I have been vegetarian since childhood, but I am not vegan; I eat dairy products (primarily yogurt and chocolate milk). 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. In addition, I have hot chocolates at Starbucks sometimes, and other snacks in the office.
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. 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.
- Yogurt, usually Dannon plain nonfat 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, I have one home meal in the morning. On Sundays, I might break into three meals instead of two, and keep the meals a bit smaller.
I take Vitamin B supplements (primarily for B12, one tablet a day) and Vitamin D supplements (one tablet of 1000 IU per day). I generally take them with my morning home meal.
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.
- Yogurt: 2 225g containers.
- 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 and salt lassi at Udupi Palace in downtown Berkeley: Once every Saturday. This costs a little under $15 (including the tip).
- Vegetarian thali at Chaat Cafe in downtown Berkeley (to go): A weekday evening. Not every week. This costs $10.
- Two team lunches at the office, on Tuesday and Thursday. Sometimes I opt out of team lunch if the selected restaurant is not suitable for me. This costs me nothing but costs the company something in the range of $15 to $20, depending on the restaurant. Typical restaurants include Farmhouse Kitchen (Thai food), where I get the pad spicy eggplant (mild with tofu, comes with rice) and Pakwan Restaurant (Indian) where I get bengan bharta (eggplant) and raita, along with naan and rice.
I have tall hot chocolate at the Starbucks near my office. two or three times a week (each one costs $2.95). I also have milk chocolate drinks (fortified with Vitamin A and D) and nuts in the office during working days, to bridge the long gap between meals; these are financed by the company.
My total cost of outside meals is therefore somewhere between $20 and $35 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.
- 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.