I’ve been denying that I can’t eat cheese for years. Milk was easy because I could drink Lactaid and the rest of the time I just ignored it when it was an ingredient in other foods. I have the opposite problem as most lactose intolerant people do when it comes to eating dairy. It doesn’t come out fast and furious… it just doesn’t come out at all. A long time ago when reading about cancer I learned that all cancers are a result of some type of constant irritation. And for a long time I had made the connection that things moving along slowly in the colon could not be good. It has to be considered a form of constant irritation to have old food stuck there for long periods of time. I rationalized that I was taking enzymes to help and cutting back by not drinking regular milk. But the truth haunted me. The truth that my belly was bloated and I was constantly putting a substance in my body that it had a hard time digesting.
Finally, I relented. I gave up dairy. In all it’s forms. And I found, very early on, that is wasn’t that hard. Asking for that burger without cheese and the burrito too was no big deal. I didn’t even miss it that much. And then, one night as I sat, eating my Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad, I noticed that I was picking out the chicken, and I remembered that I do this a lot. In fact, my taste for animal protein has been waning for years. And I realized that the jump from where I was that moment, as a non-dairy eating person, to a complete vegan was really just a little hop. And I began to consider if it was a possibility that I, the queen of impulse eating, could sitck to a diet composed of just grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Then I saw, on CNN, Sanjay Gupta interviewing Michelle Pfeiffer. He asked her about her recent transition to vegan eating and what had motivated her. She stated that it was Sanjay Gupta’s documentary entitled “The Last Heart Attack” and a book that was mentioned in the documentary. She also stated that she considered President Bill Clinton a very smart man. And he himself had chosen a vegan food plan to deal with serious heart problems he’d developed. She decided if it was good enough for Bill Clinton it was good enough for her. And this made sense to me. Around this same time I received a $30 store credit card for amazon.com and because I believe in synchronicity I decided I had nothing to lose by spending that $30 on a couple of vegan books. I bought “Living Vegan for Dummies” and a vegan cookbook. I kept it simple by making my decisions fast and ordering the books with the highest rating. I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. Knowing I have an ADD brain and a tendency to overcomplicate everything.
I decided I would make my transition slowly. I would read “Living Vegan for Dummies” first and get the basics under my belt. In the mean time I started just looking at vegan foods in the store to see what was available. Every time I did my regular grocery shopping I spent a few moments stopping and looking at vegan alternatives, making a note of prices, and reading a label or two. It was then that I started to get curious and gave myself permission to do some taste testing. Each time I went to the store I would buy a couple of vegan items just to sample. I gave myself permission to dive right in to the soy ice cream and the vegan cookies, knowing I needed to prove to myself right off the bat the going vegan didn’t spell the end to ever eating anything good again. And it worked. I soon found that there are many scrumptious vegan foods to choose from and I need never feel deprived. I may feel inconvenienced at times, but never deprived.
And then there was the cooking. My least favorite activity in the world! I knew right away I would have to cook. There was no getting around it. I took my new cookbook and chose one recipe a week to try. I only made extra recipes if I wanted to. I was still eating animal protein too. I was slowly eating up the foods that I already had in my kitchen while working in vegan choices when it was convenient. This slow approach is working great for me so far. I picked a great cookbook and have made some very tasty meals. My motivation to cook is greater because I know I’m killing two birds with one stone. I’m cooking more nutritious meals at home and cutting back on processed foods and fast food. Cooking with fresh ingredients is motivating. The food is beautiful and colorful and I know its good for me. Often in the beginning I posted pictures of the dishes I prepared on Facebook. It helped motivate me when people made positive comments and I felt proud that I was finally cooking!
The purpose of this blog is to help me stay motivated. I’m also trying to cement into my brain the things I’m learning by repetition. It is always easier to remember something once you explain it to someone else. My hope is that this is a journey I will continue. I need the psychological work out of writing to get me past the inevitable bumps in the road and the occasional mountain. Wish me luck as I continue my journey. Namaste!