Wednesday, September 7

Vegan Anniversary

I knew that I became a Vegan sometime around Labor Day last year, but thanks to Facebook's new "On this day in 2010" prompt, I now know that it was exactly one year ago today that I made my first Vegan dinner:

"Brooks Wilder just had a very yummy
veggie burger, with a homemade white bean
spread, grilled onions and baby
spring greens on a whole wheat bagel
thin...bring it on, Veganism."

I remember that night so well. It was delicious and exciting.

Now, I am not somebody who makes decisions like this everyday. I'm somebody who has been 10 lbs, give or take, heavier than she'd like to be for years. Who makes plans and lists every week about what workouts she's going to do and how she's going to lose those 10 lbs but never follows through. I'm the girl who pushes the snooze button on her alarm clock 5 times every morning, (especially on the mornings she planned to exercise before work.)

But something about this decision was different.

I had been nannying since I had been out of college and my diet had slowly become that of a 2 year old...only less healthy.

I was eating frozen chicken nuggets, goldfish, string cheese and, my personal favorite, Tonino's frozen Party Pizzas, for like 8 out of every 10 meals.

I felt terrible. My skin was awful, I had no energy, and shock of all shockers...I was starting to gain weight. I was very rarely eating any fruits or vegetables.

So, my decision to dabble in Veganism began there, I suppose.

But, really, the kicker came when, (again, shock of all shockers,) Oprah did a show on Veganism. One of my favorites, Alicia Silverstone, (I still watch Clueless everytime it comes on HBO,) was on the show promoting her new book/cookbook The Kind Diet.

Between Oprah and Alicia, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

On top of which, my college roomate and best friend, Jordan, had also been thinking about becoming Vegan. For about 5 years she had been my healthy conscience, always much healthier than I was...

So, the more that we talked about it, planned recipes and read about where all of your nutrients come from when you are Vegan, (aka, the protein myth, but more on that later...) the more comfortable I felt with the decision.

I, of course, began by saying that I would just try it for a month or so. See what happens. Don't worry, Mom and Dad, I'll still eat meat at cookouts, I'll just shop for healthier groceries on my own, my life won't change that much...etc., etc., etc.


I was hooked within two weeks.

I also began by saying that I was only a Vegan for nutritional reasons. Which was true in the beginning, that is why I made the decision in the first place. But I was using that as some sort of defense...

No, I'm not doing it for animal rights, those people are crazy.

Well, it is virtually impossible to study Veganism without reading about the animal rights side of the argument. And to this day I am not sure why I was surprised that I started to understand their arguments. Or why I was afraid to admit that I might actually support them as well.

Now, I will qualify this next part of my story by saying that I absolutely do not believe that Veganism based on animal rights is for everyone. Nor do I think that everyone should be Vegan for this reason. I do not. (I do believe in the nutritional benefits of my diet and that the harmful affects of a diet rich in animal products should be taken seriously.)

If any of you have seen Food, Inc. you know the arguments that I'm talking about. You've seen the footage that I actually have not seen. I have seen enough and read enough that I don't need or want to see any more. I have always been such an animal lover that, again, I do not know why I was surprised that I was affected by the animal rights side of Veganism. But I was. And I am certain that I will continue to be so.

I'm not qualified to try and convince you to believe what I believe. I know how what I've read and what I believe to be true has affected me and I know that I cannot participate in the factory farming of animals any longer, (and it is not only about animal rights but about our health and safety, as well.) I think it's a problem that is out of control and I cannot even begin to suggest a solution. And, again, I do not judge meat eaters, I only know that this truly is a big part of why, a year later, I am still Vegan.

But, there are so many people who could explain it better than I could ever hope to. So I won't say any more on the issue...but, if you're interested I highly recommend the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

He attacks the issue from several different angles and I never once felt that he was pushing me toward one decision or another...of course, he could just be that good. And I was already a vegetarian when I read it, but I still recommend giving it a try.

One of my favorite parts of being Vegan, though, has probably been the one question that Vegetarians hear more than any other, (except, maybe, "why?!")...

Where do you get your protein?

I have probably heard some form of this question every day this year.

So, if this question has been holding you back from cutting meat out of your diet, I just want to assure you that my muscles have not withered away over the last year. There is protein all over the place, and a lot of nutritionists now say that we do not need as much protein as we once thought we did, anyway. Of course I realize that what "they" tell us is good or bad for us changes everyday, but I have to believe that they're getting better at this as time goes on...

Well, I could honestly go on about how much I have loved being Vegan this year all night long. I won't, though.

But I will tell you that I do truly love it. I feel great, I have fun shopping for food and cooking new recipes, my skin is better than it ever has been, (not flawless as Alicia tends to promise...but it is great,) and I have lost about 10 lbs.

I'm still lazy as ever about my workouts, and I still make lists of things that I want to do and things that never get done.

But I did this.

I made a huge life change that has made me healthier and happier. It is something that has made me more confident and more sure of who I am. And if for no other reason than that, it has been more than worth it.

Here are a few places I hope you'll check out that have great information on being Vegan, (and great recipes to try!) And if you can't live without meat and dairy and eggs, which I definitely get, I think it's more important to remember when thinking about your diet and your health...

Whole foods. Mostly plants. Not too much.

Until then...

The Kind Life
Eating Animals
Food, Inc.
Forks Over Knives
Skinny Bitch

And, just for fun, some of my favorite Vegans:

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