Friday, November 09, 2007


This VeganMoFo is brought to you by the letter A.

A - Allergies
A- Annoying
A- Awful
A - Advantages

I am a vegan with allergies. There are many of us. There are many vegetarians and omnis who say they can't go vegan because of their allergies. I love referring them to gluten free vegan blogs and vegan soy free recipes, because it's possible. There are so many foods out there that being allergic to even 100 common foods, leaves millions of other options available. On top of that, it fosters creative cooking - something I value more than anything in cooking.

As a kid I was often sick. I had what my mom called "Texas Crud" the green and yellow snot collecting in that troth below your nose and above your lip. My chest infections were constant. I received weekly allergy shots and dealt with asthma attacks. We moved to Salt Lake City when I was 8 and a new set of problems came into my life - hives, chest pains, and swollen joints.

I battled these annoyances for years. I was seeing 14 different doctors by the time I was 14 trying to figure out the source of all my pain. One of my mom's hippie friends suggested I do a spit test. Basically, I was to spit into a cottonball and send it to this lady in Denver who was going to tell me what was wrong with me. Sure, why not? It was cheaper than all the other doctors and medicine - only $20.

When that spit test came back she said I was allergic to yeast, brewers yeast, mushrooms, diary, and a few others. Hmm. This was a life change - I had to stop eating those 4 pieces of toast I had for breakfast every morning. I had to stop eating pizza - every teens' favorite food. This was about half my diet! After I cut the yeasts and fungi out of my life my symptoms dropped by 80%.

I had a difficult time cutting out the diary. Since I had cut out drinking glasses of milk long before, that was no problem, but the hidden ingredients were hard to let go of. I ignored the milk allergy, but I still had a few issues.

By the time I was 17 I embraced my feministic and environmental ways and became vegan. My sister taught me how to cook by saying, "combine things that taste good together." That's what I did and what I still try to do.
When I was finishing up collage I had all sorts of stomach pains from my workaholic, architecture student lifestyle. These lasted years and I just thought they were from stress. I had a food blood allergy test done and found I was allergic to many of the same things I was when I was tested younger: yeasts, mushrooms, diary. Added to that list were: avocados, bananas, peas, cranberries, walnuts, kidney beans, turnips, beets, alcohol...

If there was one thing architecture school taught me was that with restraint comes creativity. If you've got a plot of land that's steeply sloping and there's a giant boulder that can't be moved where you wanted the living room to be, what are you going to do? Use that huge boulder as an anchor of the house, figuratively and literally.

My food allergies have led me to create meals I wouldn't normally have.
When I could no longer eat my four pieces of toast a morning I switched to waffles. Tortillas became my typical sandwhich. I've come to eat them in many different ways, mainly folded in quarters but sometimes rolled and sliced. Bananas - there's always other baking binders and foods to grab while you're running out the door.
It took awhile to figure out in the beginning, but here I am now - proving that having food allergies doesn't have to prevent someone from becoming vegan.

1 comment:

bazu said...

I admire you for masterfully juggling allergies and veganism.