An Itch You Should Scratch: Veganism

The word vegan has been tossed around for years like it’s the newest designer drug in town. The onset has sparked a growing number of vegan bakeries, cafes, restaurants, and convenience stores to set up shop sharing their meat-free approaches to life while accruing many followers.

With Hollywood on veganism‘s side, the number of those in support of the movement has grown by 9,000%. The difference here is for once there is no shiny two-way glass door or mural painted to appear real here. This is one of the many foodie trends that’s actually a tried and true way to maintain a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.

What is a vegan? Glad you asked. Basically, vegans do not eat meat, eggs, fish, poultry, or dairy. Some may even incorporate this within the requirements of the clothes they buy or religious beliefs they follow.

The only materials I am 100% vegan with are my supplements. Many of the cheaper supplements you find in Target, Wal-Mart, or other popular superstore are actually formulated with more chemicals than good for you nutrients. (If you’ve been reading my posts, this concept should sound like a broken record to you.) The outer capsule or tablet is usually comprised of a gel or binding agent which when consumed over time can lead to certain kidney or liver damage. In some cases, companies also use synthetic forms of vitamins (such as cyanocobalamin for B12). Your best bet is to spend the extra $5-10 on a supplement that reads 100% vegan or formulated with vegan ingredients. Always double check the labels to make sure this claim holds true.

A common stereotype associated with a foodie trend such as veganism is the idea that taste will not reign supreme and therefore take last place. First of all, you should not treat food as a jail. You’re not bound to it. You should act like it’s a rolling meadow highlighted with an occasional enclosed fence every now and then. Vegan food is just as delicious-if not more- than regular foods. Many people fail to realize it’s all about adaptation. You could take your favorite recipe and add or subtract certain ingredients to customize to vegan standards. There are also thousands of forums, blogs, videos, and websites to help you out with any woes you may have.

Vegans are not all crazed sleep-deprived fanatics sun salutationing around Rodeo Drive in protest of the latest P.E.T.A. advertisements. It is a shame how judgments are passed on so easily in today’s society. Vegans could be your neighbor, daughter, teacher, friend, or even pet!

Here enlies a gray area for the newbie: overconsumption of everything labeled “vegan”. Like I have stated in previous posts: well balanced and adequately portioned meals still apply. You should not automatically believe just because a product is labeled “vegan” or even “organic”, that it is okay to treat as though it’s a zero calorie food. Those carbs will begin to cause muffin-tops and thunderthighs, faster than it takes to make a piece of toast. (which should be low-cal, 100% whole grain, and under 20 carbs)

Real-life vegan advice: “Make the right choices that mesh well with you and your body. There’s many vegans who say you have to be so hardcore all the time, but if you cave for a piece of cheese or a frozen yogurt, you’re not a bad person.”

“Also, Meatless Mondays are an excellent way to gradually work your way into vegetarian/vegan lifestyles. Maybe you don’t want to give up all meat all the time, but just one day choosing vegetarian/vegan meals is tremendously healthy for not only your body, but the environment as well.” -@darlingnickyyy

So where to begin your vegan journey? In the kitchen of course! Here are a few books to help you out: Veganomicon, Skinny Bitch, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Living, Babycakes (cookbook based on NYC vegan bakery), & Appetite For Reduction.

My personal favorite vegan restaurants: Living on the Veg, Pizza Fusion (NJ), Juice & Java (Miami, FL area)

Here are a few I’d love to try in NYC- Candle 79, Ciano, Terri, Blossom, Pure Food & Wine

Know a vegan? Some gifts to help you out: Natural Gourmet Institute Cooking Classes (NYC), Tree Nut Cheese (gluten, dairy/soy free), Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale, Alison’s Gourmet Fudge, NuGo Nutrition Bars, Urban Decay make-up, Herbivore clothing, Mud Pie phone cases

If you can say “Ve Vish You A Vegan Christmas” twelve times fast you are a true vegan and master of english tongue-twisting.

Peace, love, and vegans!

~C.C.D.

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