Part of the whole vegan experience is getting to grips with what it means outside of food. Animal products are in some cases easily discernible and sometimes end up in surprising places (why is there cow in my bath body scrub??). Of course there are many ethical questions to be asked, and sometimes one’s brain unconsciously shuts down at the mass of information that can pour down once you peer behind a crack. For example, one can actively not support or condone animal testing, but what about the animal products in one’s medicine? It turns out there’s pig product in insulin or in some of the casings for different pills. So what happens when you’re prescribed one of these things? There are no easy answers, and there’s no end to which one can probably torment yourself thinking of how your food, clothes or environment is “contaminated”, but the fact is one has to start somewhere and go from there. Easy answer? Perhaps, but not everything is within one’s control. I’ve been reading some posts by Cadry over at her Kitchen where she deals with common misconceptions and questions, and it’s relieving to know that I’m not the only one struggling with these things.
Last year when pal Jez came over to visit I ended up sending her home with two or so bags full of all my leather goodies – bags, handmade Italian gloves, shoes…everything that looked remotely un-vegan. I was so surprised to discover the sky didn’t fall on my head or that a gaping black hole hadn’t formed in my cupboard where these items used to be, and that items that had sentimental value (such as my bag with a map of the world on it) weren’t missed. I still had my fond memories, but I couldn’t in good conscience walk around in animal products when I didn’t want to ingest them either.
The one thing that has been grating on me, more than anything else, has been my big leather study chair. I remember coveting it and finally glee-ing when my dad gifted it to me, because it was big and could hold my weight when I was huge. It’s been taking up space in our study and, considering I spend a fair majority of my time at home either in the kitchen or with my butt in front of the computer station looking up recipes and the like, I’ve been plotting on how to rid myself of it without spending a fortune on another study chair (when one works on contract it’s not as easy as just throwing things away). Luckily my dad has come to the rescue again! He recently bought furniture in the hopes of renting out a furnished apartment, but someone has gone and bought it, so now Man-thing and I get these awesome and wonderfully colourful chairs to replace what’s in the study. Yay! So I simply had to share because yes, it’s not food, but it’s not always about food when it comes to a vegan lifestyle.
I used to sniff at vegetarians, never mind vegans, because I always thought, ‘gad, how do they control themselves? Why deny themselves?’ When I became vegetarian I was amazed at how I wasn’t falling over, but then the imagined battle was living without cheese and ice-cream, because the former made up the basis of my diet and the latter…well, honestly. So when I finally transitioned to veganism over the space of a day or two, it was phenomenal to think that it really was that easy. Done and dusted! Sure I had many mishaps with misreading labels and finding cow or other creatures where they were not expected, but I didn’t feel I was missing out. In fact, it was so liberating to think that I had all the more choice, simply because my vision wasn’t zoomed in on the same basic foods like cheese, toast and chocolate. Now there was matcha powder and eggplant hummus and all sorts of wonderful things.
Vegan as a word has become a positive. When I see it in text or next to a recipe my heart glows. Essentially I don’t feel I’ve begrudged myself anything, but rather gifted myself with bounty and health, which I couldn’t manage on any other lifestyle. Many people make a point of saying that veganism doesn’t define them; they’re just people who happen to be vegan. I don’t mind saying veganism defines me, because I don’t see it as a negative or shameful thing. I cook vegan, see vegan, and try to live it as best as I can. It makes me think creatively and differently, and also helps me to be more compassionate.
So that is why I’ve spent a whole post rambling. Because I’m really, really happy to get a non-leather study chair and I felt my glee needed context. :pAnyway, lots of hurrahs all round! While I was snapping away this morning, I decided to also give a glimpse into my weekly breakfast, since next week, with two weeks of second holiday (like second breakfast), I’ve decided to get to grips with making new and exciting breakfast dishes wherever possible. I eat the same thing almost every morning, and I love it. Man-thing is more flexible than I when we’re not home, but even he’s gotten into the whole grain cereal vibe with dried fruit and nuts. Yum! Nevertheless, the vegan blogs I troll love their breakfasts so I figured I’d also try my hand at breakfast burritos or chia oats or what not – my body may either go into shock or get a boost of energy, so we’ll see!
Today it was my usual half cup of Kelloggs fibre sticks, two tablespoons of oat bran, half a cup of frozen blackberries, a third of a banana, some prune puree, and pumpkin seeds with soy milk. Nom! I usually have a little cup of black coffee first thing and then with breakfast have some leftover warm water with some squeezes of fresh lemon juice. The fruit is the only real element that changes – papaya, strawberries, figs…endless options! When I’m less lazy or feel I need more protein I add a mini crustless tofu quiche on the side.
The reason I’m so regimented about what I eat is that for most of my life I hated breakfast and cereal. I woke up sluggish, went to bed sluggish, and my body would sulk for an hour or two after waking, only then to be struck down by the most immense and monstrous munchies. Naturally I would then gravitate towards the easiest and most carb and sugar loaded meal I could get my hands on – donuts, chocolate, big and bulging cheese sandwiches, pizza…yeesh. When I got lectured by doctors about changing my habits they used all the scare tactics in the book: obesity equalled higher testosterone, which aggravated PCOS, or I would start to lose my hair, or all the sugar was rotting my gums. All that only truly came into focus when I heard about my sister joining the world and my uncle leaving it due to diabetes-related complications. Too much in life rested on getting some basics right and sorted. Part of trying to live diabetes-free meant instilling good habits, and that’s why breakfast is my favourite meal of the day – it has slowly become a positive because I’ve associated it with energy, good health and an essential building block to the day. So just like the word and lifestyle ‘vegan’ has completely transformed in my mind and with all its associations, so too has this simple but powerful time of the day – breaking the fast mindfully and with gusto!
So, what do you guys eat for breakfast?