Monday, October 30, 2006

the end of the Vegan Challenge, and a big fight

Iris and I successfully wrapped up our Vegan Challenge last night. Despite our failings on Friday at lunchtime (before we realized it was the first day of World Go Vegan Days... which incidentally fall during World Pizza Month, which Iris learned about at her school and which we also observed), once we got started, we did fabulously. Iris nearly dropped out of the challenge last night, consumed with lust for the lollipops I was decorating a pumpkin with and for the chocolate chip cookies from the store, but she stayed the course.

However, even the enticements of Kenneth G. Williams have not encouraged us to make this experiment permanent. We ate well, and what I thought would be our biggest temptations (cheese for me, chocolate milk for Iris) were not issues. What were issues were butter and non-vegan sweets. Butter is more ubiquitous than you'd think. I had thought of getting Indian take-out, but of course, although all that food is so easily vegetarian, it's drowning in ghee, so it's not vegan in the least. We use butter on our toast, which we replaced by spraying on canola oil, and we upgraded the toast to cinnamon toast, which turned out to be a delightful vegan breakfast food, but not particularly healthy.

I think, unlike vegan bodybuilder Kenneth G. Williams, I'd find it hard not to gain weight on a vegan diet. I made a great nut roast last night, and it turns out you can make a lovely creamy sauce from pureeing sauteed onions and grated carrots with nuts, which creates a creamy matrix to hold together various vegetables and other nuts. I liked the results (and liked the connection to one of my favorite novels, "The House of Sleep" by Jonathan Coe, where one character is said to be always dining on nut roasts), but the children were adverse to even trying it. They were more interested in the vegan lemon cupcakes I made, as promised.

So what was achieved? I dunno. Iris demonstrated great willpower; I learned I can do without cheese without missing it. I think I may cook more vegan foods, but I'm not ready to convert from lacto-ovo vegetarianism to the more strict veganism, especially with fusspot children.

The vegan challenge sparked a nasty fight between Anton and me, and I'm still upset. Seeing Iris pass up a cupcake at her soccer game due to the Vegan Challenge made him think of all the times he sat in restaurants, watching other people eat meat while he ate vegetarianishly out of deference to my beliefs. (We have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" treaty in place, where our household is vegetarian, with the children and myself eating vegetarian, but Anton eats meat out of the house. This bothers Iris to no end; once she shouted at him, "SHUT YOUR MEATLOVING HOLE!"as an insult). He picked a fight, accusing me of hypocrisy because I let the children eat marshmallows (I won't eat them myself due to the gelatin, but I have such fond memories of s'mores from my childhood that I didn't want to deny my kids that experience of toasting marshmallows).

"Why is it okay for an animal to be killed so you can have a snack?" he said with an uncharacteristically mean edge to his voice.

"But I don't eat the marshmallows! I never eat marshmallows. When you guys eat s'mores, I never have one."

We had agreed years before not to discuss marshmallows in front of the children, and he broke this agreement, while the girls, who are unaccustomed to their parents fighting, were silently rapt in the backseat. Anton let loose that he feels he's missing out on life because he can't eat whatever he wants in restaurants. I was silent, shocked. Then he made the strategic mistake of getting out of the car to go buy a kite for Lola, while I had time to gather my thoughts.

When he came back, I ripped into him, saying how dare he accuse me of causing him to eat less well when I'm constantly cooking him gourmet meals (I say this matter of factly: I am the best cook you'll ever meet who is not a professional and who is self-taught) and when I met him, he was living on ramen noodles and chips and salsa. Plus, he can eat whatever he wants when he's not around me, and if I were to die the next day, he'd still be equally uncomfortable eating meat at home due to Iris's hardcore beliefs (she called him to tell him off once when he hid a bunch of beef stew cans on the front porch, which we saw. "I didn't bring it into the house," he weakly attempted to defend himself, but Iris ripped back with "THE... PORCH... IS... PART... OF... THE... HOUSE!!!" She was only five at the time, and a born litigator, with natural rhythm, timing, and logic). Next, I felt ambushed, as we'd been getting along so beautifully (and even had put our shower to some very inventive uses only a few hours earlier). Finally, when he attacked my love for animals and my vegetarianism, plus my cooking, he attacked the very core of my being. I define myself more than anything else as an animal lover and a passionate cook, so rejecting those things about me is rejecting me as deeply as one can reject. It couldn't have been more thorough without throwing in a lawyer gibe (although I may be nonpracticing, I'll always be a lawyer in my black, litigious heart).

Today, I'm still upset. I'm (childishly, no doubt) going to withhold my cooking from him. If he misses his bachelor days of food freedom, let him re-experience those so-called joys. He knew what he was getting; on our first date, he learned that I was an animal loving vegetarian, and he willingly signed up for a lifetime of that (he married me not once, but twice, once in a civil ceremony, once in a religious ceremony). I never had this particular problem in my first marriage; Husband 1.0, the Scotch Drinking Husband, was a committed vegetarian, even stricter than me. I wonder if Kenneth G. Williams ever fights with his lovely vegan wife.

Lemon Gem Cupcakes from Vegan With A Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 1/3 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C canola oil
2/3 C + 2 T sugar
1 C rice milk (I substituted soy creamer)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C lemon juice
1 T lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 muffin tin with paper liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In separate bowl, combine oil, sugar, rice milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix. fill each cup about 2/3 full; bake for 17-20 min (mine weren't done then, but my oven sucks. I cooked them about 24 min). Remove cupcakes from tin and cool on rack. Frost when completely cool.

Vegan Lemon Frosting

1/4 C nonhydrogenated soy margarine, softened
1/4 C soy milk
2 T lemon juice
2 C sifted confectioner's sugar

Whisk margarine until fluffy. Stir in soy milk and lemon juice; add confectioner's sugar and beat with mixer until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Freewheel said...

I'm sure that even a vegan god loses his temper now and then.

2amsomewhere said...

Usually these problems arise over sex, not food, which is amusing in some dark sense.

At the risk of sounding Schnarchy, Anton has run into a two choice dilemma (give up meat in most circumstances, or give up wife).

He has chosen to avoid the choice by launching an attack on your reflected sense of self (calling you a hypocrite). It's a common tactic because neither choice of the dilemma is particularly pleasant for him.

You held onto yourself well, which is a Good Thing (tm). Just keep that amygdala in check, and soothe yourself in spite of Anton's anxiety. You'll be better off for it.


Anonymous said...

Two words

Makeup sex