Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#Vegan: The Cheesepocalypse is Neigh!

Sign off I-94 North of Illinois 
There is no cheese in our house, and I’m originally from Wisconsin.  I know.  I’m probably going to hell for that.  The only thing saving me from the eternal deep fryer is a box of Cheese-Its in the cupboard, which is certainly not a whole food and may or may not contain actual dairy products.  I’d have to squint too hard and they’re too damn tasty for me to bother to check the label.  Two weeks ago we began the switch to a plant based whole foods diet.  

We still have a few meat, dairy and processed food items in the kitchen.  However, when the Cheese-Its are gone, the needle on my cheese-o-meter will be at zero and the seven signs of the cheesepocalypse will begin, starting with my name being put on some sort of black list at the Wisconsin border.  Personally I think it’s kind of fun that the only sausage in our house is in a package with a label ending in “furky.”  Furky is funny, as is Tofu.  Still, I attest.  I’m not a Vegan.  I'm not doing this to save the animals, to better the environment, to cleanse or challenge myself.  While those are admirable noble pursuits, when it comes to food I'm a selfish idiot.  This is for me.  

My Lunch: May Be Vegan  
So don’t refer to me as Vegan.  You got that punk?!  However I do like the sound of vegetarian.  It's sort of smart sounding like librarian.  This may come off a bit ethereal, but I can’t live within the walls at 123 Vegan Street.  It really struck me when I washed the egg container from the fridge and stored it away in the pantry for good.  Even with no more eggs in the house, I have no goal to be Vegan, vegan...whatever.  The label sort of annoys me.  

To me, this change in diet is not a final destination.  I’m not quitting meat, dairy and processed food.  I like to see things more positive.  I’m simply trying to eat a plant based and non-processed food diet.  You don't quit smoking.  You put more fresh air in your lungs.  To me, even as a bike crazed dufus, giving up entire groups of foods is like a New Year’s resolution to exercise everyday, a maddening premise destined to disappoint, a recipe to over promise and under deliver.  The way I see it, I equate this change in diet more to yoga.  You’ll never be perfect.  The benefit lies simply in the practice.  While there may come a day when I wish there would be a cheese-patch to deliver a steady stream of melty-gooey goodness into my veins, eating this way is simply a day to day, meal to meal exercise in being healthy. 

Furky...that's funny!
Seriously, I’m not Vegan or vegan, and I'll struggle with the capitalization issue and the fact that the word vegan has the same amount of letters as pagan for the rest of this article.  Regardless, to me, being vegan implies judgment.  I can’t live with that over my head everyday.  For goodness sake I grew up Catholic.  I may not be able to handle guilt, but I can eat a plant based whole food diet and reduce my risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer.  Easy peasy.  It’s not about whether I’ll eat turkey on Thanksgiving, have a meat drawer full of fruits and vegetables, have a homemade Christmas cookie with real butter or whether or not I'll be able to finish that never-ending big 'ol tub-o-mayo in my fridge by 2019.  If the question is can I be Vegan, the answer is: maybe.  If the question is can I give myself a better shot at living a long healthy life, the answer is: certainly.  There are more than 20 stages in the Tour De France.  You don’t need to win them all to take home the yellow jersey.  


Lindsay said...

I've been struggling with whether or not I should just mind my own business all morning, but the idea of taking out something as natural and nutritious as eggs and adding in stuff that ends with "furky" just seems so wrong, especially if you are doing it for your own health/ performance rather than "for the animals". Plants, at least the ones that don't need major processing to be edible, are a perfectly good thing to base your diet on, but choosing processed plant foods over properly raised/ produced unprocessed animal foods is not a good way to optimize your nutritional status.

Joe Biker said...

it's all good. I just like sausages. and steering away from eggs. it's all personal, hence not liking the vegan label. thanks for reading lindsay!

Joe Biker said...

Lindsay, again, thank you for your post. It's rare that a discussion arises from the goofy bike stuff I post. I went back and checked the label on the Tofurky sausages. They're not really sausages, more or less a roll of mashed chick peas, peppers, sunflower oil and seasoning. No preservatives, everything in the ingrediants is a normal everyday food that you could buy at the store and grind up in the food processor. But, you bring up a good point. What exactly is processed?

While I didn't want to get in the whole "why" I'm trying to eat a more plant based less processed diet...mainly b/c I like to keep the blog fun and light, the movie Forks over Knives was a partial factor. It examines the link between animal protein (meat, eggs, dairy) and increased cases of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, diseases many of my family members have faced.