about bliss

Monday, January 18, 2010

daily bliss: discipline and epicurianism

chicago half marathon, october 2006

One of my nascent resolutions or goals for 2010 was to eat vegan one day a week. Already vegetarian, I figured this would be an interesting experiment in dietary discipline. I read delicious vegan recipes on friends' blogs. I started psyching myself up for giving up my twice-daily cafe au lait. I purchased my first vegan cookbook, Veganomicon.

I read the cookbook. I admired some simple, delicious recipes. I considered vegan accoutrements.

And then.

I looked at Earth Balance spread at the grocery store. I considered common vegan protein sources (seitan, tvp, tempeh).

I balked.

My desire to eat whole foods, unprocessed foods, natural pure close to nature foods trumped my vegan aspirations.

Plenty of delicious vegan meals do not require such processed goods–vegetable soups, bean and grain dishes, salads, etc. And I will continue to eat these meals, both mindfully and spontaneously, much as I do now.

As my resolution wavered, I thought about my motivation for the Vegan project. I did not have a clear reason other than as a form of discipline. When I became vegetarian twelve years ago, I had a clearer reason—a growing dislike of cooking meat. But veganism as discipline? This reminded me of my relatively recent foray into...running.

Running was a way to deal with heartbreak. Running challenged me to push myself farther. With each mile, I became stronger and more confident. With each mile, my body became leaner. When I started adding miles to my long runs, I realized that my body was sensitive. Spicy tofu stir-fry the night before a run longer than five miles meant indigestion. My days revolved around my runs—when they would be and what and when I would eat. I became picky. A simple dinner invitation suddenly meant shifts in schedules. And, I pared down the treats I ate.

And pounds disappeared.

My heart began to heal.

I kept running. I went shopping for new clothes. I ate pure, wholesome.

I was disciplined.

I disliked my job. I reveled in my personal development time and the downtick of the scale.

Discipline. Power.


And then, I landed the job I had been looking for some five years.

I tried to keep up with my disciplined running and eating.

But life really started happening.

These sconnies, with their exquisite cheeses, their clean refreshing beers.

My job, with its demands on my time.

My desire to excel.

I worked. I cooked. I baked. I socialized. I exercised.

I gained weight.

I joined a baking blogger group and baked more.

I reveled in an array of delicious, local, real pure honest foods.

My heart healed. And reached out again, this time whole. This time knowing the risks. Guarded at first, but receptive. Then open. And my whole world shifted.

I enjoyed a happiness so deep I forgot to eat whole meals.

I became more adventuresome in the kitchen.

I struggled into my old skinny jeans until I couldn't any more.

I concocted a vegan plan as a way to include more discipline into my life.

And abandoned said plan.


Instead, I'm taking each day as it comes.

I try to eat whole foods when I'm hungry to nourish my body.

I incorporate pleasant activities into each day to regain physical strength and toning.

I make time for relationships, old, and particularly new, to nourish my soul.

I write and photo daily to nourish my mind.

I cook everyday, and try to share as many meals as possible, to nourish all of me.

To be an epicure.

To live a simple life, full of pleasures.

kavarna coffeehouse, january 2010


  1. great post. i love it.

  2. What an awesome, interesting, thought provoking, post! I would love to hear more about your thoughts regarding some of the products you mentioned...especially something like tempeh. I was surprised to see that included in your list of overly-processed foods, since it's just soybeans fermented using a fungus. It's, in a way, less processed than regular tofu.

    Anyway, sorry, got a little food-science geeky there. I just think it's a really interesting question--the line between too processed/natural is so different for each individual (which is not a bad thing). Since I, too, am trying to figure out where that line is drawn for me, I am curious as to what your limits are.

  3. This post really says something! I think it's powerful. I totally understand what you're saying and it's so intelligent of you to figure it out for yourself so quickly! I'm loving the pics!

  4. I loved this post - I have to tell you, when I realized I had to cut out dairy completely from my diet for various health reasons, I was very sad (I love cheese) and then I completely balked at things like Earth Balance myself. In fact, in 7 months of eating dairy-free, I have used it exactly once (to see if it is really did improve a cashew-based sauce I was making - the answer: only marginally). I also do not eat a lot of soy products and avoid wheat, so most fake meats are out (my main protein source is fish these days). Veganomicon has many whole-foods recipes, so I am sure you will find some lovely meals there but, like you said, it's more about nourishing yourself than a discipline plan.