Saturday, June 30, 2012

No One Likes A Judgmental Omni

Editor's note: There is no recipe in this post. Skip it if you don't wanna hear me rant! 

I was actually going to title this post, 'No One Likes a Judgmental Omni or Veggie' but it got too long. 

A few weeks ago I was invited to a dinner with a friend, where a bunch of her friends were present. I hadn't met any of them before, and I had a good time. Except for one thing that happened that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.

Enter the judgmental omnivore

As anyone who chooses to live life differently realizes, many people are uncomfortable with outliers

Vegans and vegetarians, however, really get a shocking amount of judgment for their dietary choices. 

Let me get back to the dinner. There I was, chatting with everyone, minding my own business, when it came time to order. Everyone ordered pasta or meat, and I ordered fish. Somehow it came out that I don't eat meat. I'm pretty sure I was asked, because I don't readily offer up that information. I have learned my lesson from past experiences. 

Yes, that is Dana Carvey, as 'Church Lady'.
What ensued was pretty awful, but unfortunately not as uncommon as you'd think. A guy at the table, who was sufficiently intoxicated to perhaps give him an extra dose of courage, basically started attacking me and my choice to not eat meat. He said he thought vegetarians were stupid. He said he didn't like people that don't eat meat. He laughed at me, when I tried to politely explain my beliefs. He was incredibly rude, for no other reason, than the fact that I don't eat animals. 

Now, this has happened to me a lot before. And it's just something I can't get my head around no matter how much I think about it. 

There are a number of reasons why I don't eat meat and over the last three years, I have learned that these reasons are quite personal. I don't push my beliefs on anyone

What gives you the right to judge me and my lifestyle choices? 

What drives me crazy is that people have this misguided belief that vegans and vegetarians are judgmental and try to push their beliefs on other people and I personally have found vegans and vegetarians to be much more understanding and compassionate than meat-eaters. I don't want to generalize- this is just my experience. But for some reason, either because they feel bad about their own meat consumption, or because they think I think I'm better than them, I have been in many, many situations where people have said terrible things to me just because I choose to not eat dead cows. 

This guy was Turkish, and maybe it's a cultural difference, but I doubt it. Aren't we supposed to be accepting of different peoples beliefs and lifestyle choices? 

I can almost always tell when someone is actually curious to learn my reasons for not eating meat, and when someone is just waiting for their chance to talk so they can try to eviscerate me with their own beliefs. At that moment, it was clear this guy didn't want to learn anything, but rather just wanted to be right. 

No matter, it's not about this particular jerk. I'm writing this mostly to vent but also to hopefully allow someone to reconsider their attitude towards people who have different beliefs than them. 

The next time you meet someone who chooses to practice a belief system you don't agree in, or someone who doesn't eat animals, or whatever it may be, stop and think of what a wonderful opportunity that is to learn something new. Stop and think that maybe everything you've been taught isn't 'right'. Just stop and think! (My sister took a class with this title; maybe they teach this stuff there!) 

No one deserves to be judged so cruelly because of the way they live. 

I've learned to accept the fact that some people are just really close-minded. And after all, karma's a bitch. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Healthier Alternative to Cheese

I'm not vegan anymore. I was a while ago, and to be honest, I've never felt better than when I was vegan. You feel lighter. Everything works right. You are more focused. Your skin clears up. And you lose weight. 

And even though I'm not vegan anymore, I eat vegan 90% of the time. Just like Dr.Oz;) What this means is that if I'm out at a restaurant, and my friends want to share some dishes that include dairy or fish, I won't make a big fuss. But at home, it's vegan all the way.

Especially if I've got a few lbs. to lose, I focus on eating more plant-based. Just in the past week I've been eating strictly plant-based and shed the 5 lbs. I was struggling with. Veganism works people!

I'm not talking about being a 'junk-food vegan' though. In the world we live in today, especially if you happen to live in a city like New York City, vegan junk food options abound. And there are a lot of overweight vegans. Those who live on mock-meats (vegan sausage, vegan bacon), vegan cupcakes and vegan cheeses. I'm not a fan of this way of eating either. 

When I say vegan, I mean plant-based, which means eating lots of fruits and veggies at every meal, as well as lots of beans and tofu (and nuts for good measure). 

One of the reasons I am no longer vegan is because I love cheese, like most people. But it's really mucus-forming, bad for your skin and full of saturated fat (not to mention loaded with calories!). I made this cashew cream the other day and altered it a bit today for a broccoli and mushroom wrap I was making for lunch. It was so creamy and delicious, I didn't miss dairy cheese at all. 

I'm using an Android at the moment, so photo quality sucks. 

Give it a try, it might surprise you. 

Cashew Cream with Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder (or chopped onions, I was out)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
handful chopped sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Soak the cashews in enough water to cover them overnight in the fridge. The next day rinse them and place them in a high-speed blender with a cup of fresh water. Blend until a smooth consistency is formed. This is your basic cashew cream. 

Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the cashew cream and remaining ingredients and cook on low for 10 minutes or until everything is incorporated. 

Use as a base for wraps, in a vegan mac 'n' cheese or really anywhere you would normally use dairy cheese. 

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