Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason
Chapter 5 has a series of questions for the reader to answer before diving into the challenge. Here I reflect on more of these questions: before I started the vegan journey, my experience during the first six months, and how I would answer the question now.
Here are the second and third questions, with my thoughts.
What are my intentions for doing the 30 Day Vegan challenge?
Before: For a long time I had felt a nagging sense that I needed to face up to my relationship with food. The earlier medical issue had left my haemoglobin, as my doctor put it, a few points away from me in a coma. I was shocked that something as small as a few traces of iron could put my body at such risk. My doctor recommended that I think about going back to eating red meat for awhile, so I did. Or at least I tried. I still liked the taste, but I felt increasingly uncomfortable. Until it dawned on me – I didn’t want to eat this much meat. I wanted to go back to my pseudo-vegetarian diet. Yet, I still needed to maintain my iron intake,
I stated to do some research. At first everything I read agreed with my doctor – the best way to stock up on the ‘right’ iron, aside from the supplements, was to eat meat. But surely, I couldn’t be the only vegetarian to ever need more iron in their diet? I kept looking, which is how I stumbled across the vegan thing. Even though I have known three vegans, I never thought to ask them what that meant, or to think that it could also apply to me.
My intention, at that time, was to go vegan for a year; to step away from my animal eating habits and clear my head. Then I hoped I would be able to honestly and without bias find out if I was supposed to be vegan.
Transition: As I started working through the process and educating myself the intention to go vegan quickly intensified. One of the most important things I learned was that my relationship to my food was not about me. My food choices were causing very real harm to beings, who in no way deserved the pain and suffering my careless behaviour inflicted on them. I thought it would take several months to fully change over my diet – it took three weeks.
From there my intention became to learn as much as I could, to keep my emotional state to myself and be careful of what I said to others, so as not to damage relationships. I have not yet developed the ability to talk about veganism with others in a constructive way. My intention became to remove animals from anything I had direct control over like my diet – I would start with what I ate and then move on into other areas of my life.
In the beginning I wasn’t sure what being vegan would mean for me, but within weeks I was adamant that I would never go back to eating animals again.
Now: My intention now is to stay on this path, to educate myself as much as I can and to make the necessary changes in my lifestyle as fully as I can. My intention is to take this more connected awareness further and look at all the systems my behaviour contributes to and ask myself if I really do support this system. If not, what am I going to do about it?
What goals do I want to attain by the end of the thirty days?
Before: My goal was simple really. Become a vegan, be one for a year, and then decide if I should be one.
Transition: A lot of what I did during this time, wasn’t planned. I had to eat three times a day. I had to learn how and where to shop. I rediscovered my love for cooking. I learned how to eat out – if I had to. I did set a few goals. I developed a reading and media list of books, videos, topics I wanted to explore more. I spent a lot of time online looking for resources and information. I tried to find a substantial argument against a vegan diet, and failed. For everything the vegans had a better answer; like the commonly raised objection that vegans are missing out on vital nutrients. Turns out this is nonsense – if you do the diet right, You can get everything you need from plants, except B12. The solution is to take a supplement or eat fortified foods. More importantly, when you eat plants you eat fibre, when you eat meat, dairy and eggs you also eat saturated fat and cholesterol with no fibre. As my nutrition guru Dr Michael Greger argues, it’s the whole package that matters.
I did find myself setting mini goals. I think I needed to reassure myself that I wouldn’t lose everything. One of my earliest goals was to do some baking. Vegan baking was surprisingly simple. I took the baking into work, for a second opinion. Yes, the baking was as good as I thought it was. I made a few kinds of sushi – took a few goes to find ones that worked – they too were a success. I tried using tempeh, again it took a bit to get it right. I tried vegan ice cream and mayonnaise, again surprisingly easy!
Now: My immediate goal is to work my way though the 30 Day Vegan Challenge and blog about each chapter. I also plan to make every recipe in the book at least once.