Day 97: Brainwashing

Sometimes I daydream of what it would be like to allow my past selves to visit me here in 2012 to see what we have become.  The daydream is a comedy and the looks on my faces are priceless.  It is like Candid Camera would be if it were hosted by Gene Roddenberry and Dr. Who.

Ten year old me would be astounded into rare speechlessness to see the beard we’ve grown.  The little guy spent an odd amount of time wondering which of the many facial hair options he would one day adopt.  I wouldn’t tell him how many variations it took to get to this gloriously bearded version because that would spoil the fun of experimentation and discovery.

I would bring 14 year old me forward just to get a good look at his three future children and take a moment to explain how important it is to get ready for them.  Ten years goes quick and all of a sudden its diapers and spit-up time for him.  Maybe memorizing the short-lived Max Headroom series isn’t the best use of his time.  That poor kid has no idea what’s coming.

The one I want to go get is 23 year old me.  That guy was all over the place.  I don’t want to teach him a lesson or impart wisdom that he can use for self improvement.  I simply want to see the look on his face when he finds out he becomes a vegetable loving vegan.  That would be a look worthy of dangerous time travel just to see.

The mere thought of living entirely on healthy plant based foods would terrify the chubby guy.  He would probably curl up in the fetal position begging for a # 3 Extra Value Meal, Super-sized with a Coke, and two apple pies.  He wouldn’t understand how he’d be able to go on living if he had to eat the thing he hates most: vegetables.

Hate is such a strong word.  That’s why I used it to describe vegetables.  Because I really, truly hated them.

There were a few exceptions to this produce induced angst.  French fries were not only acceptable, they were why the Earth rotated on its axis.  Period.  Plus at Bennigan’s I tolerated the Vegetable Trio: mushrooms, broccoli, and zucchini, batter dipped and deep fried to a golden heart attack, served with creamy ranch sauce.   In a pinch, I’d brave the salad bar as long as it was 10% vegetables and garnish – 90% cheese cubes and bacon bits covered in Thousand Island dressing.  I’m pretty sure that completes the list of what I considered to be edible vegetables.  Oh yeah, and pizza.

Aside from that list of pseudo-vegetables I had very little interest in the Plant Kingdom.  I had no desire to eat my vegetables and I am learning that I wasn’t alone in that lack of desire.  Since the transformation, several people have told me how impossible living the herbivore life seems to them because of their dislike of vegetables.  I get these people.  I understand this level of disbelief.  I lived it and overcame the brainwashing.

Originally, I’d allowed fast food commercials and characters on TV to convince me that meat, fat, cheese, and sugar were why we’re put on Earth.  Once that belief became my reality, I ate the required foods and I began to love them.  It might have taken a little practice, but I got very good at eating the way I had been brainwashed to eat.  You could almost say I was an expert.

Then, 96 days ago I fell asleep full of steak and chicken and woke up the the next day faced with only fruits and vegetables but I didn’t freak out.  I’d already done my brainwashing.  Actually it was re-brainwashing, but it accomplished the same goals.  I’d been scared straight by Forks Over Knives and many other food related documentaries.  I became convinced that kale, tomatoes, arugula and pumpkin squash were why we were put on Earth.  When it was time to actually eat these foods, I attacked them with an open and malleable mind.  Flexible thinking gave me the week I needed to retrain myself.  That is all the time it took for me to go from tolerating vegetables to craving them.

As the weeks have passed, this craving has intensified and my love of plants has skyrocketed.  23 year old me would never believe this, but I exhibit the same eye rolling and audible moaning with a giant, well built garden salad that I used to save for the Bennigan’s Monte Cristo deep fried club sandwich.  Just last week I was having a passionate moment with a bowl of oatmeal and dried fruit at work that resulted in a visit from HR.  Apparently my oatmeal and I needed to get a room.

If you are facing the daunting task of changing the way you eat, just remember that it takes practice.  Zucchini will not taste like filet mignon during your first month, but if you keep eating the new foods and telling yourself you love them, it will become reality.  But don’t waste your time telling that to 23 year old me.  He has a bag full of fast food and a couch to get lost in.  He wont be able to understand any of this craziness for quite a while, but I have high hopes for him.

First time reader? Start at the beginning: New Life Eve

On Facebook? Me too! Atkins2Vegan


About jasongillett

I'm Jason Gillett, 2 year VEGAN, and a 41 year old family man. My wife & I teach in a FL school. I am using a blog to chronicle our family's new life. View all posts by jasongillett

8 responses to “Day 97: Brainwashing

  • Jenn

    For a person that remembers 10 year old you, 14 year old you and 23 year old you I can say without a doubt that this is a very accurate article. Nice work & keep spreading the veggie love!

  • Kasey

    From a fellow former vegetable-hating Max Headroom memorizer, thanks for the grin!

  • Joshua E. Bigger

    Georges Gurdjieff spoke repeatedly of machine-man, and the fact that straight lines rarely occur in nature. He expands on this notion with the Law of Seven, or the Law of Octaves. Octaves progress or regress in certain distinct patterns and frequencies. The point being that with the rise and fall of octaves, one thinks one is travelling in a straight line, in a certain direction, while in reality they are carried in circles, or at the most, spirals, or they are bent so far on an unnoticed tangent, their original course is long forgotten.

    So, knowing all of this, an outside force, or conscious shock, is necessary at certain intervals of the octave to keep one more or less on course.

    You blog, your Magnum Opus, ‘The Confessions of Saint Jason of the Fleece,’ serves as a wonderful energetic shock to keep one on the straight and narrow, the red road, the razor’s edge (I could go on all day like this), and that’s a generous gift for Velveteen Rabbits on the Way to becoming Real.

  • Dr. Cat, The Happy Rehab Doc

    Jason this is absolutely brilliant and I think it’s one of my favorite post of yours!!! I just felt what you were sharing so powerfully–I can SO relate! When I wrote my “Dear 268lb Me” post I was struck by the surrealness of my current life–what could I say to that girl of my past that she would believe?! My life is SO different now! It is always amazing to me that others feel the same way as I do!! You articulated it so well! I loved hearing you share your reflections on your past self! Keep up the great work!:-)

    • jasongillett

      Thanks Dr. Cat- it is so wonderful having people that have “been there” along for the ride. I love the “Dear 268lb Me” post you wrote- we are the only ones that can speak sense to ourselves no matter how much others want to fix us. It is even more challenging when we refuse to listen to ourselves. I’m sure the definition of insanity is mixed in there somewhere. Mental and physical health are the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Smiles!

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