Saturday, March 3, 2012

6 month Veggieversary

So with all the chaos of my mom being sick and in a nursing home 2 1/2 hours away, I completely lost track of my 6 month mark of giving up meat!  For some reason I was thinking it was in March, not February.  Vegifail!  I could have thrown myself a plant-based parade, or made a giant vegan tier cake, but instead I was either cleaning the house or cooking for the week, or just being a complete lazy ass and sitting in the chair watching TV or reading.  Ok, so the likelihood of the parade or cake was slim to none.  But, I really did want to record the day and reflect my journey over the last 6 months.  I guess better 13 days late than never!

A lot has happened and changed in the last 6 months, and more than just my diet and health!  When I (pseudo accidentally) stopped eating meat I was just going to take it 1 day at a time, no commitment, no stopping point planned.  I had no idea how much things would change and evolve in my life.  I didn't see it as this mega phenomenal thing that I was doing.  I just saw it as a small change in my diet that would have a positive impact on my health and animals.  Oh how wrong I was!

My first step was to learn as much as I could about the vegetarian lifestyle.  So, I joined a vegetarian/vegan forum.  I was shocked when I was judged and/or chastised for not being "vegetarian", then "vegan", enough.  When I expressed that I thought it was wrong to judge those who ate meat I was told to "come back when you've been vegetarian longer and have more experience".  When I started leaning more towards a vegan diet it was basically implied that this attitude wasn't "vegan enough".  I was heart broken.  They were not only attacking me, but other fellow vegans.  On top of this, Tim (my boyfriend) was getting a lot of criticizing and hostility from his friends for his decision.  I was so frustrated that no matter which way I turned I was getting no support from anyone!

That forum brought me some very positive points as well though.  And that's where things started to snowball into something I had never expected.  The first was introducing me to a video of a lecture by Gary Yourofsky.  This video convinced me that I needed to try to adopt a vegan diet as much as I possibly could.  That's when I accomplished things I never thought I could, such as not only cutting out dairy ice cream but stop craving it all together!  With this I had more energy, I wasn't dragging the first few hours of work, my almost constant nausea was all but eliminated, and I no longer worried about if my food choice for lunch or dinner was unhealthy.  The best part of all I felt positive and good about myself and what I was doing every single day.  I was constantly doing something great for my health, and even more selfless I was not harming a single animal in any food choices I made.  You have no idea how great that feels until you experience it for yourself!

The second thing this forum brought me was to the Happy Herbivore website and blog.  There I found people with the same frustrations of being made to feel "not vegan enough" by some of their peers.  But more importantly, I found both simple information about eating a healthy vegan diet as well as simple, easy, and delicious recipes.  This is a must for someone starting out a vegan/plant-based diet.  This evolved in me not only finding support from peers, but finding more resources, websites, physicians, programs, etc. that supported this diet and lifestyle.  I was also able to chat with some of the "plant based superstars", such as people from the documentary Vegucated and the Engine 2 Diet website, and the Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixson herself.  Then, I had the chance to have a private cooking lesson with Lindsay!  It was so informative, and it felt great to communicate with someone who not only had been a vegan for years (the first person I actually got to speak to that lived the lifestyle), but also was well known all over the country for her cookbooks.

I then decided that I wanted my blog to try to reach others out there, and possibly be a starting point for me to accomplish bigger and better things.  I want to help people not only be healthy and be at a healthy weight (which has been a passion of mine for years), but also see that eating a diet with no meat, dairy, or eggs could be delicious, fulfilling, and easy.  I want people to not feel pressured to be all or nothing with their diet, but to make small steps on the road to healthier living.  I started posting on other blogs of interest with a link to my blog.  One day I get a notice from Twitter that a local vegetarian group retweeted a link to one of my blog posts, saying "this is some good stuff".  Wow, what a compliment!  Then, after being more confident in speaking out in a public forum, a few witty remarks on a couple Tweets from The Bloggess, she started following my Twitter posts.  I was so excited!  One of my new favorite literary people in the world thought I was witty, or at least amusing enough to follow.  I see her as a literary version of myself in a way, and her relationship with her husband and their conversations remind me very much of myself and Tim's communication, lol.

Happy Herbivore cookbooks, which I highly recommend to both people who are looking to lean towards a plant based diet, and to people just wanting to eat healthier and bring more delicious vegetable and whole grain dishes into their diet.  And that is what I hope to do, inspire people to make even small changes to make themselves and their families healthier.

In this road to nutrition I also found the path to my next step; getting my Bachelor's degree. Through research I found an online program through the University of Bridgeport for a degree in Social Sciences.  This will give me the ability to also take courses in psychology and nutrition, so that I can look into a career in a field in the area I've been interested in for so long, helping people become healthier.  I may even continue on with a Masters in Nutrition program that they offer, if I decide to be that bold and daring later on down the road!

So that is the jest of my journey so far in a nutshell.  I can't believe all of this has happened in just 6 months, and I can't wait to see what the next 6 months, or even 6 years, have to offer.  This lifestyle is definitely here to stay for me.  As for my current "status", I am about 95% Vegan, with the only exceptions being having local honey on occasion or bread at a restaurant that may have a small amount of dairy in it.  Considering I started by being "accidentally vegetarian" I think that's a pretty damn good place to be!  :-)

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