My Vegan Life Part II: Chocolate and Cheese Scare Me
It’s a little after noon on Holy Saturday (the Saturday preceding Easter Sunday), and I’ve just eaten chocolate for the first time in 40 days and 40 nights. The fasting portion of Lent ends on Holy Saturday—at noon, to be exact, according to my all-knowing grandma. Avoiding chocolate has been one of the most difficult components of this journey since its beginning on Ash Wednesday, so this experience should have been incredible for me, right? To finally down all the creamy milk and dark chocolate my stomach can hold without falling out of my ass should have been absolutely glorious. Surprisingly, it wasn’t.
The body is a sensitive instrument. Abstain from one type of food or food group for too long, and it adjusts rapidly. The thought of eating chocolate and dairy, the two groups I had mainly avoided (F.Y.I. meat is still off the table because well, you know, it’s scary eating once-living creatures), actually made me more nervous than anything else. Would I get sick? Would I cry? Would I shit my brains out? While none of those things happened, I did find out quickly after eating that first piece of chocolate that it didn’t do for me what it used to. Normally, I would eat myself sick on Easter weekend—I’m a former candy addict, after all. But nope. Too sweet. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but to say it was a struggle to finish another piece is not out of bounds.
The main reasons I am glad this Lenten season and my vegan life have come to an end are:
1. Eating out was damn near impossible in a city like Syracuse, N.Y. I once called a local non-chain restaurant to ask about their vegan options. The hostess kindly informed me that they have a mac and cheese and a mushroom bake topped in a cream sauce. Oh, okay, thank you so much for your vegetarian options!
2. Dairy ingredients and eggs are in almost all bread-like carbs—pizza dough, pasta, bagels, etc. I’m not interested in diving into a tub of pus-filled milk any time soon, but to be able to eat a cupcake that likely has milk in the ingredients is a little refreshing.
3. I can stop answering the question “What can you even eat?” The answer is and will always remain: EVERYTHING. There is a vegan version of everything and no, vegan is not synonymous with shitty—just consult Buzzfeed.
Veganism is not something I would suggest for the close-minded of any sort. You have to be able to trust the process, to trust that tofu can actually taste good and that black beans are just as good a source of protein as beef, if not better. I started out predominantly vegan, so I technically eased my way into it, and even I was shocked at just how much thinking this way of life can require. However, thinking about what you’re consuming and its impact is the most beneficial thing you can do for your body. So maybe veganism isn’t for you, but for the love of everything, start reading labels. And if you can’t give up dairy, at least give up high fructose corn syrup.