It’s World Vegan Day, November First. Usually I avoid writing about my lifestyle because it really brings out the troll in people. Times have changed, though, so I figure I’ll share a little, just this once.
What’s it like? Why do I do it? What do I eat, especially on Thanksgiving?
It’s my right as a consumer in a free market to buy and eat whatever I want, and to not buy or eat whatever I don’t want. The market has the right to offer and sell me whatever I will buy.
I quit eating meat when I was 17, and went entirely plant-based four years later at 21. Now I’m 44. That means I haven’t eaten meat for my entire adult life, and I’ve been vegan for longer than I was an omnivore.
My head didn’t fall off or anything!
The first concern that people have when someone outs me about my diet is that I am depriving myself of key nutrients. I’ve been doing it successfully for decades, though, so as soon as they hear “22 years” they don’t want to hear any more.
They think what I eat has something to do with them.
They think my existence demands that they change what they eat.
I genuinely don’t care what other people eat. It’s none of my business, and I’m busy thinking about other things. I don’t want to encourage other people to cross over to my lifestyle, because they’ll just mess it up and then blame veganism rather than their poor application of it.
If I get the common cold, someone will ask, Do you think it’s because you don’t eat meat? (Uh... it’s... the COMMON... COLD??) Meanwhile, at 44 I’m on no pharmaceuticals because I don’t have any chronic health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea.
Healthy weight for my height
Total cholesterol 134 mg/dL
Fasting glucose 86 mg/dL
I just dropped and did 25 push-ups, no knees. I didn’t think I could do any, since it’s been six months, but I surprised myself. Not bad for 44. My main health goal for life is just to be able to get down on the floor and get back up again without help.
This is exactly what has traditionally annoyed people about the lifestyle. “It’s preachy.” Somehow they don’t think it counts when they start lecturing *me* on Where do you get your protein and You’ll be sorry one day when you find out what you’re doing to your body. *snort*
As a middle-aged woman, it’s an entirely different picture than it was when I was a teenager.
Okay, so, what do I eat?
In the bad old days, it was basically unsweetened chunky soy milk and beige foods made of mushrooms, barley, and tofu. Seventies style. Now, all of a sudden, the dam has broken and we can get everything! Pizza Hut! Ben and Jerry’s! Disneyland! Every major fast food chain worldwide has decided to test the market. I went out with my brother this summer and got a burger from Carl’s Jr. of all places. I can even eat at the mall food court. In about five minutes it will be easy to get plant-based foods everywhere, and nobody will care anymore, which is awesome.
I don’t normally eat all that stuff, though, because honestly fast food isn’t all that great. I’m a good cook and it’s cheaper and faster to eat at home.
What do I eat, then?
My husband eats meat, although dairy makes him violently ill. We eat together. He basically only eats meat on the occasional business trip, maybe a couple of times a month. His choice, not mine. My only rule is “no cooking bacon in my kitchen.” Typically we eat some kind of meat analogue, like Gardein, and 2-4 cups of a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, or collard greens. We eat a lot of potatoes for the potassium.
When he’s away I eat things he doesn’t like, like eggplant or butternut squash. I’m also the one who tests new recipes, so sometimes I make elaborate soups or casseroles.
On Thanksgiving lately we’ve been pre-ordering a catered meal from Veggie Grill, because we can. I often fly off to be with my family, since my parents went vegan a few years after I did, and I fill the fridge for my hubby before I go. We like the holiday roast from Trader Joe’s. The Tofurky is better than nothing, but honestly we don’t like it.
When omnivores try to cook for us, they always leave it on heat too long and it gets dried out and overcooked. That’s true of Tofurky, veggie burgers, veggie hot dogs, all of it.
Omnivore [chooses something for us]...
Same omnivore [watching us eat it] That doesn’t look very good
Basically I eat what everyone else does: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts. I do what everyone else does: I buy groceries and put them in my fridge, and later I cook them. When I go out I get Mexican or Thai or Japanese or sometimes pizza.
The difference is that I read a couple dozen nutritional articles every year and I’ve also tested a couple hundred recipes over the last twenty years. Not everyone is willing to do that.
Why do I do it? The last unanswered question!
The truth is that the reasons have changed over the years. I first switched over because I heard a guest lecture in my high school philosophy class. I cared about animal cruelty. I started reading more, because that is what passionately ideological teenagers do, and I started caring more about the environmental impact. Now that I’m middle-aged, several of my friends have already died far before their time from lifestyle-related illnesses. I’ve had to visit a lot of people in the hospital and I know a lot of people who rely on prescription drugs and medical appliances to survive. The Standard American Lifestyle terrifies me and it doesn’t seem to be a very good bargain.
Is it sugar? Is it food additives? Is it environmental? Who knows? I don’t claim to know, and I don’t care, either. To me it’s a moot point. (I think it’s mostly dairy) I’m getting better results from what I eat than most of the people I know are getting from what they eat.
Why am I a vegan? Because I tried it as an experiment back in the Nineties and I liked it. I know how to do it, what to buy and what to cook. It quit being an issue for me, my family, and my dates many years ago. It isn’t that big a deal.
If anyone else wanted to try it, I would tell them to do what I did and give it three weeks. *shrug* You can always go back.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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