So the only vegan book I have in the house is a vegan pregnancy book. Thus, last night, when I wanted to read and gain some encouragement from a vegan book, the only one I had on hand was Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide (affiliate link) by the girl over at Bonzai Aphrodite, Sayward Rebhal. I still insist that true vegan-change-the-world types were predestined by their mother’s choice of names. Why are so many so-called “hippies” named things like “Sayward”? It’s beautiful, sure, but how did the mom know???Anyway, when I was reading through the book I discovered a few things about health:
1) Being healthy takes diligence and awareness of your body, but the details are not really complicated.
2) Being healthy is largely a choice (no, totally and completely a choice).
3) This healthy choice has to be made daily, if not by the moment, and is not something you can decide in one sitting.
4) Community helps, even if it’s a book (that you read for the fourth time, in one sitting, at night, while you’re having an emotional breakdown over not being the person you want to be) ahem…..
5) Determination is everything.
When I was reading through her book, I learned that I was not a complete vegan. For example, when it comes to medications for illness or postpartum issues, I want what I can count on to work correctly, and it’s not on my priority list to consider whether or not animals were harmed during the production of the medication. Maybe it should be on my list. Maybe it will be later as I grow and learn more, but for me, right now, that’s not a concern for me like it is for Rebhal (and many vegans). What struck me as strong about her writing, though, was that she sticks to what she believes in. Unlike me, who has “decided” over and over again that I don’t want to eat meat, I still eat it in places of great pressure or convenience. My parents are not vegan, have no intention of being vegan, and consider my vegan leanings to be a phase. Maybe they are right. I don’t ask that question of myself, it does weird things to my brain. Anyway. When I was over at moms, late at night, for reasons that are so varied I’m not explaining, but I had dropped by, was hungry, and it was going to be 11pm before I cook anything myself if I were to have waited on getting home to eat. I have a sleeping toddler in the car and a husband after a long day of work, who hasn’t yet eaten. What did my mom have on hand (and was offering to me?) philly cheese steak-stuffed red bell peppers. yes, they did taste delicious.
After I was home, though, I realized that even though I had declared myself a “non-meat eater” by making that in the moment choice to eat the steak, I had changed my reputation with my mother. I had established myself a someone who for convenience or peer pressure goes back on her word. It’s not okay.
Sure, what you eat is a “small” thing in the realm of moral choices, but what matters is that I made a choice and didn’t stick with that decision. INstead, I chose to publicly take an action that alters my personal reputation. Struggling with the truth of myself in this situation is what drove me to read the only vegan book in my house right now (excluding cookbooks)–I guess I was searching for redemption?
Throughout her book, Rebhal makes the statement that vegan is a lifestyle choice, that you have to believe in what you’re doing. It means making moment by moment choices to be vegan. For her, it’s not just a food choice, it’s a life choice. Her book is pointed at pregnancy, but she gives advice on the most common questions (ones I’ve even received) the “where do you get your protein?” (plants, and her book details which ones) the “What about calcium?” (again, plants, again details which ones) and “Are you going to stay vegan?”
Seriously, check out the book even if you’re not pregnant, because she outlines the major nutrients your body needs and the plant sources from which to get them. The only thing that’s not there is exactly how MUCH of those items you will need, but you can easily look that up in another book, or online.
Yes, she asks those questions, and she answers them–effectively. I think medical science is largely an opinion of educated folk and for solid reasons is called a “practice.” On those grounds, I can’t say if her opinion of what constitutes correct amounts of protein from vegan food sources is accurate. There are medical professionals that agree with her and medical professionals who do not agree, and that is not my point. The point is, she looked into the information, read as much as she could, talked with professionals on both sides of the issue and then decided–and stuck to her guns about–what she thought was right.
I’m so proud of her. Really, I am. Which is why today, I’ve been making nutritionally sound choices for myself on an EXTREMELY moment by moment basis. (based on the rampant amount of notes I took while reading last night. This picture is basically the book, one one page. I’m a little OCD.) My house is not set up to be vegan, so not all of my meals were vegan today. I’m just not the kind of person that can throw out recently bought groceries on a decision to change how I’m eating, but I CAN choose what I replace those now gone foods with tomorrow. For me, this is the journey. I’ve decided I do not want to eat meat. I’ve decided I want to be healthy, and at the moment that means fighting myself and my own inclinations to get there.
That’s another thing Rebhal’s book identifies is the fact that cravings are largely emotional, and you do not have to assume your body “needs” what it “wants”. She’s an ex-smoker (you go girl!) and her example is cigarettes. She wanted cigarettes, but that doesn’t make them what she needed. So even if I crave fried chicken, that doesn’t make it what’s best for my arteries. I KNOW for a solid fact that my diet needs to be something like 80% fruits and vegetables no matter if I’m vegan or not. I feel like I’ve mistreated my body so much nutritionally up until now that eating vegan can only help.
I’m not ready to go extreme. I’m not ready to be on a juice diet, I’m not ready to go raw. I’m ready to take baby steps. I’m ready to decide to eat peaches instead of scrambled eggs. I’m ready to drink aloe juice instead of sweet tea. These are the battles I’m fighting today. And I intend to take it one day at time. I’ll get back with you. I want to be like Sayward, and be able to say I did what I said I would. I think that starts with setting goals I can reach, and then just taking the next step from there.
This is my golden retriever, asleep in our yard. She always keeps her promises 🙂 What about you? Do you keep your promises? Even the ones you make to yourself? Tell me about how you are learning to be a promise-keeper and not letting convenience and peer pressure drag you off course.