Thursday, March 29, 2012

No Longer a Lenten Vegan

I quit my Lenten vegan quest last Sunday with weeks to go until Easter. I'm no longer vegan, but a lacto-ovo-vegetarian once more, and likely for the rest of my days. I definitely learned some things during my vegan experimentation.

I love my not-tested-on-animals, made in the USA, available in eleventy-million delicious flavors, Bonne Bell Lipsmackers, which have beeswax in them. The vegan hemp oil lip balms can't compete on price, flavors or moisturizing. Sorry bees.

I am not at all lactose-intolerant, but I am quite soy-sensitive. I'll spare you the disgusting details of discomfort. Trust me. Tofu and other highly-processed soy products do BAD things to my digestive tract.

Vegan cheese and vegan milk substitutes are so not to my liking.

I ate more highly processed foods as a vegan and gained a few pounds. I felt denied at meal times. Consequently, I overindulged in junky food stuff that parades as healthy.

If I had a million dollars, lived in downtown Austin and could eat every meal from the Whole Foods salad bar or ready-prepped sections, avoiding soy products, I might do okay as a vegan. I still wouldn't ENJOY being vegan.

If you think it's a pain in the patootie trying to dine out with a vegetarian, multiply that by at least ten when it comes to dining out with a vegan, especially in the suburbs or in cities that are less hippie-dippie-tolerant than Austin. A little perspective: Austin recently ranked #8 on the list for the most vegetarian/vegan-friendly cities in the United States of America.

Did I mention the soy-sensitive thing? Yeah? Well, it bears repeating. I am soy-sensitive, and it is pretty dang uncomfortable.

There. My terrible confession. I'm a vegetarian, but I can't make it as a vegan for even forty days.

Yep. $60.00

Time for me to procrastinate again. I have another script to re-memorize. At least eighteen months passed since I last performed this show. I'm the detective (again) which means I must remember the lion's share of the lines. I set the terrible precedent of memorizing the entire script back in my younger, brighter-eyed days. Dangit!

If you have $60 to spare, you can attend the show.
Reservations required! Call 512-501-7870.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Your Fourth-Grade Self

I've mentioned before on this blog that I am no longer on facebook. I deleted my account permanently last year. I got tired of seeing photos of events to which I was not invited. (Busted! You know who you are.) I got tired of reading the 15 congratulatory comments about every little thing that someone deigned to humble-brag in a status update. I got tired of being forced to "like" marketing campaigns under false pretenses when I really just wanted to enter a sweepstakes. I got tired of seeing people play their most well edited, greatest hits. I want to hear my friends, colleagues and acquaintances hit that achingly honest sour note once in a while, because if you're not going to be honest (funny-looking moles, bad vacations and all), then we're not really friends and never will be.

While still on facebook, I also caught myself wanting to search for people with whom I attended elementary school, junior high and the first two years of high school, but not really wanting to find them. In a weird way, I want to keep those happy, and even those not-so-happy memories of the people, places and times spent together in context. I don't want to know if my favorite little boyfriend from sixth grade got fat, lost all his hair and now sells used tires for a living to support his eight children and six ex-wives. I want to remember how we made each other laugh, got into trouble together for not paying attention in class and how we didn't speak to each other out of overly-self-conscious embarrassment for the four days we were officially "going together".

My family moved around more than most during my school years. I wouldn't know these former elementary and junior high classmates walking around in adult skin if I bumped into them on the street, so why should I spy on them online? Plus, if you moved around to new places like I did as a kid, you may agree that the only upside to helplessly being uprooted every few years was the opportunity to reinvent yourself. While my senior year high school friends might still recognize me, and think "yeah, that makes sense", anyone from elementary school probably forgot me many years ago. On the off chance that those elementary schoolmates do remember me, the adult version of me likely wouldn't be relevant compared to the fourth-grade version of me that they remember.

Lately I have been acutely aware that I don't have any lifelong (or even nearly lifelong) friendships. This lack of super-longstanding friendships leaves me feeling a bit untethered at times, yet also free from the past. I feel free to enjoy life in the moment, without worrying about how to spin it into a status update that will impress (or at least not alienate) friends, frenemies and family. I feel unfettered by past expectations and declarations. I appreciate the people in my life (really in my life) that much more.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lenten Vegan - Almost Halfway to Easter

Things I've learned as a Lenten Vegan:

Even vegetarian restaurants might bring you a buttered (with butter made from cow milk), toasted bun when you order the supposedly vegan veggie burger. Ugh.

I like scrambled tofu better than I like scrambled eggs. Yay!

Sweet Ritual is a vegan ice cream shop near my house. They serve a "Glitterbeast Sundae" which is my new favorite indulgence. Yum!

Almond milk tastes like a milkshake, and is too thick. Coconut milk is too fatty. Low-fat rice milk is almost just right until the rice aftertaste hits. None of these stand up to hot coffee or hot tea. Eww.

Thank goodness for Wheatsville Coop and their clearly labeled vegan bakery items, hot food bar items and cold case takeaway items. The popcorn tofu po'boy sandwich is super-tasty and satisfying.

Food for Lovers makes just-as-good-as-the-real-deal queso.

I personally opine that Tofurky brand frozen vegan pizza makes my tummy hurt, and leaves an odd aftertaste. Bless them for trying though!

Lots of jellybean brands have beeswax in them. Boo...

Vegan chocolate tends toward a tad too chalky-dry or a tad too pasty-textured for my tastes.

Almond cheese is not necessarily vegan. Luckily I've learned to read the label carefully before it goes into the shopping cart.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lenten Vegan Update

Being a vegan proves to be more expensive and require much more planning than being a vegetarian.

Lots of different junk foods are vegan including NewmanOs (like Oreos, but slightly healthier and more expensive) and most potato chips and tortilla chips. Of course fruits and vegetables are vegan, as well as many pastas. Finding vegan bread is tricky, unless I'm at Wheatsville Coop or Whole Foods. Thank goodness I live in Austin where most restaurants and food carts in town offer at least a few vegan dishes.

I thought that the vegetarian soy bacon in our freezer was vegan, but oops, the ingredients list clearly show egg and milk ingredients. So that was my first slip-up. I ate one piece on a bean taco Monday morning before scanning the ingredients.

On Leap Day yesterday, I was in San Antonio for a private show. Despite the fact that I planned ahead by slurping a vegan smoothie on the way to San Antonio and brought some almonds and an apple, I allowed myself some decidedly un-vegan cheesy noodles and a dinner roll after the show. I was hungry, tired, cranky and suffering from either a cold or terrible allergies. I needed some comfort food, and was in no position to find the vegan version of comfort food at 9:00 PM in the San Antonio Dave & Busters. Leap Day doesn't count, right?

With that confession, I started back on the vegan plan this morning. Chad and I are even going to try vegan pizza tonight. Don't worry, there's a backup dinner in the fridge in case it's gross.