Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why I Became a Vegan: or How I'm Going to Live Forever Until I Get Hit by a Bus : Part 1

It seems like some of my many readers had questions about why I became a vegan (here's looking at you, Grandma ;) ). So, I thought I'd share that story today. For those of you who already know it, do the internet equivalent of plugging your ears and humming to yourself: click on over to Facebook and play Farkle or something. It's a long story, so I'm going to split it into two parts.

Basically, like all things in life, this decision can be blamed on a man (just kidding handsome male readers whom I do not want to alienate!). In this case, a very tiny man - Rylan-man.

I've never been much for meat. The texture grosses me out and, unless it's really well disguised like say in sausage or bacon, the shape of it is just so suggestive of, well, flesh, that that grosses me out, too. I ate meat as a kid, because in my house it was "eat this or nothing" (a philosophy which I respect, by the way). When I became a teenager I started experimenting with vegetarianism, but I didn't really have the luxury to become a vegetarian until I was living on my own.

For many years I was what the awesome authors of How it All Vegan call a "lazy vegetarian". I went through spurts of vegetarianism, going back to meat every few months, mostly when I ate out. I didn't really cook meat at home both because I didn't know how and my attempts were disastrous (charcoal-on-the-outside-raw-in-the-middle pork chops in peanut/maple syrup sauce anyone?), and because raw meat grossed me out. During my carnivore periods, I mostly stuck to really salty unidentifiable meat products like bacon and salami - mostly because they were good with cheese.

This went on and on until I got pregnant with Rylan. During the 1st trimester, I couldn't go near meat - couldn't smell it, couldn't look at it in the store. Culinary school was a nightmare. For the first couple of months all I wanted to eat was fruit and cheese. Ah cheese. I ate at least a pound of sharp cheddar a week. Sometimes all I had for lunch was a bowl full of cheese, which I'd eat with a fork to make it seem more meal-like.

As the pregnancy went on, my nausea went away and my dairy habit expanded to include ice cream. Ah ice cream. I went through 2 cartons of Cookies and Cream a week. I still wasn't really grooving on the whole meat thing, and eggs were starting to gross me out, too, because I was dealing with them en masse at work (ever separated 20 pounds of eggs with your bare hands before? It's not terribly appetizing...), but dairy was my friend...until...

Ry was born! Those of you who know us know Ry had a tough beginning. He was in the NICU for a week. While he was there, he was extraordinarily gassy and fussy, and well, there's no nice way to say this, his poo turned green and watery. It looked like pond water. The NICU doc seemed unconcerned - he's there to save preemies' lives not to look at pond water poo, so we took Ry to see his pediatrician when we left the NICU. The man took one look at the pond water poo, and said, "Looks like a food sensitivity or allergy. Since you're nursing, try cutting out dairy."

Try cutting out dairy? The man was insane, right? You can't live without dairy! You need milk for calcium or your bones will fall apart, right? I spent that evening staring longingly at my Vermont sharp cheddar and Cookies and Cream, and then I threw them out. My commitment to nursing was too strong to give it up because I wanted some nachos.

Dairy was the first step and it was for Rylan (who by the way began making poo of a normal color and consistency and his tummy stopped blowing up like a balloon a week or two after I stopped eating foods with his allergens in them - dairy and wheat). I wasn't eating much meat or eggs at that point anyway, but I'll share the story of how I also cut them out later.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I'm always impressed with what people are willing to give up for their health, and others. I mean cheese? :D However I have always liked meat so I have to focus on getting our meat from good sources where I feel comfortable with the life and death of the animal. We don't eat meat that often but as of right now I don't think I could give it up.

  2. I think that's great Ash! My veganism is totally a personal choice. I don't think it's for everyone. However, what I do think we all should do is really think about the food we put in our bodies, and you're obviously doing that. I think that's awesome!

  3. You tell things so well. I LOVE dairy and always tell my husband that when we have kids I hope thy aren't allergic to dairy or to peanut butter. I would change anything for my baby but man would it be tough. As I sit here and eat Cookies and Cream ice cream. I can't wait to keep reading.