Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 31: The Pledge Is Over, I'm Still Vegan

(*118.4lbs and 20.5% body fat)

I don't feel any thinner, healthier, leaner...I feel rather irritated this morning but that might have more to do with me in a particular stage of my feminine cycle - but I don't typically have PMS - and my room being absolutely cluttered because I haven't unpacked from my trip and a week's worth of mail is sitting in two places -- my desk and the buffet table in the entryway.

So let's talk about the highlights of this pledge. The three things that sustained me: alcohol, french fries and Rice Dream frozen treats. This is not healthy. Not one bit. But remember, I wanted to use the pledge as a way to transition me into a vegan diet so my main purpose wasn't to be "healthy." My main purpose was to remove all animal products from my diet. Once that's cleaned up, then I can focus on what's healthy and nourishing and good for my body. It would never work for me if I forced my way through a healthy, vegan diet. Because there would be two things working against me: (a.) no animal products, which is so brand new for me because I was a total carnivore and (b.) healthy foods, which is so not what I'm accustomed to because I eat whatever I want, be it healthy, fatty, high calorie, too sugary, too sweet or not.

Anyhow, I turned into a bit of an alcoholic. I drank more than I ever have this month compared to most months. True, I was on vacation for 5 of the pledge's 30 days. But I think when eating out, I looked to alcohol to distract me a little. I think that's what I was subconsciously doing.

I had a Rice Dream Frozen Treat almost everyday and on some days, I would have two. I wouldn't suggest this but I also don't see this changing for me. Sweets are a huge part of my diet, at least at this point in my life. And I don't have any real problem with this. I have no desire to change this. I think naturally, as I adopt a more health-based approach to food, this may change. But I have no problems with making a pastry or a cookie or some sort of dessert a part of every meal.

French fries. Wow. They are so good and thank god they're a vegetable and they're fried in vegetable oil. I definitely don't want to be eating fries with every meal and I don't like the idea of fries being my whole meal as often as it was during the pledge. I've always loved fries and always picked fries as my side when eating out so it wasn't the pledge that forced me to consume so many fries. I already ate a lot of fries. But wanting to stick to a vegan diet did have me eating fries a whole lot more than I would've.

So, maybe I should rename my pledge as the "not healthy, no animal diet" pledge because that's exactly what it was - vegan, for sure because I did not have any animal products and unhealthy, for sure because I ate a lot of fried and/or processed plant-based foods.

That being said, I think this has a lot to do with why I don't feel cute on this pledge. I've actually found myself to be pretty unattractive during the pledge. My skin was breaking out so much. Like every day it kept getting worst and worst. My skin isn't radiant and my eyes aren't bright. I definitely didn't find myself glowing from the inside. I did feel this way when I first removed mammals from my diet. I had such an inner joy. There was this light that I felt shining within me. It felt like my entire being was always smiling.

I think this has everything to do with how when we "have to do something," we get grumpy. We do it, because we said we do it. We're no longer doing it because we want to do it. Take for example, day 28. I really wanted sushi, I really wanted sushi. And I knew I shouldn't have it because it would mean I'm not vegan and I screwed up the pledge. But when I allowed myself to have it and go to town with all the sushi you want tonight, the truth came out and that's that I don't want it. I think I wanted it because I couldn't have it.

One thing's for certain, I'm ending this pledge thinking soy's not good for me. In the past, prior to the pledge, and even when veganism was so not anything I was interested in, I would have soy milk on occasion and I noticed how I typically didn't feel good after it. Like nothing in particular would happen but I'd feel kind of bloated, unsettled in the belly and a tad bit less energetic. I could be mistaken in making soy milk "the bad guy." But who cares? Why force soy milk upon myself? I don't have to drink it. It doesn't have to be a staple for me because it's a staple for most vegans. I don't like soy milk. It leaves me feeling yucky inside. Unfortunately, it's the only option to milk and creamer when it comes to coffee at a coffeeshop. And I'm a big fan of cafes and coffeeshop culture. So I'm thinking when it comes to my coffee beverages, I'm going to have to have it with milk. I feel sad saying this because I think it makes me "not vegan" anymore, even though I don't eat any type of animal flesh and even though I don't consume butter or eggs or milk in anything else. I'll only have milk in my coffee when I buy coffee from a cafe. And I'm only doing this because right now the only milk alternative that cafes carry is soy milk. So until they have almond milk or rice milk or something other than soy, it's gonna be...oh, god...dairy milk!!

