The Foodie vs. The Healthy Vegan/Vegetarian

battle

My transition over the past 9 months from dyed in the wool carnivore/omnivore to health conscious, mostly vegan vegetarian has been, for the most part, remarkably easy.  I am still amazed at how quickly I was able to wean myself off of the likes of steak, bacon, ice cream, snickers, cake, nachos, patty melts, cake, chocolate chip cookies, pizza, philly cheese steaks, tacos, and cheese, to name a dozen or so…

However…

the foodie in me still craves high quality, hand crafted, righteously prepared food, that all too often does not meet my vegan parameters.  Take pasta, for example.  About 5 minutes drive from my home is a tiny italian restaurant in a nondescript strip mall.  I drove by it dozens of times before a chance viewing of a review on Yelp.  It turns out that this little restaurant named “Pasta and…” (yes, that is the name) has developed a HUGE and loyal following over the last 10 years.  Those in the know routinely travel 40 – 50 miles to dine on arguably some of the finest pastas and sauces imaginable…each dish made to order, and everything made from scratch on site.

For the first 4 or 5 months of my new, vegan lifestyle, I eschewed any and all restaurants that would not meet my strict vegan requirements, and pasta made traditionally was a no-no.  Lately, though, my inner foodie has convinced me that, in moderation, it is OK to occasionally indulge in excellent quality food that is vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan.  I have come to the conclusion that it is OK to indulge on occasion.  I do not want my chosen lifestyle to ever take on the trappings of a prison cell.  This journey can be healthy and bordering on decadent…

A couple nights ago, my wife and I visited our little Pasta and… restaurant.  On the menu?  three very different pastas to share:

1.  ravioli with spinach and ricotta with a cream based “della cotta” sauce (butter, sage, cream, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms & parmesan)

2.  bucatini with a tomato-based “carciofe a olive nere” sauce (tomato sauce, artichokes, black olives, basil & parmesan)

3.  fettucini with a simple “aglio, olio e pepperoncino” sauce (garlic, olive oil & red chili peppers)

This was accompanied by  fresh salads with field greens, lush ripe tomatoes and a nice vinaigrette, as well as warm, home made garlic infused italian bread with olive oil and balsamic.

Vegetarian?  Check.  Vegan?  Uh, no, but still very healthy for the most part, and still definitely satisfies the foodie in me.  Will I indulge like this every day or every week?  No, but occasional gastronomic delights such as this make the discipline I devote to my nutrition 99% of the time absolutely worth it….

As Luigi Marenco, the Chef/Owner of Pasta and… says to all of his diners,  “Buon Appetitio!!!”

-Vegaint

Image

photo courtesy of Pasta and…

 

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