Today was our 8 year veganiversary.
Eight years, and my how things have changed.
When we first went vegan, we bought most of our staples at Whole Foods or the "hippie" store a few towns away. Gradually, we noticed vegan options were popping up at Trader Joe's and our local chain grocery store, Ralph's. (Yes, one of the chains here in So Cal is called Ralph's... Go figure!). But there were still things you simply couldn't replace like cheese and ice cream. Even cow's milk was hard to substitute, and not because we weren't used to it, the products were simply not as good. Today, that's all changed. While we still us a soy milk maker and make our own almond milk for most of our milk consumption, we love Silk’s Almond and Cashew milks on our morning cereal.
The great thing about all these new products is that veganism is becoming more mainstream. We even found a wonderful store in Montana that had a great selection of vegan foods (and this was still a few years ago). Today, you can find vegan products in most grocery stores.
Eight years ago, Jane wound up cooking most of our meals. Now when we're looking for someplace to eat, we have 15 restaurants we can rattle off without thinking about where to eat. If we give it some thought, we can always come up with more. We can even find vegan food available for consumption at most of the domestic airports we’ve traveled through recently, and I’m talking more than just hummus.
But the one change that we are ambivalent about is the proliferation of packaged vegan goods. This is an excellent way to get main stream Americans eating vegan; however, it will certainly negate some of the health benefits of going vegan, which was the impetus for us to try a vegan diet in the first place. Interestingly, our health has remained excellent over the last decade; our cholesterol and other numbers have all remained fairly consistent. In contrast, many of our friends have started taking maintenance medications, or increased those medications. So, while we are not physicians ourselves, we believe our diet to have definitely had a positive impact on our health.
The plethora of new vegan products might put an end to that though. We just reviewed Pastariso’s Vegan Mac and Uncheese, and we’re currently working our way through a number of Miyoko’s Creamery cheeses for a future review. (Spoiler: they’re delicious!)
While both of these products are quite tasty and real competition for their non-vegan counterparts, I’m somewhat ambivalent about discovering them; Jane and I have both gained 3 pounds over the past two weeks. Yikes! It reminds me of when I first went vegetarian many eons ago; I wound up consuming cheese at every meal, and, until I got myself back under control, had to buy my jeans one size up.
And Jane has recently become addicted to So Delicious Cashew based Snickerdoodle ice cream. These new nut milk ice creams are so much more palatable to us than any soy ice cream ever was. Jane was a real ice cream addict pre-vegan, and pined for the stuff for years. The Snickerdoodle vegan ice cream has won her over completely. Oh yeah, I love So Delicious' almond milk ice cream bars.
Over this last (almost) decade, we have actually moved from being vegan because of our health, to being vegan because of our concern for the welfare of animals. As we learned more about the cruelty perpetrated on livestock in order to feed the masses, we wound up on the other side of the equation. Even if we wanted to eat meat again, neither of believes our consciences could allow that. This philosophy makes it easy to applaud all the veganized food products out there, healthy or otherwise.
For us, it will be a matter of finding a balance. Since we plan on being vegan for the rest of our lives, we are thrilled to have all these new products popping up. We’ll certainly be incorporating many of them into our lives; we’ll just have to make sure we don’t consume too much!