I’m going vegan for three days. That’s seventy-two hours without cheese. I’m freaked.
I have many reasons for going vegan but only one reason for NOT going vegan. In the “pro” column are the biggies: I get that the vegan diet is better for the earth, for my health, for animals. Intellectually, vegan is the way to go. It represents my priorities.
Another reason I’m experimenting with vegan is because I’m tired of the anti-vegan hate. I’m tired of people lumping veganism with crazy fad diets. I’ve even heard so many of these very fad dieters — you know the type, the ones who live without carbs, live wholly on protein or weird little shakes — get judgmental on vegans for their extreme eating habits. Dude! (And I only say “Dude” when I’m angry…) At least vegans adopt the diet for loftier goals than jean size. What we choose to eat should represent how we want our bodies to feel, how we want our earth to operate. People forsake meat and cheese after a heart attack, and that’s noble; people forsake carbs to fit into a bikini, and we shrug; yet people skip animal products to protect their health or planet or animals, and it’s seen as crazy. Why are we so touchy about veganism? Does it touch a moral nerve to know that people live happily and healthily without animal products? In defense of my vegan brothers and sisters, I’ll give this a shot.
I mentioned, however, I have one reason for not going vegan. And for this, I turn to the curmudgeonly love of my life, Mr. Anthony Bourdain:
“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”
And I get what he’s saying. I love food. Love it. I can’t eat a good piece of cheese without sighing romantically — hell, I can’t eat a cheap, Kraft cheddar without oohing. And butter! And eggs! How does one live without such essentials to happiness? While I can live without meat and be just fine, I can’t imagine life without seafood. Shrimp sauteed in butter! Fish tacos with mounds of cheese! How is it that the vegans don’t feel utterly short changed? Why is it they look healthy and fit, have good skin, and seem generally OK?
So for three days, my head will win. Three days of a vegan diet. I can do this. I think.
What I hope to get out of this experiment… I hope to find new foods to introduce into my diet so that it leans more toward a plant-based diet, even after I return to the land of eggs and cheese and shrimp on Monday. I hope to explore those scary sections of grocery stores I usually rush through while wondering, “What IS arrowroot anyway?” I hope to increase my awareness and sympathy for what it feels like to be a vegan in a meat-eating world.
What I fear… Having to ask questions like, “What IS arrowroot anyway?” and sounding like a moron. Spending a fortune on food that won’t taste good anyway. Trying any food surrounded by quotation marks (if I can’t have cheese, I won’t have “cheese” or “cheeze.” I mean, dude. C’mon. Not fooling anyone.).
Today is day one. I’ve got some cookbooks, bookmarked websites, a ton of questions, and sixty more hours. Wish me luck.
(And if you’re vegan, please send the yummiest recipes you’ve got!)
For more info on the vegan diet, visit http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm
Learn how vegan diets help the environment: http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/environment.aspx