I’m trying to remember when I first started exploring the idea of changing my eating habits to exclude animals. One of my oldest friends, Derek, is vegan. He lives in California and I went out there in 2008 for the annual BlogHer conference, which took place in San Francisco that year.
Derek showed me the beautiful and highly productive vegetable and herb gardens in his neighbourhood and at the ashram where he spends time, and cooked vegetarian food for me while I visited. It was the first time I tried Swiss chard. I stuck it out for a little while after returning home from California, and that was exactly the attitude I had. “Sticking it out.” Ever since then, off and on, I’ve experimented with vegetarianism, sometimes going stretches as long as nine or ten months before caving to eat meat for the sake of convenience or laziness, or both.
I continued to grow food in my garden, mostly until my son grew into a toddler who was no longer content to enjoy an evening in his exersaucer while Mommy weeded. He still “helped” from time to time, and now that he’s eight years old, and he wants to start his own little plot in the yard.
My latest bout of vegetarianism came last fall when I realized just how much better my body feels when I eat good foods like beans, greens, rice, fruit and grains. Then at Disney World I had a horrible gastrointestinal reaction to some dairy that I ate for lunch and spent an afternoon in the bathroom at Hollywood Studios while my son Nate and husband Graham enjoyed the attractions nearby. It was then I came to the realization that I’m probably lactose intolerant. The combination of not wanting to eat animals and realizing I shouldn’t eat dairy led me to the conclusion that giving veganism a shot was probably a good idea.
I began to do some research, mostly in the form of cookbooks, blogs and YouTube, and decided to attempt eating foods that are completely free of animal products. In the process of learning about eating right, I learned some facts about factory farms and dairy production that I can’t “unlearn” and I think I’d have a hard time choking down eggs or milk now, not that I’ve ever been much of a milk drinker.
The biggest challenge is that I’m doing this on my own. Graham is dedicated to enjoying meat on occasion, and loves his milk and cheese. Nate is a milk drinker who also really enjoys meat. Fortunately, he’s a great little eater of fruit, vegetables and will eat beans as well. With him, I’m mostly concerned with removing as much processed food from his regular diet as possible.
Graham’s an adult who can decide what he wants to eat…that’s up to him. He’s fairly open-minded about eating new dishes that I’ve cooked, including my recent “veganization” of one of our favourite comfort foods, Shepherd’s Pie. Both Graham and Nate gobbled it up, with Nate exclaiming, “I love Shepherd’s Pie because it’s SO yummy!” He didn’t even notice that what is usually a layer of ground beef was a layer of Yves veggie ground round blended with Angela Liddon’s All-purpose Vegan Gravy from Oh She Glows.
Because some of us are omnivores and some of us aren’t, many of our meals are vegetarian or vegan, with an option available for Graham to add some cooked meat to his portion. There are a lot of nights when there are two pans simmering on the stove.
So on the one hand, the idea of being vegan seems really odd, and on the other hand, it seems as though I’ve been on this path for a long time. I love growing and sharing food in my garden. I love taking care of my body and eating healthfully and being active. I love reading and learning and being part of a community. This lifestyle, while only a few days in, seems to fit like a glove.
A few weeks ago my web hosting account was hacked, and I had to delete my old blog to get things up and running properly again. I hadn’t really committed myself to writing about any topic in particular, so I took this clean slate as an opportunity to start fresh. I’ll devote this space to writing about healthful living, including vegetarian and vegan recipes and cooking, growing food and living this freeing lifestyle I feel I was meant to be part of.
Resources I’ve consulted so far:
- Forks Over Knives Family
- Main Street Vegan
- The China Study
- Forks Over Knives
- Live and Let Live
- What the Health
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
- Hungry for Change
- Fed Up
- Main Street Vegan
- Food for Thought: The Joys and Benefits of Living Vegan
- Our Hen House–Change the World for Animals
- Oh She Glows
- Forks Over Knives
- Is it Vegan
- Vegan Amino