I went vegan last fall. SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t last.
Let me start with a little background about my relationship with food, my body and the revolving door of what should fuel the machine as opposed to what I’ve tried as fuel in the past.
Food trends seem to come and go like Mexican restaurants in the Coal Township plaza.
I grew up in the “fat-free” era as a fat kid who wanted nothing but to be thin like the girls in the magazines. I couldn’t imagine how the two-cup slathering of fat-free Hidden Valley Ranch dressing with bacon I put on my salads wasn’t doing the trick. I lived off a steady diet of root beer barrels and fat-free everything I could get my hands on, yet, the scale slide continued to crawl to the right.
It just didn’t make sense; I ate so “healthy.”
It was only after I had gained the “freshman 50” in college — yes, instead of 15 — and went to a weight loss business (L.A. Weight Loss, because put “L.A.” in front of any business name along the East Coast and it’s instantly cool) for help. I found out what it was my body didn’t like: sugars.
Well, sugar, dairy, “white” carbohydrates, gluten and processed food, not fat. Fat, despite its ugly name, wasn’t my enemy.
Sure, I had lost weight by starving when I spent time in Spain because I hated all the food, but deprivation seems to be a semi-permanent fix. Whereas figuring out what works for you is a steady solution.
And I now know what my body doesn’t like and I try to stay away from those things, but my heart wants what it wants and although sugar pours a direct deposit on my hips, it’s just so good. So, I allow it in moderation.
Like Sundays. Sundays are fair game for anything because, as I mentioned before, my grandmother said God doesn’t count calories on a Sunday, so you don’t gain weight from anything that one day a week.
So, I have a pretty good system going. I know what my body likes and what it doesn’t like. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t mess with the system once in a while for experimentation purposes.
I watched the documentary, “What the Health?” on Netflix and suddenly, I found myself repulsed by this industry in which I obtained meat, dairy and eggs. So, naturally, after the horror painted in what I can now describe as a propaganda film, I announced my vegan lifestyle.
Well, I announced my attempt. I knew I’d never maintain it. Nevertheless, I wanted to see how long I could do it. That didn’t take too long. I lasted about 10 days before I found myself at Myron Mixon’s Pitmaster Barbeque in Alexandria, Virginia, in front of a pile of bones.
I’m sorry. I barely tried. My body needs meat even if that movie says it doesn’t. I had a headache, no energy and I was miserable when I was off it. Had I the money to hire a nutritionist, I’m certain I’d sustain a healthy lifestyle, but on my budget and schedule, it’s not feasible.
Propaganda is a harsh term; there were plenty of good points and astonishing revelations when watching “What the Health?” but, even if it makes me a bad person, being vegan just isn’t for me.
I’m aware it’s more of an ethical choice that it is a nutritional decision for most, but apparently, my love for animals isn’t as strong as it was when I was a kid and my family called me “Marlin Perkins.”
Like many things, I just block out that part before meat arrives at the butcher. I don’t down a ton of red meat, I save that as a treat for myself, but meat is a regular part of my intake.
It’s really about what works for you and your body. I’m not trying anything crazy anymore; I’ve done enough damage. I feel like fresh fruit, vegetables and meat is what works for me and my health reassures me of that, especially when I find myself eating garbage and subsequently feeling like garbage.
Food trends and the politics of the way we eat — in public, because I feel like some vegans are housing hamburgers behind closed doors — are pretty forefront in our world. It’s part of people’s personalities these days instead of just a way of sustaining life.
Find what works for the healthiest you and respect others way of life should they not align with what’s on your plate.
(Wasakoski is assistant editor at The News-Item. Her lifestyle column appears weekly.)