If I were vegan, I’d miss the meat, but laugh…A LOT


MEAT!

First published to Facebook Thursday, February 28, 2008. It was my first time truly investigating all the possibilities that exist in Food Co-op/Whole Foods types of stores. Thankfully, I have grown since then.

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Wichita, Kansas is a large enough city to support health food stores. I’m not talking about any GNC or pharmacies with overgrown supplement aisles; this is where EVERYTHING in the store makes you laugh or contort your face in confusion. How do I pronounce this? Where exactly did this come from? Why the hell do I need this?

A friend of mine is visiting in a week or so, which is also the beginning of Orthodox Christian Lent. No meat, no fish, no dairy. There are a few days of relaxing the fast around March 25, but overall it’s 40 days of vegan food. Normally, it shouldn’t be hard to make dietary changes, if you want to eat salad the whole time!! Also, egg and milk products sneak themselves into so many things.

I could rant about the mass marketing and acceptance of lesser quality foods which aren’t helping the obesity epidemic. I could also rant about supposed brand names that drive up costs (honestly, is Lovey the cow “brand name milk” quality while Bessie in the next stall is clearly only meant for Dillon’s brand!). I could rant on any number of issues with American grocery foods…but today I would just rather LAUGH!

To prepare myself for this onslaught of vegan faire, I started looking at recipes that would need only slight modification: soy cheese or milk to replace the dairy. Then it got complicated: I wanted to make a chocolate mousse. Egg whites…dang. I look up substitutes online: gelatin. Great, until I remembered that gelatin is an animal product. So I ventured to Whole Foods today in search of an egg white substitute and anything else I felt needed some experimenting. I left with spicy tofu, silken tofu, soy creamer, palm oil shortening, and some textured protein log that’s supposed to act like ground meat.

It’s not what I came back with that makes me laugh (although I am curious on the meat stuff). It’s everything in the store that I saw on my quest for an egg white substitute that I never found. All the unpronounceable items on ingredient lists (guar & xantham gum, for example) is readily available…in bulk.

Can’t have mayo…switch to Naysoyo or Vege-naise, because grape-seed and safflower oil make my mouth water. Want to leave the gobbling to the turkey…have tofurky sausage or tofurky deli slices with a huge slice of soy cheese. Allergic to soy, well don’t forget you can also have almond, rice or HEMP milk. Heaven forbid that we mix such good things with chocolate, so be sure the label says ORGANIC CAROB. Make sure you find aluminum-free, gluten-free, whatever-free ingredients for your sensitive loved one. Before the evils of trans-fats were exposed to all of us, this store had you covered. Spices might have left over pesticides on them…buy organic and pay five times as much. If you want an extract or essential oil from any plant based item, they have it. I won’t even start on the vitamin and supplement aisles.

In all honesty, there does need to be better products available and better understanding of TRUE health and nutrition. Reality is that high fructose corn syrup costs less to the food companies than natural cane sugar. Pepsi and Coke have a little more advertising umph than R.W. Knudsen. People trust a cow more than a soybean. Pine-sol or bleach smells in a “normal” grocery store seems more acceptable than the aromatic spice that wafts through a “health” store.

I know that I could find vegan items in any grocery store, yet I’d rather amuse myself and have more entertainment by going to Whole Foods.

P.S. While writing this, I have been enjoying a cup of Indian Spiced Chai that I veganized. I must say…NOT BAD!!

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