Life, Nutrition

Happy Accidents

Did you ever do something with a specific intention, that ended up with a totally different outcome, but you were glad about it?  That happened to me and I could not be happier about it.   A lot has changed slowly over these last couple years.  I went from eating very clean, to less so.  I went from being in love with training for triathlon, to not so much anymore.  Long before the pandemic, I started slipping away from the things that I thought made me, me.  I’ve been trying all sorts of different ways of eating and ways to exercise hoping to find something that would click like things did before.  When the lockdown happened, I tried to see it as an opportunity.  Not going out means eating more at home, right?  Not going out means more time to work out and do things that I enjoy at home, right?  Surprisingly, I did not become a master chef or cut athlete.  Turns out that not going out means being a little bored and snacking more often.  Yeah, I tried to read and take classes, blah blah but that didn’t last long.  I felt myself growing further and further away from who I wanted to be, and growing further and further around the mid section!  After a couple months like that, somewhere around June, I decided to at least try to clean up my diet a little.  I wasn’t a veggie fan, but wanted figure out how to at least get some more nutrients in me.  I literally googled something like: “how to get more vegetables in you if you hate vegetables.”  The search results lead me down a very unexpected path.  Before we get to that, let me take you back to that google search……

There were many different results from that search, but one stood out and seemed like a good idea.  Drink ’em!  I am not the kind of person that can choke down a food I don’t like.  I just can’t.  I can, however chug down a drink I don’t like, as long as it isn’t chunky.  I started my usual analysis and really liked what I saw.  You can get full servings of vegetables, and then some in one glass.  That was it, I was buying a juicer.  I started researching juicers and found one that said it was the juicer endorsed by Joe Cross himself.  Who?  I thought.  I assumed maybe he was the Billy Maze of juice advertising or something.  Of course, I googled him and found that he had a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  To summarize he was obese, on lots of pills and miserable.  He ended up going on an all juice diet for like 60 days.  Spoiler alert, he lost all the weight, got off the pills and is a happy camper.  It was an interesting story and I ended up reading his book, because quarantine goals.  I ordered my juicer and started reading.  In the book, he has a few juice resets you can follow.  One for three days, one for a week and so on.  I hadn’t originally planned to go all juice, but I read on and thought I might try a small one.  I figured it couldn’t hurt as a jump start into losing a couple pounds.   He mentioned that the two big detoxes that take place if you go “all juice” are caffeine and animal products.  Huh?  I already had a pretty low caffeine intake, but animal products?  He suggested trying to lower your intake of animal products beforehand to lessen the shock to your system.  My juicer was on order and I had a couple weeks until it came in, so I decided to try to track how much animal products I consumed, and cut back.  The plan was the week before the cleanse I would at least eat meat only at dinner or something along those lines. 

Turns out, I consumed a lot of animal products at every meal!  I went to old reliable, google, to find some “meatless” recipes.  In doing so, I came across this documentary about three New Yorkers that went plant based for 6 weeks as part of a research study.  They were all standard type people, no one was obese or sick, just your average people.  I decided to watch because I wanted to see if they talked about any withdrawals from not eating meat.  I had never heard of such a thing.  They didn’t really comment much on any withdrawal symptoms like you get with caffeine.  No headaches were mentioned or anything like that.  It was more about conditioning.  We automatically think “meat and a side” for our meals.  The person leading the study showed them alternatives, how to cook, and that in NY there are lots of plant friendly options.  They had a hard time at first, and I think all three said they couldn’t wait to get back to normal after the study ended.   About mid way through the study, they were shown a documentary.  A documentary in a documentary.  It was like documentary inception.  I watched along with them and although it was maybe 10 minutes, it felt like a lifetime.  I wanted to look away but I couldn’t.  I am going to create a separate post related to it and what I saw, because I want to document it for myself and anyone that may be interested.  In this post, I will just say that those 10 or so minutes, changed my life for good.

I no longer cared about preparing for my juice cleanse.  I was 100% done with consuming animal products.  Period.  I had not prepared, I did not need to analyze anything.  I knew immediately what I wanted to do and I did it.  I stopped.  Right then and there.  I went to Darin and D2 and explained my choice, without going into detail of what I saw.  I think Darin could see in my eyes that my mind was made.  I told them I would in no way at this time expect them to change their eating habits.  I only asked that they support mine.  Of course both of them were fine with it.  If there is one thing our family is amazing at, it’s supporting each other no matter what.  Especially if it means a lot to us, and this meant the world to me.

