I think I’m going to become a part-time vegan.
I’ve chosen this month to focus on my body and building healthy habits, but it’s something that’s been slowly gaining momentum in my life for the past few years. And that’s the only reason why I was able to type that sentence above.
In college, I had many vegetarian and vegan friends (probably thanks to the fact that I attended tiny liberal arts school that focused on social justice and environmentalism). But despite my friends’ influence, swearing off animal products always seemed out of reach for me personally. No meat? No cheese? No way. Besides, in college food was mostly just fuel. I didn’t put much thought into what I ate, even after I started cooking for myself senior year. I grazed a lot. I ate at weird times. I hit the books a lot more than the gym. It didn’t matter: I avoided the “Freshman 15” and my weight was always steady.
But today — two years after graduation and two years into a desk job and “adulthood” — I’m considering going vegan … at least part-time.
(Image via NatalieMaynor)
I’m halfway through Mark Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good. It’s a “diet” that can be summed up like this: eat strictly vegan all day until dinner and then you can eat whatever you want (within reason). It also requires a commitment to eating whole foods and eliminating highly processed junk.
I’ve always found news stories on diets and the latest nutritional science confusing, conflicting, overwhelming, and depressing. So I’ve avoided it all like the plague and eaten whatever seemed good to me. I don’t eat much fast food, so I figured I was fine.
Except that I wasn’t. I was okay, but I gained some weight and got a mild scolding from my doctor. (“Just don’t add on ten pounds every year.” Okay, thanks doc.) In the meantime, I read about the industrial food system. I started exploring the local farmers’ market, picking out produce I’d never cooked with before, and giving it a whirl in the kitchen. It was fun. My husband and I planned some vegetarian dinners every week. Then I joined a CSA, which means a reliable stream of produce even if I accidentally sleep in on Saturday mornings. I’m now convinced that consuming more plants and less meat is a pretty sound approach to eating.
But I hit a wall because I’m not sure how to incorporate more veggies at breakfast and lunch. I rely on dinner leftovers and last-minute meals. I don’t put much thought into my snacks. I let my blood sugar get low at work. I rely on carbs too much. That’s why I’ve turned to Mark Bittman’s new book. I’ve fallen in love with his no-nonsense, compassionate writing about food. I trust Bittman because he understands that eating is personal, cultural, and social — and that it should be pleasurable. His version of a “diet” is more of a lifestyle change — adaptable, flexible, and sustainable. Hence the “six o’clock” rule. I have no desire to give up meat and cheese all together. However, this book provides much-needed structure (for me at least) when it comes to recipes, meal planning, etc. so that I can get more veggies.
I’m excited, nervous, and oddly emotional about embarking on some new eating habits. But I figure that if I want to truly feed myself well (mind and body) this is another step along the path I’ve already been on.
Today I’m grateful for: Mark Bittman! Seriously, I’d recommend this book to anyone.