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Mama Vegan, Papa Vegan, Day 1
cap, captain miss america

I have a lot of friends who make active efforts to restrict their diets, but I don’t know anyone in our parents’ generation who really does this, and I know a lot of friends my age have difficulty explaining their dietary choices to older people. So! I talked to my mom and dad and they have agreed to spend this week eating only a vegan diet, and to record what they eat and their thoughts for me to share with you.

Today was their first day.

To start, a little introduction to the players for those of you who don’t know my parents.

My father, John, is a financial guy who isn’t very food-adventurous. My mother, Sharon, is an elementary school principal who loves to cook and is extremely food-adventurous. They both love to garden and grow a lot of their own vegetables in the spring and summer. My father just turned 56; my mother will be 56 in October. They are both in fairly good shape and do a lot of outdoor activities, such as biking, hiking, kayaking, and so on. They are both pretty omnivorous.

Their rules are simple: To live one full week without consuming any animal products as part of their diet. No meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, no honey. While this eliminates many things that they both eat on a regular basis, they were still able to think of foods that they eat regularly that don’t have any of these things in them.

I asked them both to tell me a little bit about what they were expecting from this challenge:

Sharon:I expect this to be fun for me, in that I enjoy food challenges. And to create meals with restricted ingredients I think will be kind of fun. My concern is protein, because I generally put fish or eggs on my salads. Breakfast foods I think will be a challenge just because I do like to eat carbs, like bread and rolls and stuff and it’s hard to find those that dont have dairy in them. I expect that I’ll eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and I’m loking forward to cooking dinners if I have a chance this week, or eating at vegan restaurants with my daughter.

John: My expectations are that I will be eating individually and primarily non-social situations, and eating the way I want and need to eat to achieve the objective. I expect to eat many tomatoes and cucumbers to carry me through the day. I also expect to have pretzels as a belly filler. Fluids as well will serve a useful purpose. So that’s my food expectations. The hardest part will be when I have to interact socially over food and I will try to avoid those situations. My expectations are that I will lose three pounds and not go to the bathroom #2 as much. I will probably not eat the weight quantity of food that I normally eat. It will be challenging if one perceives there are 21 opportunities, I think it will be challenging 6 of the 21 times. It will only be fun if I do indeed lose three pounds. I expect to have more energy because there will be a lot of crappy crap that I exclude from my diet. And I expect at the end of the period to binge like a con of a gun and have ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, and gain back four pounds.

Our first day happened to take place on a day that we were traveling! Which just might be the biggest challenge of the week! Airports and airline snack menus are not very vegan-friendly.

Sharon: I had coffee in the hotel, black, which is the way I drink it anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Got to the airport and went looking for something to eat. First place I came to was a newstand. Had to read lots of packages, granola bars and htings like that all had dairy. Read all the trail mixes but most of them had yogurt in them. Finally found one that had no animal products, but it was processed in meat and dairy facilities, so I bypassed it for the moment to see what I could find. I went to two other places: a candy shoppes where most ingredients were hard to come by and a cafe where I could get a green salad or piece of fresh fruit, so I settled on a banana. And I’ll search again before we board the plane, because I don’t expect to find anything on the plane that I can eat.

My father found dried fruit as an airport snack after realizing, to his disappointment, that the only pretzels in the airport were butter flavored. But he also noticed that the dried fruit had a lot of chemical preservatives in it. My mom went back and bought some rice crackers.

On the airplane, there were no food offerings that were acceptable for a vegan diet. Every single offering had meat or cheese in it.

Tonight, I called my parents to check in on how their evening went. My dad answered the phone.

John: Do you believe I went a whole day without eating anything associated with an animal?

They went to an Italian restaurant.

Sharon: Italian restarants are tough!

My father had a pizza with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes, no cheese. My mother had broccoli with garlic and oil, and a tricolor salad. The waitress brought them garlic knots at the beginning of the meal, which they had to turn down because they had cheese on them.

