28/07/2012

My First Month of Pseudo-Veganism




After I went freelance, I also decided to finally try being semi-vegan, after almost 20 years of being pescetarian and vegetarian.

I use the expressions "semi-vegan", "pseudo-vegan", "on the road to veganism" and so on - because I don't feel like calling myself completely vegan yet. If I'm at a friend's dinner party and she's been slaving over a cheesecake for three days, I'm going to have a taste. If I'm in a Chinese restaurant having soy noodles with veggies, I'm not going to ruin my meal by stopping to wonder if there's fish stock or traces of eggs anywhere near my precious vegetarian dinner. I know, I know, that this technically counts as cheating - but for now I prefer to take it one step at a time instead of going die-hard cold turkey.







So far, on my journey towards a more compassionate diet, I've found that:

* eating a vegan diet is much easier than I thought. 
There are so many things that are available in a normal, regular supermarket: beans, chickpeas, soy milk, almond milk, nuts, seeds, vegan breakfast biscuits, seitan, veggie burgers, dark chocolate. When I've got a bit of money to spend, I go to the specialized stores to pick up things like sea vegetables, sugar-free peanut butter, vegan sausages, fake meat and hummus. And of course there's the farmers' market, where you can find all the fresh, organic fruit and veggies you want.


* it does cost more.
I have yet to master the art of "being vegan on the cheap". Unless you eat lentils every day, I don't see that happening in Italy. Veggie burgers cost more than meat, soy yoghurt costs more than milk yoghurt, soy milk costs more than cow's milk. Because most of those things are made with ingredients that cost more because they're better for you - or because "organic" and "vegan" equals "trendy". It's just how it is. Or maybe I just haven't figured out the secret yet? A tip, though, is to bulk-buy things like beans, peas, and grains. I've saved lots of money that way!


* dining out isn't always easy....but it can be done!
For our fifth anniversary, David took me to Be Bop, a fantastic restaurant close to the area where we live. They had lots of traditional Italian food - David had a Neapolitan pizza - but also some really amazing vegan meals. I ate a lovely tofu and seitan millefoglie with veggies, and an amazing chocolate dessert. The thing is, restaurants like this are few and far between. I've told you here about how hard it can be to find a decent vegan breakfast in Milan - and it's not easy dealing with the people serving them, either. Dear Milan barmen, I get it - you don't know what soy milk is. That's fine. Just don't look at me like I'm a freak when I very kindly ask you about it. 









* your friends can be your worst enemies.
I'm happy that many of my friends have taken curiosity in my new lifestyle and asked me about it with real interest. But it hurts me when others either choose to make fun of it or say things like "really? Are you sure it's a good idea, this whole vegan thing? I mean, not even fish? What about sushi?". If I tell you something makes me feel better, trust me. I'm not trying to "convert" you, so why not let me eat what I want in peace? If we have lunch together at the same Japanese restaurants we used to, laughing like we always do and talk about the same things, I'm still me - even if there's avocado on my nigiri and salmon on yours. Just saying.


* that nasty stomach bug? Just chuck the dairy.
For almost three years, I've had recurring stomach pains. Some mornings I woke up, looked at myself in the mirror and wondered if I was pregnant - my tummy looked like a big ball. I felt nauseated and suffered annoying pains. Doctors put it down to stress, IBS, or lack of fiber - until I cut dairy out of my diet for ethical reasons. The results? Magical. I don't even remember what stomach pains feel like.


* eating is just a more pleasurable experience...
...when you know everything you eat does the planet good, does animals good and does you good. When you know that what you eat is about so much more than just you.


I'm not trying to get anyone to change their minds - if you come to a party at my house, you can probably find cheese rolls and salami that I bought myself, among all the hummous and veggies. But please, please, let me eat what I want without criticism or poking fun. It makes me happy.





One of my inspirations, Alicia Silverstone, talks about vegan diet in this PETA video.




pictures from Pinterest.

9 comments:

  1. This is great :) I would love to follow a vegan diet in the future, at the moment I am pescatarian and I love it, I have no regrets, and I'm sure I'll feel the same when I cut out fish! xx

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    1. I was pescatarian for a really long time and it was great. I don't think you necessarily need to go the whole haul at once. When you fee like it, you can give veganism a try. Just trying is huge. You're already doing animals a huge favor now.

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  2. :D E' il primo passo! Sempre un primo passo per tutto. Hai tutto il mio supporto.E se hai bisogno, non esitare a farmi un fischio! :D Grande!

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    1. grazie! Ma...mangiare fuori? Come si fa? Mi trovo bene tipo al cinese o al giapponese quando hanno il sushi vegetariano! Ma in alcuni ristoranti dove c'é solo "menú carne o menú pesce"...aiuto!

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  3. mia suocera è tornata vegetariana dopo molti anni di sospensione e ogni volta che viene a mangiare da noi, per lei c'è un'alternativa al mio menu. E per fare cose interessanti spesso le pietanze vegetariane vanno a ruba anche tra gli altri commensali ehehe. Io sono nata in campagna, ho visto nascere e crescere gli animali che poi ho mangiato (detta così sembro crudelia) ed è talmente parte della mia infanzia che non riuscirei a diventare vegetariana o vegana. Ma ho ridotto notevolmente il consumo di carne e cerco di comprare prodotti cruelty free, anche quando si tratta di cibo per i miei gatti.

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    1. Hai fatto bene e ha fatto benissimo anche la tua suocera! Penso comunque che la carne della campagna (Volpina correggimi se sbaglio) sia meglio che la carne da factory farms (allevamenti) che sono davvero orridi...poi ci sono altre cose che potresti fare a parte il cibo: cosmetici cruelty free, prodotti per la casa non testati su animali, ecopelle e ecopelliccia a posto di materiali animali ecc ecc.

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    2. le pellicce le odio, sono ridicole nel mondo moderno! E indicativamente sono molto orientata a ciò che non è testato sugli animali, però non sono molto sistematica in questo

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  4. Vatekatten, per quanto non possa approvare il fatto di mangiare carne, noto con piacere che il tuo sia un consumo consapevole, e questo ti fa onore. Anche se... un pensierino potresti farlo, sul serio, non sai che benefici!

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  5. Brava, anche io ho deciso finalmente di diventare vegana già da diversi mesi (dopo quattro anni che ero vegetariana), e in effetti non è così difficile come può sembrare.
    Quando per stare in compagnia vado a mangiare fuori, nei ristoranti "normali" intendo, in genere prendo un primo (spaghetti al pomodoro, penne all'arrabbiata, pasta e fagioli, riso ai funghi... alla fine non sono affatto pochi i piatti della cucina tradizionale che non prevedono l'uso di animali o derivati animali); riguardo i ristoranti etnici invece la scelta è ancora più ampia, oltre ai giapponesi e cinesi io mi trovo molto bene anche nei ristoranti che hanno specialità arabe, tipo i ristoranti libanesi (felafel, hummus, cous cous vegetale, tabouleh e poi una specie di focaccia che può essere riempita anche di sole verdure di cui non ricordo il nome ed altri ancora).
    Il problema per me finora si è presentato tutte le volte che sono stata invitata a mangiare a casa di persone che magari ancora non sapevano che ero diventata vegana e quindi mi avevano cucinato piatti vegetariani, ma con derivati a base di latte o uova. Qualche volta li ho mangiati, altre ho rifiutato. Pian piano informerò tutti sulla mia scelta definitiva.

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