Charlie's Blog: Vegan Hacks


Vegan Hacks

I choose not to make a graveyard of my body for the rotting corpses of dead animals.

It doesn't take me much effort to win the argument for eating vegan. I accept the fact that most people are never going to become vegan and would rather die than give up meat. I just make sure their decision to die is an informed decision sort of like the Surgeon General's warning on a pack of cigarettes. If I could get a similar warning on a pack of frozen hamburgers or on a sign outside every McDonald's, my job would be finished. Since that is unlikely to happen in my lifetime, I just quote the facts, scientific studies, and just plain common sense. Then, I offer the three day challenge followed by the two week challenge. Most people agree that going two weeks without meat, dairy, and eggs will not kill them. Every person who has taken the challenge reports feeling better, losing weight, and having increased energy. Then, they go back to eating animal products. But they know where they didn't know. That's all I can do.

The problem with being vegan is that it is not as easy as eating crap. If you have spent a lifetime eating from fast food restaurants, drive thru windows, vending machines, convenience stores, and the microwave oven, the first thing you discover is that being vegan means giving up all that convenience. I think this convenience issue is the number one reason for vegan apostasy. Life is busy. There are things to get done. Who has time to cook and prepare food?

Before I became vegan, I thought long and hard about this issue. I had to come up with a gameplan for this issue, but I had help in the form of Tim Ferriss. Now, Ferriss is no vegan but a meathead. I think his paleo style diet is a bunch of crap. But I appreciate that Tim has a unique way of looking at the world and finding ways to make it work for him. So, I took some of his tips but also his mindset to come up with these vegan lifehacks to make the vegan lifestyle work for me. Here they are:

1. Eat the same things for breakfast and lunch everyday.

This one comes straight from Tim Ferriss. Breakfast and lunch are the most inconvenient meals of the day. Many people skip breakfast entirely. Lunch is whatever is available at the nearest restaurant or lunch counter. Or, it is just a pack of crackers from a vending machine. But it isn't the preparation of a meal that takes so long as the time spent trying to decide what to prepare and eat. I already know that I am going to eat oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow and sandwiches for lunch. The total time I spend each day preparing those two meals is 10 minutes. This is exactly how long it will take you to get through drive thru windows if you choose McDonald's for these meals. I would venture to say that I spend less time on these meals than the meatheads since most drive thru lanes are packed.

2. Get a lunchbox.

My old man used to carry a lunchbox like the one pictured above. I choose one more modern that I can put a blue ice in. I also recommend a Klean Kanteen for water and beverages. Also, check out To-Go Ware for their stainless steel food carriers. I'm not sure when it became uncool to carry your own food, but if you are a vegan, this should not bother you since being vegan isn't cool either.

3. Eat fruit.

Fruit is nature's fast food. I learned from the raw food folks that fruit can be a meal. If you don't have time to prepare a meal, eat a bunch of bananas or toss some in your lunchbox. Keep dried fruit on hand like raisins or craisins. I have also found that many convenience stores carry fresh fruit now like apples and bananas. Carrots and celery are also good. These foods require no cooking at all. The problem is that we think of them only as snacks instead of meals. The key is to just smash in as much fruit as your guts can hold, and you will feel very satisfied.

4. Vegan Quick Meals.

For dinner, a vegan quick meal is an awesome solution when you are eating by yourself or don't have time to make a real meal. Basically, these are soups and stews made from vegetable stock or a vegan soup in a can. Take a pot and put in your can soup or vegetable broth. Add whatever leftover carrots, celery, onions, or greens you may have in the fridge. Add some beans. Toss in ramen noodles, pasta, or crumble up some crackers or matzo. I like Texas Pete for some kick. Now, you can make various flavor combinations depending on what is on hand, but you should have this made before Rachael Ray's assistant has finished chopping her stuff for her 30 minute meals. Have some fresh fruit for dessert.

5. Go to the grocery store daily.

People believe that a trip to the grocery store must entail buying large quantities of groceries at one time, but I have learned that a five item trip takes just a few minutes. It takes less time to pick up those few items than it used to take me to pick up a meal from some fast food place. Convenience stores and fast food chains used to be fast and convenient, but they aren't that way now. Grocery stores have learned to be more convenient with deli aisles and express lanes. If you go during the day, it is like a ghost town in the grocery store. I go to the grocery store in the same fashion that other people go to the convenience store or fast food joint, but it takes me less time to get what I need.

Those are my hacks. I live in one of the most inhospitable environments to veganism that exists where even the vegetables come slathered with meat chunks and lard. I also don't do social eating because most of the people here are so stupid that they think being vegan means you only eat grilled chicken and salmon. There is a social cost to being vegan, but this is the price you have to pay for being smarter than the herd. It can be lonely on the cliff as you watch everyone jump off the edge without you. I can live with that.