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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
I wanted a New Media empire, but all they gave me was this lousy blog. 


A carnivore's guide to the plant-based diet
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About this blog
By Todd Kuhns
As a former mayor of Kirksville, Todd thinks he knows his way around the community. He graduated from Truman and worked in their IT department for 6 years. With his wife, Bich, he has renovated and operates Pickler's Famous, a community theater and ...
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Welcome to the Jungle
As a former mayor of Kirksville, Todd thinks he knows his way around the community. He graduated from Truman and worked in their IT department for 6 years. With his wife, Bich, he has renovated and operates Pickler's Famous, a community theater and event center in a historic building downtown. He currently works from home, where his primary job responsibility is to keep from getting distracted by the internet.
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By Todd Kuhns
March 20, 2013 5:58 p.m.



At the beginning of the year, I made a commitment to eat no animal products for at least the rest of 2013. Since that time, I've failed only five times:

1) French onion soup - because I had no other alternatives and didn't want to draw attention to myself during a business lunch (though I did skim off the top approximately a half pound of cheese and hide it under the centerpiece).

2) 8 Blazin' Hot Buffalo Wings and 8 Asian Zing - because they were out of Garlic Parmesan.

3) Sushi from Bonzai  - in my defense, it was raw.

4) Another sushi run to Bonzai.

5) A pepperoni and cheese pizza off the back of a stripper.

Whether or not I dreamed some of this, I cannot say for certain. Memory is an elastic, fleeting thing. But real or not they prove one important fact: I don't really miss meat, cheese and eggs as much as I thought I would.

Well, maybe the cheese. I know I'm not alone in this. It appears at least 65% of a typical vegan's day is spent on R&D for the ultimate animal-free mac and cheese dish.

But I feel fantastic as a "vegan," with noticeable differences from the two years I spent as a vegetarian: I sleep like a baby every night; I have more energy throughout the day; I sometimes have to force myself to eat because I feel full all the time; and I end every meal feeling good about what I just shoveled down my throat, with none of that Oh-My-God-Did-I-Just-Eat-An-Entire-Box-Of-Thin-Mints Stomach Surprise.

If you're planning to try this out for yourself, here are seven helpful tips:

1) Take some time to say goodbye to the foods you love. Send them off in a long, drawn-out emotional fashion, like Barbara Hershey in Beaches.

I first made a list of all the foods I knew I would miss (pizza, buffalo wings, sushi, etc) and then spent two weeks gorging myself on them until I was about sick. I didn't crave those things again for a long time - long enough to find some new favorites to replace them, which leads us to...

2) Don't start out seeking substitutes for the stuff you miss. If you do, things will get weird. Instead, focus on the flavors you crave.

For example, I love me some buffalo wings. But I know the chicken is really just a conduit for that sauce. So you find a new conduit, like this surprisingly good recipe for buffalo chicken wings made from cauliflower. The texture's about the same as the boneless variety, unless you get your cauliflower with bones in it. But most importantly, it holds the sauce. And that's the whole point.

Aside from some perfectly acceptable commercial products, there are some convincing cheese substitutes you can make yourself at home. I even found a convincing queso blanco dip consisting of nothing more than coconut milk, coconut vinegar, and a plant-based gelatin substitute. It's agar agar powder, made from seaweed.

And you see how that just went down? I couldn't write a paragraph about substitutions without eventually coming to something strange. That strangeness is what the rest of the world thinks the vegan diet is like every day.

In reality, it only gets weird when you're doing culinary backflips in effort to mimic something from the animal world. Otherwise, what I've been eating is pretty normal stuff - just without the meat, hold the cheese.

So instead, make another list of things you love that are already animal free, like pasta, bread, Chinese takeout and video games. Don't like tofu? You needn't touch the stuff. Gradually you'll start to consider things like, "I wonder how I could make an omelette without eggs?" A quick Google search will pull up 12 different versions, and only about half will involve tofu.

Once you do get around to them, your perfect substitutes aren't going to be a one-to-one match either. But do they really need to be? Your cheese sauce may not taste exactly like CHEDDAR cheese, but there's a wide world of cheeses out there, so it really doesn't have to. For example, one of these "cheese" sauces tastes like a smoked gouda blended with a well-aged Camembert. Would your taste buds complain about that?

3) You will need a blender and/or food processor. It doesn't have to be a particularly expensive one, although you generally get what you pay for. You're going to use it a lot to make sauces and great desserts - not smoothies or weird veggie drinks, because those are nasty.

4) Explore the cuisines of other cultures. It turns out that, for many countries without a McDonald's every two miles, meat is actually pretty scarce. Since snacking on the cast of a Disney cartoon is a treat for much of the world, places like India, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and much of Africa have learned to make unbelievably delicious foods out of stones, water and tree bark. Take the opportunity to open yourself up to a world of curries, chickpeas, exotic pickles, and amazing herbs and spices you never knew existed.

And because the Internet was invented for sharing photos of everything you ate today, it's also the world's largest Vegan cookbook. Skinny people devote entire blogs to creative recipes and close-up photos of tempting animal-free meals, cakes and cookies they've made, the cookies always precariously stacked at least 8 high on a plate and wrapped with a thin blue ribbon, just like you serve them at home.

As a bonus, while you're perusing these websites you'll stumble into a world of diets so bizarre that your new way of eating will seem almost mainstream. You'll find yourself in strange kinship with the gluten-free eater, the "raw" foodie, octolactopescetarians, and the Paleo Diet - the latest craze based on the diet of primitive man, where you don't eat anything you didn't bludgeon to death yourself with a wooden club and cook over an open flame. Or grains.

But don't get too sucked in, as you remember that…

5) The world is full of crazy people. For all the helpful recipes and videos of cats, it's easy to get distracted by a lot of well-meaning but bad diet advice online. The Internet giveth, and the Internet taketh away.

One common question people will ask you is, "How are you getting your protein?" From my in-depth research, unless you're a breastfeeding athlete, it turns out that a) protein is probably among the least of your nutritional concerns because, b) the American diet contains way too much of it, c) vegetarians and vegans can easily get their recommended daily allowance of protein through non-animal foods, and d) have you seen the ninja cat video yet?

I also found this scary chart that divides foods by pH level, saying that if you don't eat just the right balance, your blood will leak out or something. Naturally, this concerned me for about 5 minutes until I took stock of my diet BEFORE 2013. It appears I've been living on the highly acidic side for 34 years. Why should I start caring now?

About the only thing you do need to worry about is an adequate supply of Vitamin B12, which can be easily supplemented by either a daily multivitamin or gnawing on the bones of a small child. Just the bones, mind you - you can probably ask a Paleo for some recommendations.

6) Be a douchebag. Take every available opportunity to tell everyone you meet about how you don't eat filthy animal products anymore. When your friend brings up a delicious ribeye he had downtown last night, click your tongue, give a little sigh, and say something like, "Did you know that that average restaurant steak contains as much E. Coli as one cup of runoff from a confined animal feeding operation?" They'll thank you for it and you'll have a friend for life. Trust me.

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