By the way, I didn't mean to sound preachy in my last post. No one has told me that I did, it's just that sounding preachy is one of my greatest fears when it comes to writing about issues that are important to me. I am passionate, but I don't want to come off as unlikeable, difficult or militant. (The fact that I even feel the need to apologize for appearing unattractive while expressing my own opinions on my own blog is likely due to the conditioning that I, as a female, have had to endure over the course of my life. But, that is a different subject, for a different time. Perhaps for a different blog.)
Going vegan is hard. I miss sour cream and cheese a lot. Every day, pretty much. I miss coffee and danishes (I can still have the coffee, but there's really no satisfying vegan substitute for a cream cheese danish). I do miss meat sometimes, but only during moments when I'm really hungry and wish I could order my old favorite comfort food meals at restaurants. However, like I said in my last post, the longer I abstain from eating flesh, the grosser such a notion seems to me.
I don't know if I would have been able to stick with veganism this long if it weren't a school project. In fact, in the broken-down state I was in at the start of this semester, I guarantee that I wouldn't have been able to. I wasn't even able to start, even though I've been thinking about going vegan for over a year now. This is not to say that I've been perfect during the duration of this project. I've had quite a few slip-ups since beginning my vegan experiment, some unknowingly, some willingly. I ate onion rings at Vango's even though the batter had milk in it, because I really wanted onion rings. Once, I ate a piece of Dominos pizza with a smattering of cheese and their dairy-infused white sauce, because it was the middle of the night and I had the munchies and the vegan pizza I'd ordered for myself was a mess. I have never slipped on meat though, not once, and I honestly can't imagine ever eating it again at this point.
I have learned from a couple slip-ups. For instance, even if you order French Sourdough toast for breakfast at the Sweet Water Cafe, it's not vegan unless you specify that you would like it dry. Otherwise, the bread will indeed be vegan, but it will come to you slathered in melted butter. It just occurred to me now that I could have sent the toast back on that occasion and asked for dry, but I don't want to be fussy in a restaurant and I didn't want to waste it. I was afraid they would just throw the toast away if I sent it back, and to me it felt less wicked to eat the toast even though it had butter than to throw away perfectly good food. And today, I ordered a Gourmet Burrito from Border Grill with black beans instead of meat (so it would form a complete protein with the rice in the burrito), and I specified that I wanted no cheese. Well, it was cheeseless, but I forgot that Gourmet Burritos also come with sour cream on them, even though it doesn't say that in the menu (at least, not that I saw). I ate half of it (because, again, I didn't want to waste it), and my stomach has been upset ever since.
Every time I accidentally eat dairy or egg in something, my system immediately lets me know in a horrible, unpleasant fashion, involving severe cramps, fatigue, and frequent, uncomfortable trips to the bathroom. It's enough to make me want to shun dairy and meat for the rest of my life just based on how awful it's going to feel to introduce them back into my system after this long! That's one of the (many) reasons I am glad I did this project. If I weren't inspired by my project for school to keep the veganism going, I would never have gotten to this point, and I would never have learned all the things I have learned about life, the world and myself in these past couple months.
Sometimes I get these overwhelming rushes, these feeling-floods, of pure relief, just, like, in the middle of the day, when I'm driving down Washington towards home or when I'm sitting on my mom's couch watching "Family Guy." I mentioned this sort of thing in the blog entry before last, I think, these moments of joy that Alicia Silverstone talks about having in The Kind Diet. For me, it's a feeling of profound relief and gratitude that I've made it this far in life, and that I've actually reached a point where I'm grateful for my particular life, pain and grief included, and how glad I am to still be alive. Not that there was ever a severe danger that I wouldn't be alive, it's just that it's nice to wholly feel like I want to be alive again. Wow, even writing that makes me realize how depressed I was. For many months in a row, I went through every day not even sure if I wanted to live. I could never see the hope on the other side of the abyss, though my faith (in life, the universe and everything) and the advice of my psychologist assured me that good things were ahead. I waded through endless months and muck of uncertainty and nightmare to get to this place, and I believe going vegan has helped me to truly, finally get here. Ridding my body of animal protein, no longer ingesting the poisoned, tortured, adrenaline-and-stress-hormone-infused corpses of my animal friends has mellowed me out, mentally, physically and spiritually. Going vegan has helped me to understand, as Alicia says, "how joyful and peaceful life really is." That alone is enough to convince me to continue with this diet for the rest of my life.