Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Forget Julia Child and her butter - this is about Earth Balance baby!

I need a creative outlet. There, I said it. But that isn't the only reason I need to do this blog. Practical reasons, like finding a way to stop buying cookbooks constantly from Powells.com, are a heavy influence for this project. Another reason is I just finished Julie & Julia. My assessment: not terrible, the author is witty at times and I can appreciate what cooking meant in her life. But she also dogs on vegans a number of times in the book, like being vegan is a surefire sign someone is a wack job. Julie Powell, I have something to prove. That being that a plant-based, whole-food diet can be absolutely delicious. Not that I'm going to avoid some of the more precious vegan processed foods in this endeavor.

If you don't know me, you may be wondering why I chose to pursue vegan cuisine. My partner decided to try it out a year and a half ago. At the time, I was livid. When we started dating, I was a junk-food vegetarian and he convinced me to try and eat meat. I did, and although I've never been any good at cooking it, it wasn't half bad. When I returned from a trip after being gone for a mere 6 days, he dropped the bomb. He was no longer eating meat, cheese, dairy....in sum, no animal-based foods whatsoever. So what did I do, I snuck in butter. Was I a bad girlfriend for doing it? Probably so, but given that I've seen the error in my ways, and that he's dealt with my shenanigans for so long, we're probably kosher on that point. Anyway, in January I decided I'd give the full blown vegan diet a legitimate try. Like any honest child of the '90s, I loved the movie Clueless. When I heard that Alicia Silverstone was going to release a cookbook, I was entralled and bought it immediately. Rather than just jumping to the recipes, I decided to actually read the philosophy behind her dietary choices. What she did was succintly explain why eating animals is bad for the environment, developing bodies, and can subject animals to insane levels of cruelty. It's like our generation needs another dose of The Jungle to uncover the nasty nature of commercial food production. Ultimately, there are activists and authors out there making this point. Michael Pollan has written a number of books that I've devoured that have heavily influenced me, and advocate for local, sustainable diets (he doesn't go so far as to advocate complete veganism). I've also wanted to get my hands on a copy of Eating Animals, and when I do, I'll be sure to make note of it. In The Kind Diet, Silverstone describes the many links that scientists have found between disease and diet. So, while our federal government is pumping millions into grants on genetic research in the hopes that we can have a cure all pill someday, scientists are finding that lack of physical activity plus processed, animal food and limited vegetables equals diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc. All of this information, plus the fact all but one of the older woman I am blood-related (we're talking one generation up), have died from either breast or ovarian cancer. Is there a chance that I have the gene and this meat abstinence is all for nothing? Yes, but there is also a chance that practicing could health could prevent the gene from being triggered.

I'm not going to post about my health in this blog as much as I'm going to try my best to not fail at cooking. Although I'm not a particularly bad cook, I think there are a lot of things I could get better at. I also want to try and veganize traditional recipes. I've got an idea for a thai dish that you should keep your eyes open for in the near future. So maybe I'll come up with enough recipes someday that are good enough to publish my own cookbook. Also, as a practical matter, I have 5 cookbooks that I have to get through. They will be tackled in the order I bought them:
  • The Kind Diet
  • The Candle Cafe Cookbook
  • Vegan with a Vengance
  • Veganomicon
  • Vegan Fushion

I have a feeling this is going to take me some time. Given that I'm starting law school in the fall and may attempt to work at the same time, this may just be a once a week sort of project. Also, I'm trying to plan a wedding right now (that's right, my own), and although we are just doing a small, intimate ceremony with our immediate family, there are still a lot of details to figure out.

I'll try and track my progress, do a recipe count, and take lots of pictures and/or video.

¡Buen apetito!