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Monday, 24 November 2008

Vegalicious is the New Vegan

I turned veggie when I was eleven, following a philosophical discussion with a junior master at my boarding school about whether animals had souls. I thought they did, he thought they didn't. 

He did, however ask the question that would change my eating habits forever, "If you really think that, how can you eat them?".

There was no satisfactory answer to this, and in the weeks that followed I couldn't stop associating the meat on my plate with the original animal. Yuk.

Luckily for me, my mother was a great cook and took on the challenge of cooking for a lone veggie in the family with gusto. My sister eventually turned veggie too - the food was that good.

Twenty four years after I became a vegetarian, I decided to try being vegan. The only vegans I've met have been pasty, skinny or militant. Usually all of the above. Not the best advertisement for going meat and dairy-free. But even they didn't shake my feeling that a vegan diet must be the healthiest, kindest way to eat. Kind both to animals and to the
environment.

Quite by accident, I was recently tipped over the edge by a book purporting to be about weight loss.
Skinny Bitch is an excellent read. It's an irreverent, straight-talking guide to exactly what you are putting into your body and how to eat more healthily. And sings the praises of a vegan diet. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, I urge you to read it. 

Just like my old Junior Master, Skinny Bitch raised some simple questions which changed my perception of my diet, namely: 'Why eat things that cause cruelty to animals – is this a valid choice for a compassionate person?', 'Why persist in consuming milk and milk products when we’re supposed to be fully weaned by the age of four (at the latest!) - can this really be healthy?'
 
I’ve always loved food, for me it is truly one of the most enjoyable things in life. So, four months ago I chose not to be vegan but to be ‘Vegalicious’ (vee-ga-lish-us). 

This is my word for being a veggie who doesn’t eat eggs or dairy AND who is in luscious health with pink cheeks and not a hint of scrawniness. Being Vegalicious also involves eating delicious food that is full of flavour.

And forget the militance so common with veganism. A Vegalicious chick like me isn’t on any crusade to convert friends and family. Instead, I enjoy treating my friends to yummy food that subtly changes their perceptions. No, I’m not talking about magic mushroom risotto. I mean the Vegalicious blueberry muffins that my friend declared “better than the ones at Starbucks by miles”, the wonderfully moist apple and cinnamon spiced cake (No eggs! No milk!) that I made as a houseguest gift when J and I stayed with friends in Manchester a few weekends ago…

On Saturday, my friend Kath came for a 'girlie night in' as I had Els and J was away. I enjoyed cooking Kath a Thai curry (with butternut squash, chickpeas, mange tout and baby corn) followed by a caramelised apple tart with a hint of aniseed. For breakfast on Sunday, we had Vegalicious buckwheat pancakes with fresh blueberries and maple syrup. I really don’t think she felt deprived.

Nor did J's friends who came over for an impromptu lunch later that day when J had returned. I made a simple, yet delicious, pasta sauce by slow-roasting fresh tomatoes with loads of garlic, olive oil and rosemary. I turned part-baked baguettes into garlic bread using a non-dairy margarine, and rustled up a cherry (tinned, but still yummy) and almond crumble which I served with Alpro non-dairy custard which, believe me, is just like the Real Thing.

I can’t say I’m a Skinny Bitch yet, I think I’m eating too much for that, but I’m certainly a healthier one. My intermittent IBS-type symptoms have all but disappeared, and I feel lighter inside (strange but true). I’m also happier as I’m living more in line with my values.

As a newly Vegalicious person, I am spurred on by the decidedly non-pasty vegan role models I have recently discovered, including the very healthy-looking lead singer of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers,
Anthony Kiedis,  cute and curvy Alicia Silverstone and the rather beefy NFL athlete Tony Gonzales.My old heroin poster misconception of how vegans look has finally been replaced by healthier, more inspiring examples. 

Vegalicious is definitely the new Vegan.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah but what about wine?

Part Mummy Part Me said...

Aha, the excellent (and local)Vintage Roots has a good selection of Vegan (and organic) wines www.vintageroots.co.uk

Although I have to admit to not being that fastidious when at friend's houses/a restaurant/Tescos. Little baby steps...

Cerian said...

Good for you, I tried it last christmas but got really sick after 4 weeks, I have alot of respect for vegans, well the ones who don't make you feel bad about yourself! Babysteps is the right way forward, well done you!

Potty Mummy said...

I don't think it's vegan but it it is vegetarian so it might be useful; check out Pig in the Kitchen's blog for some amazing recipes...

Susanna said...

Those meals sounds yummy!

What does Els eat?

Swearing Mother said...

My son's a vegetarian and I am constantly appalled every time we go out for a meal that the choices are so restricted - he must be sick to the back teeth of goat's cheese tartlets in their many guises.

I am currently looking for a good recipe for an alternative to turkey for his Christmas dinner, if you've got a suggestion!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, it was lovely to read you.

Susanna (A Modern Mother) said...

Yum, are you going to share some of the recipes?

Laura McIntyre said...

You are doing wonderful , i would love to follow some of the changes myself but hubby would never agree or eat any of them dishes.

Good luck with it