Keep up with the addict

A visit to Connecticut

My how time flies! My best intentions to blog more seem to have gotten away from me a bit… Life has been a bit busy all around lately. Travel has been one of the things that have been keeping me busy.

Last weekend, Andrew and I visited some friends in Connecticut.  We spent Friday in and around Bridgeport with said friends, visiting some museums and galleries, taking a chilly walk near the water, and, of course, eating.  One of the most exciting highlights of the day was dinner; our friends took us to a wonderful restaurant, Bloodroot Restaurant.  Bloodroot Restaurant is a feminist restaurant that serves up exclusively vegetarian – mostly vegan – fare.  The restaurant was warm and inviting, as was the delightful co-owner Selma.  If you’re ever in Bridgeport around dinner time, stop in for a wonderful meal.

On Saturday, Andrew and I  trekked out on our own to New Haven, most notably the home of Yale University.  We spent the day walking around town – visiting museums and libraries, buying a bit of yarn, and – again – eating!  I thought that I might share some photos with you to give you a feel for Yale:

 In our travels, we visited the Sterling Memorial Library, Yale’s main library.  Unfortunately much of it was under construction.  We did get to see some interesting parts though:

We also visited the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. In addition to looking a bit like a spaceship, the library was pretty awesome. The stacks are visible in a giant multi-story glass cube in the middle of the library. This is surrounded by two levels of exhibition space open to the public, which is enclosed in the outer walls of marble that allow light to come through during the day. I really enjoyed looking through the exhibitions and wish I could have wandered the stacks…

Well, those are all the photos I’ve got for you.

On my plate this weekend, Andrew and I are attending a Potato Party! That’s right, a Potato Party – a party devoted to eating one of nature’s best creations, the potato (and it’s many variations) in some delicious creations, potluck style. I cannot wait! I’m trying out two new recipes for this shindig – Japanese-style Potato Salad and Nikujaga – both made vegan, naturally. If they turn out well, I’ll post the recipes here on the blog. If not, I’ll only subject the party attendees to them…

I eat plants…

…pretty much exclusively now. Yesterday marked the end of my fourth week following a plant-based diet. To some of you, this is fresh news. To you, I say “SURPRISE!”

To be fair, there have been a couple of exceptions:

  1. I have been using a Japanese dressing that I bought earlier in the year that has some hydrolyzed animal proteins in it. To my credit, I bought it before I made the decision to move to this diet and I’m using it because I really don’t like to waste things if I don’t have to.  The animals that died to make it are not going to miraculously be alive if I do not consume the product and my money has already gone to into the support chain for the product. I feel that the best that I can do at this point is to not support the product again in the future.
  2. There were a few random rounds of fishcake in the dried “vegetable” packet of my Korean ramen last night. I’m a bit horrified that this particular ingredient wasn’t listed in the ingredients on the back of the package; it makes me wonder. I ate one of them just to confirm that it was actually a fishcake and not just some weird vegetable and then got rid of the other two once it was confirmed…

Anyway, because the four week mark seems like a kind of milestone in this journey, I thought I would share a bit about what has led me to this point. The driving force that has led me to this path was a commitment that I made to myself to spend 2014, or even longer, more intensely exploring my personal approach to life. In general terms, I mean to explore my spiritual beliefs and philosophical views and how I put those beliefs and views into practice. It is this exploration that led me to make the decision to transition to a plant-based diet. More specifically, contemplations on compassion, manifest in principally three facets, have been the primary motivator in this particular decision.

First, compassion for myself. Health concerns are a big part of my decision to consume a plant-based diet. My family medical history is riddled with issues, such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, for which diet has been shown to – at the very least – increase risk. In addition, for most of my life, I have dealt with migraines, severe headaches, and skin problems – all issues that could have a root cause in or be greatly affected by diet. Much of what I have read and heard about the connection between diet and these various health issues has led me to believe that I can set myself up for better health by eliminating animal products and highly processed foods from my diet as much as possible.

For the past four weeks, I have been (let’s say 98%) successful in elimination of animal products from my diet and I’m working on only eating highly processed foods in moderation. So far, the most obvious benefits I have experience have been an increased energy level without the need for any caffeine, loss of an almost constant feeling of sluggishness, and no severe headaches. I actually had only a single, mild headache over the past four weeks, a time period that would normally be highlighted by at least 4 severe headaches and a migraine. Most striking to me though is that I have completely broken my dependence on coffee, and caffeine generally, with no noticeable withdrawal symptoms. In sharp contrast to my last cold-turkey caffeine abstinence that was highlighted by excruciating headaches, this go around was super pleasant and refreshing.

The second manifestation of compassion that has led me down this path is compassion for other humans. I think that the evidence is clear that the industrial production of animal goods takes a massive toll on the environment, which affects all of humanity. Perhaps more importantly, industrial production of these animal goods has an adverse impact on the health of those individuals that are involved in the process of creating such products. I do not want to continue to support efforts that will cause suffering for other humans, either directly or indirectly.

The third, and perhaps more obvious, facet of compassion that motivates my transition is compassion for non-human animals. At it’s simplest expression, I hold that exploiting animals for non-essential human needs is wrong; this exploitation causes suffering, which is not compassionate. I decided to act on this belief.

Currently, I hesitate to label myself as vegan; I’m not there yet. It will take me a while to get to a point where other aspects of my life – outside the realm of food – can reflect a commitment to veganism in a meaningful way. In the meantime, I do find using the label of vegan is a handy way to convey my eating preferences and general outlook to others without a lot of explanation.

It is not my intention to be preachy about my decision to move to a plant-based diet; however, I will strive to act as an advocate and resource for change whenever possible. For those of you who are interested, I would like to share – over the coming weeks – here on the blog some of the resources that have led me to this decision. Please feel free to read or view them if you desire, but don’t feel that I will love you less if you choose not to.

I’ve missed you

For the past several weeks, I have really missed blogging.

That’s right; I said “I have really missed blogging.” And I do. I miss having the opportunity to share my ideas, opinions, joys, adventures, crafts, and cooking with an (admittedly small) group of fellow humans that I might not otherwise get to interact with if it were not for the magic of the internets. So really, I miss you.

The problem is that, despite my desire to blog again, I’m having trouble figuring out where to start… where to pick up the pieces.  I figure today is as good a day as any other to just put that getting started energy out there, though.  So, here I am.  I’m going to blog, again.

Be forewarned that it might go in weird, unexpected directions; but, really, that’s just par for the course, isn’t it?