Thoughts in Transit

Thursday, March 3, 2011


A few weeks ago, my daughter asked me to go along with her to a few health-food and regular grocery stores as she and her husband wanted to eat “vegan”—nothing from an animal or fish—for a week.
They had been talking about the benefits of a “cleanse,” ridding the body of toxins, but she was concerned about her hubby’s eating “enough” so they decided to try it the vegan way.
A recent program on the “Oprah” show and the longevity of veteran fitness guru Jack Lalanne, who was known for promoting healthy eating for many decades and had recently died at age 96, sparked their resolve.
Shopping, in three towns, took hours, as we read label after food label and kept reminding ourselves, and each other, about what the healthy food pyramid is regarding daily consumption of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and veggies, etc.
I found myself interested not so much in eating vegan but eating mindfully for a week.
They dug in to a meal that Sunday evening, after my daughter cooked “something with quinoa,” she said, that “tasted just great.” By Thursday, however, they had each capitulated a bit.
“Still vegan?” I asked my son-in-law the following evening, as they put a cheese and pepperoni pizza in front of me, along with a salad, and then a nice bakery’s red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting as my birthday treat. “-Ish,” he replied, adding that it was “good to be both.”
Well, that was some special treat day for me. It all began when a friend took me out to breakfast in a favorite little restaurant in a town on my way to work. There was nothing on the breakfast menu (all that was being offered) that was vegan except for a promising “granola with fresh fruit and yogurt.” But the yogurt was a dairy product, and the little eatery did not have any dairy substitutes for either yogurt or milk. (What would someone with a lactose intolerance do, I wondered, as I tried to build a breakfast while sticking to the vegan way?)
I ended up crunching my way through a bowl of dry granola with fresh fruit, with an orange juice chaser, and followed it up with a cup of black coffee. ’Tweren’t bad. Crunched a lot and let my breakfast companion do all the talking! Afterward, I remembered that nutritionists recommend chewing one’s food thoroughly and eating smaller portions as two weight-losing, or sensible-eating, tips. It certainly wasn’t easy to eat faster, and who would want more!
My workplace friends, however, made my day when they gave me two dark chocolate, (something white) frosted, vegan cupcakes from a local bakery as a birthday treat. Yum, all the way to the last crumb.
Since then (now it’s about three weeks later), I’ve found that “ish” is serving me well. I’ve lost my cravings for just about everything—including “buttered” (such as it is) popcorn at the movies and a cup of ice cream after a late night at work.
But I’ve also developed a real delight in some things I never would have paid that much attention to before. Like olives. One bite, and what a huge explosion of savory juiciness!
I’m now game for miso and exploring “sea vegetable” possibilities, like seaweed and arame, dulce, nori, kombu and wakame.
Can’t say the same for packaged veggie burgers, but maybe if I made them from scratch from a choice selection of mushrooms and … .


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