In my second week of attempted veganism (key concept – attempting), I’m realizing how much my diet, and therefore my well-being, has changed in the last year. My diet shift started much like my natural hair journey – a type of curiosity to test the limits of my existing beliefs. In the case of how I ate, I was also moved along by my relationship with my current beau, who is a lifelong vegetarian. That was over a year ago, and even to this day if I had to pick a death row last meal, I’d pick steak with blue cheese and butter, mashed potatoes and something with bacon. I can keep it real, I remember well how delicious meat can be.
Part of my enjoyment with being a vegetarian who is transitioning to veganism is that I am very much the last person you’d expect to adopt this lifestyle, based on the way I was raised and how I ate up until I graduated from college. Growing up, we all ate meat. We even dabbled in chitlins once, never to return again thankfully. I had no idea about the size and scope of the meat industry or how my meat got to the store and eventually to me. I just knew it was on my plate, and I was eating it. The first time I questioned the system was in college, while grocery shopping at Wal-Mart (I’ve since stopped shopping at Wally World too). I was in the peanut butter aisle and right between the chunky and smooth version of what I wanted was a pack of pork chops. Room temperature, so clearly it had been a while. Gagging slightly, I started to wonder about the food I was putting in my body. By the time I started dating my beau, I’d whittled my meat consumption down to chicken and fish, with an occasional burger on a night out. I am sure I gave him the RCA dog head tilt when he told me he’d never had meat, not once, in his life. This was a man who is six feet tall and at that point about 220 pounds. Clearly though he was finding what he needed. So I said “Well if I go vegetarian, I can at least stop making additional food for myself.”
Since then, I’ve educated myself on the lifestyle. I count Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives as two transformational documentaries, recommended watching for everyone I talk to about diet. What I’ve found most rewarding is how much more I’m getting out of my body because of what I’m putting in it. Exercising is a priority for me and between diet and working out, I’ve found annual allergies and sickness is nearly nonexistent. My skin is clear and my hair and nails are growing faster than they have before. The science consistently supports that a vegetarian diet is beneficial to one’s health, and to the wallet and in relationships apparently.
Just recently, a friend from college shared a documentary straight from the 1980s, complete with face-width glasses and an old school Power Point. Lack of presentations skills aside, the doctor in the video laid out a comprehensive case for a dairy-free diet, including why humans don’t need milk from mammals past infancy. I shared it with the beau and my mom, who is a pescetarian, and we were all sold on veganism.
I’m still working through my food choices, dairy is in so much of our food that you have to be very discerning . Plus I have to make sure I’m keeping my iron, protein and other needs where they should be. Mostly I’m just excited to take the next step and continue to challenge myself.
If you’re considering a diet change, here are some of the resources that helped me:
Food That Kills – Documentary