I am now a vegan detective for my vegan only son. He inspects every label for dairy, eggs, dyes, and lard. He wants me to do the same which has added more time to my routine grocery shopping and has caused me to carry “reader peepers” in my purse. I might as well hang the eyeglasses around my neck, with a chain like my mom, since the .5 font on food labels is microscopic. (This item is not vegan as it contains ‘gelatin’ which is a protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. It is usually obtained from cows or pigs). YEW!
Six months into what I thought was a passing fad, I find that my son has embraced not only vegetarianism but the vegan lifestyle. I was hesitant at first, since he is a little over six feet and in his late teens, but decided to support his decision. My goodness, I thought, this boy is going to lose more weight, he already dislikes chocolate.
Besides no meat, that means no fish, dairy including cheese and butter, eggs, animal products. Oh, and add artificial coloring or dyes to that list. It has been an adjustment especially since the city I live in does not have a Trader Joe’s and the Whole Foods is still “coming soon,” after 2 years. Luckily Costco has very reasonable prices for Naked Juice’s Green Machine blend and organic carrot juice. I now buy a lot, and I mean a whole lot, of vegetables and fruits.
Initially, I questioned my son’s position on eggs and honey since I figured he needed the protein. “No animals died in making those items,” was my rationale. I won’t repeat what he said about eggs mainly because I still want to eat them. We argued about the use of organic, range free eggs. Nope, no use. But on the discussion about honey, I had him thinking about that item. “Bees make honey regardless…it’s full of vitamins and all kinds of health benefits…” Okay, he said. My primary reason was he needs the extra calories and whole wheat tortillas use honey.
“But what about milk for a growing boy?” his grandma said. After I explained that most Latinos and Asians are lactose intolerant, she wondered if that’s why she has to chew Beeno everyday. Vegan son and I went through soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk (yes hemp), and finally found a match in almond milk. So now we have breakfast and snacks covered.
So far, I’ve been able to cook Mexican food vegan style pretty easily. The use of “Groundless Meat,” and “Soy” Chorizo are staples at my house now. I am so glad there are several types of legumes that cook just like frijoles de olla. And the almighty papa: papas fritas (no lard), hash browns, baked, chips, fries, and
sweet potatoes for desserts. Red, brown, orange, purple and white papas. It is hard for me to stay away from the papas. Check this out for great Mexican vegan recipes.
For Italian cooking, it’s very easy, especially with Tofurkey Italian Sausages and a wide range of wheat and rice pasta. When we go to a restaurant it’s super easy with Greek food: hummus, pita bread, falafels, and tahini. Unfortunately, can’t say the same for other restaurants in our city. We travel to the next city over for their two vegan eateries.
I’m really not a baker but I do like to make an attempt during the fall and winter seasons. Hence my search for vegan cookies, cakes, and breads. There are lots of recipes online, tons really, but now I see I must add a whole new repertoire of baking items: barley malt syrup, turbinado sugar, nondairy butter, molasses, and vegan eggs (whatever that is).
Shopping and cooking for a vegan has been a little more expensive and time-consuming, but I shall continue as a vegan detective because my son is standing for something positive, is healthy, and his skin has significantly improved (no more acne). Because of what I’ve learned from him I haven’t eaten red meat for five months and eat free range, hormone free chicken, and turkey. I also started ‘juicing’ when he shared a documentary with me Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and lost 12 pounds in three weeks by juicing for two meals and eating lean protein and veggies for the other meal.
My son has lost weight too (25 lbs in 6 months), despite eating five times a day and snacking on nuts and fruit.This was a concern until the doctor said he’s slender and healthy. But he’s too skinny, I think. So my plan for making vegan desserts is also to add a couple of pounds to his frame and truth be told, so I don’t feel so guilty when I dig into my dish of light ice-cream or have a dark chocolate bar.