GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Going Vegan and Avoiding Mutiny

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It’s a good thing they love me, because otherwise I might be facing a total household mutiny.  Beginning the day after Christmas 2011, our little house on the corner has gone nearly-vegan.  “Nearly” is how I avoid total mutiny.  While I have not consumed any meat or dairy since said date, the other three humans which I share a home with do, on occasion still sprinkle cheese or have a cup of yogurt. What about eggs, you say? Well, Rosie and Red are happy productive hens who each lay one egg a day.  (That is 14 eggs in a 7 day week, just to do the math for ya.) And those eggs have turned up as minor ingredients in veggie black bean burgers, a delicious fiber-filled zucchini cake, and also I have shared a few with friends. Twice we have had a veggie-filled crust-less quiche (frittata?) with salad and rice.   But I believe not all eggs are created equal, thus store-bought or eggs in other things out in the world are a no-go, since they are surely not made from organic chicken feed or free-range backyard goodness. So I’m more than a little discriminatory with my egg choices.

These changes are permanent. A full month in and after family discussions we have decided that not only are we happy with how things are going, we all feel better. No mutiny after all! We look better. Our garden has been re-vamped, and we’ve turned also to aquaponics to grow more food.  My culinary skills have had to adapt and I’m so far loving it.  It’s also saving us money: pound for pound plant foods are way cheaper. (And more sustainable, and more easily found locally.)

I believe in always being open to change, if you learn something new that counters what you thought you knew, then, well, change we must.  I have read The China Study.  We have watched Forks Over Knives, I’m currently reading the 10th Anniversary Edition of the Food Revolution, and frankly, the evidence is overwhelming.  Much of the science gets hidden or watered down to the public view due to major lobbying efforts from meat, dairy and egg industries.  For instance, the new USDA MyPlate Guidelines, though a step in the right direction,  still advise drinking 2-3 servings of dairy milk per day, despite the fact that science has shown no health benefits to this.  With $190 million a year spent on just the “Got Milk” ads alone, it’s no wonder that such a powerful industry also has influence over the agency giving out advice on nutrition.  (I could go on another tangent about how milk also supports the veal industry, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)

In response, the Harvard School of Public Health has made their own “plate” and it’s worth looking at since, since it corrects many of the features about the USDA one that leave one wondering what to eat.

So what do we eat these days? Well, it’s been fun and here is a small sampling of dinners we have enjoyed.  First up, a simple marinated baked tofu with a brown rice quinoa pilaf, steamed kale and carrots. Kale is yummy with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon. The 2.5 year old routinely asks for seconds on the tofu. I know, weirdo kid, right?

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A more kid-friendly looking plate, and one we all enjoyed was the black bean-veggie burgers on whole wheat buns with sweet potato baked fries. No cheese for me though, thanks. (And actually, since I haven’t purchased any more cheese no one else is really eating it either. Ah, the power of she-who-pushes-the-shopping-cart!)

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For the laziest dinner in the whole world, a crockpot minestrone soup with toasted whole wheat croutons.  I toasted these myself since after examining the crackers we had in the house, found they all contained milk or cheese or were super high in calories.

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My sweet tooth isn’t really going anywhere (though what I find sweet has changed!) and this is a chocolate zucchini cake.  Though not vegan, as I did use an egg, I found the recipe to be just great when I only used ONE egg versus the two it called for.

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One of the house favorites now, a rice/orzo/quinoa pilaf with roasted asparagus and cashews.  Soooo tasty.

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We have so many green yummy things growing the backyard now, that I’m trying to find ways to use them all! Here, a fresh green salad is topped with baked polenta and roasted squash.  The sauce is local mushrooms, about two cups of my own basil, oregano and spinach blended with a can of diced tomatoes.  Again, the kid couldn’t get enough!

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So I guess this means I’m out now, out of the nearly-vegan-closet.  And I couldn’t be happier.  With the high costs of a meat-based diet for our health, our planet and our wallets, there was really no clearer choice.

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Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “Going Vegan and Avoiding Mutiny

  1. Interesting! Make sure to keep a tab on your (and E’s) iron and other essential nutrient levels with an annual blood panel. This is something that I never did, and my body paid the price. I was a vegetarian for 4 years (and vegan for 1), and was always careful to make sure that I took supplements when I knew I could not provide properly for my body. Despite my best attempts, after 5 years the lack of dairy and meat-based protein in my body had taken it’s toll. Following several medical recommendations, I slowly introduced both dairy and meat proteins back into my life while pregnant with my first child.

    Everyone goes vegetarian/vegan for their own reasons. Mine were in response to the lack of quality meat and dairy in my community. Now that I am “back on the wagon,” I am careful to research where my family’s meat and dairy come from and we are committed to only supporting locally slaughtered, grass-fed, free-range meat and dairy. I’m sure you’ve looked into all of this and are taking steps to make sure everything is balanced for your (growing) bodies! Best of luck on your journey!

    – Karissa

    P.S. – Interesting on the chocolate zucchini! How did it taste?

  2. Thanks for the tip Karissa! I did some double checking after reading your comment because I do want to make sure all our bases are covered. And I think so far we are doing well. The top foods for vegans that provide iron are:

    Spirulina (1 tsp): 5 mg
    Cooked soybeans (1/2 cup): 4.4 mg
    Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce): 4.2 mg
    Quinoa (4 ounces): 4 mg
    Blackstrap molasses (1 tbsp): 4 mg
    Tomato paste (4 ounces): 3.9 mg
    White beans (1/2 cup) 3.9 mg
    Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 3.2 mg
    Dried peaches (6 halves): 3.1 mg
    Prune juice (8 ounces): 3 mg
    Lentils (4 ounces): 3 mg

    While we don’t eat much spirulina we do have quinoa several times a week, white beans, spinach and lentils. Also, we are still eating eggs, which are a “complete” animal protein. It will understandably be something we all have to be thinking about, and I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you. Honestly, I think at any other time in my life it wouldn’t have worked for me (us) either. I either wouldn’t have taken the time to research, or what I needed wouldn’t have been available, etc. But this is something that is worth the effort now. As family members drop like flies from heart disease and cancer, I can’t ignore the fact that we are predisposed to these conditions and there is a way to control it. Thanks again. xoxo

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