I decided to take on what I’ve come to call The Vegan Experiment on a bit of a whim.
Out of a desire to live a heathly, low- environmental impact life, we don’t eat much meat, and we are careful to know where our animal products come from- one of the many reasons we use South Mountain Creamery’s delivery service. I want the ability to visit the site, see the animals, and know that nothing untoward is happening.
I do believe we are meant to eat meat, and some animal products; I buy into Michael Pollan’s, “Eat less, mostly plants,” motto. I just think we should eat very little meat, and that the meat we eat should be humanely raised and not full of chemical garbage. This means we eat almost no meat, but very high quality meat- the price alone keeps us from over-indulging.
Still, I felt like we were relying too heavily on eggs and cheese to get by. My need for goat cheese and labneh is epic and legendary; I put it in almost everything. I wanted a break from that reliance on the easy answer, a time I’d dedicated to really exploring non-animal options. As a lapsed vegetarian, I’m already ahead of the game, but veganism has always been beyond me. So on the first of May, I became a vegan for a month.
It turns out that with the exception of Maryland Sheep & Wool festival, it is pretty easy. (Oh, my god, those gyros smelled AMAZING.) The really challenging part is dealing with people’s reactions.
Folks tend to react one of three ways when they hear about my experiment.
1. The Dissuaders: this will kill me, it is unhealthy, have I read book X, I need to start taking ALL OF THE SUPPLEMENTS RIGHT NOW (if only they cold see my truly epic collection of meds and supplements for my MS alone!), I’m going to end up some weird PETA freak job by the end of the month, why am I wearing leather shoes, dammit?
There’s something scary to them about my taking this on- a fear I will make a different choice than they have, and somehow judge them. It is strange, and- if I am feeling grumpy- entertaining.
2. The Evangelicals: these folks want to talk about animal rights, and the purity of the body, and almost always, wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is gross, guys. Find a new talking point. These are the people who tell me that a month just isn’t long enough to truly experience the radiant inner peace that living a vegan lifestyle will bring. (That last statement is near verbatim from an Evangelical.) they talk about hummus as though it is going to change the world, and they scare me.
These folks also seem scared- this time scared that I won’t make their choices- again, back to judgement.
This isn’t about judgement, or being stronger than anyone else- this is about fun, and exploration, and learning. There are so many delicious things I just didn’t bother eating before, like edamame, and slow cooker lentil soups, and quinoa!
Then there are…
3. The Curious & Incredulous: they want to know how I feel, is the hype true, how do I do it, it must be just impossible, they could never do anything like this, what a weird thing to chose. Their war cry is definitely: BUT SARAH, THINK OF ALL THE BACON!
Then they usually ask me about my poo. No joke, they ask me about my poo. I do not want to talk at length (ha, ha) about my bowel movements with anyone but my doctor, thanks, but wow, these people really NEED TO KNOW RIGHT NOW HOW MY POO HAS CHANGED.
The incredulity strikes me as strange- hell, anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it, and this is a pretty minor step for someone like me: I love middle eastern food, Asian food, loads of low- meat/ no- meat cuisine. I actually love tofu when it is properly made- which a lot of people have never seen, based on their shuddery reactions to the word, “tofu”. This isn’t like running a marathon, it’s just food.
The “wow, that’s just impossible” attitude makes me sad: I feel we should always be giving ourselves Feats Of Strength and mini- challenges. It helps me grow, and gives my willpower/ self- discipline a good workout. I wish more people would do monthly Swear Jars, or things like that. (Remember my swear jar? So expensive.)
Next month, I will take on another Feat Of Strength- one I’ve failed at many, many times. I’m going to try and quit smoking, AGAIN, and hopefully for good. Who is with me? Nothing is impossible, especially with accountability and enough support. Shit, I made soy tzatziki today- quitting smoking should be a breeze. Who wants in?