Several months ago my fabulous Fit Fare editor, Sheryl, proposed the idea of an article on going vegan for two weeks. I've been intriqued with the idea ever since then. I didn't think it would be a problem going without meat, but I wondered if I could last two weeks without dairy and eggs. The research that I've done convinces me that eating vegan, if done properly, is good for one's health. I also often think about the ethics of eating meat, eggs, and dairy in light of the appalling factory farming conditions in this country. Just read The Omnivore's Delimna if you doubt that.
So, last Friday I became a vegan, for two weeks (maybe more, who knows?). I have been surprised by a few things. Immediately, I was faced with the Coffee Issue. I have just one cup of coffee a day, in the morning, and it's a big deal. I grind the beans just before I make it and brew it to my specifications, etc. Since it's a latte, I substituted soy milk instead of my regular 1% cow's milk. Frankly, the soy milk has an odd aftertaste that's more and more annoying to me as each day passes. It's ruining my coffee experience. I hear that vanilla flavored soy milk, rather than the plain stuff I bought, works better. I'll give it a try. But, I may have to switch to expresso.
Second, I thought I would miss cheese, but I haven't at all. Instead, I really feel the loss of sardines. I always have lots of sardines on hand and eat them several times a week. Each day, I think about eating them right out of the can or on crackers with a dab of sweet pickle relish, chopped fresh onions and parsley. It's rough!
Third, on Saturday I watched Natalie Portman eat a Toad In A Hole in the film V Is For Vendetta . Actually, she didn't eat it, she did that annoying Movie Nibbling thing, where they take one small bite and never finish the food. I love Toad In a Hole (not the kind with sausage). Watching Natalie toy with hers set me off into severe egg lust for about four hours.
Despite those moments, I've been satisfied with my meals. I'm eating less fat, so I feel more energetic. I grew up eating a lot of meatless meals and love beans, rice, and most vegetables. I haven't snacked between meals at all since Friday, because I tend to eat cheese or milk and cereal for a snack. And I don't like to eat sweet things very often, so I haven't been able to think of anything to snack on. I'm sure that would change if I continued on a vegan diet.
One odd thing is that I've developed an obsession with a Deborah Madison recipe, Tomato and Chickpea Pilaf. I would eat it everyday, but I think Bob might get a little annoyed at that. On Monday I made a delicious brown rice salad from Food & Wine magazine. It's full of fresh vegetables, herbs, and a low-fat dressing made with one tablespoon of tabasco sauce. That may seem like a lot, but it dresses a large amount of rice, so I would urge you to try it. We enjoyed this salad a great deal. It was our main course. Our only course, actually. The original recipe called for fava beans and sweet peas, but the specimens in the store were awful. So I substituted soy beans and baby limas. I was able to get fresh sweet corn, but, if you can't get it, use frozen corn.
Herbed Brown Rice Salad with Corn, Lima Beans and Edamame (Adapted from Food & Wine)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups short-grain brown rice
2 cups rice milk
2 cups water
2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears)
1 cup edamame
1 cup baby lima beans, fresh or frozen
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1/4 cup chopped basil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped tarragon
8 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch small radishes (4 ounces), thinly sliced crosswise
1 bunch arugula (6 ounces)
1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately low heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the rice, then add the rice milk and water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 35 minutes. Transfer the rice to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring a few times.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the corn until just tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the corn to a shallow bowl. Repeat with the edamame, then the lima beans, cooking them for about 10 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, combine the orange juice with the vinegar, Tabasco and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the basil and tarragon and season with salt. Fold the corn, peas, favas, scallions and radishes into the cooled rice. Add the dressing to the rice and toss to coat. Season with salt. Spread the arugula on a platter, spoon the rice salad on top and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring the rice and vegetables to room temperature before proceeding.