Eventually, my juicer came.  I have made some really yummy juices and even got my mom juicing, but that’s not what this is about.  This is about a lifelong change I decided to make in an instant.  I cannot explain in words how out of the ordinary that is for me.  I don’t think I have ever had as much conviction in any decision that I have ever made in my life.  I’m extremely proud of that, but I was also very scared.  I was scared of what none of us should ever be scared of.  I was scared of what people would think, or say.  Its so hard to not share something like this with family and friends, especially because it feels so good!  I’m so proud of my decision.  The reason it’s hard, is because of the reason I made the change itself.  I thought I knew what went on to get the food to my plate.  I did not.  When I did learn, I changed.  I made this decision because I decided I was never again going to contribute to the needless suffering and death of animals.  That reason makes people uncomfortable.  No one wants to be looked at as if they are doing something wrong.  No one wants to be judged.  The thing is, that almost everyone has lived most of their lives eating the way I had.  We do what we are taught for generations, until we learn, and until people decide to change. 

I had not been hiding it, I just wasn’t ready to spark the conversation either.  Part of me did not want to discuss it, because I was afraid.  I don’t expect everyone I know and love to miraculously go vegan all the sudden, but I wonder….  If they saw what I saw, would they?  If they only really knew.  Would they make a change?  What if they saw it, and didn’t care?  It’s hard to think that someone you know and love would not care as much as you do about something, but that is what makes us human.  We have our own thoughts, values and opinions.  If you have come over and we cooked out, you probably had a “normal” burger, and my plant based one was quietly cooked up on the other side of the grill.  My mayo is vegan, and so is my cheese.  If you brought snacks, I probably turned them over real quick to read the ingredients.  If we ordered takeout, I ordered what works for me, just like you order what works for you.  While I didn’t bring it up, others have noticed something and asked.  My answer was simply that I had decided to no longer consume animal products.  Nothing more.  I didn’t condemn anyone else for their way of eating, yet  I was met with mean comments.  Comments from people I would have never expected to hear them from.  They cut deep, but I came to realize that these things come from inside them, for their own ugly reasons or guilt.  I cannot control them, and I will not waste energy trying.  Please know that if I am asked, I will share.  If I am taunted, I will snap back.  I will share what I want to share on my platform, and those who don’t want to see or hear it, can go elsewhere. 

Little by little the boys have started their own journeys to at least cut back on the animal products.  Albeit at a much slower pace, but progress is progress.  I am being patient.  This choice has to be made for the right reason, or it won’t last.  You might think that is because it’s hard to do, but here’s the thing, if you do it for the right reason, it’s not hard at all!  I can honestly say that I have not had a single craving for, or missed anything, that I could not replace with a plant based option.  You may be wondering how we manage things like dinner.  Well, it’s simple really.  If I cook, it’s plant based and if the boys want to add a side of something, they are more than welcome to.  So far, I think D2 has had some nuggets instead of something I made, like once.  Otherwise he’s actually been eating things like plant based fajitas, tacos and lasagna.  I have made some really awesome meals, and just like before, I have made some really bad meals!  If we want to order out, it so happens that most places we already enjoyed ordering from, have an option for me.  I am super excited for my first plant based Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners!!  If you are family or friends and are interested in trying anything I make over the holidays, let me know.  I guarantee it will be delicious.  Well, that is if I don’t burn it, but that’s not the food’s fault. 

If you are wondering… no, I have not lost weight since the change.  I mean, vanilla Oreos are accidentally vegan.  My new favorite eatery is Burger King, because impossible whoppers are insane!  I have made (and eaten) some of the most yummy vegan banana nut bread you can imagine.  Oh, and DQ has an amazing no-dairy dilly bar and Ben and Jerry has the best no dairy ice cream.  It’s just as easy to get vegan junk food as it is to get non-vegan junk food.  Now that I think of it, I may have even gained a pound or two, but the weight lifted off my conscious makes it all worthwhile.  So, there you have it.  Yes, I am one of “those” people.  I went vegan, by happy accident. 

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