I went vegan this past week - well, actually five days. Monday through Friday. Eating a vegan diet required me to subtract all animal products out of my diet, which meant no dairy, no eggs, no cheese and no meat.
More specifically to me that meant no butter, no waffles (mmh egos), no milk in my coffee, no yogurt, no pizza, no sandwiches, no dessert or pastry (of any kind) and NO TACO BELL.
Needless to say this challenge involved a lot of self-control.
Self-control has never been something I’ve been good at or even been close to mastering. Well, I should give myself some credit, I can control some things. Actually, I like to control most things, but when it comes to food and when it comes to being hungry, I’ll eat anything in front of me. Just the other week I was so hungry my stomach ached, so I ate handfuls of Cheerios until I felt full. And for anyone that knows me well, they know I need breakfast before all other things in the morning because being hungry makes me angry. I realize I’m coming off as ungrateful for the food I eat… which brings me to lesson number one this week: I’m ungrateful for the food I eat.
In chapel on Monday, Kate talked about food. She reminded us that food is a gift from God and somewhere along the way we’ve turned it into a product that we consume. She encouraged us to reframe the way we see food, as a gift that we receive rather than a product we consume.
Combine that with the phrase: “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone” and trust me, lesson learned.
Restricting my diet made me more aware of how much I took for granted; animal products are in so many of my basic meals. After spending Monday through Friday eating vegan, Saturday and Sunday felt like Christmas morning.
However, I didn’t shovel food into my mouth (like I envisioned myself doing earlier that the week) in fact, I was thoughtful and conscious of what I ate. When I ate egos Saturday morning, I thought: dairy and eggs. When I ordered a non-soy cappuccino I thought: dairy. When I ordered the deelite plate at Dee-Lite I thought two eggs, four pieces of bacon and butter… yuuum.
And even now, as I plan out what I’m going to eat for lunch, I feel lucky and excited and thankful that I get to eat meat and cheese and milk and eggs. I am grateful.
Now, I realize this is basically the complete opposite mind frame vegans have, so let me make it clear I only adapted the vegan diet, not the vegan attitude or mindset. Because let’s face it, eating vegan was hard enough.
And I suppose while I’m being honest I should mention I cheated… twice on accident (one chocolate m&m and an oatmeal cookie a friend made for me) and two times with full awareness I was cheating (spinach and artichoke dip- with cheese- and the breadsticks at olive garden- drenched in butter).
And there were many times I wanted to cheat, but didn’t, and for that I’m thankful I have good friends. One Thursday morning I caused a scene in the Kletz when I wanted butter on my bagel and the 20 girls I was sitting with yelled back at me “don’t do it, don’t do it.” So I resorted to jam. And I wanted sushi on Friday with everything in me, I was even sitting at Wild Chef ready to order a California role, but my girlfriends told me NO. So I went with the veggie low mien.
Which brings me to the second lesson I learned this week: friends and family that are supportive are the best kind of people to have in your life. They held me accountable when I was unwilling to meet the expectations I had set for myself earlier that week. Because friends and family have this way of seeing things a lot clearer than you can in times of desperation (I really wanted that butter), and those voices of clarity are important listen to.
So, I owe a thanks to the sibs that were at Kletz lunch this past Thursday, my thoughtful mother for making me a vegan dinner on Saturday night (when all I wanted was meat), to Kat for her guidance and patience in Meijer when I was still optimistic about going vegan, to Lauren who genuinely thought there was no cheese in the spinach artichoke dip at City Vu, to Emily for being my voice of reason and Rowe for not allowing me to snatch the sushi off your plate Friday night. And of course, I owe a thanks to the animals I take from, thank you for your delicious contributions to my meals (and I apologize if that came off as insensitive).