Friday, March 06, 2009

transitional experiments of the fu variety

Lately I've started trying to transition to vegetarianism, which is challenging, despite the fact that I've long disliked all meats except chicken (breast, preferably), good steak (hey, I worked in a butchershop in my youth, so I know what good is) and bacon.

Ah, bacon... I still remember the look on the faces of the counter staff at Harvey's when I used to order a veggie burger with bacon on it!

For personal ethical reasons, the first thing I've been trying to give up is fish. I won't go into details because I hate to preach, but I'll just say I've been concerned about the state of the oceans for a long time. However, I do live in Japan and I did, upon moving here, throw my SeaChoice list out the window. I told myself I could put my values on hold for a couple of years, no biggie.

Well, I couldn't keep 'em quiet, they just sorta haunted me all on their own. When I joined Celsias (a sort of enviro-geek social networking/climate change action site), I took the challenge to eat no fish for a week. And I did it, and it wasn't as hard as I thought. Okay, since then (over a month ago) I have eaten fish maybe 3 or 4 times, but that is a huge improvement because (did I mention I live in Japan?) I used to eat it 4-6 times a week!

So, the next step is cutting out chicken, eggs and dairy. Chicken won't be too tough but the eggs and dairy are sure to be the longer-term clincher. Those are my breakfast staples, and I heart the hell outta breakfast. There're eggs in everything from omelets (duh) to muffins to pancakes! And that's not to mention my other breakfast staple, fruit with granola and yogurt or cottage cheese. Ouchy...

But dinner at least, when Aran ain't around (he's not yet, uhhh shall we say, on board), is relatively easy here in Japan cuz I've got the best tofu in the world and it comes in numerous varieties: fresh and creamy "silk" tofu, sesame tofu, seared tofu, deep-fried tofu pockets, etc.!

And that's not to mention the various other mild-flavoured vegetable protein foods that I'm learning more about these days.

One that I'm still learning to like (and rarely buy) is konnyaku. The texture is just so rubbery, I've never found a way to cook it, aside from a few pieces in an oden (soup/stew type dish), that makes it appealing. I've yet to try the noodle form, which I should test out. In a spicy tom yum or something, I'm sure it would be okay.

Something that I have become quite attached to and tend to throw it into lots of things (vegetable stews/curries, miso soups, etc.) is fu. Fu is made from wheat gluten and comes in various shapes that all look like slices of dried bread of some sort, be they crouton-size or bigger. It keeps for a long time in the cupboard so it's very handy.

Lastly is what I had for dinner tonight, okara, the by-product of making tofu. Of course I don't make my own tofu (I plan to when we return to Canada though) but here you can buy okara at the store in various forms. This weekend I think I'll try the creamy fresh type. Not too sure about the processed block type I bought tonight, though. It was too konnyaku-like chewy. But hey, cut in tiny cubes, with veggies and the garlic, ginger sesame sauce I concocted, it went down just fine!

I think I'm off to a good start.


Milk and eggs? Hang on, are you becoming vegetarian or vegan? :)
hey C,
It certainly sounds like you are off to a good start! Good for you! Becoming a vegetarian probably isn't easy, and especially when your "other half" isn't 100% keen on the idea! You've been leaning towards it for a long time so I'm sure you can do it.

Jacelyn: the loveliest V that ever was! Yes, I eventually wanna get from here to etarian to an! And maybe raw at that. Which are you these days? If you like raw, ever checked out Awesome stuff!

Morganne: you should come with!
I think I could definitely go "ian: or even "an", raw is a whole other thing that I'm not yet ready for! Why would you go raw rather than the others?

Is the G-dog going to become a vegie dog?

I'm still just a plain ol' lacto-ovo vegetarian. I don't like eggs, but I *love* dairy! Milk, cheese, yogurt - love it all! I'm not particularly proud of this, but for now it's where I'm at.

I tried to go vegan a few years ago, replacing a lot of dairy and egg products with soy, only to find out that I have some kind of soy intolerance. The occassional tofu product is fine - but once I added in things like soy milk my digestive systems absolutely revolted! *sigh* Maybe someday...

But I will definitely cheer you on and look forward to hearing about all your culinary adventures, sharing recipes, etc. :)
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