30 November 2014

21st Century Diet: A 10-Day Chronicle

From being a thoughtless and heartless consumer of meat and dairy for 27 years, I became a vegetarian for 7 years...and now, finally for the last 3 months, I adopted the most compassionate way of living- being a vegan. And I must say, this is the greatest and most positive act I could do to my fellow creatures who I call friends and family, to my own health, and to my only home-Earth!

But before anything about this diet, a little bit of history...

My husband has given up meat and encouraged his family to become vegetarian when he was 16. He even went vegan for 8 years after that, but somehow along the way, according to him, he got lost or perhaps deadened by the vitamin B12 idea (which now he finds ridiculous and just an excuse) and went back to consuming milk and eggs.

As for myself, I grew up in Philippines, brought up the Filipino-way, followed the Filipino culture and traditions for 27 years without a thought...without question. So when I came to India, without apprehension, I became a vegetarian, too. It was surprising it was a change I accepted so easily (easier when you fully understood the concept behind any change, when the change isn't about you but of something else, in this case, the animals).

I really didn't struggle...a kind of change that many find difficult, even impossible. And that was for 7 years!

Just around late August of this year, my husband and I were into watching documentaries...about health in particular. We watched Fat, Sick And Nearly Dead, A Delicate Balance-The Truth, Peaceable Kingdom, Vegucated, Speciesism. Then suddenly it hit us to immediately stop consuming eggs and milk after knowing what kind of situation every hen and cow and every single hatched-egg and newly-born calf goes through before it lands on our table in a place I call hell -horrifying farm factories/slaughterhouses.

We don't want to be part of such atrocity. Not anymore!

It's not what we know that is important. What do we DO with what we know is!

In other words, the hearts that were deadened for years suddenly woke up from deep slumber and finally embraced the greatest act of compassion towards these sentient beings who we've been calling friends and family. And that was it! We became vegan!

So, to share the kind of food we take everyday, I decided to jot them down....not for the entire year (which I was planning to at first -kind of tedious and mind-numbing just thinking about it). We were already following similar diet -more on fruits, vegetables and nuts but with dairy (milk, eggs, curd) before we became vegan. And a little tip, excluding dairy products in our diet gave the final blast to our weight!

This post will cover 10 days from November 21 to November 30, 2014, although I still continue to write down our foods everyday (our way of identifying which fruits and vegetables available month after month). And I am presenting each day through a poster-like post because the one I made at first turned out to be awful I myself don't want to read through the whole article.

So here's the first day...

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Here's the second day (whew, "The Making" takes quite a longer time)

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When we eat pomegranate, we make sure we eat the thin white lining in between the seeds (I have never found it's name, though) for they are known to be rich in nutrients too.

When we stir-fry potatoes, they are chopped into small pieces and we leave the skin on (just washed them as thorough as possible). Coconut oil seems the best for this dish.

Here's the third day....

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We see to it that when we make home made soya milk, it's okara should not get wasted so I make okaralette (okara-cutlet) with lots of mixed vegetables as detailed above so it seems  like it's no longer okaralette but vegetable cutlet instead. I add all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour for firming purposes. I think, it's best to boil the potatoes and mashed them then add to the rest of the ingredients. I am going to try it this way next time.

Here's the fourth day....

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We don't generally have left over but during this time we couldn't finish the entire vegetable salad. What happened was, just a few minutes after Banu came from his OPD at around 1 o'clock in the afternoon we were buzzed by a neighbor telling us that they found a cat, dead at the electric transformer area. So before taking lunch we checked which cat it was since we are feeding 3 teenage cats- Chamie, Limphi, and KitCat, at that time. It was Chamie and she was electrocuted...we could see a few hair at the tip of a live cable. We really couldn't say how exactly it happened but she was dead, her right mouth was burnt, whiskers were burnt. Probably she has gone there before but at that time there was no electricity/power. Then she tried again, perhaps to catch a bird. This time, she couldn't make it out alive. Just a thought of how she died because no one really knows what happened except Chamie. But what a way to die! I just gave her her breakfast earlier that day and she is no longer coming back. Whew! 

We buried her at around 3 PM when we were able to shut down the power of that particular transformer line. From the time we knew her death, we just couldn't have the appetite to eat.

Anyway, the power of electricity is just mind-boggling! And such a fragile life...if we aren't careful enough!

Anyway, here's the fifth day....

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Notes: Whenever we make fried rice, it always contains lots of vegetables to the extent of having just a little rice...the best way to eat much vegetables. We seldom eat rice and when we do, it's almost always fried rice with mushroom or just plain vegetable fried rice.

