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Posts from the ‘Blog’ Category

To Vegan or Not to Vegan?

Before I delve into this story, it is important that you know my background. I was raised on the classic Wisconsinite diet, consisting of meat, potatoes, and a ridiculous amount of cheese. Because of this, I never thought that veganism was a sustainable diet for my way of life. But last week, that changed.

I picked up the book, The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell. It reviews how certain diets can affect your health, not only how it affects you on a molecular level, but also how it affects the chances of experiencing heart disease and different kinds of cancers. The main line of thought throughout this book is that eating a clean, plant based diet can not only help you prevent any serious ailments in the future, but could potentially reverse some current ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes.

I wanted to try this “perfect diet” and decided to take the leap into veganism. Would I like it enough to make it a lifestyle? Would it just be a fad diet? I was determined to try being vegan for one week, eating at least 3 meals a day that didn’t contain any meat, eggs, dairy, or other animal proteins. I also wanted to take it a step further and add the stipulation that every meal I had needed at least one serving of raw fruits or vegetables. At the end of the week, I would see if I felt any better than I did on my usual, omnivorous diet.

The first day, I was very ready for the experiment. I went to the grocery store and bought loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as some meat alternatives and some whole grains. I looked up some vegan recipes and made some really delicious meals, and I was feeling very optimistic about my diet change.

The next few days were harder.

I was getting tired of eating the same oatmeal and salads every day, and needed a change. I felt like I had energy and wasn’t lethargic, and I had even gone more than 24 hours without heartburn, but I was just unenthusiastic about my options for food. I needed something hearty to fill me up. I would usually gravitate towards some mashed potatoes and gravy with some sort of meat, but the veganism really threw a wrench in those plans. I decided it was time to try going out to eat. I discovered a vegan Salisbury steak from Comet Café, and OH MY GOD, it was exactly what I needed. I had to check multiple times and make sure I wasn’t eating real meat! The way it tasted wasn’t even the best part. I didn’t feel sluggish after eating that heavy meal. Usually I would want to go right to sleep, but I felt full, but not disgusting and tired.

Near the end of the week, I was sleeping better, my acne was clearing up, I felt energized, and I even think I was in a better mood, but I just couldn’t kick my craving for meat. As soon as my week was up, I got a chicken and bacon sandwich and took a huge bite…

And it wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be.

I was honestly disappointed with the flavors, and the texture, and even the grease I used to love. Not to mention, I got instant heartburn and a stomachache for the rest of the night.

Now, it’s been almost one week of going back to my regular diet habits, and I still feel pretty crappy. I know going vegan is a process, and it’s almost inconceivable to be a perfect vegan right out the get go. This experiment did open my eyes though, and I want to try to weave more raw and vegan options into my diet. Maybe I will adopt a vegan lifestyle someday, but I have a lot of things to learn and try before I dedicate myself to a strict lifestyle change.

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My Memory of Smyth

When I was on Facebook yesterday, I had a “memory” at the top of my news feed. One year ago, I splurged and had the most luxurious meal of my life.

Now, normally I am pretty frugal when it comes to eating, but I was lucky and won a $100 gift card to Smyth, the restaurant in the Light Horse Hotel. Smyth’s menu regularly changes, because they only use the best ingredients they can find, so when I went back to the menu to find out the names of what I had eaten there, I came to a dead end. Luckily, that meal is one I will never forget, so I can probably recount the courses, save the names.

My boyfriend and I were freshly 21 years old when we went to Smyth, and as soon as we walked in, we felt like we were not fancy enough to be there. It was dimly lit and had a beautiful dining room. All the tables were wood and iron and even the ceiling had interesting metalwork. A long bar sat in the corner with a gigantic man making the drinks. We sat down and our server acted like he knew us, and made for a very pleasant experience. First we ordered drinks. My drink was kind of like a hot toddy. It tasted of cinnamon and cloves and whiskey, with a roasted orange peel floating in it. We started with a cheese curd appetizer. This was anything but your classic idea of cheese curds. We were served a small cast iron skillet filled with dark gravy, hearty chunks of bacon, Dijon mustard and perfect nuggets of Wisconsin cheese. The table was also served a breadbasket, of a freshly baked loaf of bread. I can’t exactly remember what kind of bread it was, but if my memory serves me correctly, it was some soft of seeded loaf, and we used it to sop up all the extra gravy in the pan. Next came our main courses. My boyfriend got a steak with sautéed baby potatoes and mushrooms. It was served on a slate board, and was garnished with dandelion sprouts. At first, I was skeptical of this steak, seeing as it was around $50, but one bite proved me wrong. It was so tender and bursting with flavor. I remember we both laughed that they gave him a steak knife, because we could literally cut through it with a fork. I ordered the chicken entrée, which was an on the bone brined thigh served over a bed of faro and covered with gravy and sautéed chanterelles. I never knew chicken could be that tender, and I almost had to check if it was raw, because of the silky texture. I had never had faro before, but it was instantly one of my favorite grains. For dessert, we shared a slice of gâteau chocolat, which was very rich and smooth. It was the kind of cake that sticks to the roof of your mouth from being so fudgy.

Even though we had the $100 gift card, we wanted to full experience and ended up playing an extra $30 or so. I would love to go back, maybe for some special occasion, because the freshness of the ingredients, the complexity of the flavors, and the restaurant ambiance made it one of the best meals I have ever had.