Day 1 -or- the smaller step seems harder

So I’ve never blogged a day in my life, but I’m just going to jump right in. For those of you who haven’t read the “about” section, I will sum up for you here.  I’ve been vegetarian for nearly 3 years now and I’m trying out veganism. Sounds simple right?  I mean, if you can imagine that someone has completely changed the way they have done something every day of their life, and stuck with it for this long, eliminating dairy products should be easy peasy!  I’m practically vegan anyway since I don’t buy dairy-based milk or butter and I only buy eggs maybe 2-3 times a year.  Cheese doesn’t see the inside of my reusable grocery bag very often, but I probably do buy it at least once every other month.

In my opinion, if you stopped eating meat because of the horrors of factory farming, dairy should be eliminated as well because the dairy industry and the meat industry are so closely linked.  We say things like “cows need to be milked” and “milking cows doens’t hurt them,” but we have been blinded from the truth (and not just blinded, but bound, gagged, and burried in the middle of the desert somewhere).  Diary cows lead horrible lives, are forced to stand in their own filth, never see the light of day, have their young taken from them moments after birth, and get infections from the bleeding sores the milking machines leave on their utters.  Once they’re all used up and can no longer be used as milk/veal machines, they’re drug to the slaughter to be sold for cheap meat (here’s looking at you Mcee Dees).

I kicked the carcass from my diet “cold turkey” after watching the “Meet Your Meat” documentary, on top of what I had already read and researched. So why is ditching dairy so friggin’ hard?

I think food means a great deal to all of us, even if we don’t realize it.  We don’t just eat to nourish our bodies; we eat to nourish our minds and souls.  We eat for comfort and pleasure.  We eat to connect us with our loved ones.  Think about it– food plays a role in every important aspect of our lives.  We eat at weddings, graduations, baby showers, funerals, birthdays, and holidays.  Food connects us to the people we care about.  We cook for people that we love.  We feed them to bring comfort and to join together in celebration.  Who reading  this can’t think of a recipe that a family member makes that they look forward to at a certain event every year?  I’m willing to bet most of us have something that comes to mind immediately.

So part of the reason it’s so hard for me is because I feel like dairy is the one last strand of connection that I have keeping my diet “acceptable” when I’m with loved ones.  It’s half a mile short of Freakville, but not so far removed from Normal that I can’t get together with my family for celebrations and holidays and feel connected at the dinner table.

Now I realize that most of you are wondering why it’s such a big deal to me or why can’t I just bring my own meal or offer to bring a dish.  I do.  Often.  But sometimes people want to cook for you, or they’re ordering pizza, or you want to be able to attend an event without having to cook first, or you don’t want to spend half an hour asking the waitress about what’s in the sauce.  Maybe you want to be able to eat at a restaurant when someone else picks the place.  Whatever the reason, I just don’t want to be an inconvience.  I don’t want to feel “apart” or “separate.”  That’s part selfishness and part paranoia.

But a huge part of this diet is about selflessness, compassion, and understanding.  If I make it a big deal at every meal, so will everyone else.  If I go on like my diet choice is perfectly normal (and it is) then things should be okay.  In the end, it’s me that’s allowing myself to feel so “apart.”  There’s no real issue with my diet that’s keeping me from connecting with others or eating with them.  If anything, it’s an opportunity to share a compassionate, delicious meal with the people who matter most.

So here’s to day 1.  Banana nut bread is baking in the oven.  Who wants some?

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2 thoughts on “Day 1 -or- the smaller step seems harder

  1. I totally feel you. For some reason it was so much easier for me in college when I was just getting excited about everything. I went back on meat when I was pregnant and have only been off once when I tried to go vegan again. *I* can’t do that because I’m so absurdly picky (I end up STARVING), but I also enjoy my diet now. I kicked out the unhealthiest of foods, but I tend to compartmentalize the environmental and ethical impact of meat, let alone dairy/eggs! Good luck, Cleve. ❤

    • Yeah, I understand, and I try not to judge other people’s diets, although it’s a bit hard when people just don’t care at all what they put into their bodies. But I know that the vegan diet isn’t for everyone. “Do as little harm as possible” is my motto. If you’re doing what you can, and what you feel is right for you, then more power to you!

      I know what you mean about always feeling hungry. When I first kicked meat, I never felt satisfied. I could eat a huge plate of food (and then go back for seconds!) and I would be full for half an hour (but again, not satisfied) and then I’d be hungry again. It takes some getting used to. Because of the way our digestive systems are built, (more like an herbivore and less like a carnivore) meat tends to hang around in our colons for quite a bit of time before it *ahem* passes. So we feel fuller longer. It only took me about a month to turn into the Morningstar Queen. I was replacing that need for something filling and satisfying with extremely processed soy crap. Not too long after, I realized that wasn’t any better for me. I’ve learned to prepare satisfying, filling food by incorporating more unprocessed, whole plant-based proteins into my meals.

      People often ask me if I miss meat, and I don’t. When I smell ChickfilA, it smells good. When someone orders Chinese at work, it makes my mouth water, but I don’t miss the meat, because I know it’s not the meat that smells good or that is making me salivate. It’s the sauce or the fried breading. Meat is flavorless until we do something to make it taste good. So I find it a healthy challenge to find wholesome, plant-based substitutes that make me just as ravenous, and it can be fun to experiment.

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