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Today marks the 30th day of my vegan adventure. I’m actually surprised at how quickly the time has flown.

I’ve enjoyed exploring the world of vegan cuisine. When you are vegan, you need to cook a lot of your own food and bring it with you during the day. At first I found this tedious and time consuming. But after the first week I found my head was buzzing with vegan recipes and questions. Does blended tofu offer the same stabilization and binding properties eggs? Can I make decent gravy with miso and vegetable stock? Going vegan has reawakened my love of cooking. I am very adventurous in the kitchen, and I feel like I have only begun to explore the possibilities in vegan cuisine.

I have also dropped 4 lbs. without any effort. I exercise the same amount, and I eat the same amount as usual. The only difference is I am eating a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables, and eating no animal proteins.

I told myself before I started to go vegan that if I really wanted to eat something, I could have it. For each unvegan moment I had, I made sure to do it deliberately understand why I was doing it.

Unvegan Moments:

-Two bites of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving: My mother guilt tripped me into eating dessert. Then when I realized the pie was bought from Cosco and not home baked with love, I stopped and chastised my mother for her trickery. This was total mother-induced-guilt eating.

-One bite of stuffing at Thanksgiving: My mother insisted on a taste test between her meat-filled stuffing and my vegan stuffing. I honestly prefer my vegan stuffing better. Again, mother-guilt-eating.

-One bite of steak at Joe Fortes: My partner had ordered the ribeye, one of my favourites. I made a deliberate choice to do this, as a test to see what I was missing. It was good, but not as amazing as I remember meat tasting before going vegan.

-Lobster oil at Joe Fortes: They serve lobster oil with the bread at Joe Fortes. I had this because I wanted to put another notch in my gourmet belt. Inner Gourmet:1 Inner Vegan: 0

-Milk in my coffee: I ordered a coffee and they didn’t have soy milk. So I had normal milk. I admit, this one was pure laziness. I now carry Soygo creamer in my purse.

-Miscellaneous alcohol: I’ve recently become aware that certain alcohol is produced using isinglass, gelatine, egg whites etc. in the filtering process. I haven’t avoided any type of alcohol because of this yet. Instead I give myself a mental high five if I drink from an approved producer, and a swallow of guilt if I’m drinking a potentially unvegan draft.

-Miscellaneous French fries: During the first week or so of eating vegan, I found myself out at a pub where there were no vegan options. So I opted to just have fries. After a while I found out that some restaurants cook their fries in beef tallow or hogfat. EW!

So, it’s onto the second month of what I imagine will be a lifelong lifestyle. I like being vegan. I like how it makes my body feel. And I like what I am doing for the animals. Every time I pet my dog, I think of her being butchered in China for food, I remind myself that it’s no different than slaughtering a pig. And it strengthens my resolve to be a better vegan.

*Courtesy of Jenny Duffy

~The Vegan Project

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Today I went to Karmavore, the only vegan food store close to my home. This was my second week as a vegan, and I had run out of things to eat. I ate the same batch of vegan chilli for three days.

I went searching for variety, and I was not disappointed. $206.90 later, I had enough products to stock my vegan pantry.

This is what I purchased:

The items I am most excited about are:

Tofurky Roast– I can have thanksgiving with my family and not starve!

SoyGo Soy Creamer– Now I can take non-dairy creamer with me in my purse for my coffee

Daiya Vegan Cheese– Yep I bought 5 lbs of it, but I divided it into little baggies and froze most of it so it should last quite a while.

Field Roast White Truffle pate– Um, this has white truffle in it. I could eat a pile of sawdust so long as it had truffles mixed in with it.

Sheese (blue style)– I heart cheese. ‘Nuff said.

This was a large purchase, but when you consider I can freeze a lot of my goods and spread them out by serving them with fresh, cheap vegetables and fruit, this was actually a very successful shopping trip.

The salesperson was very friendly and had a lot of good recommendations for me. I felt I was in good hands, and she was even kind enough to email me a digital copy of my receipt.

I will definitely be back to Karmavore when my supplies are running low. They are moving to a brand new, larger location in New Westminster in November. Hopefully the new location won’t mean a huge increase in prices. But even if prices do go up, my health is worth investing in, isn’t it?

*Courtesy of Jenny Duffy

~The Vegan Project

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The Vegan Project’s newest contributor, Jenny Duffy, discusses the cost of being vegan…

I am Cheap

I am an accountant and I like to pinch pennies. I am the person at the table calculating the exact tip. I know precisely where every dollar of my paycheque goes. I have an excel spreadsheet which tracks my spending and calculates my excess cashflow and ending bank balance on a daily basis. In the words of Snoop Dog, I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind.

My current weekly budget for food (pet and human), toiletries, gas, and entertainment is $240. So when I began to eat vegan, I could hear my wallet shriek in terror in anticipation of the beating it was about to receive.

Fatties Eat Cheap

Our society rewards unhealthy eating with ridiculously low prices. Starving? Got some pocket shrapnel? Go to McDonald’s for their Dollar Menu. Or try Burger King’s Value Menu. Both restaurants feature bargain basement prices for the factory killing floor food.

