Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vegan Cookbook, Veganism, Food, Eating Disorders, and ramble

I borrowed Robbie Robertson's "Vegan Planet" from the library last week and have been cooking from it like a madwoman. Can you say: "OM! NOM! NOM! NOM!"?!?

So far everything has come out perfectly except for the black bean croquettes tonight that I absolutely demolished. I didn't really realize that when she said to mix everything in a food processor, I probably should not have liquified it. oops. I'd probably want to bake them instead of fry them anyhow. Fortunately, it'll make good filling for burritos or something later in the week so it isn't a total loss.

I like the book much better than Veginomicon and er...some other book I can't think of right now. I'd really like to add this book and Madhur Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian" to my cookbook library. I think I'd be fairly complete on the vegetarian/vegan cookbooks. (Although I'm still waiting to get my hands on copies of a couple of Dreena Burton's books as they sound like they may be marvelous as well).

So, I'm not REALLY turning vegan for those who care to know. "Vegan" implies a whole host of tihngs that don't really belong to me. Yes, I'm getting increasingly political and ethical with my food...but I won't give up meat entirely or cheese or eggs.

I mean, I most do not partake of the pork. I haven't for years due to sorta of religious reasons, because I personally do not care for the swine, and these days because the way farm factory pigs live makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. The ethical reasons just came about this year. The religious and preference have been around for awhile.

The religious aspects are totally hypocritical. And maybe I should say it is less religious and more just trying to feel a connection to my tribe. That need for connection has grown since I got married. I mean, if someone has some artesinal pork product, I'll always take a taste. I cook bacon for my husband on almost a weekly basis. I'm beyond excited to start learning charcuterie and would love to be proficient in various aspects of it. I just won't be partaking of my creations.
I don't do the shellfish either, although I have to say the couple of times I've had shrimp...I've really liked it. I live with someone who isn't down with the shellfish, so it isn't a problem. Yes, I'll eat crab rangoon, but you show me a place that serves real crab on crab rangoon, and I'll give you a dollar. Besides the pseudo-intellectual reasons...the idea of shellfish is just kinda nasty to me. Maybe that's a cultural thing. I don't know. I see shellfish like I see catfish. You won't ever, EVER see me eating catfish unless I'm at someone else's house and they serve it.

Why? Because I was raised on the Mississippi River. And that's a nasty ass, dirty river. And people fish catfish out of it. Yes, I know most catfish come from fish farms but I don't care. I don't approve of the bottom feeders. No, siree.

I'm still all about learning to make my own cheeses. And if I could have some chickens, I'd be happy to eat all the eggs they provided me.

Deeper than that, I have been struggling to let go of some personal things in relationship to food that I struggled with a lot over the last some odd years. Less so in the last year than previously, but there was a time that I had a serious disordered view of food. Critically serious. As in, I was extremely compulsive about weighing (yeah. weighing.) every bit of food that went into my mouth, have detailed food journals, etc. There was a time about 7-8 years ago that I spent too much time seeing how I could eat 500 calories or less a day. For a long time. I think it started a couple years before that when I was training for triathalons. At the end of my triathalon days, I got increasingly weird and neurotic about working out for hours at a time.

It changed about 6 months before my wedding when I got my resting metabolic rate done and I was told that it was 980 calories. I'm not going to get into detail, but basically 980 calories for an RMR is squarely in the: "You fucked your metabolism righteously, sweetheart" category.

Trying to go 100% vegan I realized, is setting myself up to go right back where I was--having "good" and "bad" foods. Cutting out entire food groups. Using food to feel a sense of self-control and self-mastery. The reasons I want to move to a more plant-based diet are, IMO, reasonable and sound. To go entirely vegan doesn't make sense. If it ever does, I want it to happen evolution of intuitively eating. I'm less afraid of becoming a vegan than when I did it in my early twenties and became anemic and looked like a sick kid. I know a lot more about nutrition and how not to fill up with empty calories.

But transitioning to more plant and less animal has been exciting. I'm discovering a lot more fruits and vegetables and my cooking skills and confidence have dramatically increased. Somewhere in the last few years I've stopped hating beans and tofu and a number of things I hated the first time around. I mean, hello, I'm now loving all over nutritional yeast and hemp seeds of all things!

I suppose I don't want folks to worry about my eating preferences as I make more of a transition. I'm still and always will be the girl who will happily put just about anything in her mouth at least once. If someone cooks for me, I definitely don't look that gift horse in the mouth. I hate special meals. At the end of the day, there is a big difference between what I will eat in my home and what I'll eat outside of it. Outside of my home, anything and everything is fair game.

My biggest regret in China is that I didn't get to eat all the things I wanted to eat either because we didn't find out about it until we had already dined (e.g. Rat and horse), I couldn't find it (scorpion on a stick) or my husband would never speak to me again and it is unwise to have your spouse stop talking to you on your honeymoon (e.g. shark fin. And yeah, I was really morally conflicted by the shark fin. Really. But I'm just sayin' if someone happened to put down a bowl of shark fin soup, I'd gobble it up before anyone could stop me. )

Don't tell my husband I wrote that about the shark fin. In fact, just forget I told you. He'd seriously be displeased on my hypocricy of getting upset about how pigs live in this country and happily eat shark fin just because I was in China because it is a delicacy there. I mean, at least we use all of the pig here. It's just the freakin' fin for sharks.

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"Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day."

-E.B. White

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