December 31, 2011

Journal of two Imperfect Newbies: Going Vegan. ~ Kate Bartolotta & Waylon Lewis

{Week 1:  In which the fledgling vegans make their preparations.}

Kate says:

I’m going to go all the way in a few days. I’ve been flirting with the idea for a while. I’ve done it before so it shouldn’t be that big a deal, right? I’m excited, but I’m nervous. It’s been awhile, and I think I’ve forgotten how.

What if I’m just no good at being a vegan?

Day to day, it won’t be a huge adjustment. Breakfast is vegan already. Black coffee, or with some almond milk if I left it in the French press too long. Green smoothie if I’m home, or Lara Bar and an apple if I’m not. Lunch is easy. Dinners…mostly easy. Friday night gluten free pizza is out, unless I want to trek to Whole Foods and pick up some Daiya. Might be worth it, but probably not every single week.  Then there’s my monthly Ben & Jerry’s. I seem to remember some decent vegan ice creams out there.

Oh, but then there’s honey. And it’s cold season. Do all vegans skip honey? Maybe I could be like an Apia-vegan or something. Guess I need to find a new favorite lip balm too…since technically, I do end up swallowing a lot of it. I need to think about this honey thing. Maybe I can ask the local vegan police if honey is optional or if it absolutely has to go.

Mentioning the decision to friends and family is dicey. Even as a vegetarian, I didn’t always mention it. It seems to put people on the defensive about their own choices. Why would I care what anyone else eats? I don’t even dictate what the rest of my family eats! They know what I eat and why…it’s an ongoing dialogue.

I told a close friend, and was met with raised eyebrows. “Really? Why? Isn’t vegetarian enough?” What’s enough?

When I was vegan before, it was about control. It was one more way to be smaller, be less. For a while, I had to let it go. Now, it’s the exact opposite. If there’s any way I can be more authentic, kinder, more compassionate—it’s what I want.

I can’t learn about connections between dairy production and the veal industry and ignore it. I can’t read that the carbon footprint from cheese is nearly as great as beef and pretend it doesn’t apply to me. I learned in Pathology this semester that dairy intake accounts for 93% of our dioxin intake. That’s 93% of our intake of a carcinogen! I can’t un-know these things. If I know better, I want to do better.

Of course, it’s easy to say that now. It’s 11:30 p.m. I’m hanging out in my favorite sweats, writing and drinking tea with Mad Men on in the background. Everyone else is sleeping. In this happy little Kate-bubble, I could do anything. But there’s nothing like telling yourself you can’t have something to make you want it. (I wonder if we have any ice cream?)


“Journal of Intimidated Imperfect Newbies into Veganlandia.”


“The Weekly Adventures of two Newbies’ as they journey into Veganlandia”


Journal of two Imperfect Newbies: Going Vegan

Which ongoing title you like more?

Waylon says: {click here for back story, why going vegan yadayada}

Going well so far. Two out of three major obstacles down.

I’m transitioning this week, from being vegetarian to vegan, so that by Sunday, January 1st (eek) I’m more or less ready to go all the way and be more or less faithfully vegan throughout 2012, as I promised I would if our readers decided they wanted me to (I asked for a record number of comments, 500, on my blog asking if I should do it, and our readers delivered with plenty of time to spare. The point of asking for 500 comments was to inspire respectful conversation. I don’t like mean vegans, and I don’t want to belong to a self-righteous club, really—I just want to avoid hurting animals whenever I have the choice. I like my dog. I like animals. Why should I love one, and eat the other?) {Adele}

And when it comes to my diet, I figure going without cheese and other dairy—again, I’m already vegetarian, have been for 9 years—is relatively easy to do. Whether that helps animals or not, really, I’ll explore that here in this ongoing blog with Kate, who’s also beginning her journey.

