My name’s Jackie and sometimes I eat too much cheese. I do feel like it’s a confession. I embrace veganism, but not all the time. I’ve discussed the vaguaries of defining vegetarianism before. There’s more than one elephant in the room, that’s fairly indisputable. But that’s not what’s up for discussion at this point in writing though. It’s time to talk about vegan food.
I challenge you to talk to any vegetarian and they will confess their dairy addiction. It’s a tough one. But they’ll also tell you they probably eat a vegan diet more than half of the week. It tends to happen naturally, as most vegetarians don’t want to eat cheese every single day. But I do want to eat it sometimes. I can live without milk quite happily. But cheese is my chocolate. And while i don't mind a smidge of vegan cheese here and there, it's not the same. I'd rather only have cheese once a week and eat the real thing. But on other days, it's a regular cooking quest of mine to cook delicious vegetarian food without cheese. Many of my recipes are vegan as a direct result of this, and probably the reason why I fell in love with Asian food.
Although at this point, I need to talk about eggs. SE Asian food is often reliant on eggs. In contrast, when eggs appear on the menu in India, they’re usually at the end of the meat menu (the vegetarian menu will have paneer but not eggs, as these are often viewed as a sub category of meat by many Hindus and Buddhists). But again, I do love an egg. It comes in its own packaging, is packed with nutrients and can be cooked in the ground on the side of a volcano (photo: Ganung Batur, Bali). Joking aside, there are times when I travel in SE Asia when I’m overwhelmed with eggs in veggie food. During a recent trip to Thailand and Malaysia, I decided to call a halt to my egg consumption. It had reached ridiculous proportions, when I totted up a total of ten eggs in four days. Since coming home, I’ve limited myself to a once or twice a week treat.
So let’s get to the crux of the topic in hand. A 5:2 vegan. I think this is the best way to describe what I like to eat and what I like to cook. I don’t want to give up my (mostly organic) cheese. Or my very occasional eggs (Florentine please). But I do want to eat healthily and a vegetarian diet that relies too much on dairy just isn't. There’s a diversity and wealth of produce that surrounds us, and I truly believe you don’t have to be vegan to enjoy vegan food. It should always just be about a really great tasting plate of food.
There are so many variants of dietary preferences these days. Vegan, vegetarian, flexatarian, meat reducers, pescatarian and if Instagram is anything to go by, a lot of diets involving starving yourself for two days a week. I’m not someone who can limit my calories in such a way, but I like the idea of sectioning my vegetarian and vegan food consumption using this 5:2 division. It seems like a good balance and will help me and my family focus on having a healthier vegetarian diet overall. Personally I think this 5:2 veganism could apply to lots of people. What a great way to improve your diet (obviously that means not ingesting huge quantities of sugar instead). But a way to balance eating meat or fish, both for health and for sustainability (yes I hate that word too - sustainable palm oil anyone?). So I’m committing to a vegan diet for five days each week from here on in. On the other two days, I will probably be eating cheese!
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