Happy Anniversary to my Belly!
It has officially been one year eating vegan! I thought in honour of my achievement I will do a little recap, of why I went vegan one year ago, and what has changed, or stayed the same since being vegan.
How it Happened…
Once upon a time, there was a little girl…well not that little, a 28 year old woman really, named Sam, who ate too much bad food, and drank too much booze for the last few weeks. So, Sam and her boyfriend Andrew (who had just been partying with rockstars), agreed that it would be a good idea to do a detox. “Let’s cut out all meat, dairy, processed foods, sugar and booze for 10 days!” Sam happily declared. “Oh yippee…” Andrew sarcastically replied. And so they did.
…Well at least for like 4 or 5 days-ish. I think it was the second eve, as we “enjoyed” our brown rice and veggies, that we decided (when I say we, I mean I decided), to watch the movie Vegucated. Well this was a very good movie, and I learned some things about what a vegan lifestyle is like, the movie alone, wasn’t enough to make a full on drastic change in my diet, but it was good encouragement to keep up with the cleanse.
Still on the cleanse, I decided to continue my adventures with the movie Forks Over Knives. Well, this really intrigued me. The science of why meat and dairy are BAD for you!? ..But, but, but protein, and calcium…right? Wrong! Not only that, but the meat and dairy industries are bad for the environment, too? Worse than Cars!? Well, this got me watching more documentaries, such as Hungry for Change, Food Matters, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Got the Facts on Milk, Food Inc, and Crazy Sexy Cancer to name a few. Well, that did it. I was sure I would have a hard time eating meat again. Who knew a little innocent detox would lead to a full on lifestyle change.
It Wasn’t Easy…at First
I grew up in a house of foodies. Breakfast conversation would be plans for what glorious meal we would create that night. We would ooooo and aaahhh over recipes, and ingredients. My parents even raise their own chickens for eggs. I didn’t want to be vegan! This would totally kill all my food adventures! How would I be excited by dinner when a salad was looking back at me? How could I ever enjoy restaurants? I was really bummed. At first I almost wished I hadn’t learned what I had, so I could go on eating as normal, but it was too late. I couldn’t unlearn, and being someone who is keen for facts, I wouldn’t soon forget the many I had just learned. So I thought I would at least give it a try.
I soon found it was actually surprisingly easy. I started by getting rid of all the non-vegan food in my kitchen, then stocked up on my new food. Andrew and I spent a couple of a hours at the grocery store, loading up on fruits, veggies, grains, beans, and yes I admit, cookies, cereals, veggie meats, coconut ice-cream, you name it. Anything we found vegan we bought. Which turned out to be an enormous amount of food. Then going out, I realized Toronto is a city full of picky eaters, so many menus had vegan options right on them, or I could at least adapt a meal by simply asking for no cheese. The best and most surprising part, I was thoroughly enjoying it! I was loving all the new foods I was trying, I felt great loading up on veggies. I didn’t feel tired or weighed down after a meal, and I never felt like I “over did it”. My pants started getting looser (losing about 8 pounds), my energy soared, my skin got clearer and more glowy, I no longer got drowsy in the afternoons, and I felt inspired to cook more interesting things!
“Coming Out” Vegan
It seemed like this was going to stick, so the next step, I had to tell people…well at least the people who were going to cook for me. First my friends. I don’t know why this was such a shock to me, but it was. For some reason I thought they would criticize me, or think I was stupid. I had totally underestimated my friends, because there were one of two reactions, indifference, or interest! Turns out other people like veggies too. Then I told my parents. At first they thought I was joking. Having adored medium rare steak through my teens, this didn’t surprise me, but once they realized I was serious, and I got them to watch Forks Over Knives, they continued to be the totally awesome parents that they are. My dad even cut out dairy for most of the year, and my mom always makes sure there is something I can eat on the table. Well, that wasn’t so bad.
Really, I found the only hard part was the odd cranky person. Sometimes when I told people I was vegan, said cranky person would want to argue with me, and ask me a million questions. This would make me nervous, and I would try to have intelligent answers, but usually ended up fumbling over facts. At first, I found this really frustrating. I wasn’t trying to convince them to be vegan, I was simply explaining why I kept refusing the cheese plate. Then I realized why some people react this way. They feel judged. By saying I was vegan, they felt I was implying that they were unhealthy, or cruel, or who knows what. Well, I’m not here to judge. So I learned the best response when someone approaches you with this defensive attitude is to brush ’em off. I just say something along the lines of, “I’m not a scientist or doctor, but if you are interested in learning more you should check out Forks Over Knives. Oh look, that person is wearing shoes! Excuse me while I go look at them.”
Cooking at home, I wanted to make sure Andrew didn’t feel like a rabbit, and I didn’t want to feel like I was missing out. I learned I am not. Over the last year I have even done a couple of self tests… a bite of a fish taco, a slice of cheese… well that’s the only two I can think of actually, because both times, I thought my mouth would be flooded with glorious sensations, and I was surprised, that to me, it totally tasted boring. I don’t miss it at all. As for “missing out”, I think that l eat a more varied diet on a daily basis, than I did before. Always picking up different fruits, veggies, and grains that I haven’t tired before, experimenting with combinations. That weird looking root? Sure lets buy it! The best part, Going vegan made me fall in love with my kitchen all over again. I have always loved to cook, but with limitation, came inspiration! With inspiration came this blog. And as Andrew says “nothing beats a spicy veggie dog”. (I can think of a few things, but whatever).