Saturday, March 27, 2010

Interviews: Dan: Veganism As A Step Toward Health

CYoFC:  Describe your current diet/lifestyle (vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pescetarian, freegan, flexitarian, omnivore with vegan tendencies...etc.).

Dan:  I am an omnivore with vegan/vegetarian tendencies.

CYoFC:  When did you begin incorporating these vegan/vegetarian tendencies?

Dan:  Can't really say, I've been leaning a little bit more towards veganism for a year or so.

CYoFC:  What prompted you?

Dan:  Health primarily. I'd like to get more energy out of my food, and I've been trying to be mindful of food as fuel, rather than simply automatically snarfing what tastes good. But another factor is taste. I've had some incredible vegan dishes that, upon successful replication at home, have become things I crave. Like Sambussa filling. Sooooo goooood.

The fact that decreasing meat intake helps lower my environmental footprint is nice too. There's also exposure to disease. There's one nasty disease after another associated with various kinds of meat and processed foods.

CYoFC:  Have there been any challenges to decreasing your meat and dairy intake? If so, what were/are they?

Dan:  Not really. I mean depending on where you are and who you are with, access to vegan options can be bothersome. But if you eat anything and simply try to lessen meat and increase the veggies, you can make do anywhere with ease.

CYoFC:  Do plan on continuing to eat this way - that is, as an omnivore with vegan leanings? Or do you think you'll make any changes?

Dan:  I probably will [stay this way], though at some point I might become vegan. I've been cutting certain meat products out of my food entirely, and while I don't avoid them if that's what's there and I have no other choice, I never seek them out on my own.

The most likely thing is that I will become more vegan, switching from say 80% omni: 20% vegan to 60%: 40%, etc.

CYoFC:  Why should other people consider adopting vegan dietary ways?

Dan:  Its a simple change. To go from omnivore to having one vegan meal a week is easy, and it will have an impact. Maybe that becomes two vegan meals a week, or just having more veggies and a smaller serving of meat. You'll feel a difference, and still get all the nourishment you need. As for the environment, imagine the impact if everyone in the US just made one meal a month a vegan meal.

CYoFC: Do you have any tips or advice for new those wanting to incorporate vegan changes to their diets?

Dan:  Don't jump, take it slow and be sustainable. Find dishes you can make yourself that are quick and delicious. Or find vegan options at local eateries. I've discovered that general tso's tofu is so much better than the chicken, and that's one more dish I can get that is wicked tasty, and something I'd pick even if I wasn't thinking about vegan or vegeterian options. That's what you want, a dish you'd like for its own sake. Then another, and on and on.

CYoFC: Good advice, Dan. What are some of your favorite foods? The people want to know!

Dan: General Tso's Tofu, Sambussa, Samosas, Veggie Chili, Vegan Crab Cakes, Veggie Pizza with thin sliced onions, peppers and tomatos. Cinnamon carrot soup with chicken-flavored stock. Crunchy raw veggie wraps. Veggie Lo Mein. Vegetable dumplings. Tofu Drunken Noodle.

And, my non vegetarian favorite foods as well (these will be tough to give up, suggestions for vegan alts most welcome!): Chicken chili, buffalo wings, chicken soup with matzo balls, chipotle beef tacos. Crispy grilled montreal steak. Fried yellow curried salmon.

CYoFC: I'm also a huge lover of Tofu Drunken Noodle. As for your fave non-veg foods, well, TVP and seitan can be great substitutes for chicken in a soup. Seitan (a.k.a. "wheat meat"), when seasoned right, can also be a great on its own, and because it has a meat-like texture and consistency, it may satisfy some of those steak cravings. Morningstar makes frozen "beef" crumbles made of soy, which can be great taco filler. I'm not sure what to tell you about that salmon preference!

Lastly, a question often asked of those with a veggie-oriented diet: are you getting enough protein?

Dan: Yup.

CYoFC: Thought so.

Dan, 27, hails from New York City.  He's currently a Tech Consultant/Executive Director, and enjoys comedy, writing, yoga, taijiquan, sleeping through his alarm in a warm bed on a cold day, and cooking for people.

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