Everyone who knows my husband, and almost everyone who knows of him, knows that he is hopelessly, irredeemably, unapologetically carnivorous. He eats meat or fish every day, often more than once, and he supplements it with plenty of butter and cheese. He is fond of saying, when a salad is put in front of him, “this is the food that my food eats.”
So you can imagine my surprise when, a couple months back, he said, apropos of nothing: “I think I want to try going vegan for a month.”
I stopped what I was doing (chopping onions, it was), and looked at him, trying to process this. Generally, I’m pretty adept at the back-and-forth of conversation, but this had me drawing a blank. Kevin? Vegan?
“Who are you and what have you done with me husband?”
But it was Kevin, and he wanted to try going vegan for a month. He harbored a suspicion that his rampant carnivorousness wasn’t doing his health any good, and he wanted to see if he felt better eating less meat and more plants.
Now, if I wanted to see if I felt better eating less meat and more plants, I would eat less meat and more plants. But Kevin has an all-or-nothing approach to the world that I don’t share, and it’s easier for him to kick off this experiment by cutting out all animal products than it is for him to just rejigger the balance.
Vegan it would be. For the month of March. I was in.
I wasn’t all in. I like having cream in my coffee, and yogurt in my smoothies, and I wasn’t inclined to give those things up. Besides, Kevin and I rarely eat breakfast and lunch together, as I tend to get up earlier than he does, and we’re generally on different schedules. But we eat dinner together every night, and we both thought this would be a great opportunity to expand our veg-based culinary repertoire, and maybe even lose a few pounds. I could muster some enthusiasm for that plan.
But then the other shoe dropped. “And I think I’ll cut out alcohol, too,” Kevin said.
Seems to me that, if ever a month needed alcohol, it’s the month you’re going vegan. This was beyond the pale.
“But alcohol’s vegan!” I protested. In fact, on the list of vegan things that are wonderful, wine has to be Number One. Beer is probably fighting it out with chocolate for Number Two, although mangoes could be in the running. I pointed this out to Kevin, but he was immovable. Vegan and alcohol-free it was.
Today is Day 6. I was at a conference for two of those days, and I don’t adhere to the regimen when I’m not home. So far, I’ve been almost-vegan for all of three days. I made a nice mushroom-barley soup the first day, and a big bowl of stir-fried tofu and vegetables with peanut sauce last night. In between, Kevin made a curry with potatoes, cauliflower, and coconut milk.
It’s been fine, so far, although a little humbling. Yesterday afternoon, I wandered the aisles of my local Stop & Shop, where I have shopped almost daily for the best part of a decade, and tried to find the tofu. In all those years, I had never once bought it. Not only did I not know where it was, I was too embarrassed to ask the nice people who work at the market, because I couldn’t even narrow the search down to department. Was it in with the refrigerated salsas in the produce department? With the eggs? With the cheese? In with the pickles and specialty deli items? No clue. Eventually, I discovered it in the “Nature’s Promise” section of the store, where they house the organic and gluten-free and grass-fed things.
So I found it, but then I had to cook it. I pressed out some of the water, cubed it and coated it in corn starch, and put it in a hot oily wok. It was OK, combined with the vegetables and peanut sauce (I do make a mean peanut sauce), but it wasn’t nice and crispy, the way I wanted it to be.
The bottom line here, Starving readers, is that I need your help. I can cruise the interwebs endlessly, looking for vegan recipes, but I think I’d do better to ask you: What is your favorite vegan dish?
Thanks in advance for helping. If I don’t get better at this, it’s going to be a long March.