Quinoa Soup & One-Year Vegan-versary!

Quinoa in soup!  Who would’ve thought?

quinoa vegetable soup

Obviously the 30-Minute Vegan folks did, since this tasty Peruvian Quinoa Soup recipe jumped out at me from the pages of their cookbook.  I was looking for something new and different to make last night, and this sounded pretty amazing.

quinoa soup and biscuit

For the record, it was.  I made a few whole wheat biscuits to go with it, and my family sucked it all down in record time.  Meaning zero leftovers.  Clean soup pot.  Which equals total dinner success in my book!

I’ve been meaning to blog about my one-year anniversary of being vegan, which becomes official sometime this month.  It’s been a long, fun road, and it’s a journey I’m still taking.

I want to be up front in this blog about how I approach veganism, so before I launch into the Reader’s Digest condensed version of my vegan story, a few things:

— I do still eat honey sometimes.  I don’t buy it outright and I won’t use it in cooking or baking, but if it turns up as an ingredient in something like a cereal, I’m not as discerning as some in buying it.  It’s something I’m still thinking about and looking into, so while I don’t consume any dairy, meat, or eggs, I do still technically consume one “animal product” on occasion.

— My diet is vegan, but not everything I put on my body is.  I’ve begun making the transition to all-vegan body care products, but there are still some non-vegan items in my cabinets and my closet.  I’m not sure I’ll get rid of all of them, but I am definitely making an effort not to buy any new clothes or shoes that contain animal materials.

— I knit, but am not a vegan knitter.  I’m not sure where I’m going with this one, either, but I have been reading up on the various processes used in yarn production–all yarn production, of all fibers, vegan or not.  My current goal is to reduce or eliminate yarns that have a high chemical output in their production.

That said, please don’t inundate me with comments about the evils or dangers of some of the things I still consume or use.  I appreciate advice and useful articles, but veganism is as personal a journey as any other health or lifestyle choice, and it’s something I wish to continue to undertake in my own way on my own time.

I’ll admit to having been a dreaded “flexitarian” at first.  For most of high school, I wanted to lose weight (feel free to groan at this cliche) and that was, sadly enough, what first turned me on to the idea of veganism.  At the time, I was one of those people who thought it was “too hard” to give up dairy, but I was happy to avoid meat whenever I could because I was rapidly losing my taste for it.  Beef had an odd texture, chicken and turkey were too dry, and pork tasted funny.  Two exceptions I often made were spicy sausage and fried chicken, and I still ate General Tso’s chicken if Chinese takeout was available.

That ended for good in summer of 2008.  The last meat I had was an order of General Tso’s while on vacation.  Dairy was still on the list, though, despite lactose intolerance that had begun developing when I was ten.  I had already cut out drinking milk and eating a couple of things that made me particularly uncomfortable, but it wasn’t until Lactaid pills began to fail me that I seriously considered giving up all dairy once and for all.  I won’t go into detail about the day I ran out of Lactaid and decided to eat a can of yogurt straight up–needless to say it was unpleasant.  That jump-started me on the road to veganism.  Then and there I knew dairy had to go.

Oddly enough, it was cream cheese that stayed in my diet the longest.  I am a huge sucker for bagels.  Fortunately, my favorite varieties of bagel are vegan and I’ve been able to continue eating them, but for a long time I didn’t want to let go of the cream cheese.  When I finally did, of course I was better off for it.  Eating bagels no longer gives me a weird, heavy feeling, especially since I’ve started making my own cream cheese [LINK] with silken tofu!

Eggs were almost a non-issue, since I hardly ever ate them outright.  My heaviest use of them was in baking, so I had to learn about egg substitutes and bake from a few good vegan recipes before I got the hang of not using them.  Now, though, I happily bake a bunch of vegan stuff (as can be seen on this blog) and don’t miss eggs at all.

I do occasionally still miss soft serve ice cream and maybe M&Ms.  Other than that, I can’t really think of any non-vegan food I need to have.  I often tell people that I wouldn’t go back even if I could, and it’s true.  The more vegan food I experiment with, the more variety I discover in a plant-based diet.  I feel better, I no longer have food cravings, and I enjoy a bunch of foods I never thought I would eat.  I hardly ever drink soda or eat “junk food” any more, and most of the time I don’t have the desire to.  There’s a world of whole plant foods out there, and I aim to continue exploring it!