As I mentioned in Part II, I was already vegetarian for a while, which pretty much dictated what we at at home. I already wasn’t cooking meat-heavy meals, but Ev still went out and brought home a burger every now and then. So this transition to being fully vegan was, in a slight way, a kick start to bringing Ev along (gradually) into the vegan fold.
(insert evil laugh here)
Red Meat First
Ev’s goal was to shed some pounds, we had both put on since dating. So he was game for cutting out red meat, most land animals. We easily made it through a month without red meat i.e. beef, pork, hotdogs, burgers, anything with four legs and hooves). As I said that was easy peasy. We didn’t miss it.
As you can guess, we were leaning on chicken heavy since cutting out red meat. It was kinda hard crossing poultry off the list (smoked turkey was the challenge). It took us about three months to finally say we kicked the chicken habit. For good. How’d we do it? we got sick of it–all that chicken. So I substituted with fish until our tastebuds changed to live with without it.
Then exits the Seafood
The fish was THE hardest. Fish stock is the base (and flavor) of many an African dish. Especially in my family. There’s nary a soup without some canned mackerel, at least. And the dry fish in cassava leaf and other sundry greens dishes, make the meal! How could we give up fish? We took it one day at a time. I became creative with cooking at home with the help of my trusty vegan cookbooks. Colleen Patrick Goudreau’s are my favorite.
Dairy and Eggs
Cow’s milk was the first thing to go. We’ve drunk rice milk since Ev and I have been married. Neither of us can stand the taste of cow’s milk from a jug, Puke! (I don’t mind it in commercial products though, like pancakes or cakes)
I don’t like eggs ( At 5 years old, I convinced myself I had an allergy to them) so I don’t make them at home, but again, I would eat vegetarian cupcakes, or other outside food made with them–no problem.
Cheese is the dairy product we had to make a conscious effort to avoid. It’s everywhere! And every recipe calls for it, like its some sort of nectar of life or something. There’s creamed cheese, ricotta cheese, sour cream, shredded cheese for topping every dish you can image! But we saw gratuitous cheese in the American diet for the fat-producing trouble that it is. We put a line through it.
It took us a little less than six months to go vegan. But it was worth it. It challenged me to question why we do certain things, and being vegan was the catalyst to against-the-grain, question-the-status quo, lifestyle. You go from questioning the food life-deficient food we eat to questioning the life-stifling choices we make. The vegan mindset, if done right, is about feeding yourself life (living food) and sustaining life.
While I take it one day at a time these days to get back on the 100% vegan track, this post is to remind myself of how I did it before and maybe it will help others who’d like to make the transition.
Have you considered going vegan? What’s stopping you? Any favorite African vegan dishes you’d like to share? Always looking for inspiration…