Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Toast

One year ago I took the first steps down a path that would affect each of the next 365 days in new and interesting ways. I did something that my past self never would have predicted… I went vegan, otherwise known as “crazy” in the eyes of my meat-eating, German/Italian, lasagna-loving, New York-has-the-only-real-pizza believing family. I had spent the past four years as a red-meat vegetarian, the last three months of which I had been completely meat-free. The evolution into veganism came as my roommate started the adventure herself. I wanted to know more about what she was doing, so I picked up Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet. To make a long story short, after reading this book, I had to go vegan. A vegan does not consume anything that comes from an animal, including meat, milk, and eggs. Going vegan is an individual and personal decision. Everyone has his or her own reason(s): to reduce one’s impact on the environment; to prevent participation in animal cruelty; to reap the glorious health benefits; an unshakable gag response to animal products; aspirations to greater hippie-dom (or hipster-dom), etc. I have always had a great love and respect for animals, and after the information I now had, I could no longer continue a way of life that participated in the torture, abuse, and murder of animals. The added environmental and health advantages were great, too, but not my key reasons.

You don’t realize how big a part of your societal and cultural interactions food is until you make a decision which alters what you eat. There are so many situations in which food is a central component, from get-togethers with family and friends, to holidays, staff potlucks, birthday parties, and going out to dinner on a date. Being vegan means a lot of reading labels, explaining, cooking, explaining, searching for recipes, and explaining… which you get used to. Best of all, being vegan means expanding your horizons. This past year, I have learned how to cook. I have tried so many different dishes. Ironically, I eat many more foods now than I did before. I have been to new restaurants and done a great deal of research on the subject of where our food actually comes from. Changing the way I eat has changed the way I live. I am healthier-- I have lost weight, cleared up my skin, and feel more energized when I work out. Everything I eat is fresh these days, rather than relying on frozen dinners like in the past. I am happier-- I know that every day I am taking my own personal stand against injustice. And obviously, being both healthier and happier means that I am hotter! Just saying.

I am starting this blog to convey some of what I have learned this year on the start of my vegan adventure. I have read a lot, done many Google searches, and taken trips to a variety of stores just to find that elusive ingredient for my latest recipe. I started out knowing how to do very little in the kitchen and now I am beginning to create my own dishes. Even if you do not take yoga, wear tie-dye, listen to Ani DiFranco, or have dreads, you can still be vegan (although I do enjoy yoga and Ani DiFranco)! You can also still enjoy aspects of the vegan lifestyle, even if going all-out vegan is not for you. After all, who would not like to be healthier, happier, and hotter? I am going to post simple recipes and tips for the kitchen, along with other small tips for vegan shopping and living. I often get questions from people about what products to use and where to shop, in addition to requests for specific recipes. I will also try to respond to these requests, so just leave a comment! One thing I will not be doing is ranting, I promise you that right now. Also, the next entries will not be this long! So here’s to starting a second year of vegan adventures!