So. So far, it’s going really well. It’s easy. For me, the obstacles to veganism are:

> Ice Cream. Love it.
> Cheese. On nachos. On pizza. Fancy cheeses. Love it.
> And butter/eggs in baked goods. Love baked goods.
> other stuff I can’t think of that I love that’ll turn out not to be vegan, like…beer?

I love having ice cream at night, end of the day, or some dessert. I probably eat some kind of dessert a few times a week. I don’t like soy, don’t think it’s healthy and it’s usually gmo. It’s a monoculture megacrop well loved by Big Ag. But tonight I bought So Delicious, Coconut Milk.

Con: It’s expensive, a rip-off compared to organic ice cream…and it’s not 100% organic. So that all sucks. Pro: But it’s delicious. It tastes like Cherry Garcia. The texture’s slightly different from ice cream, less creamy, but…if you didn’t tell me it wasn’t ice cream, I probably wouldn’t realize it. It’s effing good.

Last night I had Almond Dream (also a rip-off), and forgot until halfway through it that it was vegan. So the ice cream problem is already vanquished. Whew.

Today I had pizza at Pizzeria Locale, which is a farm-to-table “slow food” join that, you’d think, could give a shiite about veganism. But turns out they have a really amazing bunch of options for vegans, and were super nice to me when I asked. I hate asking and being difficult, but I know the manager, Chris, and he treats everyone with respect and friendliness. So I asked him about the pizza dough and it’s all fired up in this old school Italian oven and it doesn’t need cheese—I’ve been eating their basic marinara pizza there sans cheese since they opened and don’t miss it. And I looove cheese. So pizza without cheese, still yummy? I’m golden. Delivery pizza will be another matter. But Amy’s has good cheese-less frozen pizzas. So: so far, so good. My salad there today had Parmesan on it. I’ll just ask for that on the side next time, and save the cheese for my pooch. Who is not vegan. He realllly doesn’t care about chickens or turkeys or bison or cows, like, at all.

Major problem: croissants. Oatmeal. My favorite brunch spot of the last year, Cafe Aion, well it was my favorite until it was made clear to me by a gent there that he had an issue with me and didn’t want me bringing my 10 friends in, so now I go to places that want my business. Well anyways assuming I can figure out how to go back without offending that gent in some mysterious way…well I won’t eat their amazing croissants (butter) with my milk-less black coffee or Americano, or enjoy their amazing oatmeal (which is soaked in milk overnight). So that’s a major problem for this brunch-loving man. Take away oatmeal, and there’s very little on their breakfast menu I could eat, as a vegan. Must be something, right?

What else. Oh, I’ve been thinking a lot about how vegans don’t seem super-environmentally-passionate. Caring about the earth—ie bicycling/walking instead of driving, always eating organic and shade-grown if applicable and going easy on plastic packaging—is a great way to save animals’ habitat and health.

What else. Oh yes. So I had lunch at The Kitchen Next Door yesterday and one of my friends and I got into a great, respectful argument. She said being vegan was a privilege that only first world richies get to do. I said no, it’s the opposite—eating a low-meat diet is way cheaper and healthier (saving dough on health care, hospital bills long term, my mom raised me with very little meat, she was poor, we ate pasta and rice a lot). And I said that if not for taxpayer subsidies, meat would be way more expensive—it uses a kabillion times the water and gabillion times the grain that a vegan nation would need to use. Something like that, anyway, right? But she had great points and it was a fun argument where we both learned, I think—not one of those meanie vegan or macho meat-eater arguments. I basically said that as long as she ate animals from non-factory farmed sources, it was none of my business and not up to me how she ate. But that factory farms are torture. Like, literally, really, horribbbble, stuff that no decent human should abide.

Oh, also, someone said honey’s in a ton of beer. So that could be an issue, though I drink hardly at all, boring old man that I am these days. Okay, all for now! Any helpful comments and advice and cheerings ons appreciated, if so inspired—this is intimidating and a big move…it’s easy to talk the talk, but changing my habits is somehow really disconcerting.

And fun.

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