The Benefit of Snowflake Diets
Alternate Title: How Being a Part-time Vegan Made My Marriage Even More Awesome.
Ok calm down. a) My marriage with Mr. Fluvial was and continues to be awesome. It’s just become more awesomer for reasons I’ll be describing below. b) We’re not hard-core vegans. But what if we were? What’s it to you? Anyway.
Gluten-free continues to be the new black. (Is it the old black now?) Everywhere you look, someone is turning gluten-free. Allergies are rampant. People are varying degrees of vegetarian/vegan. New Year/New Cleanse Diet. Etc. I lump all these into a category I like to call ‘Snowflake Diets’. They add to your own personal sense of identity and make you special…like a snowflake! Mr. Fluvial and I have been snowflakes for a while now due to our being vegetarian at home (I refuse to call myself a veggie because I know that I’ll consume meat even if on an infrequent basis but Mr. Fluvial is 100% vegetarian and has been for 20 years) but a powerful conversation with dear friends over dinner had us questioning our consumption of animal products like milk, eggs, and cheese. She brought up questions of production and process and, honestly, once you know things…you can’t un-know them. You can choose to ignore them (or practice certain gratitude rituals and bring awareness to your choice) but you still can’t un-know them no matter how hard you try.
Mr. Fluvial and I marinated on what we’d heard (which came from a primary source and was well-researched by us too) and kinda sat there like ‘Huh. Well, we can’t un-know it. What should we do?’ And so, we’ve embarked on a ‘Vegan at Home’ journey.
We have a few rules:
1. Don’t be obnoxious about it.
2. Outside the house…don’t be obnoxious about it (seriously). If someone is serving eggs, just eat them (and revel in their deliciousness!!). No one likes an obnoxious vegan (or gluten-free, or paleo, or……)
3. Keep your protein up.
I have a few exceptions: 1. Kefir. I love it. It’s a super food. I will not give it up. 2. Cheese on pizza. I’ve not adjusted to vegan cheese and, honestly, some things are sacred. Pizza is one of them. It will not be tampered with.
So, we’re about 2 weeks into it and I’ll just say this: I feel AWESOME. I always knew dairy was inflammatory but I ignored it citing ‘Annoying Snowflakes blah blah’. Hmm…well, maybe they had a point because I’ve noticed a significant reduction in my general achiness and joint pain (wait, aren’t I too young for all that?!). I reserve the right to claim ‘Placebo!!!’ but I’ve noticed a difference. Other happy health stuff too which I won’t go into. But, all around, yay!
But really, the biggest benefit has been in the emotional space, specifically, between Mr. Fluvial and I. And this is where I defend Snowflake Diets:
Snowflake Diets require effort. Granted, going from vegetarian to vegan is not as much of a stretch as omnivore -> vegan but still, effort is required. And suddenly, we were in it together. What dairy-free milk tastes best? Well, we can taste-test the almond, coconut, rice, and soy milk that’s hanging out in our fridge. Does Earth Balance compare to butter? We can try it on toast together!
Plus, what we’re doing has been an excuse to cook more. Going out to eat is a pain when you’re trying to do the vegan thing so if it’s just the two of us, we opt to stay in. Which means we’re eating dinner together more often. This leads to bonding. Plus, with all the leftovers that we portion out for lunches, we go through the day remembering our awesome dinner conversation maybe more intimately than if we’d just gone out and bought our lunch.
See where I’m going with this?
Snowflake Diets can have many more benefits just above the physical. Of course, if you’re simply replacing your favorite non-vegan or glutenous treats with heavily processed convenience alternatives, you’re missing the point. So, I’ll be making our own seitan fresh (I can’t wrap my head around processed meat substitutes. The squig me out.) and using apple sauce as an egg-replacer instead of the chemical alternatives, etc.
And now onto some recipes and ingredients we’ve been using a lot lately. We are still in the discovery phase so please let us know if you have any favorites we haven’t thought of yet!
Breakfast: I went out and bought a smaller croc-pot so we could make hot breakfast cereals with the greatest of ease. Throw a timer on there and you’re good to go. Also, please notice the salt lamp in the photo below. That’s how you know we’re real hippies.
Butter Tofu: I made this recipe with chicken over the holidays and enjoyed it thoroughly. This is super easy to convert to vegan. Simply replace the butter with Earth Balance, the heavy whipping cream with soy creamer, and add tofu instead of chicken. EASY.
Vegan Caesar Salad: I brought this to a meeting last week and everyone loved it! Ok, truth, it doesn’t taste exactly like Caesar Salad but Snowflake Diets require adjusting your expectations. It was still awesome. Would do business with again. Plus, it has quinoa in it and what Snowflake doesn’t like quinoa?!
Trader Joe’s Coconut Milk: This is by far my favorite of the milk substitutes we’ve tried so far. Almond being the runner up. I still refer to soy milk as ‘Bean Milk’ so, obviously, I’m not quite there yet. Maybe someday. Oh, and all the vanilla flavored milks…..nasty. Just don’t. Gross.
Spirulina: Let’s talk about protein, shall we? When I went mainly veggie, I was shocked at how much protein was contained in the non-meaty things I already ate so I didn’t really worry too much about my protein intake. Well, you cut out eggs and suddenly..where’d the protein go? Mr. Fluvial has introduced me to spirulina and, again in the vein of adjusting expectations, I was open to it. If you drink it straight with water, you will feel as if you’ve mowed your lawn with your own mouth. But when blended into smoothies (mango is my favorite!) it’s not so bad. Plus, 62% amino acid (ie: protein) content can’t be beat. Here’s a quick academic overview: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/spirulina
And now for resources! Some of you may be thinking ‘Going vegan is HAAARRDDD!’ Well yes. So is learning to ride a bike. Or playing the piano. Or balancing a spoon on your nose. But here’s the thing, Mr. Fluvial and I were shocked at how vegan-friendly modern urban environments are nowadays. All it takes is awareness. This isn’t the 1950’s and, with the acceptance of Snowflakes, vegan stuff is readily available. To that end, I’ve been a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz for many years, even before I knew Mr. Fluvial. Her book ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World!’ is so well-worn and kitchen tested that I can’t really bring myself to make any other cupcakes than hers. Another book, ‘Vegan With a Vengeance’ (picture below) is packed with vegan deliciousness and is a must-read for vegan-curious folk. Her website also provides lots of inspiration and research: http://www.theppk.com/
And that’s it! That was an incredibly long post with a very short thesis: Snowflakes Diets, when properly executed, may lead to increased emotional happiness via opportunities for bonding with loved ones through a shared mission.
Hugs and fall on my Snowflake brethren!