Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Take a deep vegan breath

So this is another article for vegans who are newish, like Kelly and I. She had posted a entry on here about a stressful day and trying to find vegan food on a quick break during a long day in a grocery store she didn't usually go to and how everything kind of built up and became WAY more stressful than it should have been.

I know many of you who have been vegan for a long time are probably thinking, pffft, it's a grocery store, how can you not find vegan things to eat? Okay, fine, maybe you adjusted to being vegan really quick. Yeah, maybe some folks can scan ingredients and spot the 'whey' immediately? But how many of you had a moment of panic the first time you stepped into the store after going vegan? What's vegan, what's not, how can you tell, I'm too nervous to ask someone, oh my god I only have 10 minutes and then I have to be back at the workshop and I'm really hungry and I've had a crappy day and URRRRRRRRGH.

The important thing to remember, is that it's not about being perfect. It's about not commodifying animals, and not supporting suffering. If you make a mistake, or are nervous, stop, think about what you're trying to do by being vegan, and remember that.

Kelly and I are both students (Kelly = illustration, me = anthropology/German/geology), and I have a job as well. We also participate in clubs and do volunteer stuff. And sometimes, very rarely, we sleep. Food is eaten between classes, sneakily on the bus, and with friends. And sometimes, we forget to make a lunch to bring with.

Dr. Yummyfudz (or How I Learned to Be a Student AND Eat Proper Food)

1. Stop. Stand still. Take a deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Repeat 2x more. There. Don't you feel better?

2. The best place to get vegan food when you're in a pinch (in terms of both money and time), even if it seems big and intimidating and unhelpful, is a grocery store. I think the problem is, we often associate grocery shopping with lugging a big bag or two of crap back home and using ingredients to make complex dishes that require cooktime and a stove and chopping etc etc etc. There's PLENTY of vegan stuff that you can munch on, even when pressed for time.

3. Head to the produce section - bananas, appos, oranges, kiwis, cherries, mmmmm. Carrots, celery, and snow peas = yum, especially when accompanied by a container of hummus. Avocado + crackers are one of my favorite snacks, especially if the deli has little packets of salt and pepper to add to it. Bag o' lettuce plus veggies and a bottle of dressing = salad.

4. A package of tortillas is cheap and come in all manner of types (whole wheat, corn, etc). Spread with soy yogurt, soy pudding or peanut butter and put in slices of banana, mango, apple, or pear, and top with vegan granola, nuts, or raisins for fruity goodness, or spread with hummus, margarine or Tofutti cream cheese and put in slices of bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, olives. Also try using vegan bread, pita, or bagels.

5. Nut butters are a cheap source of protein and fill you up, and you can put them on anything - bread, bagels, the aforementioned tortillas, apples, rice cakes, crackers, cookies, celery, and so on.

6. Pre-cooked tofu is your friend. Cut into slices (or hell, just tear chunks off with your fingers) and throw into wraps or salads or sammiches.

7. A can of beans, a single-serve package of pre-cooked rice, and a microwave or stove is easy peasy protein. Grab a small jar of salsa and an avocado and throw that shit in there too.

8. The freezer section can be your friend - some Safeways and natural food stores carry Amy's frozen meals and burritos and vegan Boca burgers, etc. If your school/office/etc lounge has a microwave or even an oven, these can come in handy if you want something warm.

9. I always try to keep some type of emergency-type food packet with me if I'm going to be gone for a really extended period of time (ie, holed up in the science library) or in an area that I'm unfamiliar with. It won't substitute for a meal, but it will keep you from getting cranky. I usually bring some kind of fruit. Some of the (not as perishable) things I try to keep with me are:

-Granola bars or trail mix
-Dried fruit (mmmm dried banana)
-Crackers, chips, or bread

Anyway those are my survival-type tips. I'm sure there's plenty I'm forgetting but I have echinoderm fossils on the brain and I need to go study. Thanks for stopping by, as always. :)


Neta558 said...

great tips!
I love grocery stores meals, I agree that it's the best place to eat sometimes.

another little tip-if you're in a new place and have no time, stick with what you know. just buy a product you already know is vegan and save yourself the indecision for another time.

Mihl said...

I've been vegan for over a year now and did label reading my whole life, but I sometimes get overwhelmed, too. Thank you for your post, I really like your tips and ideas.