Vegan for a Week

What a Vegan Week Can Do For a Girl

I was starting a new job and running on empty, thanks to a teething toddler. If you told me that now was a good time to dip my toe in the vegan pond, I would have licked my hand and smacked you. Hard as I damn well could.

But here I am, knee deep in vegan waters. To say that this is unchartered territory is a gross understatement. Here’s why.

I’m a girl of Lithuanian blood. I can LOOK at a meal and gain 10 lbs. I attribute my round face to my cultural roots, but really, I like pasta with my parmesan and a bit-o-bagel with my cream cheese. Cheese is a food group. Put that shit on everything. And carbs? Pssh. Non-negotiable – I’d surely die without them. I once tried the Atkins diet for 3 days before giving in to an entire party-size bag of Munchies. I think I cried, too. Surely that mix of Cheetos, Doritos and pretzels was not what my body was asking me for – a rather sobering thought as I licked the cheesy powder from every last finger.

Any eating plan I followed had been to lose weight and rock a smaller pant size. Duh. Following my buffalo chicken calzone fetish in college, I hit the Weight Watchers scene. And 25 lbs. later, I felt great, but not the kind of great you’d expect to feel when you’re 25 lbs. lighter. It wasn’t enough somehow.

A few years later, before my wedding, I did what every bride-to-be does, and started living on a prayer. That was pretty much it…for real. Water, air, I-will-fit-into-that-dress-dammit, and some leafy greens. I remember leaning against the fruit stand at Stop & Shop the day of the rehearsal dinner thinking, fuck, I should have eaten something. My fiancé actually hid the scale from me because I became so fixed on a number, without taking inventory of how I felt.

Then the big day came. Wow, I felt beautiful! But I didn’t feel strong. I actually felt…kind of frail.

A few months later, I went sugar-free during my pregnancy because I had a BIG baby on board. Kid ended up 10 lbs. anyway, but the plan saved me from gestational diabetes and helped me give my son a healthier start.

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Following his arrival, I had no plan – period. It was eat what you can, when you can, as fast as you can. And preferably something someone else made.

You see, I’ve always seen my weight as a frenemy of sorts. You can’t ignore it. You like it sometimes, and a few weeks later, you wish you could block it out like a creepy former classmate on Facebook.

Or maybe it’s more like a bad tattoo. You lie about it sometimes. Hide it under baggy clothes. It feels good to be bad…until it doesn’t (why the fuck did I just waste my splurge on a pack of DOTS?)

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So here I am. I start this job, and meet Bianca, who makes veganism look like an (egg-free) cake walk. She brings in fresh, healthy, home-cooked food and actually likes what she’s eating. She doesn’t flinch when I pepper her with the usual questions. (Well what do you do when you eat at someone else’s house? What do you do at holidays? How about traveling? Don’t you miss CHEESE?) Doesn’t phase her. She’s bright, happy and energetic. I got the happiness in me, but shit, I’m in a bit of an energy crisis here.

She feels well, and you can tell. More than satisfied with her patient, thoughtful responses and with the research I’d done myself, I thought “hey, I’m gonna try this thing.” Then I thought “hey…but I’m not gonna tell anyone, cause when I fail, it won’t be a big deal.”

I decided to try it because, these days, my goal is to feel strong and healthy. Would I love to be a size 2 to boot? Yeah, buddy! And who knows what’ll happen. But my focus isn’t on the number. It’s on the feeling. On a healthful way of creating the energy day-to-day life demands, and having some to spare.

It’s been a week and a half. I was shocked at how easily veganism came to me during the structured work hours, free of outside temptation. Oatmeal with nuts…a couple servings of fruit…handful of almonds…coffee with almond milk. It was the carefree evening and weekend hours that were more challenging, but not impossibly so. Vegetable soup, falafel, pasta (no parm!), veggie wraps, salads, guac. I did lean on frozen items, which some people aren’t crazy about. But they’re fast, and they’re good. I made a couple of amateur mistakes (dude, Morning Star veggie nuggets have egg whites in them. Who knew?). And in desperation, I counted onion rings as a vegan item and ate me some-a those.

But I’ll be damned if I haven’t felt empowered, awake, present and – may wonders never cease – FULL. Shit, these foods are actually filling. Other stuff isn’t tempting me as much because it doesn’t serve me as much. All I get when I shovel down Swedish Fish and pizza is a tired guilt and Eeyore’s voice in my head.

Veganism is scary. I can’t lie. I’m not saying I’m going to be one for the rest of my life, running off into the sunset with my long blonde hair blowing behind me. My hair’s short and brown these days, and my crystal ball tells me there’s an entire box of Mac ’N Cheese Spongebob shapes in my future.

I’m not vegan, but I sure do appreciate the effects it has on the body and spirit. And BTW, down 7 lbs. Now pass dat tofu.

 

-kb

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22 thoughts on “What a Vegan Week Can Do For a Girl

  1. I’m a little upset I got caught laughing out loud on the train, but besides that this was great! And onion rings transcend labels, so no harm, no foul.

  2. I so appreciate the honesty of this post! I was vegetarian on & off for years. The year before I got pregnant, I went vegan. I felt the best I’d ever felt. And then I got pregnant. I let fear & our Bradley class guidance: Must get 75 grams of protein minimum every day! Scare me into eating chicken & cheese & yogurt again. I went back to being vegan at 5 months post-partum. It feels better to eat in harmony with my beliefs. And I’m so glad to have found this blog–inspiring–as I return to a more true to my heart way of eating & living :)

  3. Good to know, Keri, and keep feeling well! Congrats on your little one…nothing like it. Thanks so much for reading!

  4. Ah, veganism. I love it. And, yes, you have so much more energy! It’s amazing how quickly dairy especially can slow you down mentally and physically. You may try tossing in a green smoothie as a meal replacer. Full of fiber, greens, a fruit here and there. I get most of the recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com. Love that website. It’s my go-to when I’m in a meal-bind and don’t want to resort to something like onion rings ;)

  5. Inspiring! Go you. Like the idea of creating ambitious structures, but being okay with allowing exceptions. I forget who told me, but someone once adopted a rule, “gluten free, two outta three (meals a day).”

    Officially subscribed :)

    • Right on Alli, that gluten rule makes sense to me! Thanks for reading and following along, I’ll say hi to PVD for you!

  6. This blog is great!! Totally made me laugh out loud and I can’t wait to read more about your adventures in vegan-ism!

    • Thanks so much Trice! I’m just trying to write, be less fat, and be kind to animals. If I can make you LOL along the way, all the better!

  7. You’re a crazy-good writer! I was totally enthralled in during this whole story :) very cool life-experiences in regards to eating. I love that you went sugar-free during pregnancy. I’ve always thought that once I’m pregnant I’ll do something similar. But then I remember that I’ve always wanted to be pregnant just so I can shout at my husband GET ME AN OREO MCFLURRY, NOWWWWWW!!!! :) Also, Morningstar veggie nuggets. Those things are my jam. And luckily I’m not vegan otherwise I’d be very upset that there are egg whites in those. I did go dairy-free for a week and have to say I felt a lot better!

    • Lauren! Made my day! Thank you. Your Oreo McFlurry comment, hahaha, you gotta make a few “the baby wants it” demands! Sugar free felt good, though. The veggie nuggets are so good, have you tried the buffalo ones? I’m in my third plant-based week now, and tending towards vegan during the week and a vegetarian meal or two on the weekends. Take care and thanks for reading!!

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