Tuesday, January 28, 2014

T-minus 72 Hours

A list of things I'm going to eat when my month of being vegan is over:

A fried egg
A pizza wrapped in a steak with a fried egg on top.
Pork chop, I cant remember the last time I had a pork chop, but pork chop nonetheless. 
Cheddar cheese
Spaghetti carbonara
Egg rolls
Stuffed cabbage rolls 
Buttered bread, maybe without the bread
Did I mention pizza?
Chicken wings
Wings again. My work commute takes me past wingmen extraordinaire, Fire on the Mountain, twice a day. This seems fitting.
Whatever the opposite of tofu is,
Gumbo with shrimp, sausage and chicken; possibly duck
Bread pudding
Whip cream

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

I Don’t Believe in Vegans.

Well, they exist, so possibly the thing I don’t believe in is veganism itself, yet people practice it, meaning this isn’t quite the proper construction either. If my chief principle of food is - eat what you want and enjoy it, why are practicing vegans an affront to me?

Because vegans aren’t happy, can’t enjoy anything and can’t enjoy their personal choices silently, instead need to force them not just on me but across all bounds and cultures? 

The italics represent my internal voice. I understand my internal monologues can be rife with value judgements, which is why it stays internal most of the time. And God, yes that was really value judgey but I'll add, the only people vegans hate more than omnivores are vegans with leather shoes/wool sweaters, vegetarians and members their tribe who get a B12 shot.  

To start my reducing scheme, I'm consciously choosing vegan foods as a weight loss strategy. There's compelling evidence, not feelings, suggesting that people engage in veganism as a form of calorie reduction (CR). Recently, there’s been some evidence to countermand this thinking, but the greater push back on this front is not from science, rather from vocal vegans. Their defense seems seems to be tripartite of, you're wrong”, “you don’t understand” and “you can’t expect mainstream science to take our side”*. I don’t know; a reasonable construction might be, “basing wholesale results on limited lines of query concerning the eating habits of teenage women may not be conclusive evidence to dismiss vegan diets as eating disorders.”

Alice Gregory does a much better job of the taking on the literary/cultural phenomena of calorie reduction as being moral better than I could in the New Yorker

Here comes another value judgement, vegans as a group and as individuals, have never struck me as ones to let a fact stand in the way of their beliefs. The whoppers and faith based things vegans have told me over the years are legion. Going to the internet finding something to back up what you already believe is neither research nor evidence - it’s a feedback loop. Are we a nation born of rational thought or superstition?‡ 

Vegans eat crap. Wow, I’m extra judgey today. Processed foods and soy anchor the vegan diet. Soy, unprocessed soy, probably isn’t good for us in large quantities. Soy, even if your tempeh is made by a pansexual, socially conscious artisan named Singapore, while that particular product may be good and local, but soy as it’s grown in practice is the purview of large corporations and a major contributor to issues like mono-cropping, pesticides over use and sucking water tables dry. Yes, I understand soy, as a commodity is used primarily to feed livestock, yes I understand we’d need to grow less of it if everyone was a vegan. Also, you aren’t the only people who have thoughts about the food chain, please watch your tone when you’re speaking to me - you know the one that suggests you’re more informed and morally superior to me. 

Veganism never lasts - People aren’t vegans forever. I know a handful of longterm vegans, but most people who self-identify as vegans don’t make it past two years. My experience with ex-vegans shows most fall back to a diet that includes meat instead of a vegetarian-pesco-ovo existence. Most tell me they just couldn’t live with feeling run down constantly. I take no joy in this failure but amazingly ex-vegans seem to come out of their vegan phase wiser about food and their bodies and less likely to judge other’s choices, a lesson I need to be reminded of right now. 

But tomorrow, the first day of 2014 as part of my year long diet cycle, I will be vegan for a month. I went shopping today and made my first week of choices: Pasta, rice and beans, curry, salad and pineapple fried rice. All good foods. Next week will be chard risotto, red beans and rice, lentil soup, cannelloni with white beans, roasted garlic and chard. I will not be making substitutions with things like TVP, fake cheese and meat but I already enjoy tofu so it'll show up and I suspect there will be a few gross protein bars, a product that I don’t enjoy. I will eat falafel without the dairy. I will be careful but not fanatical with my Thai food vis-a-vis fish sauce. I miss eggs and cheese in advance, as I’ve really been into egg sandwiches lately. 

I’m actually excited too, for what is the point of doing something unless you can do it with an open heart and open mind: We’ll see where this takes me. 

*Also, I wish science and rationality were mainstream.
‡ Yes. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Six Foot Fat

Hi, long time since I blogged at you. Sorry about that: Aught-thirteen was busy and eventful year that involved me moving, working a ton and spending a significant amount of time in the midwest. Away from my habits of walking, biking riding; away from the chard-centric life in Portland to return to the prairie of my youth, I was reminded that Deep Fried Chicken is the state bird of Illinois*. 

All the hours logged in the Midwest combined with a rare case of nostalgia mashed-up with the annual airing of It’s a Wonderful Life, has me musing on what my life might have been had I never left. I’m not sure how my life would have turned out except it would have involved an elastic waist band. Along with all the readily available calorie dense items in NE suburban Illinois, it was hard to find healthy, vegetable based options. 

When I returned to Portland, it was December. Baked goods, black beers, parties with extra delicious/fattening foods, I just gave in. So now I’m at 212. The most I’ve ever weighed is 218 - a weight at which my Doctor suggested that I loose 20. I don’t need a physical to know it’s time to reduce. 

I believe my ideal weight is between 185-190. I don’t need to be ideal. I like carrying a little extra weight, I don’t want to be one of those people who obsess on calories - who make douchey statements like “I need to watch my gluten”. I want to enjoy food, but more importantly, I want my pants to fit me. 

I believe I could drop 20 lbs with a little diet modification, but I actually want to have fun with this. I
will be doing six different calorie restriction regiments for a month each - the diets may or may not match to a calendar month, but they will be 30-31 days - sorry February. I will be writing about this as I go along, sharing notes, updating weight - the Escali USHM180G is the official weight master. There will also be less scientific/highly subjective reporting on how I feel along with researching and interviewing people as I go along.

In no particular order, here are the ways I expect to yo-yo my weight this year. 
  1. Vegan
  2. Vegetarian slash carb loading
  3. Paleo
  4. No calories from liquids - Smoothies are not part of my lifestyle. Beer, cocktails and soda out
  5. Gluten Free
  6. Traditional modified calorie intake - based on Weight Watchers. 

I predict Paleo and no calories from liquids will have the greatest impact on my weight. That no beer month, I’m going to be a cranky SOB. Plus it can’t be now, what with all the delicious winter beers and it can’t be in the summer with all the drinkable lagers. March; possibly April.  I'll decide which will be my first diet for January over the weekend. Along with the weight tracking, I will try to get back to writing about food, culture and history more this year. 

*Actual official bird of Illinois may vary.