If you are eating in a restaurant and ask for the chicken or meat to be removed from a salad or pasta, you still have to pay full price. If you go to a fast food chain, the healthier menu items are about 400% higher in price, as a salad will run you at least $4.50, while a hamburger will cost just over a dollar. Bend over healthy eaters; Ronald is gonna work you over every time you pull up to the drive thru.

Eat in, Save Your Money!

If you eat at home and make your own food, your bankroll gets somewhat of a reprieve as store-bought food made with love is always cheaper than restaurant food. Why? That Cactus Club/Earls/Moxies/Joeys is sitting on prime real estate, and those space-aged toilets and 20 foot mirrors in the nightclub-slash-bathroom don’t come cheap. More importantly, they need to pay the 15 scantily clad hostesses at the front a decent living wage.

I’ll say it again: making your own food saves money.

All Grocers Are Not The Same

Of course, it depends on where you shop. If you are a Fancy Pants McGee and you shop at Urban Fare/Choices/Generic Overpriced Yuppie Food Retailer you can bend over again, for you are getting screwed. Organic apples don’t cost $4.99 a pound. The store is located in an area with excessive rent/lease costs, so these costs are built into the prices. Yaletown apples cost more than East Vancouver apples. And chances are they were grown within the same region, possibly by the same producers.

If you opt for a small Chinese/Korean/Japanese grocery store that stocks local organic produce grown in the Fraser Valley, or you shop in Superstore’s Organic Section, then you can save a lot of money. Local organic produce is a godsend that we as Vancouverites are uniquely blessed with.

In between these two extremes lie a wide range of shops that cater to vegetarians, vegans, organics (people who eat only organic. There was no term for this so I coined one. Yep, I’m that guy.) and other counter culture food-hipsters.

In the Boardroom

Ethical consumers represent a relatively untapped niche to corporate douche bags everywhere.  The vegan food market is relatively new when compared to the mature processed non-vegan food industry. If vegan eating follows the same arc as organic eating, there is a lot of money to be made by producing vegan food.

Vegans are a captive market because we have to seek out places that stock specialty items like tempeh or Daiya cheddar replacement. Additionally, we are willing to pay a higher price for these products because there aren’t many alternatives. There is no No-Name vegan beer sausage. If we find a producer that makes a product we like, we generally stick with it because there isn’t much competition.

I have a dream

I have a dream.  I dream of a time when vegan and vegetarian foods are popular enough that they are at the same price point as crap food. $0.99 for a bag of gourmet organic vegan popcorn? I hope I live to see the day.

Until that day comes, I’ve got to do some leg work and find places close to home that stock vegan products…

*Courtesy of Jenny Duffy

~The Vegan Project

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It was my 29th birthday dinner, and my good friend Jessica (vegan) was in attendance. I jokingly told her that since she was a vegan, I assumed all she could have for dinner was pencil shavings and a glass of tepid water. Insensitive? Yes. Funny?  Somewhat. Now it seems, the joke is on me.

After stumbling upon the PETA website last August, I made the decision to become a more ethical consumer. I was horrified by the cruelty of factory farming, and wanted to make an impact. I told my brother of my decision, and he shared a terrible story of how the farm hands at a particular poultry plant stick their fingers inside the birds’ vaginas as they go up the kill chute.  No, I decided, I definitely didn’t want to eat anything that had been finger banged before it ended up on my plate. And if you think I am being gross, try watching Meet Your Meat. That’s really gross.

This decision presented a bit of a challenge for me for several reasons. Number one, I am a gourmet enthusiast. I delight in trying new foods. Obscure goats milk cheese that’s only produced 3 months of the year in Spain? I want it. A poached egg infused with truffle oil? Sign me up. I once tracked down a famous fois gras eatery in Montreal simply because I had heard about their coveted Duck In A Can.

The other concerns I had were how my lifestyle choice would impact my friends and family. In my family, food is the focus of family gatherings. We are all very good cooks, and we like to cook and boast of our culinary prowess. Would I become stigmatized? Would I be gnawing judgmentally on a carrot at thanksgiving dinner, while my family feasted on turkey and urged me to give up my hippie-like notions of saving the world one chicken at a time?

In the end, my instincts won me over. I knew in my heart I didn’t want to support the factory farming industry. I also knew that my body was telling me it was time for a change. For the last year or so, I had been feeling drained, heavy, and lethargic. I didn’t have the energy I used to. My skin had lost its glow, and even after a full night of sleep I didn’t feel refreshed. I felt old, thick and loaded with toxins.

So, let’s fast forward to the present. I have spent the last month transitioning out of eating meat into lacto-ovo-pescatarianism. I’ve been keeping eggs, dairy and seafood in my diet, as I don’t believe in making drastic lifestyle changes. I also don’t want this transition to be a negative experience, or else I know I will not be able to sustain it in the long run.

The next step for me is to become promiscuous with the habits of my vegan friends. I will be opening my life to the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and documenting my foils along the way.  I’m also vowing to see this phase of my life as an exploration of what I can gain from eating as a vegan, instead of what I’m losing by not eating animal products.

Who is Jenny Duffy?  Click here to find out!

~The Vegan Project


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