These days, unless stated as homemade, we are drinking commercial soya milk -Sofit brand. It's not available in our small town so we asked ITBP truck drivers to get them for us from Dehradun. We are also stocked up with soya beans purchased from a local farmer for Rs. 60 per kilo. Some local villagers-patients of Banu, get us some, too! Because making soya milk leaves us with much okara which we hesitate to waste, we see to it that there's no major stuff to eat in our pantry before making it.

The sixth day, here it comes!

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Notes: Generally, what's available at the market, that too very rarely, are just beet roots without leaves! People don't eat them! So what we do, we tend to ask for the leaves from the vegetable sellers themselves. Fortunately, they're able to provide us with leaves from the local farmers. The thing is, we are more interested in the leaves than the roots. The leaves are very nutritious and sumptuous I can't understand how people miss to eat them. 

Here's the seventh day...

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We don't usually do juicing because of pulp/fiber wastage. We rather eat the fruit whole but since we want to get most of citrus fruits available this season, we juice mosambi or sweet lime, maltas, oranges, and kinnow when it is available. Sweet lime is no longer available in our market.
But when we juice banana, grapes, and watermelon (when they're in season) we use a blender to juice them and not the juicer so we will be eating their pulp too.

Our soup doesn't look like "soup". It's more like a gravy dish because we add carrot and lots of ginger and garlic. We also add onion, coriander leaves or spring onion all the time.

Eighth day is here....

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Unless stated "each", everything is assumed to be eaten as half each. For example, if it says 2 guavas it means 1 guava is sliced into 4 parts and Banu takes 2 parts and so do I. Another one is the same. It's always like that unless I don't want to eat a particular fruit.

Okaralette is always made whenever we make soya milk at home and it's always packed with an immense amount of vegetables like peas, carrot, cabbage, beans, coriander leaves, ginger & garlic, groundnuts, coconut pieces (not copra, although can be added-I tried once), sesame seeds.

Ninth day it is....
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Malta orange is widely available in the market for a month now and it is sold 3 for Rs. 10 although sometimes we get 4 for Rs. 10. The ones that are sweeter are from the village called Mandal near Gopeshwar and although these Maltas go to bigger cities directly like Dehradun, we are fortunate enough to have one vendor who gets this variety here in Gauchar. 

Our vegetable salad is always composed of cucumber, carrot, parsnip, onion, & tomato seasoned with salt, black pepper, mango powder, and vinegar soaked for 30 minutes at least before serving.

Here's the tenth day...

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To make cashew milk, I soaked 35 pieces of cashews for at least 10 hours and then blended them thoroughly. It's a 1:5 ratio....so 35 pieces is about half of a glass so the water is about 5 halves of the same glass (It really depends on how thick you want your milk to be...try experimenting). The resulting milk is good for two usage for two people but every time I make 1 session of coffee, I use half cup (our mug size) of cashew milk plus half cup water to make it a little dilute. When it is fully soft, there is hardly okara left so there's no need for sieving. I think, among soya, almond and cashew milk, the latter is the easiest, and quickest to make and tastiest too!

The vegetable juice here is fully dominated by beet root, which explains the color. The orange fruit which we added helped to make the juice drinkable. It's not bad at all!

Amaranth curry was made of green amaranth which is growing profusely in our backyard along with my flowers. When we make curry like this, we generally use spinach but since there are plenty of them around we alternate spinach and amaranth green or red. When it comes to parathas or Indian bread, it's seldom made plain like people make rotis. We see to it that we're not only eating wheat flour but also more of the other good stuffs.


Veganism is about the welfare of non-human animals. It is about acknowledging the fact that this world isn't only mine to inhabit but to share with these sentient beings. It is about giving them their rights to keep their life free from any kind of threats and untimely death. It is also acknowledging the truth that, like me, they too have families and friends, that they can feel happiness, anger, loneliness, embarrassment, pain...that they scream when hurt...that they want to escape when imprison. 

These realizations made me accept that these beings we brand as non-human animals are just like us! So I chose to be their friends rather than their enemy! And I will be their voice in their voiceless and unheard of world...as much as I can!

And when it comes to food, variety is important. Locally produced goods are also preferred. Seasonal are suggested. It's just that, a market like ours, we can hardly find variety and most of these produce come from towns and cities as far as 1000 km. from here. Some are stored so we avoid them!

Veganism? It is NOT difficult at all! One thing to note though, we are not against eating meat, we are against MURDER...or participating in any kind of violence against the innocent animals. There is no difference between murdering a pig or a chicken or a goat or a sheep or a cow yourself and paying somebody else for the murder of these animals so you could eat meat that you don't need for health nor for survival. So for us, eating naturally DEAD animal is acceptable, not a meat of an animal whose life is forcibly taken...without even a fight!