Honestly, I think it was the bacon that finally did me in. An overabundance of the cloyingly fat-laden, skin searing meat candy known as bacon made my taste buds flip.
One day, in the midst of my Atkins/low-carb/keto madness, I looked longingly at an apple as I shoved another forkful of bacon & some egg mixture into my face and I thought ‘enough is enough’. How does a diet that says apples are ‘bad’ for you but bacon is ‘good’ really healthy? How does that make any logical sense?!
I happened by veganism innocently enough.
There was no binge-watching of documentaries or huge epiphany. Just, one day, I looked at a chicken breast and basically said ‘I can’t even’. Up to that moment, I’d literally been eating probably a dozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts each week. The supermarket kept having this ‘buy 1, get 3 free’ deal on lean strip steak and despite my misgivings (like, why is it so cheap though?) I dutifully added it to my low-carb meal repertoire. I meal prepped and weighed and measured. With every forkful, a tiny part of my soul calcified but I forged forward, having fallen into a diet myth sinkhole that promised me I’d finally break that weight plateau if I could only avoid carbs and sugar. I ignored the ever-increasing sluggishness of my body. Even as hard-fought lbs slowly peeled off I felt heavier and unhealthier than ever. Occasionally I felt a dull, rusty twinge from an area on my right side that I assumed was a kidney. I finally got so tired of constantly having to think about what I was putting in my mouth that I just quit. During a friend’s destination wedding in Mexico I quietly stopped eating chicken and red meat – deciding to stick to fish only — and started enjoying fruit and cake again.
It was easy, really. Even during a welcome dinner at the resort’s Brazilian steakhouse I studiously stuck to the salad bar. When the meal was over I felt a sense of relief. If I could turn down 70,000 kinds of roast animal flesh served off a sword I was golden – right? When we returned home I told B I wanted to try something.
I could have gone to vegetarian and given myself more time to adjust. Sure. But I was done with the uncertainty. I was ready to excuse myself from the ‘is-this-healthy-enough’ dance. Don’t get me wrong. My grandparents are French. I’ve literally lived on cheese and bread for upwards of 72 hrs at a time as an adult. Meat was not my struggle – that was surprisingly easy to give up – but cheese, wow. Velvety, crumbly, salty, creamy delicious and scientifically proven addictive cheese was a stunner. However, I was determined. I couldn’t bring myself to throw out everything at once because I abhor wasting food, but little by little most of it was tossed. The lone reminder, a pack of those steaks, still resides in my freezer. Every time I see their deep red, freezer-burned carcass faces I cringe. B agreed to eat vegan with me at home and I plunged in headfirst. My first trip to the grocery store took over 2 hrs. Do you know how many things on the shelves have animal products in them? There is parmesan in basically everything. EVERYTHING. I did so much squinty-eyed reading in the aisles that I came home with a headache but it was done and I didn’t look back.
I haven’t been vegan for very long, but I’ve managed to meet each potential hurdle head on with little fanfare. I’m not the t-shirt wearing, sign-toting, evangelist vegan – no shade to them – it’s just not my style. In my humble opinion, the decisions people come by honestly are the ones most likely to stick. I’d rather lead by example than beat someone over the head with my choice, but everyone is different. In the time that I have been vegan, I can say that I’ve felt amazing and that feeling continues to grow each day. My senses are sharper, my organs feel cleaner (don’t ask me how, they just do), my skin is doing the most and finally, hallelujah, amen, praise be to the Baby Jesus, the scale is moving. Weight certainly isn’t everything. I fully embrace the ‘non-scale’victories. But it’s hard not to get high on the combination of feeling like the food you’re eating is truly nourishing your body, watching your waist get slimmer, and knowing the decision you’ve made positively impacts the people and environment around you. Bonus: I basically spend all my supermarket time in the produce section, which means I can be in and out in about 30 mins.
Will I ever go back? That’s hard to say, but at this point, I’m moving looking forward and I don’t see any reason to look back now.