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Helen Bennett Harvey promises that no animals were harmed in the making of this blog. Vegging Out is a recipe for a new way of life. Or at least a new way of eating. Pull up a chair. Contact me at: hbennettharvey@nhregister.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Proud to call myself a vegan

If someone had asked me four weeks ago whether I could ever be a vegan, I would have said probably not. But three weeks ago, I decided to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did.

As a vegetarian who's concerned about the welfare of animals and impact of my diet on the planet, I've long wanted to give up dairy but felt it would just be too difficult--impossible, really. So I was genuinely surprised at how painless the past three weeks of veganism have been.

As I've said several times before on this blog, it's all about preparation. I was armed with a great vegan cookbook, Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson, which made all the difference. I did my research, and spent hours reading Web sites and blogs about vegan cooking and lifestyle. This served not only to inform me, but to get me excited about what I was doing. I don't know any vegans personally, but the Web made me feel connected to a large network of like-minded folks. And of course having Helen around to talk to was a huge help as well.

One of my main concerns starting out was that I would be so limited in what I could eat that I'd quickly become bored with food. Just the opposite happened. My husband and I had been stuck in an eating rut, cooking the same rotation of simple vegetarian dishes each week. Being vegan forced me to branch out--well, to completely redesign our diet. I bought new groceries and cooked delicious new dishes. It was fun. The only time I really missed a "forbidden food" was when someone else was eating it right in front of me. Then it took willpower not to grab a piece of that cake or a slice of pizza.

So, in case it wasn't clear, I'm planning to stick with it. I feel really good about being a vegan and I don't want to go back. This is something I probably decided a week into the trial.

There are two sticking points. First is whether a vegan diet can sufficiently meet my nutritional needs. I've written on the blog about this before, and I still have concerns. I plan to discuss it with my doctor in the coming months. I'm hoping that a vitamin or two will solve any deficiencies that may exist, and that nutrition won't be an issue.

My bigger concern relates to my ability to lead a "normal" life as a vegan in a meat-eating world. How can I continue to socialize with friends and family without being a burden, always requiring special treatment? I made it through my dad's birthday party last week, but still don't feel confident about future gatherings. So, I've decided to allow myself to make very occasional exceptions to my vegan diet. I will eat only vegan at home, but if invited to someone else's home or out to a restaurant, I'll allow myself to eat dairy (never meat or fish) in order to not spoil everyone's good time. That said, I'll always try my hardest to find a vegan option at a restaurant, and avoid non-vegan foods at others' homes as long as I don't go hungry.

I still feel very conflicted about this decision, and I may decide in the future that it doesn't work for me and I should remain strictly vegan. The way I was able to justify it to myself is that I'm essentially casting votes with every dollar I spend on food. If 98 percent of those votes are going toward the right thing, then that's pretty good. But a question still remains in my mind if I can respect myself as a vegan if I cast that 2 percent of votes the wrong way. We'll see.

The official end to my 3-week trial is in about 5-1/2 hours, but I'll continue posting on this blog from time to time (or maybe all the time, depending on how the mood strikes!). Thanks to all the readers who've written supportive comments. They've really meant a lot to me.

And if anyone has been inspired reading about Helen's and my ventures into veganism and wants to give it a shot themselves, I say go for it. It's not nearly as painful as you think, and you might even like it. Three weeks is a great starting point. If you have any questions, you can always contact me at LHRubenstein@gmail.com.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Rich said...

Congratulations Lauren! You are amazing. You will probably never know the full impact you have had or will have with your vegan decision but rest assured...other people are inspired...and somewhere, another animal may have a better life. Thank you!

March 17, 2010 11:04 AM 

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