However, the last few weeks have been filled with unplanned, last minute trips to Owensboro, which is about 2 1/2 hours away. My mom has been in a nursing home there since right after Christmas, and now she is in ICU with double pneumonia. She has been on a ventilator for 6 days, with hopes she will be off of it today. This has required several trips back and forth, without knowing how long I would be there or when I would have a chance to take a break and eat. Like all long trips I packed the car with several snack options. But the car being parked several blocks away, and the ICU not allowing food or drink in the rooms, that only helped during actual travel there and back. So when there was 30 minutes free there was only one option to grab some lunch....You guessed it, the hospital cafeteria.
Working in several large hospitals over the last 11 or so years, I know what few options can be available in a hospital. So when Tim came back from perusing the options and told me there were several to be had, I was pleased. Not only did they have several options for us, but the items available were marked with a V for vegetarian. There were baked regular and sweet potatoes, hummus with pretzels, veggie burger with all the fixings available, and a salad bar which also had a few pre-made vegetarian salads. The pineapple and sweet potato salad with raisins was my favorite. Then of course the usual choices of french fries, onion rings, etc.
Now a very strict, anal retentive vegan may have not been exactly happy with some of these options. The pre made salad items could have possibly had butter or honey in them, and the fries and veggie burger were cooked in the same oil/grill as meat items. But eating plant based is different for everyone. Although I do not eat animal products nor keep any in my house, if I am out to dinner and bread or pasta might be made with a trace of milk or butter I will still eat it. As Kathy Freston says in her book Veganist, if something has 10% or less of dairy or eggs in it you don't have to stress about it. Obviously if there are other options available that absolutely do not have animal products in it I will choose that instead. But for me it is not worth stressing over every little detail when I am out with friends, or in this case worrying about when my mom may get off the ventilator or wake up alone, I am not going to be that anal about it. Eating that small amount from time to time does not affect how great my body feels not having any animal products.
Just like anyone trying to eat healthier, when "life" hits sometimes it's difficult to stick with it. When you are making a conscious and moral decision, however, it makes it easier to make the right choices. Especially when you don't have the cravings like you do in a "diet" where you are restricting yourself from addictive foods like sugar and dairy. The one thing I have been shocked by is the fact that I no longer crave or miss ice cream. Yes, I have non dairy options available that are delicious and satisfying. But like any book that discusses becoming vegan will tell you, once you detox from animal products, especially dairy, you no longer crave it. Yes, I still have cravings for something sweet or savory, but it's nothing like before where I could eat ice cream sitting in the middle of a blizzard (which has happened numerous times!). I have a piece of the pumpkin-chocolate bars I made that week, or some fruit dipped in chocolate sauce, and I'm happy and satisfied. And the big difference is that I don't feel stuffed, weighed down, or guilty afterwards. I had something absolutely delicious that was also good for me, so I feel awesome both physically and mentally! I have yet to feel hungry or deprived in the 5+ months since I gave up animal products.
As I have stated before, I'm now excited to plan my next meal or snack, because there is so much variety now. I also crave healthy foods like vegetables over fried or sweet and fatty foods. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be craving and loving vegetables of all kinds I would have told you that you were absolutely insane. But your body and tastes adapt to this new and healthy eating, and that's how I know that it is good for my body. You will never find any bad side effects or cravings with this way of eating, unlike restrictive "diets" such as Adkins or low-fat (and usually highly processed) diets. And the funny thing is, before I thought I felt healthy and great and had lots of energy. Now looking back that was nothing compared to how great I feel now! And all that is from just changing my diet to a plant based one. :-)