Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Vegan love affair

About two years ago I was looking for a way to change my entire body. I was looking for an answer to my constant battle with food and all the bad stuff that goes along with it. I had given birth to my daughter and I had yet to lose all the weight. I was really struggling to find a way to get that feeling back, the one where I didn't care how I looked when I walked..or what I was wearing. I felt lost and I felt heavy. Deep down I knew everything I ate was bad for me. I have been conscious of the controversy over the "Standard American Diet" for a few years but yet my addiction to lazy, comforting food was stronger than whatever little knowledge I had. I wanted to change that, I no longer wanted to contribute to the destruction of my own body OR the ecosystem. I have a deep connection with the idea of being completely self sustaining. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be able to only grow my own food, make everything from scratch and give back to the earth as it provides for my family. I would love to be able to sit and enjoy the quiet sounds of a farm, or a river. The other side to that, is that I love to be social..I loved living in Vancouver BC for the 6 years I did before I was married. The atmosphere of Commercial drive and its ethnic restaurants and street markets. I loved catching up with close friends over a cup of coffee from a local cafe where I knew the coffee was fair trade. I loved the shopping and the Thai food. The Beaches and the drinks. It was a fun life, but it was destructive. The self sustaining life is simple..clean..and balanced. I wanted to find that balance in the beautiful life I have now, Army wife and mother. I can't just pack my family up, and start up a farm somewhere...I know nothing about it AND the army life would make that a little difficult.
I bought the book "the kind diet" around the same time I was searching for this "new me" and it was one of the best books I had ever read. Its about living your life, and your feeding your body in a way that doesn't hurt anyone or anything...its about making conscious decisions to be "kind" in every sense of the word. I was shocked at the information I learned about the food we eat. The way its made, the disgusting effect it has on our ecosystem, our bodies..and not only that, the cruelty we are inflicting on animals. I felt overwhelmed. Where do I even start?! how do I begin to make such HUGE changes in my own life. If I had been a single woman, living on my own..this decision would have been so much simpler, but I had a child and a husband to feed...and my husband is NOT the "foodie" type. He is an old fashioned American soldier kind of guy who likes his meat and potatoes..but pretty much doesn't care how its prepared or how its served. This was going to be hard.

I can say that I successfully made the best Vegan choices for about 6 months. I had lost 20 lbs and I felt AMAZING. I shopped at all the local farmers markets and the health food store down the road was my new addiction. I was running in the mornings, going to spin class and I had so much energy! There were of course times where I messed up and felt guilty, but I am only human and I moved forward. Sadly During our PCS ("permanent change of station" for those of you who are not military) from Fort Carson Colorado to Fort Bragg North Carolina, I basically completely gave up. It was really hard to make the best choices when driving all that way. Colorado had an abundant amount of Vegan foods..they even had a few Vegan restaurants in Manitou Springs. Where I am now...forget it! There is maybe one tiny little store about half an hour away that sells some of the basics I enjoyed but they are far more expensive than what I would of normally paid back in CO. There are barely any vegan products on the shelves in your average grocery store and so I gained back the 20 lbs in about a month and then I got Pregnant. I was going to try and make Vegan choices during my pregnancy...but I was so sick the first 3 months that I just wanted whatever would stay down. Mostly crackers, cheese, and fruit. Plus we were poor and it was just less stressful for me and my husband if I just bought whatever was cheapest.
I am 8 and half months pregnant now and I am starting to feel that itch and guilt again. I know what I am eating is not good for me, all animal products feel heavy and body feels it, and I have gained more weight than I wanted this time around.  I am slowly cutting out the things that I know are the worst. Like processed foods and red meat and chicken. Once the baby is born and I am breastfeeding I will start to cut out all animal foods eggs and milk.
The weight will come off and I will get back to that place I enjoyed. I know I will. But being Vegan doesn't just mean you choose not to eat Animal products. It means you make the BEST choices possible for everyone. You buy Locally grown produce, anything that comes in packaging should be made from recycled material and you are able to read the ingredients without wondering what it is. The more natural the better. Organic is best of course, but sometimes organic choices are expensive and you have to make the best choice for your family's I tend to be flexible with that. I wish I could buy all organic products, but we are an army family and its just not realistic at this point.
I could not make the choice to be Vegan and not care about all the little things I do in my home either,  recycling, or reusing..they kind of go hand in hand. Also composting is a big thing. I was not able to compost at our old place, but here I have a yard and a garden where I have built my own compost. I carry four reusable bags with me at all times and I have a clothes line where I can choose to dry my laundry outside. I have made the choice to cloth diaper this baby, which I KNOW is the best choice I could have ever made in regards to the environment. So that is where I am now..I know that eventually down the road, there won't be any "back and forths" takes time, and serious commitment..but I will get there. I love food so much, but I know that making the choice to be Vegan has amazing rewards. I don't have to be tied down to the cravings of cheese or sugar. Once that stuff is cleansed from the body your taste buds are reborn and you can taste everything! I miss that..and I am excited to get back there.

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