Hello! This is a blog! It’s my blog! I’ve kept journals, longhand and online, to varying degrees of failure for my whole life. I’ve no promises this one will go any better, but hey, I’m trying. I won’t promise to blog once a week or anything because “school/work/rest” can get a little dull. But when I have Things to Say, they will be said here.
So. Today I have Things to Say about veganism.
I’ve been vegan for about two months, and I have been really hesitant to discuss it. Firstly, I don’t think it’s anybody’s business how I eat, nor my business how others do, and I’ve met enough preachy vegetarians & vegans that I don’t want to be one. BUT this is important to me, and I’d like to say some stuff! Let’s do this in a question-y way. Questions are nice.
Why did you decide to go vegan?
I found out that I am lactose intolerant, in addition to being allergic to shellfish. So instead of just eating vegetarian, as I had done on and off for a few years, I decided to just try to be vegan. It makes it easier for me to wrap my head around the new allergy if I consider it an exciting new choice rather than a friggin sucky new allergy — and it’s much easier to tell someone I’m vegan rather than allergic to X and Y and also sometimes vegetarian.
How has it been going?
Really well! It took me a few weeks to get used to the taste of soy milk in my tea, and it also killed me to ask friends to eat the ice cream, yogurt, cheese, and other treats in my kitchen that I’d *paid for.* But by and large I don’t really crave dairy or meat, I feel healthier and more energetic, and I’m having no problem finding places to eat out.
Well, buying fresh, good-quality produce & grains is more expensive than fast-food dollar menus or street food. But going to the grocery store more frequently means I’m getting fresh stuff on a regular basis, controlling what I eat, and exercising more discipline over my budgeting. It’s really remarkable that the cost of four lunches or two meals out is pretty much my grocery budget for a whole week. So it’s somewhat of a sacrifice, I suppose, but I don’t miss the alternative.
The bigger issue, though: I’m shocked and frustrated by anti-vegetarian and anti-vegan prejudice. Who knew that that existed? I guess I understand people being defensive when evangelizing vegans get up in their grill, so to speak, but why deride my choices when they have literally no impact on your life? I don’t let other people’s problems get me down, but it’s still a puzzling thing I’ve run into.
Any awesome side effects?
You know it! Just a few:
-Food tastes better. Stuff I’d seen as salad filler (avocados, chickpeas, kale, cucumbers) are now delicious treats. I’m picking up on new flavors, spices, and textures even in foods I’d already loved, since everything else isn’t just a condiment or side dish to meat. I don’t think I’ve had ketchup in weeks, I never salt my food, and I use easily two-thirds less salad dressing than before.
-Sweets taste sweeter. Apples are like my new cupcakes — they’re ridiculously sweet and juicy and good-sugary. Dark chocolate is a gift from the gods. I don’t think I’ve had a dessert-type food in months, and I haven’t wanted to! Give me blackberries or sorbet and I’m set.
-Food is fuel, not recreation. I’ve started considering food as fuel for my body, delicious nutritious calories to keep everything running properly. If I fuel myself with homemade fruit salad and a whole-grain English muffin in the morning, I’ll feel like a champ for the workday.
-I’m more in tune with my body. I was running late yesterday and bought falafel to eat on my way to a show, and I spent the whole night feeling sick to my stomach. It was like junk food compared to what I normally eat: fried falafel inside a white flour pita. I probably could have eaten half of the pita pocket in twice the time and still felt overfull. Now I know.
-Water is my beverage of choice. When food is so much more flavorful and fresh, it can stand on its own without any sugary or flavored drink to wash it down. I keep green tea and pomegranate juice in the house, but most of the time I only want water.
-I’ve dropped weight without trying (fewer calories & less fat), my skin is clearer (fewer sugars, oils, & fats), I sleep better (no caffeinated drinks or sugary dessert foods), and I spend less money on food (smaller portions, cooking more at home over going out).
How about the future?
I like the way this is working for me at the moment! Maybe my body will change, or my lactose tolerance will come back (a pipe dream, I know it), or I’ll be forced to adapt when I move to London in the fall. If I’ve learned anything so far, it’s that I am in charge of how I eat, and I can change it as I see fit. I am obligated to a lot of people and things in my life, but my diet is not one of them. This works for now, but I’m not holding myself to it forever.
Advice for the rest of us?
How you eat is up to you. Your body, your preferences, your choice! Of course, allergies, parents or kids, and your budget (or school cafeteria) might affect your options, but you can always make even the smallest changes — if you want. Whatever “eat good stuff” means to you is what matters. There’s also so much less guilt inherent in eating when you’re going for positives, not fighting against negatives. Choose to fuel yourself with good stuff — isn’t that so much better than battling to avoid “bad foods”?
Most of all, I’d advise you to keep in mind that the way you eat doesn’t have to fit anyone else’s labels or standards. If you wanna be vegan 90 percent of the time but have chicken every now and again, do it. If you want to avoid meat when possible, but not as a strict rule, do it. If you want to have soy milk over dairy but have all the red meat you can eat, why the hell not? It’s your life.
Okay! Hope you enjoyed this first foray into blogging. I’ll be back when I have something interesting to say :]