Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Today is the last day of my vegan experiment. The only thing I ate that was not free from animal products was my calcium pills, and if I lived somewhere where it was possible to buy vegan ones I would have done so. West Africa is not that place, and I made the decision that getting the calcium was more important than following the letter of the law in that one instance. Other than that though, I was flawless.
What now? I am not ready to be a vegan full time. Even if I lived somewhere friendlier to vegans, I am not sure that I would want to, and here it's been really hard. It's hard to cook, and harder to eat out given the limited number of restaurants around. If I were back home in Chicago, I could keep this up indefinitely, but I am getting tired of the same two restaurants, and I think my friends are getting tired of them as well. I am looking forward to being able to have milk in my coffee again, and to not having to suspiciously question everyone who offers me food.
Full-time veganism is not for me. I don't feel like I need to label myself, or try to fit myself into someone else's narrow criteria. And that is one of the things that has kept me from identifying with a lot of groups in the past. "If you're a Christian you need to believe this" "All feminists think this; if you don't agree you're not a real feminist." I'm not a fan of other people defining me. And to be perfectly honest, I am a fan of bacon. One of my friends refers to herself as a "baco-pescetarian" because she eats bacon and seafood, but no other animals. I think she is actually a lacto-ovo-baco-pescetarian, but she gets to label herself, remember?
So what I have I learned besides the fact that I miss bacon?
I've learned that you get to eat a whole lot more food when cheese is not part of the equation. I think my biggest lesson is that I was entirely too cheese dependent, and that as delicious as it is, it has little redeeming value for the amount of calories that it costs.
I've learned that 100 calories worth of nuts is a tiny amount, but can make the difference between lunch filling you up or not.
I've learned that hummus can be eaten for breakfast. and lunch. and dinner. sometimes on the same day.
I've learned that when I eat 8-10 servings of fruit and veggies a day, my skin looks fantastic.
I've learned that 50-60 grams of fiber a day makes you poop. a lot.
I've learned that I can live without butter, cheese, meat, honey, and still eat well, and cook dinner that is good enough for company.
I'm not going to be a full-time vegan. Or at least I am not going to identify as one, but I have no real interest in eating meat or cheese right now. I joked that I was going to celebrate the end of this by making a dinner of bacon and eggs, but I've made my breakfast and lunch for tomorrow already. Baked apples and oatmeal with walnuts, dried cranberries and soy milk for breakfast, and bulgar and tofu curry for lunch. This experiment pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and made me more mindful of what I ate. Those are the lessons I want to take with me, whether I am eating tofu or bacon.