Running With Condiments

As mentioned yesterday, I finally felt something close to missing running. I don’t miss training. I don’t miss competing. I don’t miss spending crap-tons of money on the sport. But I did/do miss the physical sensation of running. So I went. The Chef went with me.

We ran simply for the fun of it. For the joy of it. Easy, slow, conversational pace. We took turns choosing turns along the route and choosing walk intervals. We were chased by three unleashed dogs over the course of the run — a Weimaraner, a Chihuahua, and a Boston Terrier. I was respectful of the knee and kept to straight lines and wide turns, walked the steep hills. Other than the typical Been Too Long aches and stiffness, the knee reacted cheerfully with no distress the next day.

On the run I found a pumpkin spice ponytail holder and a lime green poofy bath sponge. I took the ponytail holder home and sanitized it. I tossed the sponge into the nearest garbage can. I’m really not kidding when I say I never go for a run without finding weird random objects adrift in the world. Not that it’s unusual to find hair accessories; I find more of those than anything. I’ve got a collection of barrettes, clips, holders, scrunchies and headbands, all cleaned and reconditioned.

The Chef and I did not take a running selfie because we opted to run without electronics. No phones, no watches, no step-counters. Running freedom. I resurrected this older pic from one of the last few races I ran before the terminal knee injury, mostly because the sentiment is still so timely. Let’s make that especially timely. Happy running is the only running that interests me anymore.  It made me happy to run and that’s the only reason I did it. It’s the only reason I will continue to do it.

A couple of updates on the vegan experiment turned vegan lifestyle change — the questions of concern from friends and family are starting to roll in. I passed the sixty day mark this week, so I’m still considered a new vegan. New vegans are advised to expect confrontations from family and friends who express concern that this is all some kind of misguided passive form of self-abuse and neglect paramount to a slow suicide. I thought I’d escaped it. Nope. It just took a while to get to me.

protein

We invited family to feast with us over Labor Day weekend. The Chef loves to cook up a massive amount of food on holiday weekends. Everyone who wanted meat was served plenty of meat prepared by The Chef. I ate plants. I was asked to explain how I get protein and expected to listen to a lecture about how eating vegan is bad for the environment. When our guests noticed I’d prepared some of the side dishes they demanded a rundown of all ingredients I used before they were willing to consume the “vegan food.” Vegan food — you know, like vegan corn, vegan zucchini, vegan potatoes.

We owed some neighbors a dinner so we invited them over the following week. Our guests were served huge steaks grilled by The Chef. I ate plants. I was asked to explain how I get protein and nutrients, how I get energy for exercise, and how long I have to keep this up. I was also asked if dining at the same table with people eating meat was gross for me, and was I not worried about my immune system?  No one else at either meal was asked to explain their food choices, submit to lectures, defend their nutrition, or discuss things they think are gross while people eat.

But it hasn’t been all ignorant questions and tiresome lectures. The Chef works a part-time gig that takes him into a wide variety of grocery stores several times a week. He brings home new and interesting food items to me the way husbands of yore used to bring home flowers. He also bought me a vegan cookbook. While he previously turned up his nose at tofu, he’s now completely on board with tofu. He brings it home of his own volition to try out new tricks with it. Last night he made calzones — whizzed up some tofu in the food processor with garlic and spinach and a bunch of seasonings. Never would have guessed it wasn’t ricotta cheese.

Grateful for the surge in spousal support I agreed to try vegan mayonnaise. You’ll remember I’ve had no interest in vegan versions of animal products. As luck would have it, eggs are not at all necessary to make mayonnaise. Who knew? Mayo is mostly oil. Take out the eggs and regular mayo is nearly identical to vegan mayo. So it’s not fake. It’s just regular mayo without the eggs.

I pulled the regular mayonnaise (still used by The Chef) out of the refrigerator and checked the ingredient list. As you probably know by now, ingredients are listed in order of greatest volume within the product so the first ingredient listed comprises the majority of the product, or there is more of that ingredient present than the substances which follow.

The containers were the same size. First ingredient in regular mayo was soybean oil. The vegan mayo I tried listed canola oil as the first ingredient. Soy is listed fifth in vegan mayo. Regular mayo actually contains more soy than vegan mayo, and THAT was hilarious! The taste of the vegan mayo was identical to regular mayo, and THAT was fantastic. I was overjoyed. I immediately made a sandwich of sourdough and fat slices of tomato with spinach and salt and pepper. Heavenly. Vegan mayonnaise is not a fake food and it is delicious. Honestly, I can’t figure out why eggs need to be used if the scent, texture, and taste is the same without them.

The only drawbacks to vegan mayo are that it is ridiculously expensive and it is not shelf stable (because there are no preservatives in it). The brand I tried is sold in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Be prepared for sticker shock. You’ll shell out seven dollars for the same size (big ass jar) container as regular mayo. So there’s that.

If you are interested, this is the vegan mayo I tried. The original plain mayo, in the big jar. I cannot vouch for any other brand or flavor yet. But this stuff is seriously yummy and the only reason it seems more white than regular mayo is the absence of paprika. Regular mayo contains a small amount of paprika to make it off-white.

So I stand corrected. I am interested in some vegan versions of animal-based products; at least one of them. Baby steps. Practice on.

I’m celebrating tonight — back on the road and back on sandwiches. Thrilled about both.

— Mercy

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