Sunday, January 28, 2018

From Obsequious Omnivore to Vivacious Vegan

A couple years ago, my stepdaughter became a vegan. On a weekend ski vacation, she hinted that her father and I should try it too. We politely scoffed, both convinced that it was a great choice, for other people. We were happy omnivores. I was also still working for the animal agriculture industry at that time, convinced that we were doing all we could to minimize animal suffering.

About a year and a half later, I was fired, so I had a lot of time on my hands, and I was also freed from the karmic handcuffs of animal farming. I engaged in what my partner and I call "Netflix research" which basically consists of watching a shitload of documentaries on one particular subject (because Netflix breeds obsession) and afterwards declaring oneself an "expert" on said subject. In this case, the subject was, in a nutshell, how to stay alive, without getting fat or sick or precipitating an already near planetary apocalypse by contributing to the raping and pillaging of the planet.

I could feel my love of greasy bacon slipping away, to be replaced by what can only be described as a "social conscience". Also, there seems to be a lot of evidence that meat and dairy are crappy for humans (I'm an expert now). I know, I know, who to believe? They told us eggs were the root of all evil, and if we continued to eat them our cholesterol levels would rise faster than a hooker's skirt on payday. Then sugar was bad, until the sugar lobbyists pointed the finger at dietary fat. Then gluten was deemed the poison du jour, and all things wheat became public enemy numero uno. So who's telling the truth?

I guess what really got to me was: a) the not dying part, and b) my ardent anthropomorphizing of animals. Call it an epiphany or the result of reading too much Deepak Chopra, but I can't eat anything anymore that had a face, and parents. So, my research was then transferred from Netflix to Google. If I'm going to attempt veganism, how the hell do I go about it? I barely know my way around a kitchen. Perfecting the balance between butter, cream and a powdery pouch of Kraft cheese was, up to that point, my greatest culinary achievement.

(FYI, this is not an endorsement. I was not paid to write this, although I could use the cash. Just sayin'.) I stumbled upon the Forks Over Knives meal planner online. Aha! How to eat vegan, for Dummies. There is also an associated documentary which, of course, I watched on Netflix, prior to finding their handy meal planner. I thought to myself: "With this kind of guidance, I might actually be able to do this."

My boyfriend was working in Europe at the time and I asked him if, upon his return, he would mind if we tried veganism, on the condition that I would take charge of all our meals. He quickly agreed, if only to be relieved of almost exclusive responsibility for our meals up to that point, and also doubting this would last more than a couple weeks, so why put up a fight?

It's been about three and a half months, and I've stuck with it so far. I've set off our smoke alarm at least twice trying to roast vegetables in the oven, and I recently made guacamole so salty, I broke out into a sweat as I ate it. I bought an eggplant for the first time in my life, and can now say "nutritional yeast" without laughing. I poop every day, I can make a pretty decent smoothie (when I follow a recipe and don't freestyle it) and I haven't burned our house down yet. What more can a girl ask for?

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