It has been five weeks since my last taste of meat.
It wasn’t even something noteworthy like a massive prime rib. Rather, it was a small square of salmon, which I ate in defiance before starting an Ayurvedic wellness cleanse.
It turns out that my rebel act of ridiculousness wasn’t even necessary. On the first night of the cleanse, I learned that we did not have to give up fish or chicken. We did have to do away with processed foods, corn, sugar, soy, caffeine and alcohol. None of these things posed a particular threat to me, since the only thing I actually consumed on a regular basis was Kombucha (small amout of caffeine). I did have to monitor any ingredients with corn or added sugar (since those ingredients are technically in every freakin’ thing), but otherwise I was fine. The same was not true for some of my counterparts, who went through severe withdrawals from sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
Although we could have fish and chicken, I opened to go vegan… mostly out of curiosity. I’d tried be vegan a decade prior, with horrible results. It was expensive and time-consuming and I was hungry and irritable most of the time. It turns out that the difference between then and now was knowledge. Back then, I relied on my very limited vocabulary of vegan options and recipes. But now, with entire books dedicated to the subject of a plant-based life, I had more than enough to go on.
The first thing I noticed (after the massive selection of things that I could eat) was the meal prep. I normally operate in compressed time. There seems to be an endless list of things to do, and never enough time to do it. This is partially my fault, since I am a fan of cramming as much activity as possible into a small a time frame I can find. So the thoughtful process required for meal prep was an instant turn off. But, due to my highly competive nature… I was not going to let the cleanse win! So off to prep I went.
What I found was that every meal didn’t have to be 5-star or 5-course. I found simple fixes to tamp a craving or fuel my next activity. I also got better at managing my time, and cut the weekly meal prep (typically on Sundays) from 4 hours to 1 1/2. I got smarter about actually making grocery lists and sticking to them, and spending 30 minutes tops in the grocery store to get exactly what I needed and move onto the next thing.
Nearly every ingredient I used was organic, which I quickly found was not necessary (not to mention expensive). Certain ingredients ought to be organic because there is no way for the plant to protect itself from pesticides, but some (like Avocados) are protected from chemical sprays because of their tough outer layer. So I learned a little more and saved a little money and kept going…
And suddenly the cleanse was over. I was happy to have completed it, but sad that it had to come to an end. Then I realized that it didn’t have to. I’d tried to integrate some of my pre-cleanse foods and drinks into my diet with awful consequences. Corn (and anything with corn in it) set my intestines on fire and triggered urgent trips to the bathroom. Kombucha bloated me all to be damned, even after a few sips. I don’t think it was the caffeine. I think it’s the carbonation. I’m still trying to figure that out. Eggs (vegan came after this) gave me the WORST headache and sinus cavity full of phlegm, and we won’t even talk about cheese. Nope. We’re not going to talk about it.
So I settled back into the cleanse philosophy of eating in season, only from things that spring from this Earth. It’s been five weeks. I feel amazing. The side effect of weight loss is cool, albeit insignificant. There needs to be a disclaimer that you can be a fat vegan. I’ve seen it firsthand. That wasn’t my goal anyway. Being vegan had my curiosity…
…now it has my attention.