Where do we go from here?

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Whole New World: Vegan Foodies

As a former all-foods foodie, in the days when food was for me, not merely nutrition, but reward, self-medication, and entertainment, there were many food writers whom I enjoyed reading, both as inspiration and just for the fun of it. There are not only cookbooks, and food memoirs (Ruth Reichl is my favorite in this category) there are websites and blogs, Facebook pages....ah, the list goes on.

In my new incarnation as a vegan foodie I am challenged by the search for replacements for these sources of fun and inspiration.  And to my mild surprise, and great delight, the discoveries are piling up. I will be writing more about this in future posts, but my latest discovery is the one I want to address today.

Some of you may be familiar with Mark Bittman, a professional food writer since 1980. Mark is currently writing in the "opinionatorblogs" at the New York Times, as well as in The Diner's Journal blog at that same paper, has a website,Facebook page, has made numerous TV appearances (Good Morning America, in particular) and quite likely more media presence that I don't even know. His writing is omnivorous, not limited to vegetarian or vegan, but does include those modes, in his articles and in his cookbooks. His recent column on McDonald's new addition to their breakfast menu, their "Wholesome Oatmeal" has garnered a lot of publicity all over the Internet, and is what has truly endeared him to my heart.  We were so happy when we saw this announcement, just before a road trip to Texas.  Road trips are especially trying for us as newly-minted vegans, and if the ubiquitous eatery was going to be offering something we could eat on the road for breakfast, we were thrilled.  Our first bowlful of this "wholesome" item cured us of this naive hope.  We declined the brown sugar and the cream that McDonalds adds to a bowl of cereal already evidently containing "11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen,” as well as "more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin...Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger." poured on our own unsweetened soy milk and managed to eat that morning's breakfast.  It was our first and our last.  Without even knowing about the weird ingredients, it bore no resemblance to the oatmeal we make in our own kitchen every morning. For our next road trip I made up a pan of Oatmeal Cake, cut it into squares, wrapped them up and tossed them into our Road Food bag.  If we stay someplace with a microwave, we can warm it up and have it with soy milk, if not we can just eat it as is. Either way it only has ten ingredients, not a single one of them weird.

I am now a faithful reader of as much Mark Bittman as I can find, am going to pick up his book Food Matters today if I have time. Because although his new slogan is "Eat Real Food," I think that this phrase "Food Matters" is the heart of Bittman's philosophy, as it now is also mine. On my way to fifty pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of this journey, I am able to see that food does indeed matter, in ways that are new and wonderful to me -  as nutrition, as fuel for my increasingly more fit physical self (a post on this is in the works too!), as a way I can contribute to the healing of this planet.

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