A little over 3 months ago I decided to become a vegan. It was an intensely personal, and some may say radical, choice. I stocked my whole kitchen and pantry with new cookbooks, pantry staples and an ever changing assortment of fresh veggies and fruits that make their way to my plate. I also choose to change the diet of my youngest son, Jackson. As for the teenager, Derick, he makes his own choices away from home and that's his right, but at home he eats as a vegan, mostly without complaining. He is a teenager, so I don't really go a day without the complaining.
I've gotten some really interesting reactions to my diet change, some I was expecting and some I would have never even thought I'd get. For the most part the teasing and making jokes is over with. I think everyone has accepted this for what it is, a choice that I made. I try to not be a burden on family and friends with my new diet. I can, for the most part, find something to eat at most restaurants with a few modifications. A few places have zero options which still amazes me. The vegans of the world aren't a HUGE group, but we exist and it sure would be nice to have an option or two everywhere.
I've slipped up a few times, mostly on accident. Over Halloween I did intentionally not read an ingredient label because I was sure it contained some animal derived ingredient. Sure enough, after I ate the candy in question, I kicked myself because it did indeed contain milk. Milk chocolate usually does contain milk. But I didn't beat myself up over it. One tiny piece of milk chocolate wasn't going to matter in the whole scheme of things and my purpose.
Along the way I've read some fascinating books, ate some delicious food and met some really groovy people. I've become more aware of products that are coming into my home and how they affect my life, my kids lives, the animals in the world and my planet.
This diet change is so much more than what passes through my lips. It's about awareness and a positive feeling I get from making a choice everyday to do what is right for me. One of the very few negative comments I've gotten was when someone told me that they thought I was doing this to be morally superior and to feel better than everyone else. What they person failed to understand is that my choice has nothing to do with other people. I don't feel like I'm a better person or morally superior. What I do feel is better. I feel healthier, lighter and overall better. It may be a mental thing, but it works for me.
This will be my first holiday as a vegan and it's going to be interesting. I have no doubts that I won't be tempted to eat the things I once did. But I do worry that people around me will be uncomfortable or feel the need to point out that I'm not eating certain things and make me uncomfortable. In the end though, the holidays aren't about food, they are about being with family and friends and enjoying each other. That I can count on for sure, no matter what food is served.
I look forward to meeting more people and answering questions about what I do and don't choose to eat. I look forward to learning to cook more things that I'm not used to cooking (artichokes scare me!*). I look forward to showing people that being a vegan doesn't mean the end of the world. Mostly, though, I look forward to teaching my children that even if they don't want to be vegans that it's OK to be different and to embrace it. Because it is OK to be different, sometimes it's even kind of fun.
I don't talk much about being a vegan on my blog and I'm not really sure why. It's become a large part of my life in so many ways. Everything from the obvious food choices to the more obscure choices like what eyeliner I buy are all connected. I guess I don't want to be judged or pigeonholed by anyone. But just as I am trying to teach my kids, I need to celebrate being different.
It's what makes the world go 'round, as they say.
*Anyone wanna tell me the best way to cook an artichoke? Anyone?