Cheegan

cheegan

Four years ago, I took a first step in major diet and lifestyle changes. I’ve never been a huge red meat eater but I ate poultry or seafood almost daily. One evening, after a hearty dinner of grocery store rotisserie chicken, I found myself with a bout of nausea that, almost a surprise to myself, led to the proclamation that I was done with eating land animals. Always having been on the fence from a moral standpoint, my boyfriend Don didn’t hesitate to join me on an adventure into pescetarianism.

About a year later, after two episodes of food poisoning on white fish, I lost my appetite for seafood altogether and decided to go fully vegetarian. Don, still struggling with the moral side of the meat and dairy industries, took the extra step into veganism and it’s been a mealtime adventure for us ever since.

The kitchen is not my domain. Never really has been. It’s not that I can’t cook but more so that I never really found any pleasure in it. But as I experimented with new ways to satisfy our hunger, I’ve come to find an almost enjoyment in it, and as I’ve had to learn ways to make meals vegan friendly I’ve little by little shifted my diet in that direction.

Although I probably won’t ever go fully vegan (I can’t say never since I certainly never thought I’d even be able to manage being a vegetarian), I’m now what I prefer to call cheegan. I’m a semi-vegan who cheats … mostly with cheese. And eggs.

I hope to start posting some recipes of what mealtime looks like in our house these days so keep an eye out for some of the ways we made the transition.

How Do You Take Your Steak

Grilling. It’s pretty much a camping requirement Not only does food seem to taste better when grilled, it’s healthier and it makes for a hell of an easier clean up which, when you’re living in a camper, can save valuable resources. Some people swear by charcoal while others opt for the ease of gas. Die hards may even take it a step further with the open flame of a camp fire. But whatever your preferred method, there really is little better than perfect grill marks across your dinner.

Grilling conjures up images of big juicy burgers, hearty steaks and barbeque chicken. But what about grilling as a vegetarian or vegan. As still relatively new vegans (well Don is vegan, I’m vegetarian mostly vegan), I wasn’t sure how we’d make grilling our primary camping cooking method. We have an awesome little portable Coleman gas grill we bought for this journey and I knew I wanted to play around with new things beyond the typical veggie burger. We love the Gardein meatless meats and of course, grilled veggies. Onions and zucchini are probably our favorites. But I knew there had to be other options.

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight we made what is probably my new favorite thing ever; cauliflower steaks! Cauliflower is one of my recent favs. Buffalo cauliflower tacos, smashed cauliflower, raw cauliflower. But I had never done steaks. I admit I failed drastically on the slicing. I managed to get two steaks but the rest kind of fell apart into smaller florets. No worry though. Those will make for another meal later this week!

We pre-seasoned them. A little olive oil and mild season salt on mine and deadly scorpion powder on Don’s and cooked them for about five minutes each side on our grill. We paired them with Bubba Burger veggie burgers (those things are seriously delicious) and asparagus done in foil on the grill. Fifteen minutes total. Prep to table. As hearty and filling as a real steak … and no animals died in the making. Do you have any other vegan grill recipes? Feel free to comment or share with ideas we can try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Vegan Skinny

scale 198 pounds

I had to share this recent Facebook post by my boyfriend Don. I am giddy madly in love with this guy and so proud of what he has achieved. Not in terms of weight loss but rather the personal moral satisfaction he has found by adopting a vegan diet. I’m not vegan. At least not fully. I can’t quite bring myself to give up eggs. And cheese. I love me some cheese! But in spite of the fact those things still exist in our refrigerator, he never falters and I know he never expected the added benefits he found with his lifestyle change …

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve struggled with weight … my entire life! When I was eight, I remember asking my dad what the extra skin on my belly was. Junior year of high school I joined NutriSystem and lost 60 pounds. My military career finalized in 1995 with a discharge, under honorable conditions, for failing required weigh-ins. In 1998 I tipped the scale at more than 400 pounds.

In 2005 I flew to Mexico for the “Swedish adjustable gastric band” weight loss surgery. Two years later I was starving to death as my body rejected the implant and blocked the passage of solids and most liquids. It allowed almost nothing to reach my stomach. I would vomit everything from soup to my own saliva. Since I was nutrient deficient and facing IV solutions to live, I had emergency surgery to remove the band. That operation nearly killed me and left my stomach with huge scars and punctures. Two years later, rapidly approaching 300 pounds again, I had my second weight-loss surgery. This time a gastric bypass. My weight mostly stabilized afterwards and I settled in between 235 and 250 pounds. As an ex-obese individual the scale was never my friend and rarely have I weighed myself since. I focused instead on how I felt and learned to like my self image.

Then about six months ago I made a shift and removed all animal products from my diet. No meat, fish or dairy. That choice was made, not for diet or health reasons, but due to the fact that roughly 95 percent of animal products we purchase in America come out of abhorrent factory farming conditions. I struggled every day with the “taste“ and “convenience“ of animal products being available in every aisle of the grocery stores and in nearly every item in most every restaurant. I made a decision to stop my dollars from supporting a terrible, cruel and completely unnecessary and environmentally destructive system.

This morning my girlfriend asked me if I had weighed myself lately. Of course, I had not. I remember crossing the 200 pound mark in junior high school and NEVER seeing anything under 200 pounds since. Even in my younger days of the military I was well over 200 pounds. When I was working out six and seven days a week and eating “healthy“ I was in the 215 pound range. Needless to say I’m shocked at the scale this morning. 198 pounds! I’m not on a “diet” and my veganism choice is a lifestyle! Personal goal achieved!