Saturday, February 18, 2017

Vegan Brain Dumping

No, the above picture is not about veganism.  Well, not directly.  What you see before you is a blurry image that I managed to capture of a 7 year old autistic dressing his 5 year old brother.  It's not that the 5 year isn't capable of dressing himself.  It's that this morning he refused to.  And I was getting us ready to get out the door to do some field research and grocery shopping.  (Needless to say I failed in that regard because as soon as I got to the store I realized that I had left the shopping list at home. Since it was lengthy had to go back and retrieve it.  Hubby was not home to send a photograph, and I'm not good at remembering long lists. But I digress.)

What's amazing about this photograph is that I told the 5 year old to get his brother to help him and his brother agreed to it.  Sometimes he doesn't.  HB picked out all of his brother's clothing, and item by item made sure they were all going on correctly and helped his brother put them on.  This is a shot of him at the finale- putting on shoes.

HB also dresses himself.  Often times I don't ask him to.  He just does it like any typical kid.

And yes, he's autistic.  And no, I don't see him as some sort of genetic defect, a drain on government resources, or incapable of living a full and completely independent life.  Although some cruel internet people would think he'd be better off dead, which is why autistics are frightened of prenatal genetic tests. 

Point is that I was able to capture a brief moment of something that is ordinary for us, but should dispel the myth that all autistics are all alike.  Because they are not.  Not in the least.  Some graduate highschool at 13 and others never technically earn a diploma.  Just like "regular" people. 

Back to the field research:

So I've been writing a plan in a notebook of vegan meals.  I'm not crazy enough to suddenly expect to just "do this thing" without thinking through it and what it would mean.  Turns out it doesn't seem that hard.  You can pretty much make any regular meal vegan.  My list is up to 26 dinner plans.  Lent is only 40 days but I'll probably go 48.  And I haven't finished leafing through the 8 or so vegan recipe books from the library.  Some of which are about how to transition but include recipes and others are thick tomes of some hefty substance.  So finding a few more interesting ones will not be a problem.  Worse case I end up making many of them twice or thrice.

The tricky part for me is dairy substitutions.  I like dairy a lot.  Meats are nice, but dairy is h.a.r.d.  Let's be honest.  There are no dairy substitutions that can fool you into thinking it's dairy.  You just have to pick one that you can live with using and don't mind the flavor.  And that, folks, is the tricky part.  I am picky.

I'm not a fan of soy.  For one it's bad for those with hormonal imbalances.  And I take a thyroid medication.  Because soy mimics estrogen, that wouldn't be good for me.  In fact it's said to be bad for young pre-pubescent children particularly boys.  My neighbor is studying to be a nurse, and one of her children has a dairy allergy.  She doesn't give him soy (he drinks cashew milk).  I've even read online advice saying that if you eat a lot of soy products it's best to avoid soy milk. 

So soy's out.  Not that I like it anyway.  I've tried a couple of flavors in the past and they weren't great.

I haven't tried any of the nut ones like the ever popular almond variety, but I'm not a fan of nuts.  I'm afraid that I won't like them either.

So today I've been taste testing rice milk.  It's not as protein and nutrient rich as some of the other varieties of plant-based milks, but I can stand it.  I reminds me of drinking skim milk that had once been in a bowl with rice cereal.  Not the most fantastic thing to drink, but I can stomach it.

So rice milk in cold cereal.  Ordinarily I use water when making hot cereals like oatmeal.

Almond milk in cooking might not be so bad and would certainly give me protein.  So that's the next one to try.  Plus they make chocolate varieties which can't be all that terrible for drinking.  I mean who doesn't love chocolate.  Nutella is hazel nuts with chocolate and I like that so I can handle a nutty chocolate flavored drink, right?  Work with me here, people.  We're confidence building that I can find a non-milk milk, kay?

For more full fat cooking like in creamy soups that require half and half, I've heard that coconut milk is a better substitute.  And I like the flavor of coconut even though, oddly, I can't stand the texture of it shredded.  Thanks but no thanks almond joy and mounds.  I've used a lot of coconut oils in the past for cooking and on my skin so it seems a more plausible substitute.

Speaking of coconut, on my investigations I've discovered that my local grocery store carries your typical soy yogurt but also a coconut version.  So when I make my cold oatmeal in a jar thingy (which a websearch says it's called "overnight oats"), I can use that to thicken it.

They also carry a brand of vegan butter, but unfortunately it's the soy version.  I think the local health food store carries both along with the soy and non-soy vegan mayo and non-soy vegan cheese. Normally I use very little butter so a little soy for now won't hurt.  I'm hoping that the non-soy vegan cheese is decent on a pizza.  I doubt I'll use a vegan mayo as I only put it on a meaty sandwhich.

Salads shouldn't be an issue either.  There are vegan versions, but the easiest is just a diy vinaigrette.

My breakfasts are going to be a bit boring.  It's basically smoothies, toast, bagels with some sort of spread, cold oats, hot oats, and cold cereal.  *sigh*  I realize they have a lot of vegan crumbles and vegan eggs, but they are soy.  And once again, trying to avoid the soy.  Kinda sounds like it rhymes "avoid the soy."

Moving on.

I did make a vegan eggplant Parmesan and it wasn't that bad.  It needed a bit more seasoning so I think it was a pasta sauce issue, but didn't miss the cheese.

Point is it's doable to be vegan and avoid soy and avoid processed foods.  Yes, you can be a junk food eating vegan although most vegans aren't.

The other concern is making sure my diet is balanced.  Vegans have a difficult time getting enough B-12 in their diets and find they have to supplement.  Similarly I read a book called Veganish in which the author says she had to switch to a more omnivore diet when her daughter started have dental problems.  I heard similar things from people in the past.  Not just vegans but also vegetarians who discovered that they weren't eating enough protein and needed to sparingly add meat into their diet.   On the other hand, I've heard that some have found tremendous health benefits such as lowing their cholesterol levels to feeling more energetic.  So we'll see which category I fall under.

At any rate, I'll buy some B-12 supplements and perhaps a multi-vitamin.  

Okay, so let's do this thing.  When's Lent start?



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