Thursday, September 24, 2009

accidental vegan

I am 22 years old. I am 5'10, and at any given time weigh between 138-142lbs. I am a vegetarian. I don't smoke, and a modest drinker by 22 year old standards. Which is why when my doctor called yesterday to inform me that my cholesterol level was obscenely high, even she sounded confused. The first thing to try, she said, was a low cholesterol diet: no dairy, no meat (non-issue), no trans fat, no saturated fat, no dairy, no dairy, no dairy. Here's the problem: Some of my favorite foods, in no particular order, are: quesadillas, chocolate chip cookies, bagels with {lots of} cream cheese, fried egg sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, quiche, fettuccine alfredo, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Honestly, and I know this is going to sound dramatic, but when I heard this at 5 o'clock I bitched and moaned but dismissed it. Then at 7 o'clock I opened my cupboards in preparation for making dinner and burst into tears. I couldn't think of a single thing to eat. I'm southern for God's sake! We invented deep fried butter! My grandmother, upon hearing I was a vegetarian, said things like "well this only has a little bacon in it."

Eventually I pulled it together enough to make tacos with kidney beans, lettuce, onions (unfortunately my red bell pepper had turned for the worse, or that would have been in there too), and salsa. No cheese. No sour cream. (the horror, the horror). They weren't bad, they're weren't awesome, but they weren't bad. Since I am pretty much being forced to empty the contents of my refrigerator and start over, I've decided to treat myself to delivery from Fresh Direct (update: just found out the Fairway in Red Hook delivers, so scratch the Fresh Direct). Soy milk, egg beaters, lots and lots of beans, tofu, more Kashi, whole wheat everything. I'm going to try to avoid the faux-dairy products (see: cheese made out of rice and other such crazies) for as long a possible in order to occasionally reward myself with minute servings of the real stuff.

*vegans stop reading at this point*

Honestly, I hate this crap. I hate that when I got Gwyneth Paltrow's patronizingly obnoxious GOOP newsletter this morning, replete with gluten-free, dairy free, and sugar free cookie recipes, I was one of the people who actually needed something like that. I've been a vegetarian for more than half of my life but I have never once considered going vegan. I think eggs and milk and leather are wonderful gifts from beasts of burden that we should appreciate and enjoy. I am not a foodie. I do not want to know the answers to questions like "what is pudding made out of?" But I don't want to have a heart attack either. When being referred to a as "heartless bitch," I want the comfort of knowing there really is a heart in there, happily beating away. Which is why I'm going to hunker down and figure my shit out and do what I'm told. Anybody know any good dairy-free resources that won't make my apartment reek of patchouli or force me to eat quinoa (I'm looking at you Jules!)? Send them this direction please. And if you happen to walk past me in the grocery store, curled up in front of the dairy case, just know that it is part of my grieving process, I suspect I'll be in mourning for a while.

photos from here


Jules said...

HAH!! Called out. Unless you know another vegan Jules.

I'll have you know that I don't even have a box of quinoa in my cupboards. I do, however, have some buckwheat oat groats.

Go to Vegan Yum Yum. She'll make everything all better.

Kathryn said...

I totally know how you feel, I was put on a similar diet (for a different reason) a few months ago... mine was: no alcohol, no sugar or flour, no dairy, and no caffeine. I joked that I had been instantly transformed into a recovering alcoholic vegan with celiac disease.

So the two things that I hope are helpful, is that I felt totally angry about it and cranky for about 10 days. Then I felt FANTASTIC. Not fantastic enough to keep it up when they told me I could drop it, but seriously better, stronger and faster than I had felt in a long time.

The second is what I ate: Obviously alot of soy. I made amazing salads with edamame and sunflower seeds (two high protein additions that felt like a change of pace from tofu and beans). I made my own snacks of nuts, dried fruit and whole wheat pretzels, to get me through to the next meal, since I was hungrier more often. Also, I ate oatmeal every morning, which is good for your cholesterol, but I ate it because it kept me full until lunch and was cheap.

Good luck, and just remember that you'll have kick-ass skin and no wrinkles in 15 years when all your friends are contemplating botox.

Emily said...

I found out today that my cholesterol is super high, too. I thought cholesterol was something old people worried about! Based on the urgency in my nurse practitioners voice, I might be a middle aged man on the verge of heart attack.

Keep us posted with diet tips. Though I can't imagine the absence of dairy in my life.