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What’s a nice vegan like you…

February 15, 2011 by Laura

Ok, I’m not really a vegan. I feel like such a poser. This is what happens when Nutritarian meets wanna-be farmer. I have longed for a chicken coop and chickens for years now. I had a pet chicken a few years ago: Dixie Chicken. She was a lovely Black Star chicken who slept in a waxed produce box in my studio apartment by night, and roamed around the property by day. Besides providing me with a large, brown egg daily, her most endearing quality was her insatiable appetite for potato bugs. I loved that chicken. One fateful night, she refused to get in her box and decided to bed down in the goat shed. She was a sitting duck, er cluck. The next morning I found two eggs and… well, it wasn’t pretty.

As a Nutritarian, I am allowed four animal products per week. Eggs score a paltry 27 on the ANDI scale, but a kale omelet? That’s gotta be worth something. And just how much do I love eggs? I have an egg cup collection. I once wanted to open a store devoted to eggs & egg-y things. I pictured a boutique in Soho with Peeps and caviar and, you know, Fabergé eggs. Necessities, really.

So far my endeavor is going quite well. I am down 7 (!) pounds since I started about 3 weeks ago. I’m eating about a pound of veggies per day. Zero dairy, zero white flour, very little in the way of refined sweeteners (there’s some in the soy milk), no red meat. My chicken & fish intake is down to nearly nothing also. And just ask Dale, we probably ate 10 pounds of chicken a week around here.

My biggest challenge is trying not to invent some rationalization to eat some gorgeous, locally produced bread, cheese, bacon, duck confit, what-have-you. I feel personally responsible for keeping small agricultural producers going. After all, they’ve probably felt the drop in business since I stopped eating cheese.

My methods these days to keep myself on track are 1) picture my current self in a beige dress; 2) picture my future self in a beige dress; and 3) ask myself this question before I eat: Will this make me healthier or not? Not “Would this be so bad in the context of an otherwise very healthy diet?” or “Is this food ok in moderation?” or “Is THIS really the cookie that will put me over the edge?” But rather, if I eat this thing right here that I think I want– Michel Cluizel chocolate, Wild Flour Bread fougasse, fresh Dungeness crab cake, apple-smoked BLT with avocado, Bear Republic Racer 5… will I be healthier? And if the answer is no, the answer is no, right? Actually, it’s what I do to Amos 25 times a day.

Mind you, I am no longer even bothering to remember that I was once a professional food person. Now I’m a “busy working mom trying to throw down a healthy meal for my family in 20 minutes or less!” Imagine pert smile here. Here’s what we ate for dinner:

A big plate of salad with oil-free, roasted red pepper dressing (I forget what I put in it). A “pizza” as follows:
For 4 servings

  • 4 “Ezekiel 4:9” Sprouted Grain Tortillas
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce
  • your favorite shredded cheez (I used a combo of the previously reviewed products)
  • 1/4 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • big handful of baby spinach leaves
  • about 12 frozen artichoke hearts (I think they’re quartered)
  • sliced roasted red pepper (I used the jarred kind)

Preheat your oven to at least 450, hotter if it goes hotter. Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet or 2 and divide the sauce among them. Cover the sauce with the cheez so it resembles an actual pizza. In a large pan or wok saute the onions & garlic using either a very brief spray of cooking spray, or a bit of hot water. You don’t need to cook them for long, as they will further cook in the oven. Add the spinach & artichoke hearts and cook until the spinach is wilted and the artichoke hearts are no longer frozen. Add in the red pepper strips. Divide this mixture among the peetsas — it should be heaped a little. Put them in the oven for 10 minutes or so. The tortillas should crisp up a bit. Sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and some kind of shaky cheez. Enjoy!


  1. Craig says:

    Nice chicken coop. I knew a guy who created what he called a “chicken tractor.” It was a moveable coop. He’d shift it over to an adjacent space about every week or so. Gradually, the chickens would “mow” his field, like a tractor only using no fuel.

  2. Methia says:

    Hey Laura,

    Your blog is fun and funny to read. I applaud your efforts for getting healthy and looking great in a beige dress. I don’t really know much about this Nutri-whateverism thing you are following. I am currently seeking a less slugish, more energetic, less achy 40 year old state of health myself. I recently started getting health care and nutritional advice from a Chinese Medicine based health center. I am getting accupuncture and taking some nasty tasting yet feeling benefits herbs. Nutritionally I recently was told by the nutritionist that humans need animal fat. Fat is your friend. And that a diet based on too much vegetable fat is actually harmful to ones cholestoral because human fat is more solid like animal fat where vegetable fat is liquid at room temp. So the body will actually send in cholesteral to harden up the vegetable fat. This is all new info for me and very interesting. I was also told that there are very little soy based products ( tamari, tempeh and something else I don’t remember) that are actually processed correctly so that they are digestable for humans. Making them antinutrient. Also, which I have heard before, that soy products can mess with the hormonal develpoment of boys. I’ll keep you posted on what else I learn and how my progress is going. Good luck to you on yours-Methia

  3. Laura says:

    Hey Methia, Thanks for the note. I’m going with what is easiest for us– no special purchases, just big trips to the produce aisle. There is ample evidence that people who eat plant-based diets are healthier and live longer than people who eat diets rich in animal products. As for the fat issue, I think too much of any fat is unhealthy. The changes to my diet include minimizing all fats and oils, as well as refined sugars and grains. As for soy, we don’t use much in the way of soy products. Mostly I’m eating about 1000% more veggies. Good luck on your healthy endeavors too! Definitely keep me posted.

  4. muffy says:

    hi Laura, your writing is wonderful. clever and fun. unfortunately the subject matter of losing weight/gaining health is all too familiar. and it doesnt get any easier. at least if you have neglected to correct wrongs in your 30s and 40s like I did. sheesh, i’ll be in my 60s in a coupla years. I’m sure if I get down to it now I’ll thank myself. But I’m so tired! whine whine. Where’s your mom in law when I need her? Keep up the enjoyable and helpful writing.

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