Oh my gosh, I am embarrassingly overdue on this post. I know some of you have been asking about how my “vegan-ish-ism” is going, and the answer is a big fat fail. But I’m trying not to look at it as a fail because I’m often too hard on myself and I’m trying to learn how to cut myself some slack in order to make for a more peaceful existence. So let’s go back to… April-ish. I guess that’s when I last blogged about food. So I spent about a month being vegan-ish, eating mostly plants with maybe an animal food once or twice/week. During that month, I conceived–yay! Coincidence? Maybe. So how did I feel? I wish I could say that I felt awesome. I wanted to feel awesome. But in actuality, I was hungry, tired, headach-y, and sort of cranky. I was eating a lot but never really felt full, and it was really hard to find variety, especially because I didn’t really want to eat soy. I think trying to make this change while breastfeeding might have been too much for my body to handle. I’m also anemic, which has been an issue for me even when I was eating tons of meat. We are still trying to get to the bottom of that, as it does not appear to be related to low iron. But that’s sort of a tangent.
OK, then in early May I found out that I was pregnant, and I decided that learning a new way of eating while being pregnant… and breastfeeding maybe wasn’t the best choice for me. Plus nausea knocked me on my ass. I do for sure think it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy while being vegan, but I also think that bodies take time to adjust to these things. And for me, this was not the time. Not this specific time, and maybe not even this season of life. I would love to try again, but it might have to wait until I am done with babies and menstruating. And I think it will be more gradual. I also think the fact that I have never struggled with weight is another piece to the puzzle of why this didn’t work perfectly for me–I have a feeling that people with slow metabolism might have bodies that would respond more positively to this type of diet.
The fact is, I still believe that veganism is a great choice, and I still stand by all of the principles that I blogged about in April. I also have great admiration for people who are disciplined enough to choose this way of life as a sacrifice for the good of the whole. So where does that leave me? I am not about to just throw everything out the window and eat a bunch of crap, but I need some balance. I have been trying to eat local, sustainable, “clean” animal foods for the last couple of years, but this experience has renewed my commitment and taken it to the next level. There’s no more compromise on meat. When I eat meat, it is ONLY from humane, sustainable, local sources. No hormones, no antibiotics, no feedlots. We get our meat from the farmer’s market or other reputable sources. It is organic and grass-fed and prepared by us at home. Same thing with eggs–they come from a certified organic local family farm in Iowa or the farmer's market. As far as dairy goes, I am still limiting it, but I do eat some cheese and ice cream. I get these from Whole Foods, choosing brands that are local and organic when available, and always choosing hormone free.
When dining out (which we really don’t do so often), I eat vegetarian. If there is a great vegan option, I will take it, but I usually end up with vegetarian, not vegan in restaurants. We also usually choose restaurants that take a vested interest in the environment and sustainable agriculture. If I am confident that the meat meets my standards, I may eat meat in a restaurant. But I ask lots of questions and do research beforehand. I do feel some guilt about eating animal foods from restaurants and realize that I am likely getting hormones and other junk from dairy/eggs in these cases, but at least I am not eating the animal flesh itself, and in the big picture, it is a very small proportion of what I’m eating as a whole. It’s really only when traveling that this is even an issue, as whenever we are in town, we have total control over which restaurants to visit, and we choose well.
We also incorporate vegetarian and vegan meals at home several times/week, so it’s not like we are eating meat every day. We probably have meat 3-4 times/week, whereas a few months ago, it was in almost every single dinner we prepared. So there are some definite victories here. And now I would say that I am feeling pretty great. I don’t need to eat meat every day to feel full and have energy, so I think I am finding the right balance. By eating this way, I am still honoring many of the causes that I was concerned about in April–I’m not supporting the horrible factory farming system with its cruelties and health risks. By eating animals that are fed grass, I’m not taking grain from the world’s hungry, etc. And as far as my thyroid goes, it’s really hard to tell during pregnancy, so trying to work on that will have to wait until early next year. Overall, I feel good about these choices for where I am in life right now, but I do still feel some guilt over backing out of this big journey I wanted to set out on.