Four and half years ago, I did the best thing for myself and my health that I have ever done: I went vegan. I was 23, overweight, unhappy, and dissatisfied with my life. I was never one for New Year’s resolutions, but that year, I decided to try a New Year’s Experiment: could I eat vegan for one day? One week? One month? One year?
You should know something about me: I have a history of indecisiveness as a general rule, but every so often, a decision presents itself to me and I thrust myself wholly and completely into it. My foray into veganism happened this way, just as my foray into vegetarianism almost exactly 10 years prior had.
I wasn’t a very well-educated vegetarian. It was a decision I had made when I was 14 on a spring break roadtrip with my family. We stopped late at night to eat at an iHop or a Denny’s or somewhere that serves breakfast all day, and I said to my parents, “Have you ever even really thought about what an egg is before? It’s kind of gross. I don’t think I’m going to eat eggs anymore.” They were eating scrambled eggs at that moment and asked me to please be quiet, but it was something I thought about for the remainder of our vacation. When I came back from our trip, I gave up red meat, and a week later, decided to give up all meat.
As a vegetarian, I never educated myself about my diet. I still ate dairy products and I assumed that I was getting plenty of the things I needed. I didn’t try tofu until I became vegan–and I didn’t know that marshmallows weren’t even vegetarian until I became vegan. I didn’t know that many Mexican restaurants add lard to their refried beans. I didn’t think to ask about the stock in my vegetable soups I would order at restaurants. I was clueless. And I loved cheese. And that was that.
I struggled with my weight through college and learned about veganism from a coworker when I was 23. For Christmas, I was baking cookies for the department, and wanted to be sure to include her. I googled a vegan recipe for oatmeal cookies and then had the most eye-opening visit to the grocery store I’ve ever had. I wasn’t sure what the rules were. The internet told me that refined sugar is not vegan, that sweetened coconut flakes are not vegan because refined sugar is not vegan, and almost every package of nuts I looked at warned that they “may contain eggs or dairy due to the use of shared equipment…” I was feeling pretty defeated by the time I even made it home from the store, and then, the cookies themselves were a disaster. They didn’t taste sweet enough, they didn’t hold together, I felt like I was gifting my coworker a pile of cookie-shaped goo.
As someone who loves to bake, this presented a conundrum to me, and it was a challenge that excited me. I am going to learn to bake vegan, I thought. I felt that I needed to redeem myself after the cookie debacle. I invested in Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Post Punk Kitchen. I even attempted to create my own cupcake recipe. (That failed.)
It is interesting that I was so invested in vegan baking, being that my ultimate decision to go vegan was fueled by my desire to eat healthier and be less tempted by sweets. I successfully lost 50 pounds the first year I was vegan, with the help of an overhaul in diet, a cutting back in beer and wine, and my new interest in running. I was hitting the gym most days after work and steadily working up from not being able to jog for even 30 seconds, to being able to run 5k with 10-minute splits. I felt amazing!
Life happened and my newly-formed healthy habits fell to the wayside. I broke up with my ex and got engaged and eventually married to my husband. I stopped running. I discovered Whole Foods’ convenient, processed vegan junkfood and desserts. I lost sight of the person I was and the person I wanted to be. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that a visit to my doctor confirmed my suspicion that I had gained back almost half of the weight I had lost four years ago. And even then, I wasn’t motivated to do anything about it. I was dealing with some Serious Life Stuff and putting my personal fulfillment and enrichment above that, to be honest, didn’t even occur to me.
But it’s time that changed.
I recently embarked on a process of self-discovery, and I have committed myself to a number of goals and interests to help me achieve the happiness I am aiming to find. Veggie Vidi Vici means focusing on me, my health, my body, and my overall sense of satisfaction in life. I want to learn to be a better cook and I want to enjoy the process of feeding my body the nutritious foods it needs to operate at its highest efficiency. I want to be active again, and I want to shed some of the excess weight I have found myself packing back on. I want to continue to learn, to educate myself, to write, and to participate in my life with a creative and ambitious spirit.
This blog will be a lot of things–a place of self-discovery and growth, a place for recipes, for trials and tribulations, for failures and successes–and I am so excited about it. Join me as a “vegin,” again.