ACCORDING TO MANY of my meat-eating friends, it would seem that there’s not much difference between being an ovo-lacto vegetarian and being a vegan. In their eyes, it’s all deprivation and misery, and once the meat is out of the picture, you may as well give up breathing.
As I’ve previously said, I’ve found being a vegetarian to be incredibly easy and I miss meat about as much as Russia misses Stalin. [THAT much?! – Totalitarian Ed] I never really saw the need to go vegan though, but since returning to NZ after spending much of the last year traveling, I’ve been cutting back on dairy, without really getting too carried away about it and without even having a genuine agenda for doing so.
Since getting involved with this site however, I’ve been more exposed to the evils of the egg and dairy industries, and have found myself thinking more and more about completely dropping the ovo-lacto part of the meat-free equation.
The ovo part is no hassle at all. I can take or leave eggs. In fact, I go through phases where the very idea of eating an egg grosses me out big time and I drop them completely for months. [Don’t drop them, they’ll break! – Sarcastic Ed] Dairy, however, is my Achilles heel. I’ve generally consumed a lot of dairy products – not that long ago, I’d get through a two litre bottle of yellow top milk every two days and I’d plow through cheese, low fat cottage cheese and yoghurt like crazy. To supplement my protein intake, I also bought Whey Protein Concentrate powder in 20kg bags from a wholesale supplier of Fonterra’s products. Lactose intolerance obviously wasn’t really something that worried me.
I haven’t quite gone all the way to vegan just yet but I’ve been off eggs for a while, so I’ll just keep avoiding them, while heightening my awareness of the places where they might be hidden (especially cakes and cookies etc – I’m a sucker for baked goods.)
Much to my surprise, cutting back on dairy has proven to be no major trouble at all. I simply stopped buying cottage cheese and yoghurt, and found that I didn’t miss them at all. I learned to ignore the halloumi cheese display at my local supermarket and even the big Perfect Italiano mozzarella cheese blocks at half price down at Pak n Save proved to be no real temptation.
My regular trim lattes have been given the boot in favour of short or long blacks at the few cafes that brew a good drop of java, and I stick with water or fruit juice at the many cafes that haven’t got a clue.
Cereal is a staple for me but it’s been ages since I bought any milk. Rather than replacing cow milk with soy milk (too much soy is a really, really bad idea for guys – more on this to follow in an upcoming article), I’ve settled on Vitasoy’s protein enriched Rice Milk, which has chick pea protein to enhance the overall protein content – it’s still nowhere close to yellow top milk’s protein levels but it’s better than plain old rice milk.
How does it taste? Well, initially, I was seriously unimpressed but it didn’t take long to get used to the nutty taste, and I’ve actually really grown to enjoy it, and now prefer it to milk. This rice milk is good on cereal and makes a delicious cup of tea, although it does tend to settle into its component parts thanks to the heat, so it needs a stir occasionally. On the downside, it needs to be shaken well and often or it can form thick globules and it’s about twice the price of normal milk, but a litre lasts quite a while seeing as I only use it on cereal or in the occasional cup of tea.
The next step is to get rid of the whey protein powder. There are a number of vegan and even raw vegan options for active types who want to supplement their protein intake, but in NZ, they’re pretty pricey. I’ve just received my first kilogram of organically grown NZ hemp protein powder from Eternal Delight, which seems legal to buy as long as you don’t actually eat it – go figure. It’s only about 37 percent protein but I’ll use it to add to my, I mean my brother’s cat’s daily protein while I search for other economical sources of vegan protein.
So far, making the switch to being 80 percent vegan has been a breeze. How hard can it be to go all the way? Watch this space… ASHLEY KRAMER