I’ve always secretly admired the bike-riding, hemp-wearing, Earth-loving people I see trekking around the busy streets of Osborne and Corydon in the summer. However, that’s actually not what ended up inspiring my commitment to the “30 day veg pledge.”
It all started after I picked up a few books on what I thought was simply “healthy eating,” but in fact was written by a few hard-core vegans. After reading their lovely depiction of how eating meat is like eating a rotting, decaying animal carcass, and watching a few horrifying videos from PETA, I soon declared myself a vegetarian and committed to the “30 day veg pledge,” during which I ate no meat, not even chicken.
In all honesty, I only lasted until day 26. But, hey, I was on vacation at a Mongolian buffet for lunch where even the sushi was unlimited — can you blame me?
I hadn’t transformed into an animal rights activist overnight, but I did, however, come to see the benefits of being vegetarian (I was practically vegan!) and came to appreciate them.
First of all, it narrowed my food options, which may sound like a bad thing, but to me, being the most indecisive person alive, I actually enjoyed having less to choose from the menu. It also opened my eyes to new, often healthier selections that I previously would have ignored.
Although, eating vegetarian doesn’t automatically guarantee a healthy diet. You can still eat a lot of junk and be considered vegetarian. Think fries, pizza, candy, potato chips, white bread —you get the idea.
Being vegetarian also forced me to try new recipes. I made the most delicious broccoli and cheese soup with soy milk and vegan cheese. “Delicious” and “vegan cheese” in the same sentence? You got it! I even learned to enjoy tofu. It’s really not all that bad, and was perfect in the Thai red curry soup I whipped up one night.
However, I did have recipe mishaps, like the tomato soup recipe I found in a magazine that I thought called for a half cup of roasted crushed red pepper. Mouth on fire!
Although I found a new enjoyment in the complete renovation of my diet, I refused to be a “snobby vegetarian.” I promised myself I would never refuse a meal in someone else’s home. Think Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, crying over a roast lamb dinner. Not going to be me.
However, despite my non-aggressive approach I was surprised how much backlash I got from some people.
“What!? You’re not eating meat!?”
“What’s that? Tofu!?”
People somehow seemed offended that I wasn’t eating meat. It was like I had voluntarily alienated myself in order to join the vegan club. It’s not like I suddenly hated the taste of meat, like a medium rare steak or a perfectly seasoned pot roast, or a piping hot butter chicken. OK, I better stop. My mouth still waters.
Maybe they were just surprised more than they were offended. Like when one of my co-workers overheard me saying I was bringing veggie dogs to a barbecue.
Jared asked, “What? When did you become vegetarian!?”
“Yesterday . . . ”
This was followed by Jared laughing uncontrollably.
I guess I can understand his amusement with my sudden switch.
Either way, my experiment with the “30 day veg pledge” was one I will never forget, and I would highly recommend it to others. Not only will you come to appreciate a whole new array of foods, but you can finally get back to the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Trust me, it’s not as hard as people make it out to be.
Since the end of my pledge, and to the amusement of my co-workers, I now call myself a “half-vegan.” I eat animal products the way a health fanatic occasionally indulges in chocolate cake. If I was doing it for animal rights reasons, you could call me a hypocrite, but I’m not. I’m doing it to eat healthy and to be adventurous enough to try something different.