Sunday, August 3, 2008

Almost Vegan

For a long time, I’ve considered becoming vegan. In fact, I’ve actually been vegan for some extended periods at various points throughout my life, but I guess its never really stuck. It would be sort of a logical progression for me though. I’ve been a vegetarian for long about 11 years, and I haven’t drunk milk on my free will in over 7 years. For the most part, dairy products repulse me, and eggs are always repugnant.

I’m not one of those people that is a vegetarian because I think animals are cute and ought dressed up in bows and have their pictures taken for a calendar. Most animals are okay I suppose, except that I hate cows. I mean, I really hate them. I never thought much about cows until I lived in Nicaragua and they were everywhere. Cows are disgusting, horrible creatures that smell bad and that left disgusting piles of excrement in the path leading up to the forest. And now that I’m back in Urbana, this cow onslaught only continues. If the wind is blowing just right, you can smell the horror that is the South Farms from anywhere in town. Sometimes I forget about it and decide to run south on Lincoln Avenue, on that lovely multi-use path that goes past the vet school and the Arboretum. But always, the stench assails me and then I have to spend about a ½ mile with my hands over my face, trying not to breathe.

What really set the vegan wheels in motion again for me was that a couple of weeks ago, I was bored and flipping channels and came to that show called Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. The host’s “dirty job” in that episode was to artificially inseminate dairy cows (ie, so that they could be milked after having the calf). This was a dirty job alright. It entailed the host getting up to his armpit in shit. Literally. I don’t think that the intention of the show was to persuade anyone to swear off dairy products, but seriously, cheese has not tasted remotely good to me since this.

I eat virtually no egg products and so little dairy as it is. For years, I have gone to great lengths to avoid buying things made out of leather. My philosophy being that I hate cows to such an extent that I will neither eat or wear them. The real reason why I haven’t become vegan is not because of myself, but instead, because of everybody else. It would complicate things for friends and family when we eat together, and it would definitely involve a lot more planning ahead for me (and I already have to plan ahead a lot) whenever we eat out or eat with others so that I make sure I have time to prepare and bring something appropriately dairy and egg free.

I’m not completely locked into this; I’d just like to try it for a while. And above all, I want to be vegan on my own terms. I’ve already decided that although honey isn’t vegan, its something that I consider okay. Particularly because I only eat Gutzmer honey (made by John’s dad) or local honey that I get at the Farmer’s Market or Strawberry Fields. As for dairy, I’m sure the next time that we do a pizza night at Cara and John’s, I will definitely want some of that kalamata olive, basil, and goat cheese delight. Maybe I’ll just be vegan in terms of avoiding things that come from cows. I have nothing in particular against goats and in fact, have often wished to own a goat in order to remove the need to mow the lawn. We’ll see. Like many things in life, this is an experiment.

At any rate, what I loathe most of all besides deforestation, cows, Hummers, and misogynist homophobic TV evangelists, are preachy vegans, so I really hope I didn’t come across that way. And also, just to prove to the world that being vegan doesn’t have to mean deprivation (note: S.L. maintains that after his daughter became vegan, she gained 15 pounds), I will include a recipe for my “special brownies” that I have made 3 batches of since “becoming” a vegan (note: I have been a vegan for less than a week). I call these “special” because there is a secret ingredient that makes them surprisingly moist and delicious, while also using up extra produce from the garden. See if you can guess what it is. The recipe pretty much follows this one from, but I made a few modifications, included below:

Melissa’s Special Brownies
½ cup olive oil
1 cup organic sugar
½ cup firmly packed organic brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini (this is usually about 2 medium zucchini, and don’t skimp on it!)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease baking pan (I think mine is 8X8 or 9X9, not sure).

In large bowl, mix oil, sugars, and vanilla. Stir well. In medium bowl combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda; stir into the sugar mixture. Then add the zucchini and stir well. Pour into baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Bon appétit.


Anonymous said...

brownies sound yummy!! Do you know about 'The McDougall Program' by John A. McDougall, M.D.? My book is copyright 1990 and there's probably a newer one ... you might want to check it out...
hugs, auntie

gutzville said...

You should probably start taking a Calcium supplement.

amypfan said...

Bring on the fresh local produce.