It was 200 animal-free days ago when this adventure began. It was a direct result of fearing my own death. My health was getting worse and worse, despite the weight loss I was experiencing from my Atkin’s dieting. The Grim Reaper shouldn’t be such a concern to a 39-year-old guy, but chest pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, colon infections, and kidney stones were breaking me down. I was terrified.
As the days and weeks of clean, animal free dieting began to heal my body, I found my mind healing as well. When I wasn’t cutting, cooking and eating animals I was able to look the system I’d been a part of more objectively. It was somewhat horrifying to realize how brain-washed I’d been. The realization was even more terrifying, when I was honest about how much of a part I’d played in my own brain-washing. The change in perspective made it easy and necessary for me to switch from my simple plant-based diet to a complete animal free, vegan lifestyle.
I still have two leather belts that I wear when I have to. They are from the old days and wont fit me much longer anyway. I still have one last pair of Nike’s that I exercise in that will soon be replaced with a pair of Merrels, a running shoe that is vegan and not socially corrupt. I’m sure there are hundreds of products that I still use that would not be considered vegan. I just have not found out what they are yet. When I come across an offending product, it is used up and not purchased again. It is an ongoing weaning process.
I have not boasted about my shocking weight loss numbers for a while because unfortunately, I haven’t had any to boast about. Throughout most of April I avoided getting on a scale the way that I often avoid balancing the family checkbook. In both cases, I don’t want to quantify my worst fears. It started when my loose pants stopped falling down as much as they had before. Then a shirt or two that was overly baggy seemed to be less baggy than it had been. I’ve gained enough weight to know the signs, but I didn’t want to make it a reality by getting on the scale and seeing the numbers.
Unfortunately, I’ve proven again that vegan does not necessarily mean healthy. No matter how nice they sounded, the following statements were proven false by me: No animals died to make beer and potato chips, so they must be OK to gorge on during The IT Crowd marathons. Tater tots are cruelty free and good for you, no matter how many you eat as long as you use organic ketchup. Huge, oily pizza covered in vegan cheese from the Mellow Mushroom is reducing my carbon footprint, so it must be reducing my body mass.
I’d had the exciting fist-pump moment of seeing 251 on the scale before the tightening ‘mysteriously’ started. It was a number I liked so much, I didn’t want to weigh myself and see the damage that I’d allowed to happen. Of course, that couldn’t last forever. In a moment of clarity, I tip-toed into the bathroom, stepped into the scale closet, and on the scale. I checked three times to be sure. My new fighting weight is 264 pounds. Thirteen lost pounds missed me so much, they went on their own Incredible Journey, and found their way home. It’s a heartwarming tale when it’s about lost pets, but it absolutely sucks when it’s about lost fat.
I have so many excuses and they all sound great on paper. However, the detailed list of excuses, finger-pointing and poor-me stories does not make me any less responsible for my actions. I know that vegan doughnuts are still doughnuts and that corn chips are not the same as celery. I just allowed myself to eat on autopilot, following vegan guidelines instead of the plant-based diet guidelines laid out for me in the beginning by the Forks Over Knives/ Engine 2 Diet/ Happy Herbivore books and movies.
*Cue the comeback music*
Like any good story, the main character has to suffer a setback. It should be the kind of obstacle that tests resolve and strength. There are countless paths for the main character in this story to choose from, but only one that my heart knows to be correct. I am firmly committed to continuing to live a compassionate vegan life. At the same time, I have recommitted myself to eating a healthy, plant strong diet, like Rip and Lindsay tell us to do. I have been back on the bandwagon for a week now, and I am already looking forward to my weekend weigh-in!
In celebration of Day 200, please raise a glass of green smoothy with me. Cheers- to 200 days of living without meat and dairy and eggs. Bottoms up- for seeking out the products in my family’s lives that are made with bits of animal, or with animal testing, and NOT buying them! Here’s mud in your eye- for finding ways to further decrease our family’s carbon footprint AND foodprint, and here’s one for the road- in celebration of a summer filled with produce, exercise and healthy living.