I decided to give up the animal products. I went from vegetarian to vegan.
When I realized that Lent is 6 weeks long, I kind of panicked. How was I going to do this? How would my carnivore husband respond? What would I eat? As it turns out, relatively easily. With great support and encouragement. A lot.
So veganism. No animal products. Most vegans are vegan because they believe its wrong to use an animal for personal gain. No milk from cows because of the forced impregnation of Mom and the early slaughter of the calf for veal. No eggs from chickens because of the treatment of the hens and the instant death of any chick that happens to be born male. No honey because… well, I still haven’t quite figured that one out. The other reason people tend to turn to veganism is for their health (this is why Bill Clinton eats a largely vegan diet. It basically cured his heart disease.)
I’m still trying to figure out my ethics when it comes to using animal products. But the health benefits I’ve experienced these past 6 weeks have been proof enough for me that veganism is a worthwhile way to live. Because of Vegan-for-Lent, I’ve lost 7.8 pounds and nearly 5 inches. 7.8 pounds and 4.75 inches. I didn’t change the way I worked out, I didn’t change my calorie goals, I didn’t change the way I snack or tracked or ran out for junk food.
All I did was replace the animal products in my diet with products from plants. Soy milk and almond milk for cow’s milk. I ate textured vegetable protein to get the protein I would have gotten from cheese and eggs. I had to switch cereals. I had to use Veganaise and Earth Balance instead of mayo and butter. But guess what? They taste basically the same. The way we ate supper didn’t change a whole lot. Eating out was harder, but not impossible. Frustrating for the first few weeks, but easier after that and only getting easier. I started eating a lot of salad. A lotof salad. I ate healthier cereal because my standard has whey in it. I got more vitamins from food instead of from a supplement because I ate more vegetables. Getting more than enough fiber was easy, too. Staying under my fat goals was easier (until I chowed down on Lay’s Salt & Vinegar potato chips which, though vegan, are still not healthy). I had a whole new world of cookbooks to choose from.
And I’ll admit, I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t stop using my chapstick, because I never was able to find a vegan chapstick that didn’t cost $8 or more. There were times I forgot to check ingredient lists. And there were also times I just wanted to eat things with milk in them. When we spent a weekend in Atlanta, even my vegetarianism went out the window. So it wasn’t perfect. But it taught me things. It showed me the parts of my life that will be easy to change for the better and the parts that are going to need more thought.
And I’m grateful for being showed that. And I’m grateful for this period of Lent. The season of giving up. Because making changes always seem more frightening before you’ve made them. But after? You’ve gained so much.