Saturday, September 27, 2008

Veg Out!

I guess you could say I've had the good karma of being raised vegetarian. To be specific, lacto-ovo vegetarian. I am grateful for this and it's something that I feel good about mentally as well as physically. I've never had the desire to try meat, it just doesn't appeal to me, and I don't ever intend on becoming a carnivore. This is just my personal upbringing and my personal choice. I have no judgements for anything anyone else chooses to eat or not eat but I do feel like it may be time for a little shift in my own diet, a shift towards veganism.

A couple of years ago, when I was still in school, I took an environmental studies class and my eyes were opened to all kinds of issues I was unaware of as well as a world of things I could do to make an impact! It was great! One of the outcomes of this was my own research and interest in veganism. I read, watched and listened to everything I could and once the information was there, the decision was easy. I was so touched by the profound impact a vegan lifestyle could have on animals, the environment and humanity that I broke down one day and cried for almost an hour for all the harm I was causing. This may seem a little dramatic, I know, but I was moved on a deep level. That same day I donated all my leather products to Goodwill, cleaned out the fridge and started my life as a vegan.

It wasn't one of those things that I had to force myself to do (at first), it was actually quite easy. I was inspired, motivated and self-righteous. I felt amazing inside and out, I found a whole community of support and it didn't hurt that my live-in boyfriend at the time was into it with me. I did this for a year and towards the end of that year I could feel my motivation fading. I just wasn't as into it as I was before, I was overloading my diet with soy and feeling imbalanced and all it took was some fancy French cheese to tip the scale. My French teacher at the time had brought it to class and I just decided then and there, "I want it".

Unfortunately, being the all-or-nothing type of girl I am, this day became the turning point for me... back into the world of dairy. I re-incorporated cheese, milk and other dairy products but eggs still grossed me out for a long time. Eventually I desensitized myself even more and started eating eggs again too! It's such a strange thing to consciously do what you know is [in a way] lazy and harmful but I did it and have never looked back... until now.

Last night I was on the phone with a Buddhist monk for over an hour, (trust me it's not my typical Friday night either). During our conversation I brought up the whole vegan thing, how I felt confused about the fact that I could feel so strongly about it at one point and so unmotivated at another and to make a long story short, I'm going to try the middle way! Instead of using my usual cold-[tofurkey] method I'm going to try something new. Oh, my god! Maybe I am changing with the season like I had hoped! On the suggestion of this monk I'm going to be veganish.

He suggested I start by devoting one meal a week to being vegan and slowly build from there. The idea isn't to build rapidly necessarily or with any timeline but just to build. Meaning; move forward and not back. I know it sounds simple enough but I never take this kind of approach to anything and I'm kind of excited to see where I end up! This morning I substituted the cream in my morning coffee with steamed soy, every other meal I've had has been "the usual" but I would like to have at least one fully vegan meal this week. I was even thinking of getting some friends together for a weekly vegan dinner! Then maybe 5 people would be eating a vegan meal instead of a non-vegan one and it'd be more fun as a group! I don't know where this will lead, but hopefully these actions will start to crate some kind of snowball in terms of health and well-being for myself and the world around me. It's these tiny things that can really make a difference!

This is always a good resource for info and if you have any of your own little tips for a better world I would love to hear some comments!


lakshmi said...

Me too!!! I'm veganish.

Likely forever now as I have been vegan for long periods of time, but I find in the end, it is too restrictive. Mostly, I don't eat dairy (for all of the same reasons as you) but then sometimes I just want gorgonzola. What I don't want is to be obsessed with food choices forever. I can't stand the over-thinking thing. So, I make my choices daily, really at each meal and go from there. I'm glad you found something you think will work for you. That's all it's really about anyway.

You know what is really challenging? Trying to explain all this to people at lunch. They watch what I eat. (I don't know why as it's only chick-pea salad) But if I do eat dairy--they ask me about it! It's so funny, they care more about what I eat than I do! I'm just trying to figure it all out.

Another veg gone veganish,

Shikka said...

Yeah, it's funny how other people get obsessed with judging what you eat but it seems like a good idea to just do your own thing and let that other stuff just roll of the back. I've already had a few vegan meals since I wrote this and today I bought soy creamer to use in my daily coffee! I'm keeping it in my fridge at work, it felt really good even though it's just a little thing, but it's fun, like a game to see where I can make little changes! Thanks for commenting La :)

elfro said...

It's so funny, just as you are starting to go vegan, I'm starting to question my vegetarianism. I think I'm not eating healthy. I need more protein and iron in my diet and I've been leaning towards checking out some sustainable meats. Unlike most vegetarians, I have no moral issue with eating meat or dairy, just the way that our culture approaches these things.

I think, though, that you're one vegan meal a day thing is a great idea and I'd love to be in on it. One of the positive things about restricting your diet is that you have to work extra hard and be extra creative to make sure you're getting delicious and healthy things. STAY AWAY FROM SOY! It's no good! Tofu here and there is cool, and obviously miso and other fermented soy products are great but soy milk is like downing high fructose corn syrup. Think about processing as well as dairy content. The closer it is to what it looked like from the earth, the better it is. Generally.

Shikka said...

I agree about staying away from too much soy for sure! That's what made me go back to dairy in the first place. And I think it's a good idea to look for sustainable options no matter what, while working at the same time with your own specific health needs. Cool, we can have vegan dinner together though!