Anyway, on to my first "vegan weekend." My weekend was full of social engagements, and all of them involved eating. It was admittedly difficult, though not impossible. Friday night I had dinner at 34th Street Cafe with several dear friends, and it must be said that 34th Street Cafe is not vegan-friendly. It's not like I could just order something without the cheese - the cheese was an integral part of the dish (and I'm not just saying that b/c I love cheese!). So I couldn't indulge in any of the appetizers, and I ordered the veggie plate for dinner, prepared sans butter or milk. Well, that basically meant I got a plate of asparagus, swiss chard, and quinoa, all of which was ridiculously over-seasoned, particularly with salt. LE SIGH. Whatever - at least I got my greens in for the day, right? On the bright side, my friends' reactions to my, "I'm trying to eat a vegan diet..." was not as bad as I expected. Most were actually tres supportive in making sure the chef was informed (chef was a friend of one of them) so that was sweet.
After dinner (and too many glasses of wine), I met up with two other friends at Uncorked, a hip wine bar on the east side. I was, naturally, craving something sweet, and when I saw the bread pudding a la mode on the menu, I couldn't resist. I figured this would be my last hurrah! I mean, technically I'm not starting until March 1, right? Right... So I ordered it and I ate most of it, and yes it was delicious, but was it worth it? I don't know. My tummy was less than pleased almost immediately, and it pushed me over the edge to that uncomfortable full feeling. So, I don't know if it was worth it or not. But, happily, these friends were also supportive of my decision and agreed that cutting dairy was likely to have great effects on my health and overall well-being. Yay!
Saturday night, however, was a bit more challenging. I had dinner with a friend whom I knew would be giving me shit about the vegan thing. Under normal circumstances I think I would've dealt with it in a lighter way, but I was kind of over the whole "how will my friends react" thing. Snarky comments combined with my general exhaustion over the topic equaled a very irritated moi. This is to be expected. This IS what I expected, but I can see that my patience for it is tres limited. Have any of you dealt with this? How do you do it? How do you stay upbeat and positive and ignore the haters??
Today, Sunday, was the hardest. I woke up and had my coffee with soy creamer (fine), and then decided on grits for breakfast. Well, the problem is, I normally have my grits with a pat of butter, a sprinkle of cheddar/monterrey jack, and a delicious fried egg. This morning I had my grits with a scoop of Earth Balance, which admittedly was not bad. The problem is, I added too much liquid so the grits were more watery than usual, and the fact that I didn't have cheese to ooey-gooey them up made me a little sad. After a few bites, I threw them out. And then made myself a hemp shake w/ rice milk.
Then came my trip to Whole Foods. As I was reaching towards the avocados, my nose was immediately hit with that salty pungent and terribly familiar smell of parmigiano reggiano - a giant wheel of it. Okay moving on... I picked up some fruit, greens, coconut creamer, soy milk, vegan worcestershire sauce, tamari, an Amy's frozen cheeseless roasted veggie pizza, etc. It was all well and good until I hit the salad bar to make a late lunch to-go. None of the hot foods were vegan. Okay, fine, I'll just make a salad (even though I HATE eating nothing but cold food as a meal). And what's the first thing I see? My FAVORITE feta - huge chunks of it, speckled with delicious seasoning and ready for eating. Pass. Boiled eggs? Pass. Pasta salad? Pass. Tofu? FINE. Ok so my salad will be ridiculously healthy, that's fine.
Or it was fine, until I got home, ate it, and was so. not. satisfied. Because then I got all depressed and was like, "is this what my life will be like without cheese???" and dramatically threw myself face first onto my bed and cried to Lola. Yeah, can we say melodramatic? After about 20 minutes, I made myself a piece of toast w/ peanutbutter and felt way better. And then I proceeded to search the web for yummy vegan and cornbread recipes that would satisfy my desire for warm, flavorful food. And you know what? They were DELICIOUS. And even though I now have enough chili to feed a small army (must cut recipe in half next time), I'm soooooooo glad that my first attempt at vegan cooking went very, very well.