Much has been made about Oprah going vegan for 21 days.
But she, of course, does not have to worry about managing her vegan eating plan on a budget like I do. As a vegetarian, do I have to give up the items I have become accustomed to because they are more expensive as a result of rising gas prices? Or are the rising costs of commodities, including food, a blessing in disguise?
Although the faltering economy is causing many of us to "cut corners" and "pinch pennies," it has also given rise to a new creativity in many areas. Case in point: I awoke one morning, drank my water, relaxed a bit, began grading research projects and then ate some fruit. About two hours later, I got hungry! I went to the kitchen, found some cereal opened the refrigerator door, and exclaimed, "I do not have any milk!"
With the rising costs of gas and food, I personally have had to cut back on high-priced brands in favor of knock-offs (off-brands). Hemp milk is about $4.00 per 32 ounce container in Northern Virginia where I live. I've heard that those who are not vegan are paying even more for a gallon of milk!
Staring at the milk-less refrigerator, two scenarios flashed in my head. One came from the film Friday, when Ice Cube's character, Craig Jones, goes to the trash can to dump out his cereal.
Craig's Dad: Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! What are you doing?
Craig: I'm throwing this away. We ain't even got no milk.
Craig's Dad: You better put some water on that damn [cereal]!
Craig: Alright, I'll eat it.
The other was Erykah Badu's song "& On:"
Remember there in school one day
I learned I was inferior
Water in my cereal.
I laughed and shook my head: "Just my luck," I thought. I was at a crossroads. I needed to make a decision. I decided to be creative but got indignant at the same time. My ancestors made bread (which my mom affectionately calls "bastard bread" and others refer to as hoecakes; I know, interesting names, right?) without eggs or milk and it is delicious! At that point, I had a couple of options and took advantage of both.
I had a block of unused tofu. I also had a couple of frozen bananas that I had just placed in the freezer a couple of days before. Instead of running out to the store, I decided to make my own milk.
I took that unused block of tofu, added water (filtered, of course), dates to sweeten and blended. After I poured that into a glass container, I did the same with the bananas. It may sound a little different, but it was excellent. I added water and dates to the frozen bananas and blended everything together. Both yielded a creamy "milk." I enjoyed my off-brand cereal without having to spend money or leave my house.
After I utilized a portion of the "milk" for my cereal, I got fancy and added some cocoa mix, a couple more dates, blended everything and had a chocolate drink to enjoy later. Children will love this, and of course, you can always substitute carob (if you like the taste) in place of cocoa.
Forced to be a little more cost-conscious, may indeed be a blessing in disguise because it requires us to be more creative. Even while we are "cutting corners" and "pinching pennies," we can still enjoy nutritious, inexpensive meals from items we already have in our cabinets and pantries.
Welcome to my world, Oprah!
Sadiya Wims is an educator, founder of The Black Vegetarian Society of North Carolina and creator of Veglady™ T-shirts.