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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A RED LETTUCE DAY – with apologies to John Lennon

June 30, 2014 marked my first year anniversary as a ‘full-blown’ vegan.  On June 29 a year ago (2013), Big Solid and I went to a presentation here in Jackson MS by Dr. Neal Barnard, founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Having been vegetarian by then for almost 3 years, I was eager to hear this man speak on behalf of plant based eating AND the conditions in which many of the animals used as food are held. I actually THOUGHT that being vegetarian was statement enough against factory farming but I was, as usual, not right. So, it did not take much of a nudge to decide to take the plunge toward vegan and Big Solid and I both decided to do the 28 Day Vegan Plan as a trial run. Dr. Barnard provided compelling evidence about the health benefits of becoming totally plant based as well as introducing some of the ‘newer’ players in the plant based game (e.g., the Engine Two Diet  The impact of a plant based diet on people who were morbidly obese, who were diabetic or those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol is out there to discover if one wants to do the homework.

So, a year ago, we took the plunge. Big Solid decided after the 28 days, he was not vegan material although we cook vegan and he never complains (well, almost never). When we go out on Date Night or with friends, he is very likely to order chicken or fish. I decided to stick with it until evidence to the contrary presented itself.

What I have learned, however, is how to cook many of the foods I love using plant-based ingredients. With the help of some of the greatest bloggers in the vegan world (The Gentle Chef, Fat-Free Vegan, The “V” Word, and most recently, Vegan Richa and The Minimalist Baker cooking is exciting, challenging, energizing and (more often than not) delicious.

To say it’s been a breeze would not be truthful…there have been many times when I would love to have had a GRILLED CHEESE made with REAL cheese, an omelet from REAL EGGS, half and half for my coffee. I’ve become a master of reading labels to make sure I don’t see words like casein or whey in the ingredients (from milk).  Many of the vegetarian options found in the grocery store do have animal products in them…such as one of my favorites Morningstar Grillers or the Morningstar “Bacon” (egg whites).

Memorable Moments

    Alaska bound from Seattle
  • Trying to stay Vegan Strong on the Alaska Cruise and vacation. All I can say is THANK TPTB for Indian food on the buffet. We took an excursion to a rain forest, complete with ‘snacks’ but not a one that I could eat. At least I did not gain weight during the trip.

  • Bravo! continuing to be the leader in the city with its
    Bravo! Entree
    weekly Vegan Night and providing information on their of items that are vegetarian and ‘veganize-able’;

Vegan Lasagna
  • Anjou restaurant’s adding a vegetarian (easily veganized) entrée to their menu AND being so totally ON BOARD to prepare delicious vegan entrees with advance notice;

Chef Lance in the center
  • Chef Lance at Capital Grill preparing a 3 course vegan dinner for the Carters and Swearengens;

  • Friday night Date Night at Kathryn’s Steakhouse in Ridgeland they let me bring my own vegan entrée ‘stuffs’;

    Plant Strong 'wimmen'
  • The gatherings of the Vestal Vegans (4 vegan chicks)on a monthly basis for pot-luck and chick frivolity;


    SO GOOD!!
  • Making vegan cookies for the folks at the Animal Rescue Fund of MS (ARF/MS) and watching the expression of their faces when they taste them and LIKE them;
  • Researching vegan sites and recipes on line and GOSH there are some REALLY GOOD ones out there;
  • Staying true to the plant based regimen and hoping to be a good example of health;
  • Being diagnosed with breast cancer, having surgery by the terrific oncology surgeon and all 'round good guy, Dr. Phillip Ley and radiation without a hitch (I said hitch and not stitch..I did have some of those);
    Last day of radiation!! Thanks y'all!
    being treated by Dr. Sydney Johnson and the St. Dominic Cancer Center folks all of whom are just awesome people;
  •  Remaining a loyal customer of Rainbow Whole Foods while being THRILLED at the opening of a WHOLE FOODS in Jackson. Gosh, you can tell by the crowds there ALL THE TIME, that Jackson CAN support a healthy eating regimen;
  • Running my first 5K in YEARS (Run for Ryan and his continued remission from leukemia); 
  • FEEDING PEOPLE good plant based food and having them LIKE it.


Oh Boy! Can’t Wait!
  • Right out of the chute would be the Bravo! Vegan Event on July 14 (Monday). Chef Matt Mabry is preparing a SEVEN COURSE vegan dinner. We will MOST certainly be there!!
  • Vacation in one of my MOST favorite places east of the MS…Asheville, North Carolina. No one in their right MIND stays in MS in August and we are no exception. Asheville is home to so many excellent restaurants, including Laughing Seed (vegetarian/vegan-- and Plant (totally vegan-- Even in the smaller surrounding communities, almost all of the restaurants provide vegetarian and/or vegan options on their menu; 
  • I intend to learn how to make better vegan cheeses, ice creams and desserts to keep that sweet tooth occupied as well as learning to bake better vegan goods;
  • Participation in the Yoga Mala at JoyFlow Yoga in Ridgeland (raising money for the Animal Rescue Fund of MS) and preparation of vegan snacks for folks to enjoy afterward; 
  • Continued support of those restaurants that walk the extra mile to provide creative vegan entrees and encouragement to those who are less enthusiastic. To paraphrase “Field of Dreams”—“if you cook it, they will come”;
  •  Explore more raw food options. Heck—one of the BEST meals I’ve ever had was at Laughing Seed in Asheville and it was a raw dish. NEVER in a million, billion years would I have thought that…but I can tell FOR SURE that I will have it again in August;
  • Educate, by example that a vegan lifestyle does not consist of eating twigs and seeds (but you can if you want). All you need to do is peruse The Gentle Chef’s website and cookbooks to see how totally awesome vegan eating can be (please note the link earlier in this post); and FINALLY!!
  •    Although we are not prepared at this blogging to be specific, we are very excited to be on the brink of announcing a MAJOR VEGAN event in the Jackson area; 

Many thanks to you who have enjoyed this little blog so far. WE ARE OFF ON ANOTHER YEAR, please join us!

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