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The Veg Project

22 Mar

Something that you should know is that I have not eaten pork or any other pig related products since I was 11 years old. Miss Piggy was simply off the menu, which was a far cry from the little girl whose favorite sandwich was ham & cheese her whole life. When I was on the verge of turning 16 my high school tennis teammate, Miss Ashley told me about how she was a vegetarian and all the virtues of it. It sounded like something that I wanted to try, so I bought myself a book on being a teenage vegetarian and gave it a go. I was what is called a ‘pesco-lacto-ovo’ vegetarian, meaning I ate all fruits, veggies, beans, grains and also fish, dairy, and eggs. I felt fantastic, I was eating so healthy, very versatile meals. I had limited the sugar intake I was having and cut down to about one soda a week (which is kind of a big deal to a teenager). I was also very active since I was playing high school tennis and was involved in a lot of other activities so I was leaning out and feeling fabulous. Then came the following summer and my biggest temptation was confronting me almost daily: bar-be-que… I love BBQ, it is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Everything about it reminds me of childhood and summertime. I gave in. I began eating meat again.

It wasn’t until I was 23 that I decided I wanted to stop eating red meat again, although I was still eating poultry. I had realized that my body wasn’t processing red meat very well, I was feeling sick after every burger, steak, or beef taco. It wasn’t fun and clearly my body didn’t want me to eat it. Again, I felt more healthy after giving up another form of meat. That was until I got pregnant and it became difficult to find options of things to eat since so many foods are off-limits while you are pregnant and at this time I didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I started eating meat again and my junk food intake increased greatly. I started feeling really gross all the time after I ate out and guilty too because I knew the choices I was making were poor choices and were destructive. It took me an entire year to start working vigilantly to lose the weight that I gained pre-pregnancy and throughout my pregnancy and one of the things I did was reduce my all over meat consumption. I lost 22 pounds in 3 months through eating right and working out religiously. It has now been 9 months from that time and I have managed to keep the weight off, but I have felt myself slacking in the working out department and have lost some self-control over eating ‘bad’ foods.

So that leads us to last week. Now my girl friends are meat lovers, major carnivores really. These girls have books about bacon in their kitchens, eat bacon ice cream and candied bacon, once a bacon cupcake, meat is their lives. I once watched one of them eat a Tomahawk steak that was about 30 oz. Then Vegucation happened to one of them. What is Vegucation? It is a documentary about a challenge taken on by 3 individuals to become vegan for 6 weeks and learn about veganism that is arranged by a vegan convert Manhattanite. She decided that night that she wanted to try to be vegan for 6 weeks (taking a similar challenge as the participants in the documentary). Then I get a text from my other girlfriend who happened to watch the same documentary a couple of days later saying that “[she] isn’t going to eat meat today” to which I ask why? (as this was out of the blue). She goes on to tell me that she saw the documentary and realizes that she needs to cut down her meat consumption for her health and also because of feeling guilty for what she saw in the film. She knew she couldn’t go completely vegan (knowing your limitations is important!), but she wanted to do something, so I helped her come up with a plan. I told her about what I did when I was a vegetarian in high school, which is kind of funny because she was my bestie in high school too and totally ate with me all the time and was on the tennis van with us when Ashley first told me about the virtues of being a veg. She said that she thought she might be able to do that but she didn’t want to make any kind of proclamation of change that she didn’t know she wouldn’t fulfill so she committed to three weeks and then she would see how she was feeling. I told her for solidarity I would do it with her to help her out (and all the other wonderful virtues mentioned above).

Now being a vegetarian at 28 is a little different for me that being a vegetarian at 16, first off, I have a car and I have money to eat out whenever, and where ever I want. I also have cooking skills that I had not previously had and awesome meat filled recipes that I make regularly. I also am married to a meat-eating man and cooking is definitely for two. So I know that this will be a challenge.

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