Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Candy Fanatic's Descent into Veganism

Candy runs through my veins. It is my lifeblood. I can no sooner imagine a day without candy than I can a day without breathing. Well, that was before. Now, I try every day to get from sun up to sun down without thinking about Starbursts, Milk Duds, Hershey's Candy Cane Kisses, or Candy Corn. Something funny happened two weeks ago- I decided to try my hand at Veganism... again. I'm not silly enough to be excited about this decision. I miss my candy and junk food more than I've ever missed anything before. But it's a funny thing when you start to live your life in a way that reflects your beliefs. It actually feels good, despite what you might normally feel you're missing out on- it's not missing when you have a reason to pass on the dairy and eggs.

It all started innocently enough. Eight years ago I became a Vegetarian. My reasoning back then is kind of fuzzy at this point, but I've always truly believed in abstaining from eating animals for my enjoyment simply because I can. I figure if I can get by without killing animals, why not? So I've stuck to that idea ever since. Then I did the Vegan dance when I was in college for a month, and spun myself dizzy. I wasn't eating properly and didn't fully understand what my body needed to be healthy. Instead I was eating shitty Vegan food just because it was labeled as such, not worried about nutrition or anything. NOT the way to do it. Ever since then, I've stayed Vegetarian and haven't given much thought to Veganism again.

Enter: Forks and Knives, a documentary that is free streaming on Netflix. The basic premise of the film is that we are killing ourselves with our food, and even though we all know we'd be a million times healthier if we at a whole foods plant based diet, we don't. Why not? We know that fries, cheeseburgers, Diet Coke and all processed foods mess our bodies up. Yet we continue to consume them daily, trying our hardest to ignore what they're doing to our bodies. I couldn't get the thought out of my head after watching the movie. A lot of the film is definitely preachy and I'm not agreeing with absolutely everything they teach. I am, however, saying that it got me thinking about what I eat. I know that cows have to suffer for me to have all the milk and cheese I want. I know that chickens are cooped up with miserable lives because I want those scrambled eggs. After seeing the film, I just realized that I don't need to fulfill myself with these foods in order to be happy. Instead, I'll be much happier and healthier if I don't eat dairy and eggs. This is for two reasons. 1. I won't be ingesting shit, and my body will thank me. Eating fruits and veggies is extremely healthy, and my body is only going to get healthier as a result of this change. Which basically translates into- Carmen doesn't die a young death because of eating like shit! 2. I won't be hurting animals anymore! For someone who has been a Vegetarian for 8 years, Veganism really is the next logical step. I love animals. Why would I want to hurt them just so I can have momentary enjoyment while I eat a piece of cake? When I really thought about it, it just didn't make sense anymore.

So the day after I saw the movie, I cut out all dairy and eggs from my diet, with the intent to limit caffeine and sugar as much as I can. (Look, I'm Vegan, I'm not a saint.) To say that it has been difficult would be a HUGE understatement. I want a grilled cheese like Lindsay Lohan wants a bump of coke. I have dreams of making out with everything in the baked goods section of Panera. I salivate uncontrollably at the mere mention of cookies. IT'S HELL. No more chocolate, no more cupcakes, no more gummy candy (gelatin is made from pigskins, cattle bones, etc. Sorry for the gross out. BUT- on the plus side, Sour Patch Kids are okay. No gelatin! Thank God.) The first few days were honestly super miserable. Like, if you looked at me the wrong way I would not hesitate to punch you in the wiener miserable. But then, suddenly, as if by magic, I started to feel amazing. Like, jump around, full of chutzpah and life amazing. This feeling hasn't really gone away. I haven't been hungry AT ALL, and my energy level is usually through the roof. It's been almost two weeks now (not that long, I know) but I'm in love with the way I feel. I just had my first experience with Veagn junk food this weekend- delicious Vegan carrot cake. What's really interesting is noticing how my body responded versus the past week and a half when I was eating a strict whole foods plant based diet. Honestly, I didn't like the way I felt post-carrot cake. Was it kind of worth it because the cake was that delicious? For sure. Will I eat it every day? Definitely not. I really think paying attention to your body, what it's going through and what it's telling you is very important. It's like I'm my own personal science project. I quite like it :) Oh, and if you're wondering- yes, I can still have beer. Most beer is actually Vegan. It's not exactly "healthy" so I'm trying to limit it for now, but I'm in no way saying goodbye to my one true hoppy love.

I won't say this transition has been easy, and I will readily admit that I've come very close to eating a cookie or two in the past two weeks. Yes, it is very difficult to say no to holiday treats, buttery dishes and everything yummy I'm used to having at this time of year. But in the end, it's for something I believe in with my whole heart, and giving in would be weak. If I don't have the strength to turn down some of my favorite foods for the sake of something bigger than my own personal enjoyment, then I should really be embarrassed. Food shouldn't have that much power over me! Plus, it's for my own damn health! If you're at all interested in taking the plunge into Veganism, please email me!! I'd love to answer any questions you may have, and explain to you the process of eating green. Trust me, I never thought I would be this girl. I'm the last person in the world who would choose veggies over a plate of nachos. But bridging the gap between how I think and how I live has really been an amazing experience thus far. I highly recommend it. Moral of the story is- I'm saying goodbye to dairy and eggs for the foreseeable future. So if you see me out, don't offer me a cookie. I might cry.

Disclaimer: This is totally just how I feel. I 100% respect everyone else's rights to eat as much meat, dairy & eggs as they want. It's your life. Live it how you want. This is just a decision I've made for myself. You do you, bro.

4 comments:

  1. I watched Forks vs. Knives too -seriously, life changing. I quickly cut animal products out of my diet (was already half-way there anyway). Seriously so proud of your commitment!!! I'm only like 75% (If not, I don't know if I'd eat enough) I would sooo love if you'd share some of your healthy recipes or where you shop for vegan food:)

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  2. Honestly, I couldn't imagine being vegan, for I, too, LOVE sweets. I could probably make a really good vegetarian, however. I'm not the biggest meat eater (I eat more fish and seafood than anything), and even that would be easy to give up. But vegan? I would most likely fail because, yes, I don't know what I'm doing. :) My biggest issue? Diabetes. I NEED protein... hmph. It would be interesting to try, however. As for "Forks and Knives?" I've never seen it! However, the boyfriend and I like watching documentaries, so this may be something that we would enjoy!

    Anyway, I found your blog from Arielle's "Holiday Favorites." I enjoyed skimming through your posts and learning about your favorite types of music. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas, and are able to sit around and watch "A Christmas Story." I'll be doing the same thing...only with a glass of wine. :)

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  3. I could only imagine myself laying on the floor begging anyone for a cheese fix if I became vegan...I love cheese. I've been thinking of trying to go vegetarian soon though. 'Forks Over Knives' is a really informative doc, everyone should really watching it.

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  4. Do you not have Daiya cheese there? It's made of tapioca and is delicious. Honestly, it's the only vegan cheese substitute worth eating. You can make grilled cheese, nachos, mac n' cheese... lots of great things because it actually melts like real cheese. There's cheddar, mozzarella and pepperjack flavours.

    I too am considering going back vegan as a resolution for this year. It's tough at times, but there are so many great substitutes out there now and incredibly tasty alternatives - great vegan baked goods are so easy to make!

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