Sharon: It was yummy delicious, but I didn’t have any protein. There isn’t any protein in an Italian restaurant that isn’t animal-based.

She thought about asking them to put some ceci beans on her salad but didn’t want to make things too complicated. They also did their grocery shopping, to get things to have in the house. My mother has a lot of meetings, so she will be eating most of her meals out, and plans to go to Asian restaurants when she can for more vegan options. At the grocery story, they bought rice milk, a loaf of whole grain bread, rice cakes soy crisps, fruit and veggies. And peanut butter for my dad!

I hope you all enjoy this week following along with my parents! If any of you have questions you would like to ask them about the experience, please feel free to ask away.

Mirrored from Antagonia.net.

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Your dad's predictions are the best.

They are. I thought it was funny how differently he handled that from how my mom did.

I'm looking forward to hearing about their experiences! Also, I think that having to read ingredients lists is a really good thing for all people. It seems like most people in the US read the "nutrion label" but not the ingredients in food. Because, as your dad discovered, things that ought to be pretty simple and healthy, like dried fruit, often have tons of extra crap in them.

Also, if your mom has the time to bake a batch of muffins, there are lots of easy vegan muffin recipes out there--and then she can have them for breakfast the rest of the week.

The butter pretzels actually didn't have any butter in them-- they had chemical flavoring. So they were technically vegan, but not technically healthy.

I definitely know that doing the yogurt thing plus the shampoo-free thing helped get me into the habit of reading ingredient lists on everything. I read them even on things that go on the outside of my body and not just the inside. And admittedly I will still eat some crap, but at least I know it is crap and am making an active choice to eat it.

Labels are terrible. I know of a few companies who try to hide the fact their products are grown in Mexico by emphasizing the U.S. packing house address. I'd love to see some consistency in laveling for country of origin, processing around allergens, and components are concerned. My biggest peeve is that a lot of products have this information on the bulk box and not on the individual retail units.

This is part of why I've started doing the majority of my shopping at the local farmer's market. I prefer to know what I am putting in my body--not the government's recommendations on fat or oil or protein or vitamin A, but the actual components and ingredients and where they are coming from and what's been done to them.

And in particular, I dislike that the FDA allows the "standard of identity" crap where manufacturers don't *have* to list certain ingredients. What the hell.

This really bothers me! I was at a bar the other night where the restaurant didn't have to tell you what was in a particular cocktail, because it was a "secret formula" and I just fucking wanted to know if it was rum or vodka. What do you do if you're allergic to things?

People aren't supposed to have allergies!

Also, it always seemed odd to me that alcohol doesn't have to list ingredients. I've looked many times on my beer bottles for a list, but with no luck.

On the other hand, I had a wonderful tap master once who was kind enough to inform me, before I ordered, that a particular beer was brewed with lactose, so if I had a sensitivity I may not want to order it.

People with allergies should not eat in public. We should all hide in our houses in shame for not being able to eat whatever the restaurants deign to serve us.

I'm impressed you could make sense of my typo-laden, half-edited, half-asleep written comment. Farmers market FTW. I try to buy locally as well.

Haha, your dad's awesome. Hope this goes well for them!

The hardest part will be when I have to interact socially over food and I will try to avoid those situations.
Funny how our first reaction to being outside the majority is avoidance.

I was thinking this when I read it, too. My dad doesn't actually eat socially very often so I will excuse him if he doesn't this week but I would hope that if the opportunity presents itself, he would use it as a conversation topic rather than avoid it.

your parents are AWESOME.

it's good to hear their reflections on changing their diet for an adventure. (I wonder how many people actually think about their "diet" and actively try to eat in a more healthy way... I know I don't really think of it as often as I should.)

that said.

I kinda fell in-like with your dad for this comment:
It will only be fun if I do indeed lose three pounds. I expect to have more energy because there will be a lot of crappy crap that I exclude from my diet. And I expect at the end of the period to binge like a con of a gun and have ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, and gain back four pounds.

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