Last substantive edit: December 26, 2019
You might also be interested in my daily routine and efficiency tips pages. You might also benefit from looking at my diet, exercise, and health notes where I put in notes about changes in diet and exercise as well as health events.
I have been vegetarian since childhood. In mid-late 2019, I shifted more in the direction of veganism, by stopping all regular consumption of dairy products. Since then, my dairy consumption is limited to small amounts of dairy found in outside meals as well as some packaged foods. I do not consume honey or eggs, though I have had both of those when young. My vegetarianism is primarily a result of habit and health considerations, though I have recently started taking supplements to address some nutrient deficiencies created by vegetarianism. Animal welfare and suffering considerations are not a primary reason for my vegetarianism, but do create an additional disincentive to exploring meat consumption. See also my moral profile page.
About 75% of my meals are at home, and 25% are outside. Till early 2019, I used to regularly consume hot chocolates (almond milk) at Starbucks, but I stopped because of concerns about the impact on my oral health as well as the impact of the sugar intake on fluctuation in my energy levels during the day.
Home meals (75% of total)
My meals at home involve the following:
- Trader Joe’s olive oil wraps and/or Trader Joe’s vegetable biryani (these play the role of bread/rice, but they also have oil and some vegetables mixed in).
- My own prepared mixed vegetables: these include eggplant, bell peppers (capsicum) (green and one other type, which could vary between red, yellow, and orange), and tomatoes. Starting in 2019, I also started including carrots and spinach, though I don’t include them each time. They are prepared with olive oil, salt, turmeric powder (haldi) and cumin seeds (zeera). The flavor, color, and liquidity come primarily from the tomatoes and the turmeric (the tomatoes push the gravy to red, and the turmeric pushes in a more yellow direction). The concoction is pretty tasty but requires minimal cooking skills.
- Almond milk from Trader Joe’s (with calcium and vitamins A and D). This replaces yogurt, usually Dannon plain nonfat yogurt, that I used to have before moving more toward veganism.
- Sauerkraut from Trader Joe’s, with Persian pickled cucumbers. I’m trying this out as a way to get more probiotics after I stopped having yogurt.
On weekdays, I have either one home meal in the morning and one in the evening, or just one home meal in the evening. On Saturdays and Sundays, as well as any weekdays that I am at home, I usually break into three meals, with each meal being slightly smaller.
I take Vitamin B supplements (primarily for B12, one tablet a day) and Vitamin D supplements (one tablet of 2000 IU per day, 250% the daily value). I generally take them with my morning home meal. I am not too strict about taking it every day but may compensate by taking multiple Vitamin D supplements on some days.
The total weekly quantities, all purchased from Trader Joe’s, downtown Berkeley are:
- Olive oil wraps: 2 packs of 6 wraps each.
- Vegetable biryani: 8 packs.
- Almond milk
- 2 large eggplants (long ones).
- 4 green bell peppers and 2 or 3 of another color (red/yellow/orange).
- 10 big round tomatoes.
- About a third of a one liter olive oil bottle.
Salt, turmeric, and cumin are used so slowly that I buy them once every few months, so I am not including them above.
The combined cost of all these comes to about $42 a week, though it varies between $35 and $50 in any given week.
The home meal preparation time is as follows: I cook my meals for the week in two sittings on the weekend. I cook while watching some entertainment. Currently this takes the form of a Korean drama on Viki, so this is also relaxation time. Each sitting takes about 90 minutes for cutting the eggplants and bell peppers, 15 minutes for putting things on the stove and cutting the tomatoes (which I do after turning on the stove), and then another 15 to 30 minutes of waiting time, during which I can do other tasks. If you include the meal I have right after cooking, and cleaning time, total time works out to about 3.5 hours. However, all of it except the time spent at the stove and the time spent cleaning (a total of 45 minutes) also doubles as entertainment or other passive work time.
In total, therefore I spend about 7 hours on the weekend cooking, eating the cooked meal, and cleaning up, of which only about 90 minutes is time that cannot be used for other computer activities.
Outside meals and office snacks
My meals outside include:
- bisi bhele bhath at Udupi Palace in downtown Berkeley: Once a week, usually Saturdays. This costs about $13 (including the tip). Occasionally, I have their spinach masala dosa instead.
- Tofu with yellow curry from Bangkok Thai Cuisine. Strictly speaking, I order take-out and have it as a complement to my existing meals rather than as a separate meal. I’m experimenting with this as a way to get more potatoes, spices, and onions occasionally.
- Occasionally; vegan baja bowl at Kitava, a restaurant near the 16th Street Mission BART station. I usually eat there when eating out with office colleagues, as it’s close to their home.
- Occasionally; veggie burrito at Chipotle. Chipotle is the only decently priced and not-too-unhealthy food option near the office so I occasionally get that food when I need something near the office.
My total cost of outside meals is therefore somewhere between $25 and $50 a week, excluding the costs incurred by the company.
Diet changes in recent years
- I used to have much more hot chocolate. I cut down after identifying it as one potential culprit in stomach problems, and then again reduced it to zero after its effect on my oral health.
- I used to have chana masala from Trader Joe’s. I switched to vegetable biryani after noting that the chana masala was causing stomach problems.
- I used to eat at Mehak Indian Cuisine, but stopped going there due to price increases there and because I found the food at Udupi Palace better.
- I added turmeric and cumin recently (in November 2017) at the suggestion of my parents, and started the vitamin supplements at about the same time, as a result of vitamin deficiencies shown by blood tests.
- In 2019, I switched away from yogurt and dairy products in general, toward almond milk and sauerkraut.
- I used to order takeout from Chaat Cafe regularly, but they shut down in August 2019, and since then, I’ve substituted that with the yellow curry from Bangkok Thai Cuisine as well as eating more at Udupi Palace.
- Till 2018, I used to eat two meals paid for by the office, but after the office switched to Eat Club, I eat office-paid meals less than once a month.