Although my primary motivations for living a vegan life for 2010 are rooted in ethical and social choices (more about that another day), I must admit to putting forth significant effort to eat a healthy vegan lifestyle. After all, vegan just means “free of animal products” – a steady diet of whiskey, cigarettes and French fries is vegan. I’m not (these days) much of a drinker. I don’t smoke. But I cannot tell a lie -  I do like fries! 

I particularly enjoy Yukon gold potatoes fried in olive oil: scrub and dry the potatoes, leaving skins intact. Cut into ¼” thick slices. Place in a heavy-bottomed frying or sauce pan and cover with room temperature olive oil. Toss so that all pieces are coated with oil. Place on stove top and turn to medium-high. Let potatoes fry until the color starts to change, about 8 minutes – it is important with Yukon gold potatoes not to touch them before the bottoms have cooked, or they will crumble in the hot oil. Turn over, fry 2 more minutes, and remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove potatoes (olive oil smokes easily, so do not leave pan on the heating element without potatoes in it). Toss in paper towels, sprinkle with salt, splash with lemon juice and enjoy!

In addition to potatoes, I really love other veggies, grains and legumes. Since January 1, I’ve ignore the food pyramid; I am governed instead by a complicated matrix that determines what I eat, with axes for location (x), technique (y) and season (z). Ideally, I would eat all local, organic, seasonal food. I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which means that this time of year my local lovelies are kale, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, turnips, chard, parsnips and garlic. I am certain that some of my other favorite veggies could be local – broccoli, celery, carrots – but for some reason, they all have California tags on them. I am pleased to share that today is the 19th day of eating aligned with my ideals.

However, before the first of this year, I was mindlessly eating junk, for no good reason. Although I’ve been a vegetarian and vegan before, it had been a few months since I had made good food choices. In December, I consumed a lot of coffee, sugar, salt, meats and cheeses, snack food and alcohol. Two weeks into vegan eating, I could feel the difference. I slept less, woke up refreshed, had more energy and was more motivated. I couldn’t help but notice the change, and wonder if there was something I could do to magnify the improvements.

In my new Ayurvedic cookbook (thanks again, Joan!) there was information about cleansing. I must admit to being wary of cleanses. I’ve never tried one. The people who claim to cleanse, in my experience, are on super-reduced calorie regimens for extended periods of time but use the label “cleanse” to pretend they aren’t on severe weight loss diets. I took a brief tour of the web, and found that there was too much conflicting information. Instead, I consulted my very health-savvy friend, Connie, who has lived a truly healthy lifestyle for decades. Connie is a beautiful, living illustration of the benefits of organic and healthful living. We discussed the recommended cleanse and some modifications.

Armed with this good information, I designed my first cleanse. For two days, I ate only fruits and vegetables (removing grains from my diet), with emphasis on raw foods the second day. On the third day, I drank teas, fruit juice, and a nutritious broth. I spent the day quietly at home (reading and writing), consuming this liquid feast and being very mindful of my body. At the end of the day, I ate the vegetables from the broth, and a few light crackers. I finished off the day with some water and lemon juice. Days four and five, I slowly re-incorporated grains. I feel lighter, fresher and healthier. This is a less intensive version of a cleanse, but for me it was a great first experience.

I’d like to wrap this up with a special thanks to my generous aunt Joan, a vegan who is very supportive of my efforts. Today I was treated to a surprise package with dried mint leaves, home-made jellies (safely nestled in a lovely tea towel), garam masala, reading material, dried mushrooms and hand-made soap. What a wonderful treat – thank you!

While I am giving thanks, I want to include my father, who shared his bright green, low-acid, delicious olive oil that he makes from his own trees – it’s incredible! Thank you!
 


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    Mary Alzire

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.  You can comment on any post by clicking its title. I welcome your comments and questions.

    "The Year of the Vegan" is a diary of my challenges and triumphs during 2010 - a year in which I will not consume any animal products. This commitment is motivated by my disgust about the hidden and externalized environmental, social and societal  costs of our nation's food network. Join me considering what we eat, and why.

    This year is also a year of personal transitions - from graduate student and freelance writer living in rural southwestern Virginia to fully-employed DC resident.

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