Sheepin’ it real
Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely, positively, hate diets with a passion. I don’t own a weigh scale, and unless I have to start selling drugs to finance my designer shoe habit, I never will. It’s a bajillion dollar industry that the patriarchy uses to exploit the insecure and sell frozen dinners. There are only three acceptable reasons to go on a diet:
- Because a doctor has recommended it and has agreed to supervise you throughout.
- Because you are getting paid to do it, for example if you are an actress, model, athlete, or someone else who is paid to look a certain way or to have a specific physique — but even then, I’m talking five figures at least.
- Because you are engaged in a well-researched and carefully thought out experiment and/or change in lifestyle
A lot of people have asked what lead to this decision and what I plan to do moving forward, so I thought over the next month I would try to answer the most common questions I’ve been asked, and those I’ve asked myself! Here are the first ten:
1) What Does “Vegan” Actually mean?
A vegan is someone who abstains from using animal products in their daily lives. The philosophy itself is based on avoiding the use of animal products for ethical reasons, on the grounds that using animals is morally wrong, unsustainable, and damaging to the environment.
2) Why Vegan?
I love animals. I have had pets my whole life, and my affinity for animal prints has dominated my wardrobe, accessories, and home design. The rule is, if it’s leopard print, I have to have it. However, I always felt alienated by the animal welfare movement. I couldn’t imagine myself dressing up as a bunny and handcuffing myself to a fence outside a cosmetic lab in protest.
I was also put off by the use of emotional manipulation to further their cause. Seeing any animal suffering is heartbreaking to anyone with a heart to break in the first place, but it’s not necessarily enough to motivate someone to take action in a meaningful way. Also, at the risk of being cast out of the vegetarian community, I don’t actually believe that eating animals is morally wrong. Most people, particularly those living in poverty, don’t have the luxury of being selective about food. I couldn’t see the point of restricting my diet when I have access to a wide selection of organic meats and cheeses.
Then one day I randomly watched a documentary called Vegucated. It presented the vegan lifestyle in an entertaining, and well-reasoned way that was inclusive and compassionate rather than cold and condescending. I decided that it was worth doing some further research and asked a vegan friend and colleague for some more information.
The more I learned about farming practices and the meat industry, the less I could stomach the thought of eating animal products ever again. I learned that even organic dairy farms mistreat their animals , depriving them of access to pastures and pumping them full of nasty antibiotics and hormones. But it’s not my place, nor my desire to lecture you on inhumane practices in farming, so I will simply say that if you’d like to learn more, you can read this book, or watch this film, or visit this website.
3) What CAN you eat?
I’m not going to lie, this takes effort. Unless you are content to live off of frozen meat alternatives, which for the most part are tofu-cking awful, you have to commit to getting your Martha Stewart on and cook it yourself. My strategy at the moment is to create meat-free versions of the recipes I already enjoy. There are loads of resources out there for vegans who love eating, and I intend to be one of them. In fact, I’m posting my first tried-and-true recipe this week!
4) What about restaurants and dinner parties?
I have a more relaxed attitude toward this than many because I refuse to resign myself to eating spicy lentils at communal tables with hippies for the rest of my life. I haven’t been to a single restaurant that didn’t have something I could eat, even if it meant asking for pizza with no cheese. I haven’t been to a dinner party yet but my friends have teased me mercilessly throughout my life for things unrelated to food, so I don’t have a problem adding another thing to their list.
5) What does your boyfriend think?
“I just want a quiet life.” – Simeon
6) How will you get protein, iron, calcium, B12, and other vital nutrients?
I take iron + B12 supplements twice a day to be safe, but that’s no substitute for getting as much as possible through food. Dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, beans, and soy are all good shit.
7) Aren’t you starving?
I’m not nor have I ever been someone who eats for fuel, I absolutely love food, so I was worried about this. However, I actually feel fuller and more satisfied from each meal than I ever did before going vegan.
8) Do you feel different?
Yes yes yes. I have more energy, improved focus and concentration, and very few mood swings. The only thing that’s changed for the worse is my ability to sleep, but that could be due to my Netflix addiction rather than the change in my diet.
9) Have you lost weight?
No idea. My clothes still fit, so probably not.
10) How do you cope with cravings?
Being nice to myself. I have let one or two things slip, like not asking if there were eggs in a slice of cake I had on Sunday and not sending back pasta that had a tiny sprinkle of parmesan. I keep reminding myself that veganism in itself is an exercise in compassion, and if I’m not compassionate toward myself, it defeats the purpose.
Anyway, I’ll be back soon with the first of a series of delicious vegan recipes. Thanks for reading and if you have any more questions for me please email me at hexpatriate [at] gmail [dot] com or tweet me @hexpatriate.