From Early Death to Corrosion by Spinach

Some people become vegan because they watch those horrifying videos of animals being sliced and diced to death. Other people do it for health reasons. Other people marry vegans.

Plant Life On My Plate

Waiter, There’s Plant Life On My Plate

I really rather hesitate to use the term “vegan” for myself, so perhaps I should clarify something right off the bat. When I do call myself “vegan”, it’s according to the Adventist definition of the word, not the ethical/activist definition. It just means I avoid meat, dairy, and eggs, or in perhaps more accurate terms, it’s a plant-based diet. I have no issues with eating honey or wearing leather shoes at this point in my life.  I should also clarify that I do not STRICTLY follow a plant-based diet; I do occasionally take in some dairy or eggs at other people’s houses or potlucks, or because I’m pregnant and my aversions are all across the board. But I don’t eat meat. I’ve been completely off that now for close to a year and have NO interest in going back.

So how did all this come about?

When I was going through tech school in my early twenties, I worked at a pizza place for a while. One of my coworkers was vegetarian. I would gag every time he’d make us workers a pizza because it would be “corroded with spinach”, and in turn he called my favourite pizza “Early Death”. I loved meat, and the “Early Death” was corroded with it: pepperoni, sausage, beef crumbles, and Canadian bacon, and I liked adding bacon bits on top of that. I quipped back that someone had to make up for all the meat he wasn’t eating. I didn’t like eating “leaves and green things” and frequently informed people I was a plants rights activist and therefore would rather not eat veggies.

Later on I graduated tech school and moved out on my own for the first time. At that time I decided I was going to stop eating the animals that were Biblically declared unclean, but that still left plenty of options open, and I still loved my meat. Large, luscious cheeseburgers. Fish. Oh yummy. Fish and chips. Fried chicken from Applebees. That chicken sandwich from Arby’s. Omnomnom. Arby’s was tantalisingly close to my job, too.

When I met my husband, I was dismayed to find out he was vegan. Was he going to expect me to be one too? Me, the meat-lover extraordinaire? I have many memories of our early dating days that revolve around food. I wanted to make food he’d enjoy, but his ideas about making food were alien to mine. Not only was I a meat girl, I was a recipe girl. While he would just pull stuff out of the fridge and throw it in a pan and make deliciousness, I would be faced by all these veggies and not know what to do with them except make a salad or something.

Time went by and, me being the impressionable sort, his ways began to rub off on me. He managed to squick me out so much by referring to the “lumps of dead animal flesh” in my freezer that my luscious hamburgers would go untouched for weeks until I stopped gagging at his terminology, and I learned to season food by smelling the seasonings, and I could make spaghetti sauce and stir fry that met his approval.

And time went by and I discovered that actually going without meat wasn’t as hard as I thought, although I still jumped at any opportunity to wolf down a bird or a fish or even a buffalo burger if given half a chance.

But it wasn’t until we’d been married about two years that I became fully convinced in my own mind that I would have better health without consumption of animal flesh and decided I was done eating dead animals.

It is true that you learn to like what you eat – or, at the very least, tolerate it. I’m still not in love with spinach, for instance, but I eat it because it’s there, and in the proper context it can be quite palatable. (I still decline to corrode my pizzas with it, though.) The endless array of what you can do with plant-based foods is a dazzling, exciting world, and meat seems so boring in comparison now.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, what’s your story? What prompted you? How is it going for you? Have you felt positive health impacts from your choice?

[Just a note: I’m going to be doing a food post every second Wednesday now instead of weekly. I may be beginning to fill in the alternate weeks with new topics, or I may just leave them blank. Getting ready for baby in a few months and so I’m wanting to not spend quite as much time on the blog! If I do pursue alternate topics, is there anything YOU would especially be interested in?]

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Categories: Mrs Pine Nut | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “From Early Death to Corrosion by Spinach

  1. Long story short: I grew up in a family that tried to eat healthy meals. In the summer of 2002, after going through a Revelation Seminar at our public library hosted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, my family and I chose to remove unclean meats from our diet according to the Scriptures. In the fall of 2009 after becoming pretty sick for two weeks, I discovered my body probably could not tolerate diary and began to ween myself off of it.

    On January 3, 2010, after a vegan cooking demonstration by 3ABN chef Mark Anthony at my church in California, I chose to switch to a vegan diet… cold turkey! 😉 A few months later, after accidentally eating a bite of dairy and having two severe allergic reactions (hives and asthma-like difficulty breathing), I realized I had a severe dairy allergy, and all the little things from my childhood began to make sense: chronic running noses, random upset stomachs, unexplained itchiness, and the very rare asthma-like breathing problems. After switching to a vegan diet, I began to gradually lose weight.

    After moving from California–where I ate a lot of Mexican and Asian styled meals–to Virginia in the summer of 2010, I began to eat more traditional breads (whole wheat, though), and I noticed my weight increasing again. A year later, I was probably at my heaviest ever, which was so frustrating as I was following a healthy and balanced vegan diet. I was pretty much ready to give up and just resign myself to being fat and ugly for the rest of my life. Then my mom told me to try removing wheat from my diet completely. She had discovered that she has an allergy to wheat and so did my younger sister. Desperate for anything, I cut all wheat from my diet. It was difficult at first, because I LOVE carbs, but I was able to find alternatives to my most favorite dishes: brown rice pasta, gluten-free breads (Schfar brand is the best, though Ener-G’s Tapioca loaf is okay), and waffles (Van’s Natural Foods). Gradually, the weight melted off, and I’m finally about where I was when I graduated from high school. Now that I know I have a intolerance to wheat, I believe with exercise, I will be able to slim down to the smallest I have ever been as an adult.

    I’m very happy and content with being a wheat-free vegan, though it does make eating out practically impossible. (The only restaurant I feel safe eating at is Chipotle’s, actually.) I have always enjoyed cooking, but I find it so much more enjoyable now that it is vital. I’m doing my own sprouts, making my own soups, and trying lots of different vegan recipes and attempting to make them gluten-free when they are not. I am also beginning to experiment in gluten-free baking so I will not have to rely on buying breads and such, though breads are not a huge part of my diet. I prepare and eat more of Southwestern/Mexican and Asian inspired dishes where traditional bread is replaced by corn tortillas or brown rice. I still get the “Ahhh… bread” sensation without having to worry. I also make a pretty delicious gluten-free vegan pizza using polenta for the “crust”. (It must be eaten with a fork, though, as the crust falls apart.)

    So… that is my story in a nutshell: a wheat-free vegan with a severe dairy allergy. (I carry Benedryl Allergy capsules with me at all times “just in case”, and they have come in handy many times. I cannot even enjoy the potlucks at church because it is so hard to tell which dishes may have dairy hidden in them.) During my journey, I had a lot of the same reactions to the vegetarian and vegan diets that you mentioned in your story. If you had asked the me from 2009 that I would shortly be vegan, I would have laughed at you and said: “That will never happen.” Now look at me! I moved to California, the land of the fruits and the nuts, and became a fruit and nut myself! *lol* Like you, I am not vegan in ethical/activist sense. Though I do care for animals and the cruelty with which livestock is raised deeply saddens (and sometimes sickens me) NOW that I am vegan, it was not a factor in my decision. I also have no qualms eating honey and wearing/using leather. To be honest, my change was purely health-related.

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    • I really admire the way you’ve made so many changes in your diet. Going wheat-free AND vegan scares me so much – I’m really thankful to not have a wheat allergy. I know that I could go completely without dairy, eggs, or soy if I had to, but wheat would be really hard!

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