What do I eat in a day? (part 2) deployed
Deploying on a boat as a vegan creates a whole host of challenges. Fortunately, the deployments are only about two months. Unfortunately, the boats are so small that there is no possible way for the cooks to accommodate a vegan. There is no storage space for the food, not enough space in the refrigerator or freezer for fruits and vegetables, and not much of a concern for the one person out of about 150 people who won’t eat meat. Even the meat eaters struggle for healthy options as almost everything comes out of a can or is fried. My first deployment I was pretty naive, thought everyone would cater to my needs, and assumed I would be served a special meal. I was wrong. I came back 15 lbs lighter after eating nothing but apples, peanut butter, Clif bars, and whatever scraps they had on the salad bar until they ran out after a few weeks. Since my first deployment, I have adapted and better prepared myself for every subsequent deployment. Underway I stick to the same flexible dieting guidelines that I follow at home. To track my food, I found an awesome app for my Mac called Diet Controller that is similar to cronometer.com without the need for the internet. The internet is usually so slow out there that tracking food online would take the better part of the day.
Before I deploy, I plan a day’s worth of food on cronometer.com and plug it into my excel spreadsheet that calculates exactly how much food I will need to bring with me based on the deployment duration. Once I have this information, I call Whole Foods Market and place an order that they will have ready for me in just a few days. I will begin stocking up on whatever supplements I need and Vega Sport Performance Protein about a month prior.
Being underway is very monotonous, every single day is the same and the only things that make it any different I can’t talk about.
I usually wake up at around 0930 and immediately have some black coffee. After that, I will have a scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein with maca and ground chia seeds mixed with water. I will also have an apple (if they have any left) and some protmeal (see part 1 for protmeal definition). I check my email and see if my wife wrote me and then I head up to the gym.
After I workout, I will have another apple, and either protmeal a Clif bar, or a muffin that my wife made for me before I left. The muffins are delicious, she made them with almond butter, protein powder, puffed rice, and rolled oats. My wife stayed up the night before I deployed so she could make them, then she dehydrated and individually packaged them so I could take them with me.
Once I have my post-workout snack, I will shower and get ready just in time for lunch. For lunch, I will eat a salad with some oil-free avocado dressing from Whole Foods Market or the Braggs organic braggberry dressing. If there is no salad left, I will skip that meal and try and make up for the calories later in the day.
After lunch, I will read, do whatever work I need to do, write for the blog, or watch movies. A couple of hours later I will make my bigger meal for the day. I bring my rice cooker on every deployment and convince the cooks to give me a spot in the galley to make my food. Every night I make a little more than a cup of rice, and I mix it with a box of the Pacific Foods organic seitan. I love this seitan because I doesn’t need to be refrigerated, and it can stay in a box forever without going bad. I brought three salt-free spice blends curry, Mexican, and chili that I rotate to try and trick myself into thinking I’m eating something different. I also bring a few bags of quinoa, and lentils and will make that about once a week to really spice things up. I always throw all the ingredients in the rice cooker and let it rip! It comes out great every time. I dare say there is nothing I can’t cook in a rice cooker. Once that finishes cooking, I will eat about half of it right away and save the rest for a little bit later. When the boat serves dinner, I again attempt to eat whatever bit of salad they have.
Before bed, I will have another scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein mixed with water.
This diet is very low in fat so my wife also packed me individual bags of walnuts and cashews that she weighed, and I will eat one of those per day. It’s usually right around 30 grams and if I need more I will have some almond butter.
This routine works pretty well for me, but it is far from ideal. I have about three scoops of Vega Sport Performance Protein a day which is the majority of my protein. I would much rather get more protein from my food, but it is difficult underway. I also don’t get to eat as many vegetables as I would like as the salad bar usually only has iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots. The vegetables and fruit that I eat from the boat are also not organic, and I prefer to buy everything organically grown.
Despite the difficulties, I have proven that it is possible to eat a vegan diet underway and often received very positive feedback from the crews I have worked with about my dedication to the vegan lifestyle. If I can thrive hundreds of miles offshore for weeks at a time on a vegan diet, I believe it is possible for anyone. My devotion has also earned me the tactical callsign “TOFU” that I now wear with pride on every deployment.
I am always looking for ideas. What would you bring on deployment?