Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There and back again...

No this is not what VB would call a "tale of hobbit porn."  I finished the PCRM 21-day Vegan Kickstart challenge.  As you may know from reading other posts, I have decided not to continue to be vegan.  One of the reasons is convenience.  It is not convenient or easy to be vegan.  Furthermore, my black heart does not feel the same way VB's does about animals.  I certainly do not think that evidence is made up or fantasy.  I think I'm still in the position of "my little part won't help."  I'll get over that, don't worry.  When VB and I got serious, I always assumed that I would continue to eat whatever and she would eat vegan.  VB wants to raise our possible kids vegan and since she turned me on to the PCRM website, I have absolutely no issue with that.  I'll have to help them cross the "I'm different" bridge when they come to it.

What were the benefits I experienced during/throughout the challenge?

1.  SAVING MONEY!!!!!!  I probably saved somewhere between $150 and 200 just by not buying lunch for the 15 week days I did the challenge.  That was an awesome, positive experience.

2.  Sleeping better.  I slept very well during the challege.  I did not experience energy loss during the day and I wasn't tired.  I got sleepy as bedtime drew closer and did not toss and turn at night.  CAVEAT:  During the first week of the challenge I only had three, yes only three, caffeinated drinks. 

3.  Slower to anger/more patience.  I experienced having more patience and I was slower to anger.  I'm not sure if that has to do with no animal products or caffeine, or better sleeping.  I did feel clearer mentally.

Things I did not experience:

1.  I did not have the physical epiphany that some folks have.  I did not feel immensly better, probably because I didn't feel bad before starting the challenge.

2.  I didn't lose any weight really.  I was hoping to lost some el bees in a big way.  I only lost a few pounds and that was probably because of not drinking soda. 

For the final days of the challenge the leftover candy from our reception was calling my name.  I had some today.  It was good, not great, but good.  I had some chicken today for lunch.  It was good, not great.    As I was eating my what-used-to-be-a-poor-defenseless-chicken I thought, I really don't need this.  It was good, but not necessary.  I think I'm past the first step to vegetarianism/veganism.  I've admitted there's a problem.  I guess what I really mean to say is that I am now comfortable with not eating the standard American diet.  As VB says, one day at a time.

As a side note, I think that my dad assumes that either VB is making me do this or I'm only doing it for her.  If I was, I would have had to swear off all things animal long ago.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I forgot this...

I forgot to mention this in the previous post.  So here it is.  I found out this week that a guy I went to high school a guy who got killed in Afghanistan.  Here is a link to the news article.  I didn't know the guy very well, but it still hits close to home. 

Vegan Pizza at Papa John's costs $20....for a medium

I've been away for quite some time.  I did not get off the grid and live on a commune.  I've been relaxing and studying - I got an 88% on my second test and my grade in the class is now an 83%. 
I bet everyone is dying to know - How am I doing now that I'm nearing the end of the challege.  Well I'm still alive obviously.  I've lost a few points (not enough to know that count, definitely under 10).  I've been drinking a lot of soda this past week.  I've had class at a different building at work and I've had to get up and out earlier.  Also, with the being vegan I have to pack like I'm going to the opposite end of the civilization, perhaps where the wild things go.  Generally this isn't all that tough.  When I'm in my office at  my desk, it is easy to bring a ton of food to enjoy throughout the day.  In the class setting it is pretty tough. 

I would say the biggest challenge with THE challenge is the lack of convenience.  As noted in the title of this post, a vegan (assuming that the pizza dough is vegan) papa john's (which is chain at least on the east coast of the U.S.) pizza is priced to be inconvenient.  Today there were only two options for dinner tonight at the house - spaghetti (which I had for lunch earlier and dinner yesterday) and a jerk tempeh recipe (which I will have to have for lunch tomorrow and I had for lunch yesterday).  My complaints and comment that I could easily get a vegetarian option at a number of take out places prompted an interesting conversation between me and VB. 

I think I assumed she would just let my comment go by or say that in a few days the challenge would be over and maybe I'd feel differently.  VB sort of seemed shocked that I would even mention eating vegetarian after taking part in the challenge and being vegan for the past 17 days.  This was upsetting and frustrating to me.  It made me worry that I would/will disappoint her by not continuing to be vegan.  As VB mentioned to me, she does not see food as a source of pleasure.  If you know me, then you'll know that food was my only pleasure for nearly my entire life.  Aside from the social aspect of food and eating, food has been my source of comfort for my entire life.  I am an only child and did not live near my friends growing up so food was the thing I relied on to make me feel good.  I lived off of the chemicals.  While I am no longer a teenager dealing with teenage life and running to hostess cupcakes when I feel self-conscious, I still probably rely on food.  VB's comment was also really frustrating because all the vegans I know went from being vegetarian to be vegan.  I went from eating anything, any time, anywhere to eating only plants that I generally have to bring with me from home. 

I don't doubt VB's support for me or that she is proud of me, but it seemed contradictory that she wouldn't automatically be excited that I would even consider being vegetarian.  I didn't do the vegan kickstart to change my lifestyle or eating habits forever.  I basically started it because I was dared to be able to do it and I knew that VB would be plussed that I tried it.  I also felt I should give it a real try, which I believe I posted earlier on the blog. 

