Why is there meat in everything?

campbells soupI knew that making the switch to a plant-based vegan diet would be hard; there are limited options when you want to eat out, and it seems like restaurants like to put meat in everything!  That being said, the last place I thought I would have a hard time eating is the Hospital!  To make a long story short, I found myself in the emergency room of the local hospital last week…  thankfully it turned out to be nothing too serious.  After laying on a stretcher, that can best be described as utilitarian, another nurse came by to take even more blood.  At this point I mentioned that I had been there for going on eight hours, and it would probably be a good idea if I had something to eat… being diabetic and all.  She agreed that would be a good idea, and that someone on the previous shift should have done something about that already.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love nurses… they are the backbone of any hospital.  They are the ones who have to do all the dirty work, and are fully under appreciated, and overworked.  I try not to cause too much trouble with them, because I know that they are likely working with another patient that is far worse off than I am, and the last thing they need is to get me something to eat.

The amazingly talented nurse said she would find something for me… evidently people don’t get fed in the ER.  I stopped her before she left, and with trepidation said “I know this is probably going to make it harder for you, but I’m vegan.”  A look of panic and concern came over her face, as if to say: I get where you’re coming from, but this place definitely doesn’t.   Her tireless search turned up a cheese sandwich on buttered bread (nope!) and an apple.  She was very apologetic, but it wasn’t her fault… she doesn’t make these choices.  Thankfully she knew that my wife would be coming shortly to check in on me (I had previously told my wife not to come until after work); she told me to give my wife a call so she could sneak in some food.  Success!  I reached my wife as she was heading out the door; I asked her to stop in at Subway (conveniently located in the Hospital lobby) and get me a veggie sub.

You would think that a hospital of all places would be able to accommodate dietary needs, but maybe it was the fact that I was there “after hours” or just in the ER.  Either way, it was a learning experience for me.  Because I like to consider myself solution-focused, I present my top five favourites for when I have to eat out on short notice!

5) Subway or Mr. Sub – Veggie sub on whole grain bread.  Make sure to tell them no cheese and may… they love putting it on everything!

 

4) Sushi – There are lots of great veggie options including: cucumber, avocado, yam, asparagus, and more.  Just tell them no mayo or roe.

3) Chinese Takeout – This varies by restaurant, but garlic broccoli and steamed rice is my favourite and is usually readily available.  Stay ways from fried rice as it often has chicken or chicken stock in it.

2) Falafel – There are tonnes of shawarma places around me, and every good shawarma place also has falafels.  I try not to go with this option too much, as they are deep-fried, but all the toppings are vegan and delicious – cabbage, hummus, pickled turnip, tabbouleh, and toum (garlic sauce).

1) Harvey’s – Veggie Burger on a whole grain bun.  They just recently revamped their offerings of veggie and sauce topping with more options; now I can change up the toppings for more variety.

 

People who find out that I am following a vegan lifestyle will often ask me what I miss most about giving up animal products, and what my biggest challenges are. Arguably my biggest challenge is keeping it secret from my mother-in-law who thinks vegans are part of a cult, but in reality what I miss most is the convenience of being able to eat out… which is what I also miss the most!

I am not a planner, nor am I a morning person.. this has made things especially difficult.  I used to roll out of bed, hop in the shower, get dressed, and hit the road.  This pretty much meant a stop at one of the many Tim Hortons “drive-thru’s” for a breakfast sandwich, and a run to the coffee truck at lunch most days.  Since my change to a plant-based diet, breakfast has become challenging.  It’s hard to get a take-out breakfast that doesn’t involve eggs, bacon, or cheese, so I eat oatmeal.  I’ll admit, oatmeal can be pretty boring and tasteless on its own, but I like to look at oatmeal as a blank canvas.  There isn’t much (within the confines of my own diet) that I haven’t tried adding to it.  Some have been great, other have been a complete disaster.

peanut butter and banana overnight oats
Photo credit: http://domesticate-me.com/

My morning oatmeal was working well for me until the summer heatwave hit… the last thing I wanted was a steaming bowl of anything when it was 30 C outside… so I decided to, as a friend of mine says: “shake the internet, and see what falls out.”   What I ended up with was a staple for the summer, cold Peanut Butter and Banana Overnight Oats.  It may sound strange, and require some forethought; it does need to be prepared the night before, but I promise, it’s actually is good!

If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.  Recipe credit goes to http://domesticate-me.com/ with some minor tweaks by yours truly.

1 large ripe banana, cut into slices
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Throw everything into your favourite container with a lid.  Stir it until the peanut butter is evenly mixed in.  Put the lid on and pop it in the fridge until morning.

If you’re reading Tim Hortons executives… there is room for this on the menu!

About Me

I’m 33 years old; a husband, father, and a born-again vegan… and this is my story.

Just after Christmas of 2014, I was sitting in my living room at night looking for something to watch on TV.  Everyone had gone to bed, and having ditched cable a few months earlier, I was left with Netflix.  I don’t exactly remember how or why, but I cam across the documentary Forks Over Knives.  Having no other interesting options, I thought I would give it a go.  This is the first time that I have truly be moved my something. Usually I am quite skeptic of these kind of documentaries, but this one really drew me in.  It was like the film was taking about my family members when it discussed heart disease and diabetes. From that point on I decided it was time to ditch meat and processed foods!