If you're a more recent reader of this blog, you probably don't know this, but I used to be vegan. Hardcore "I don't even eat honey or consume any animal products whatsoever" vegan.
I went straight from eating chicken, beef, milk, cheese to eating none of those things at all, and I LOVED it. No transition through vegetarian -> pescatarian -> vegan, straight from omnivore to vegan. Being vegan became a huge part of my identity, and it was something I thought I would continue for my entire life. I ate that way for nearly 3 years. However, it was hard. I had little support from anyone in my immediate circle besides my husband (who still continued to eat meat outside the home) and after two years of it, I altered my diet to include seafood, dairy, and eggs. WHICH IS FINE! I'm not criticizing anyone's decisions. At first, I was really feeling physically the same and only minimally including animal products in my diet again.
Until I got pregnant. And then was nursing. And now am eating as an example to my daughter, and not a very good one. I'm not a person who has a naturally fast metabolism, but using my body to grow and nourish another human has made me into the type of skinny-fat girls I used to be so jealous of. At the risk of sounding annoying, I'm going to say it: right now, at this stage in my physical life, I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight. And I don't exercise.
Annoying, right? But not good!
Yes, in the grand scheme of things, I'm pretty active. I chase a mobile 10 month old around the majority of each day. My diet, though, sadly has become flooded with a LOT of sugar, a LOT of quick fix meals, pizza, and more junk food than I'd like to admit to eating.
It's a problem, because I'm an example of "how to eat" to this tiny human of mine, and the majority of her nutrition comes to her through my milk.** Not only do I not want to encourage her to eat food that isn't good for her, I don't want to teach her to eat food that isn't kind. If I'm being honest with myself - REALLY honest - I know that dairy IS NOT KIND. Meat IS NOT KIND. Eggs ARE NOT KIND*.
I know these things, and for a couple of years have operated under a way of eating that does not line up with my ideological values. It has weighed heavy on my heart for that long. So as Claire approaches the age of understanding these things in a real way, it's time for me to set the example, the way I know I should. This past Easter Sunday, the front page of the Huffington Post highlighted the Federal Report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee stating that a vegan diet is what is best for the planet and what is best for our health. I knew this, but perhaps not everyone in America did. When Darrell showed it to me (he's an avid Huff Po reader) and gave me this "maybe we can try again?" look, I decided to take him up on the opportunity to give it a second shot. I started pulling out my old vegan cookbooks. I flipped back through Veganist. I started thinking to myself that maybe I could do this again.
It's been five days, and I've started phasing in better choices; steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, a burrito bowl with no sour cream or cheese at lunch, dark chocolate covered banana slices for a snack. Here's what I had forgotten about being vegan: it forces you to make better choices. There was cake in my office Monday, but since it had eggs in it, it was out. There were a bowl of M&M's within my reach this afternoon, but they have milk so they're a no go!
I'm posting this because I plan to keep you guys posted on our family path back to veganism. I'll share recipes, maybe a random "what we ate today," how I'm feeding Claire, and how it's going! Mostly, I want to keep us accountable. And if you have any suggestions, please share!! Or if you think I'm insane, you can share that too. I hope though, at least I can convince some of you to fit in a few more veggies and a little less meat with every post.
*A note on eggs - i personally have no issue when them, if you own hens and are keeping them humanely on your property and collecting their naturally laid eggs. I don't think they're unhealthy when consumed in moderation, but it is important to note that one egg contains the entire dietary recommendation of cholesterol per day. We plan to continue to eat the eggs Darrell's grandparents' hens lay, when they're naturally laying. Otherwise, we will refrain from consuming products containing eggs.
**A note on BREASTFEEDING - I believe that a breastfed child (even a child receiving donor milk) falls well within the spectrum of "vegan." A mother's milk is the naturally intended diet of human babies. Here is a short and excellent blog post that explains this further.