How I Am Surviving a Nearly-Vegan Diet
My life has been a bit crazy for a while. I had some health problems and went to a doctor who told me that my bad cholesterol and triglycerides were too high, and that if I didn’t lower them I might have to go on medication. This isn’t really a surprise, considering that there isn’t much cheap, healthy food available in Vienna, and I’ve been eating complete junk.
New Way of Eating
So, I went back to something simliar to my older memory diet that I wrote about here and here, except that now I am basically vegan, with the exception of fish. I’ll continue with this for three months in total, and then get another blood test to see if there is improvement.
The challenge is that it’s difficult to eat like this in Vienna. The good thing is that this diet is healthy, and I’m feeling the benefits. I thought I would share a little bit about how I manage to eat healthily with limited time. I’ve pretty much eliminated all food that is bad for my brain in this process as well. I usually eat like this whenever I’m focusing on eating well.
What I am eating now is based on these ideas:
- whole grains — no refined grains at all
- no meat (except fish)
- no dairy
- no heavily processed food, including canned food
- no sugar
- no coffee — only tea
- no added oils other than olive oil
- no soda or juice — only water and tea
- no alcohol
- no eggs — though I may end up having one or two per month
- no dietary supplements — I’m not into them, because they are available in food
Breakfast is always oatmeal. I take about 1/2 cup of rolled oats (but not instant oats) and put them in a pot. I add some water, and cook for about five minutes, until done.
Meanwhile, I chop up dried fruit, fresh fruit, and nuts. An ideal oatmeal dish will have:
- dried apricots
- a few chopped Brazil nuts
- a few chopped almonds
If other fruits and nuts are available, I sometimes add them. It often varies.
I put all the dried fruit in a bowl and pour the cooked oatmeal on top to cool down and let the dried fruit absorb some water. Then I add the fruit and nuts, and eat it. There are no ingredients other than oats, fruit, and nuts.
This is difficult in Vienna, since the only cheap, prepared food that I’ve seen is junk food. I usually go to the supermarket on my lunch break and buy some fruit just to fend off hunger enough to avoid breaking down and having a käsekrainer.
For dinner, I cook brown rice and vegetables. For making rice quickly, I bought a rice cooker for about 25 euros. I put some rice and water in it and it cooks in about 30 or 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cook the vegetables. The easiest way is to chop up vegetables in sets according to their cooking times.
- garlic (not too small, otherwise it goes in set #2)
- bitter melon
- firm, chopped tofu
- bell pepper
- eggplant (a.k.a., aubergine)
- green or red cabbage
- napa cabbage stems
- greens, like the ends of the napa cabbage leaves or scallions
- snap peas
- anything else that cooks quickly
Not all of the items above will go into one dish — the lists just illustrate general cooking times for different types of vegetables.
I put about two spoonfuls of olive oil in a pan and add set #1. I cook for a while and add set #2. After that, I add set #3. I don’t actually have three exact sets, and I usually don’t know what I’m going to cook until I’m halfway finished, but if I had to explain it in a way that could be replicated, I would say that all the vegetables are chopped to the right size and added in groups so that they are finished cooking at the same time. If I were in California, the list would be much longer, but there isn’t much variety of produce in Viennese supermarkets. I can’t find many dark green leafy vegetables here.
I don’t have a lot of seasonings at the apartment, so I usually add a little fermented anchovy sauce about the time that I add the last ingredients.
If I had better cooking utensils, I would make a larger variety of dishes, like baked root vegetables and bean soups.
A quick salad involves chopping cucumbers and tomatoes, then covering with a little olive oil and some salt. Sometimes vinegar or lemon juice is mixed with the oil. You can see it in a couple of the photos below.
I put some brown rice on the plate and the vegetables and salad next to it. The only seasoning is salt, and/or the fish sauce, or Sriracha hot sauce. I sometimes add kimchi or a little fish on the side.
I’m hoping that this way of eating improves my next blood test results. I think it is a healthy way to eat, and the discipline helps me focus in general.
I sometimes take photos of what I cook, and a few of the photos are below (via Instagram).