Where’s the beef? Or for that matter where’s the chicken, pork, cheese, butter, eggs, and milk? And how can anyone cook anything tasty if these ingredients—my all time favorites—are verboten? I LOVE to cook (and eat).
If you’d told me a few months ago that I’d be trying to maintain a 90-95% vegan eating regimen, I’d have laughed out loud—then turned around to whip up something yummy loaded with animal proteins (think eggs benedict, prime rib, cheese cake). Nonetheless, my husband, Tom, and I have been on the vegan wagon for more than six weeks, and I think (think) we’ll make a year. Our doctor CLAIMS our tastes will change by then, and we’ll no longer want to beg for bacon. We’ll see.
It all started when Tom and I were assigned a new family doctor—a vegan. He suggested we read The
Study, Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell. He also suggested we read and try to follow the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Neal Barnard, MD. Tom met with the doc a few months before me and immediately read and gave a thumbs-up on both books. He surprised the heck out of me when he expressed interest in giving a vegan diet a shot. We’d talked before about our addiction to cheese, noting that meat would be far easier to sacrifice. China
Pleading I was too busy to read the books (head in the sand?), I scanned them before my annual physical appointment. And even my limited reading convinced me that a plant-based diet would be good for me. Our reasons are totally (selfish) related to personal health issues. For me, these issues include taking medicine for high blood pressure and cholesterol, worries about Alzheimer’s (Mom had it), and weight. (Did I mention I love to eat?)
However, I was danged reluctant to “go vegan.” Here are five reasons why:
- We enjoy visits from family and friends. What could I feed them? I had no desire to become a zealot, who tries to force other people to follow her special diet.
- I take pride in my cooking. My top entrees were all loaded with animal protein: lasagna, eggs benedict, ham and cheesy potatoes, turkey and gravy. And we won’t even mention desserts. Suffice it to say that all my pie recipes started with “butter” crusts.
- I’m also lazy. It’s always seemed so much more efficient to make BIG batches of soups, pasta dishes, and casseroles and freeze portions to pull out when I’m into writing and don’t want to leave the computer. Vegan meals with their fresh ingredients often entail chopping, chopping, chopping.
- What about eating out? While I’m no social butterfly, I do visit restaurants with a variety of groups—local chapters of Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America, my book club, the neighborhood ladies, my tennis friends. I didn’t want to be a pain in the behind with my “leave off” requests.
- And, finally, did I mention I LOVE many non-vegan foods. My family could enroll in cheese-aholics.
When I asked our doc if he was a “total” vegan, he said “no”—he couldn’t imagine fresh, summer tomatoes without cheese. He claimed he aimed at a 95% plant-based diet. In his words, we live in the real world—do the best you can and splurge once in a while on the things you miss most. Hmmm. That seemed doable.