“I’m a vegan”
Cue the eyerolls from everyone around.
My mentality was always this: yes the meat industry is awful. But as long as I’m trying to eat organic meat and local meat and produce then I’m fine, right?
But let’s be honest. I’m still eating in-n-out burgers occasionally. I’ll eat that corn dog. I’ll indulge in the chees fries. I’m gonna buy myself some ice cream. Because it’s been a rough day and I deserve it.
This is serving to set the scene for where this story begins:
I am currently 10 days into a 28 day cleanse where I am eating only raw fruits and vegetables.
Why? You ask.
Good Fucking question.
Maybe because my mom and I are slaves to books about alternative healing methods. Maybe because I’m about a month into my adjustment to living in a completely new place and I’m desperate to battle the loneliness of knowing no one and the constant confusion of having no idea where anything is.
And this post isn’t to serve answering questions like “where are you getting your protein”? It’s to talk about what it feels like to finally buckle down and make decisions that are good for me.
Let’s begin almost a year ago today. When 2017 began and I had an epiphany after eating a hummus and veggie pita from Amrita Garden restaurant in Chiang Mai. I was always healthy-ish. Which is probably where most people are. I’ll go to the farmers market. Sometimes. I’ll go run on the treadmill. Sometimes. But I’ll also stuff my face with honey toast from Thai coffeeshops.
Wait not everyone does that?
How about pick up a magnum bar on the way home from a night of drinking?
Which is why I can say it was honestly a revelation to me when I came home from that weekend, started cooking at home and going to zumba everyday that I learned:
Being healthy actually makes you happier.
And not that you feel satisfied mentally by doing something you know is good for you. No it chemically makes you happier. I don’t know why this had never really reached my brain. I thought that people were healthy in sort of a long-term life expectancy sort of way. Like “oh yeah, eating well is good because then you won’t eventually become obese” and I’m one of those people who has a hard time connecting to long-term goals. I’m like…well I’m not gonna be obese so is there really anything wrong with eating a full pizza to myself.
Yes there is!
Because I didn’t realize that it’s not in the future. It’s right fucking now.
The days when I would go to zumba I would feel full of energy, healthy, and happy. Not happy coming from my brain, but happy coming from my body. As if happiness just is sort of bubbling up from inside me.
And then I started cutting out meat. And dairy. And eggs. And I began my “as vegan as possible” outlook on life. And ever since I’ve found myself in countless conversations about health and diet. And I swear to god I don’t start them.
Brenna: Yeah, well I’m trying not to eat meat and dairy.
Actual friend of mine: Oh you’re like a vegan?
Brenna: Um, yeah I guess.
Same friend: Oh well, let me ask you this, what if we all stopped eating meat today and then there was an overpopulation of all the cows?!
This was a real question that was asked to me in real life by someone I consider pretty smart.
Brenna: *blank stare* Sorry, I only engage in crazy hypothetical conversations on Thursdays.
But I find myself creating a synthesis for myself of my ideas and they are thus:
Oreos are vegan. So if you’re going to replace meat with oreos…you’re better off eating meat.
We don’t have to be so dramatic about everything. Yes I’m not eating meat or dairy. There are many reasons. I’m not trying to convince you the same, but I’m pretty happy doing it so thanks for telling me that you “couldn’t live without cheese” but I don’t really care.
Being vegan was so successful for me because it caused me to generally make healthier decisions for myself. I cooked at home more–because I had to. And it gave me an excuse to say “no” to ice cream. When I wasn’t vegan I was just in general trying to be healthier and then I would end up justifying the ice cream by saying “oh it’s only a little bit. It’s not too bad for me”
But what if I only ate what is good for me?
And as I’m sitting here. With 10 days of only raw fruits and vegetables in my belly. And yeah, I wish I could have soup. And yeah, I’m kind of bored of salads and smoothies.
But I feel fantastic.
And it’s a feeling I didn’t know I could feel until I was doing this cleanse.
And so the last thing that I am going to end with is some conclusions I have come to over the year as I’ve worked tirelessly on myself.
I had someone call me “disciplined” and I’ve had so many people say “I couldn’t do that”. And I said those exact words to myself on many occasions. And so I just had to shut my own negative voice up and say:
Well, yes I fucking can.
I don’t want to. So let’s clear that away right now.
I have broken down the process of working on myself into 3 steps.
- Being aware that I have a problem.
Some people aren’t even aware that there are problems with their lifestyle, their health or their choices. So bless you for at least knowing that there is an issue. But I find so many of my peers (and of course myself) get so stuck in on this step. How many times have I heard/said “yeah, well I’m just really bad at making commitments” Or any other number of “problems”. Awareness is 20% of the solution I think. And the next step is:
- Recognizing that I have the ability to do something about it.
I am in control of my life. I am not a slave and I am not a victim. I know I’m going to sound pretty callous if I say how frustrated I am all the time when myself or other people cast blame onto circumstance, health problems, mental illness, or the unjust universe. I’m frustrated by it because I so often want to do or do exactly the same thing. It’s good to know there is a problem. And maybe I didn’t directly cause it. But I can do something about it.
- FUCKING DOING THE THINGS I NEED TO DO!
This is step 3 of 3 and probably 50 of solving problems. Do the things! Stop making excuses. Stop living in helplessness. If I am unhappy or unhealthy recognize that it my choices that are making me feel that way and I can do something about it. Maybe I have to ask for help. Maybe I can’t do it by myself. But I can definitely do something. Even if it’s just a change in attitude. Or a change in diet.
I’m not going to pretend I know anything. And I’m definitely not a health expert. I’m just gonna say that I definitely don’t feel malnourished. I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough protein thank you very much. And I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough vitamins. I have enough energy to dance for 2 hours. I have plenty of energy to work two jobs. And just for some consolation prizes…I’ve never been skinnier. And my skin looks great.
I think I’m a rational person. And I’m a skeptic. And I swear I’m not some hippie-dippie weirdo (not too much) but I have to say…maybe these vegan people are doing something right.