shower. I’ll recycle, re-use Ziplocs, and even not have a TV, but I have my limits, and a long, hot shower happens to be on that list with coffee and Diet Coke.

For now, the plan is to live vegan at home and be flexible on the road, with friends, and in restaurants. It’s a lot easier to not eat lots of cheese when it just isn’t in the refrigerator! As for the ice cream part, have no fear vegan-phobes. I have time, technology, and creativity to thank for being a vegan in this day and age, and have plenty of non-dairy ice cream options that are made with soy, coconut, almond, and rice. While our wallet is stretched a little thinner on such items, I’m kept a happy Julie knowing ice cream can still be on the menu.

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