a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Aug, 2009

VB6* with a drizzle of olive oil

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food|Yaktivism

* Vegan Before Six

A few months ago I read a book called Food Matters in which author Mark Bittman wrote about his decision to become a part-time vegan, that is, turning two out of three daily meals (i.e. breakfast and lunch) into vegan meals. It made sense to me. I wanted to reduce the amount of meat/dairy/eggs I ate too, not just for health reasons, but for environmental ones as well. I first wrote about it here.

I’m proud to say I’ve been pretty good keeping it up ever since. There have been times when I wasn’t able to do it (like while we were camping) or when I’m in someone’s company outside the home and can’t easily find a vegan option to eat – in which case I do my best to choose vegetarian because I don’t want to be a hassle to other people. This is my own thing and I don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable.

I’m well aware of the eyeball rolling that may be happening out there right now – not long ago I would have been rolling my own – but I’m excited about how easy it’s been so far and how good it makes me feel. Not to mention that I’m back to being my best 139 lbs. Love it! And I’m going to be sticking with it.

The VB6 movement (also called flexitarianism) is gathering more steam. There was an article in the Globe & Mail about it awhile ago which described it fairly well.

A few things have made this a lot easier for me:

  • Finding a great fibre-based cereal to eat every day, with a splash of a great soy milk to go with it. Throw in a banana and breakfast is done.
  • Savouring that morning cup of coffee (I make mine with milk – can’t do it any other way) but switching to tea with honey and lemon for any other caffeine cravings
  • Making a point of buying my favourite fruits and vegetables and cooking up some great lunches
  • Reconsidering the place that meat has in our lives and shifting it into its rightful position as side-dish
  • Buying some really great olive oil to replace the butter in my life

We upgraded our olive oil a couple of months ago. I found myself at the Ottawa Bagel shop, eyeballing the slender and beautiful bottles of olive oils. There’s a small aisle devoted to olive oils which hail from all over. And THEN I looked at the prices. HOLY WHISTLING PETER. Some of them were expensive.

The one I decided upon was almost entirely due to the design of the bottle.

You will cringe at the price. It cost $23.95.

I know it seems crazy to pay this much for olive oil, but in the food world I have learned that “better” often means paying more. Cheap coffee is crappy coffee. Cheap chocolate is crappy chocolate etc. I shell out for the good stuff, so the same should be true for olive oil, right?

I was right. The difference is amazing. The expensive olive oil is extremely light and fruity. I use a drizzle of the expensive stuff in lieu of butter on my toasted tomato and lettuce sandwiches. I mix it with balsamic vinegar for a quick salad dressing and dip my bread in it too. The other stuff – nine dollars a bottle at the grocery store – I use for cooking and roasting.

(Speaking of which, check out this Bitchin’ Kitchen video about olive oil. A gal from the Bitchin’ Kitchen was part of the crew of food bloggers I met in Toronto awhile back, and I have been totally hooked on the Bitchin’ Kitchen schtick ever since.)

Anyway, there it is. I am happy with my new habits. Is there anyone out there who’s doing this? Or thinking about it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

9 Responses to "VB6* with a drizzle of olive oil"

1 | Scattered Mom

August 2nd, 2009 at 11:25 am


We do eat chicken and fish, but lots of our meals are veggie ones. When we have chicken or fish the portions are small and we have a ton of veggies to go with them. When we were in the States, we were astounded at the amount of meat on menus and how everything was coated in sauces. Jake and I joke that we enjoy our food ‘naked’-plain steamed veggies, salad with almost no dressing, no butter/mayo in our sandwiches. It’s just what we like.

When we discovered that Jake is lactose intolerant I had to cut out cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, and instead find another way to cook things. At first it was hard, but now we don’t really miss it.

I don’t think I could give up milk, though. Soy milk just makes me gag and I’m allergic to almonds so almond milk is out. :P

You are absolutely correct on the good quality food tasting so much better-there are some things that I simply won’t sacrifice quality on at all, even though they are more expensive.

2 | The Veg Next Door

August 2nd, 2009 at 12:46 pm


I’m so happy to read this post. Only a few years ago I used to roll my eyes at “those vegetarians” and look at me now!

Because of your decision you’re discovering wonderful new foods and appreciating what you eat. What a great way to eat!

3 | BeachMama

August 2nd, 2009 at 4:15 pm


We recently cut back our carbs in our house and we all feel much better. Not sure I could get the family on less meat as meat is what fuels Hubby and well, me too. But it sure is something worth looking at. I just saw you recently and you look great! Maybe going vegan for a bit of the day would be the key around here.

4 | Chantal

August 2nd, 2009 at 4:55 pm


I will have to try some good quality Olive Oil. I added some balsamic to my run of the mill stuff recently and it didn’t impress me any.

5 | Jennifer

August 2nd, 2009 at 6:06 pm


I’ve managed to do it for half the day most days. Mostly because it’s pretty easy to simply eat lots of fruit in the morning. But I can’ t do all lunches because I run out of ideas and resort to sandwiches. I know you have about a million other things to do but a good idea for a future post on this topic would be to list all the vegan dishes you eat. Pleeezzeeee!!! ;-) bean salads get boring real quick.

6 | Brie

August 2nd, 2009 at 7:09 pm


I have been vegetarian since I was 14 and sometimes think about going vegan but my husband would never give up cheese. But we do cook a lot of vegan food.

If you are looking for great vegan recipes you can check out the Vegetarian Times website. Also, my favorite food blog is an Ontario blog called Vegan Dad @ http://vegandad.blogspot.com/ . All of his recipes are created with kids in mind.

8 | Gwen

August 2nd, 2009 at 10:06 pm


We have been eating this way for about a year now mostly for the same reasons you are doing it Andrea. The only difference is that there is no real schedule. Some days it will be for all meals, some days one. Sometimes we will go for days. We have been doing it so long it has become habit and just natural. I had no idea there was a term for it. I guess we are officially “flexitarians”!

9 | Carla

August 8th, 2009 at 11:55 pm


Some great vegan resources are the books Vegan with A Vengeance, Vegan Brunch, Get it Ripe, and the blogs Domestic Affair, Vegan Yum Yum and Have Cake will Travel. Also for kids, Vegan Lunchbox has great ideas though some involve far more effort and time than I have at the moment, sadly. I think vegan baked goods are also a great thing to get into because they are so easy and you can still have your (vegan) cake and eat it too!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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