Journey Back from Veganville
Hi, my name is Jessica and I used to be a vegan.
Weird that I feel the need to confess that, right?
Except when you make a food change as drastically as I did (in 2011, I ate a bacon cheeseburger on a Saturday and went vegan on a Sunday) people notice, want to talk about it, and for some reason, happily anticipate your inevitable “failure.” There’s only one problem.
I didn’t do it to win favor.
The land of Veganville is rife with politics bordering religion, and starts at an epically beautiful place: compassion. Compassion for animals, care for your own well-being, and an overall love for life.
Why did I go vegan?
Simple. I was sick ALL the time. My immune system is a weak beast as it is. Pile that on top of the fact I make terrible food choices (Bacon? Only if it’s on top of cheese fries!) and you have a recipe for one unhealthy human being.
Colds and flus were upon me like white on rice. I was sick four times a year--like laid up sick--and if someone sneezed around me, I knew I was in for it. I was also so terribly tired (having received the junkpile diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in my early twenties) and I knew drastic measures had to be taken.
Why did I stop?
Simple answer? Being on a super strict diet OF ANY KIND is hard. HARD.
It requires a ton of planning, a ton of thought, and more time than I was willing to give it. To be fair, I jokingly referred to myself as 98% vegan seven months after I caved and ordered a cheese pizza. Allowing cheese pizza on occasion for ease, and an egg at breakfast if I was out at a restaurant made my life less stressful. I was still a vegan at home where I could easily control the ingredients. No animal products, not even honey!
And let me tell you something. Vegan cooking? AMAZING. DELICIOUS. I’ve made it all. Cashew cream, seitan, tofu “crab” cakes, chickpea “tuna” salad… I’ve learned how to make quinoa and kale and OMG, please let me make you tempeh picatta sometime because it’s YUMMO.
That takes time. And when you don’t have time, you resort to what’s easy. Non-dairy cheese sandwiches and processed Tofurkey and peanut butter and jelly aren’t “bad” on occasion, but you can certainly do better on the health scale.
I lost 30 lbs. That’s three-zero, people. I'd done everything known to man to try to lose my post-baby weight (two miscarriages, no babies) and it finally fell off because I cut out fattening dairy and meat that wasn’t nourishing me. Because I was strict, I lost my taste for packaged cookies and a lot of cheaper sugars. (Most over-the-counter candy bars contain milk so I simply quit eating them.)
Then it quit working.
The panic attacks started in March of this year. Full on nervous breakdown stuff. I was trying to work through deadlines, trying to meet the demands of having several books contracted, trying to keep my diet perfect, and feeling horrible doing it all.
When I started inching back to center and added in eggs on a more regular basis, I dropped eight pounds out of nowhere. It appears somewhere along the way, vegan wasn’t working as well as it should. My fault. I was no longer spending hours upon hours in the kitchen or making healthful, clearly thought out choices.
It is a choice.
So, I chose to relieve myself of the anxiety of traveling ANYWHERE (know how hard it is to find vegan food at a conference in Kansas City?), and the daily stress of how many animals had to suffer for my sustenance, and just allowed EVERYTHING.
But, allowing everything didn’t mean I ate everything, but it did allow me the freedom to say “I do what I want!”, which as humans, I think we all need to say. (Apparently, human beings need to behave like three-year-olds sometimes.)
I also started eating fish, quickly learning a little goes a long way. I ate turkey and confirmed that while it kept me full for a while, it did mess with my digestion. I ate eggs and realized that while they are yummy, too many at 5g of fat each (eep!) and I begin to creep on the pounds. Along with cheese, which I rarely have in the house for the same reason.
Now I’m open and starting to implement both what I learned being vegan with what I knew to be healthful eating. Eating meat is not something I do often because it doesn’t make me feel very good. But if I want a bite of my husband’s chicken wings…okay, I ate the entire wing…I’m having it. And I’m not going to drag myself to vegan confessional because I did.
Like I said, I’m coming back to center, seeking balance and following no one’s rules. What you put in your mouth is your business (take that however you like...)
And that goes the same for mine.
I’m looking forward to revamping my Friday Feast section which sorta went quiet for a while and sharing my favorite tips and tricks from the kitchen. After all, if you’re gonna eat, it may as well be AMAZING.
That's it for now,