Does this make me not vegan? Perhaps. I know die hards out there and maybe even non die hards that would determine this to mean that I am not vegan. But I'm not seeking the vegan label, I'm seeking a life of conscious choices.

So, you won't find cow, chicken, lamb, goat, pig, turkey or fish in my diet. I enjoy and select foods that do not include eggs or milk in their preparation. And, when I order coffee, it will have a splash of milk. Vegan? Not vegan? You tell me.

And, hypothetically speaking, if my friend was baking a non-vegan cake for her co-workers or a dinner party or a volunteer event and she needed someone to taste test the frosting, I would, without hesitation, do the taste test for her. So I ask again - Vegan? Not Vegan? You tell me.

Does opting to sometimes add milk to my coffee because soy milk doesn't feel right for me and coffee shops and cafes aren't yet offering any other alternatives, does avoiding the soy milk because it doesn't feel right with my body and splashing my coffee with milk make me not vegan? Does helping a friend out, who poured her heart into baking a cake for friends, loved ones, peers by tasting the frosting - or let's go ahead and just say - tasting the cake w/the frosting to make sure it's just right, does doing that for my friend make me not vegan?

I don't know. I really don't know. Is it like being "kinda pregnant?" I'd like to fit the "vegan" description to the tee. Not so I could go around saying "I'm vegan" in that "I'm cool" kinda way but because these sort of "descriptors" help people understand you better. So when one doesn't quite fit into a category, people have to do a little more thinking on their part.

So, what are your thoughts? Is a splash of milk in a cup of coffee all it takes to make a vegan, not vegan? To answer that, I think we have to consider whether we think "veganism" is an outcome/end-result or a process. Is it what you do or why you do? One thing's for certain, I may not feel "worthy" of the vegan "V" next to my Facebook name, but there is no conflict for me to maybe sometimes add milk to my coffee. My commitment is to live a life that's cruelty free and suffering free and I'm going to do this the best way I know how. And it may or may not fit certain ideas out there in the world or with a "vegan's" or "non-vegan's" idea of what a "vegan" is or isn't but this is where I'm at, and this is what I'm choosing to do for right now, at this moment. And I'm open to it changing and evolving and staying the same.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 30: Back From Maui And Back At Whole Foods For A Vegan Cookie

Today's vegan bites include:
1.) Sunchips (yep, Sunchips! I read the ingredients while sitting on the plane)
2.) Coffee with non-dairy creamer
3.) 2 slices of toast w/strawberry jam - sourdough and wheat
4.) Ginger & Green Onion Rice Noodles
5.) 16oz chocolate soy mocha and a fresh baked vegan peanut butter cookie
5.) Fresh baked vegan oatmeal cookie

"Done...quite frankly, skin looks like crap...not radiant, not clear, not nothing...I think it could be all the soy...not looking particularly hot...feeling actually less attractive than when I first started...master cleanse had better results...given that I'm not working out, I don't feel any skinnier but I don't feel any fatter either..."

So, we flew into LAX early this morning. We flew first class both ways and given that I didn't let the airlines know that I was vegan, not too much of the meals or snacks they served were vegan. I wonder if I told them in advance that I was vegan, if they would prepare vegan meals for me and serve vegan snacks. Anyhow, it felt kind of wasteful to pay so much more for my airfare and not enjoy their services. Well, there is the more comfortable seat and the roomier leg space, both of which all 5 feet and 3 inches of me thoroughly enjoyed.

A few things - we were pretty tired arriving so early in the morning (6am); we were sad to be back because we were no longer on island time; and my car got totaled at the airport while parked in the passenger loading/unloading zone. All I was able to write on Day 30 about Day 30 is what you see in quotes above.

Such a different voice, huh? I was just so tired and just so grateful my friends and I weren't injured in the accident...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 29: You Can Be Vegan On Vacation

Today's vegan bites include:
1.) 12oz. Soy latte
2.) Blueberry mojito
3.) Champagne (2 glasses)
4.) Teriyaki glazed tofu over quinoa, avocado & olives
5.) French fries with fresh pesto
6.) A Veggie burger with french fries and POG

(*No scale to weigh or "body fat percent" myself)