So today is day 5 of my new vegan challenge, and so far so good. I haven't been having any issues or major cravings since I started, and man has it curbed my ability to eat junk food! My mind was never great with saying "you shouldn't eat that, you don't need a snack", but for some reason it's awesome with "you shouldn't eat that, it's not vegan". In the immortal words of the great Charlie Sheen, "duh, winning!"
I've already come face to face with some of the major challenges I expected so far:
- Eating out. I got Thai food with my girlfriends Thursday night, and not only successfully avoided the non-vegan snacks there (props to the Lara Bar I had on the bus ride over), but managed to find something conducive to my new way of eating for dinner. Steamed tofu and veggies with a little sauce on the side. Tasty!
- Work celebrations. My team has a standard of treats for birthdays, and one of those occasions fell last week. I managed to turn down the cupcakes they had without feeling deprived (if I was really desperate, there is a shop around the corner from the office that has vegan cupcakes!) AND avoid the free pizza in the break room (an un-related celebration).
- Bars/drinking. Here in Pittsburgh, yesterday was what we call Parade Day. The annual St. Patrick's Day parade was held in the morning, and this special holiday is traditionally one of heavy, heavy drinking among the early 20's crowd. Suffice it to say, I celebrated with my peers later on in the evening and, though incredibly tempted, managed to not scarf down the animal product-filled junk around me. Yes, I even held out when enticed by the Shamrock Shake-- a junk food very near and dear to me.
The best part is none of these things really bothered me. In the immortal words of the great Charlie Sheen, I am "duh, winning!"
Based on everything I've experienced so far, it's fairly safe for me to say navigating the food/cravings isn't as tricky as I expected. I've even been settling in nicely with some new food items that I never would have tried before, such as nutritional yeast (nice flavor and good for extra vitamins). In reality, the biggest challenge has been explaining to people why I decided to go vegan and that I'm not looking to just say "screw it!" when something tasty comes along. . .at least not until Lent is over. Then we'll re-evaluate!
I can understand that it's weird for people I know, since just one week ago I was not practicing veganism. They also get confused when I tell them I don't care when other people eat meat, as they go on the assumption that all vegans are the "paint themselves in stripes and sit in a PETA cage naked" types. I have no problem explaining my reasons: that it's good for me, that I want to try it out and Lent is a good non-committal way to do so, that meat grosses me out a little after watching Food Inc., etc. What's weird to me is how much some people view my personal choice as some sort of open door to discuss the political correctness of so-called restrictive diets.
My philosophy is basically the following: I don't care what you do, but this is what I'm doing. I don't look down on people who aren't vegan, and I have no qualms sharing a table with non-vegans or seeing people eat meat/dairy. Don't feel bad that I'm not eating the birthday cupcakes, because it is me who is choosing not to have one. I will do my thing with no desire to be self-righteous, and you can do the same.