This month marks four years of telling the meat and dairy to take a hike out of my diet.
I took my kids to story time today and happened to run into a fellow vegan momma who recognized me from the blog (sheesh, I’m blushing, like the two people that have read this blog, I run into one of them, at the library of all places!). We chatted for a few minutes.
She(paraphrasing here): Do you ever feel alienated because you’re vegan? Like you’re the only one?
Me: No, not at all.
Okay, honest response. I can relate, believe me, I can relate to those feelings. But they seem like so far away, so long ago, I’ve almost forgotten. There were times, especially in the first year or so, where sure, I felt like a weirdo. Mostly at parties and family gatherings. But you know what, after a while, I was no longer the pink elephant in the room. Wait a second, was I really ever THAT different to my friends and family? Probably not. Often times our reality is skewed by our insecurities. Friends/family will inevitablity find something new to gawk/poke fun at, ect. The novelty sorta wears off. At least that has been MY experience.
I feel like I’ve traveled the whole gamut of the nutrition/vegan world. Raw foods, animal activism. I’ve read all the books by McDougall, Furhman, Ornish…Read boring nutrition books about how carbohydrates are converted into glucose, trying to immerse myself in the science of just how our bodies deal with the food we give it. And I can tell you, it’s so much simpler than it’s made out to be. I chuckle to myself when I read the “latest” about how to lose weight or find the fountain of youth (it’s just this one little secret…one little pill…).
All of the books & articles I’ve read, workshops and classes (I’ve attended and taught), can be surmised by the following.
What I know about food & veganism thus far:
- Humans (and for that matter, all animals) eat food because: 1) we need energy (ie. calories). 2) because we need the nutrients that come packaged in those foods that we eat.
- Our food choices are based on our culture, upbringing, tastes, social class, convenience, and food availability.
- Jello is not holy (if you’re LDS you’ll understand this one). Ditto for funeral potatoes, pot roast and recipes that use lots of sour cream and cans of cream of chicken soup. (refer to previous bullet point)
- It is not expensive to live and eat healthfully. I can buy one pound of tofu or beans for less than a dollar. I don’t know of any quality meat I can buy for that price. Fruit and veggies in season can be found at reasonable prices, sometimes it just takes a little creativity.
- Resist the shiny packaging, the alluring promises of youth and thinness, and stay away, far far away from hype or fad diets, fancy and expensive potions/pills/supplements, whose promises really are too good to be true (your wallet and body will thank you later).
- Food is not holy. Food is fuel (even though it can sometimes taste REALLY good and look REALLY pretty). The worship of food, or the eating of a specific combination of foods, doesn’t make one holier than others. (refer back to bullet point #1).
- One does not need to be vegan to live healthfully.
- Being vegan is more a set of principles to live by (compassion, joyful/healthful living, honoring and respecting your body through proper nourishment), rather than a rigid set of “do’s” and “don’ts.”
- Everyone can change for the better.
- Throw out the calculations, the carb-phobia, the protein mania, the obsessive compulsive dieting tendencies inherited by fad-dieting slicksters, and stick with this simple diet advice:
Eat for nourishment of body & soul. Eat colorful, vibrant foods as your budget allows. Make whole grains, legumes, tubers, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds the staples of your diet. Allow animals foods to play a marginal or non-existent role on your menu.
- The lactation fluid (mammal’s milk, ie. cow’s milk, goat’s milk, ect.) of animals is perfectly tailored to meet the nutritional needs of that mammal’s offspring, and not really intended to be consumed by other mammal’s not of that species.
- Protein is essential to life. But beyond a certain amount (approximately 55 grams/day for an average non-pregnant, adult woman), it is overkill, unnecessary, and over time especially if it comes from animal sources, can be detrimental to your health (see The China Study).
- Protein can be obtained from eating a combination of plant foods (although it doesn’t have to be in special combinations). Consuming animal protein to meet protein needs is possible, but NOT essential to human nutrition.
- It is possible to be a happy vegan momma amidst the crowds of non-vegans, and to raise, happy, healthy, well-adjusted vegan children.
- There is so much more to life than food.
- Animals do suffer as a result of our food choices. My choice to not consume them does make a difference, however small, even if it is the difference is in the fact that I’m at peace with my conscience, and invite more compassion into my life and thinking.
- It’s much, much, much easier to be vegan after you have a few years under your belt.
- A vegan can love an omnivore (& vice-versa) and live under one roof peaceably.
So to my fellow vegan momma/blog friend whom I ran into at the library: thanks for reminding me what it’s all about and helping me reminisce the journey I’ve taken. And don’t sweat it, you know what’s right for you and your family, so just do it, and enjoy the journey.
Here’s to four years of happy, vegan eating and to many, many more.