Day 17 was tougher than the previous 10 or so. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You're My GUITAR HERO....or, Stay Free

Joe Strummer Lives!  Joe Strummer lives in our head and our hearts.  Deeply infectious, he was "emo" before emo was.  [Emo is punk with only one emotion - sad.]  Riotous, he was DIY, doing more (and better!) with less.  Joe Strummer should be taught in school history classesas a champion of modern creativity.  If (since) there was a church devoted to St. Coltrane, then I'd love to say a novena to St. Joe.  He was looking out for us, all of us.  "It's the best years of your life they want to steal...."  I know that the story goes Joe's lack of guitar abilities was a derivation of crosstown traffic between left and right, but the truth is different.  He hoped that after a time we could get passed the great music and focus on the message.

by The Clash

We met when we were in school
Never took no shit from no one, we weren't fools.
The teacher says we're dumb
We're only having fun
We piss on everyone...
In the classroom

When we got thrown out I left without much fuss
An' weekends We'd go dancing
Down Streatham on the bus

You always made me laugh,
Got me in bad fights,
playing pool all night,
Smokin' Menthol

I practiced daily in my room
You were down the Crown planning your next move
Go on a nicking spree,
Hit the wrong guy,
Each of you get three...
Years in Brixton!

I did my very best to write
How was Butlins?
Were the screws too tight?
When you lot get out,
We're gonna hit the town,
We'll burn it fuckin' down...
To a cinder!

'Cos years have passed and things have changed
And i move anyway i wanna go!
I'll never forget the feeling i got
When i heard that you were home!
An' I'll never forget the smile on my face
'Cos i knew where you would be!
An' if you're in the Crown tonight,
Have a drink on me,
But go easy... Step lightly... Stay free...


2 days (almost) down and counting...

Hello readers!  I just got chills saying that.  Thanks for your comments on my "last meal" post.  The past two days haven't actually been that tough, for all my whining I've done pretty well.  I have to say that 95% of that is owed to my wife who has been a vegan for some time and 5% to planning.  I've had to ensure that I have enough food at work for breakfast, lunch, and at least three snacks.  I pre-planned and bought a big bag of a vegan, asian-themed snack so I have that already at work.  However, I still need to bring enough food for the other snacks and meals.  It's weird.  I like the constancy of knowing I have something and not needing to decide what I want for lunch today.  On the opposite side it is boring to eat what you bring all the time.  I want something exciting and interesting for lunch.  Leftovers - no matter how good they are - are not exciting.  I don't know if I can trust myself to order out yet without a chaperone. 

In addition to the vegan challenge I've been trying to give up drinking soda.  For those who don't know me, soda is my crack.  I have a lengthy love affair with soda (specifically coke).  It has seen me through good times and bad.  Brought me up when I'm feeling down and mellowed me out when I've been excited or upset.  But since my motivator for changing my eating habits and diet is the ecological vice the moral/animal rights thing, I have to give up soda.  Or, at least drink much less of it.  It take almost 940 gallons of water to produce a six-pack of soda.  I don't think I can give up red meat for ecological reasons (2,500 gallons of water for 1 lb. of beef) and not give up or at least limit my soda intake.  I know all the other health reasons for not drinking (that much) soda, but those reasons do not motivate me.

I'm not denying the animal rights argument to support a vegetarian/vegan diet.  It just doesn't jive for me and I'll tell you why.  Research wars, research slavery, research oppression of workers, and research the Holocaust.  Humans have caused so much pain and denied the rights of humans for so long.  I'm sure I'll come around to the animal rights cause/argument.  But, please think about the things you do that could help your own kind.  Other humans belong to you more than the cows and pigs and chickens do.  So please keep that in mind.  I'm not a saint, I'm just saying.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Check out this blog.

My last meal

So my last meat-and-animal-filled meal tonight (for at least 21 days) was a great dinner cooked by my mom-mom. She coooked a pork tenderloin, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and broccoli. My parents, my friend - C-MAN, and the singed one were there. It was great. I ate my fill. However, I've noticed a trend that I've experienced the past few weeks or so. I can do without meat. I'm not sure how easily I will be able to cope with maintaining a vegan lifestyle, but I could do without meat while experiencing little difficulty. It's been weird to realize I can do without these things that I thought I coveted (buffalo wings, burgers, etc.).

For me, food has been associated with other things - family, hanging out, holidays, stress. Other folks my use illegal drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes to deal with stress or when hanging out with certain friends. I have always turned to food. So the idea of the challege, giving my or at least cutting certain things from my diet is like giving up my drug. Vegetables are the methodone to my buffalo wing heroin. Perhaps preparing for the challenge has been an analog for the first step of AA or something. I'm not admitting I have a problem, but more like admitting that I don't have to have certain things to be happy or continue to live the way I always have.

Another thing that has seems daunting about the challenge is the effort that I'll need to put in it. I'll have to pay attention to when I eat and what is in what I eat. I'll have to read a label. I think that removing the ease with which someone who maintains an omnivorous diet can eat is really scary. Vegetarianism/Veganism has been something I've needed to consider since the burnout and I started dating. If we went on a trip, we'd have to do a lot of planning to accommodate her diet. I'm not complaining it's just an added element or variable that has to be considered and planned for. After 27 years of being able to eat anywhere, any time, and any thing; it's scary to not have that freedom.

In talking with burnout about the challenge and food and principles, she made an interesting point. When someone adopts a vegetarian/vegan diet the initial reason for the change may be for health reasons, but soon political ideas take over. Perhaps I will continue to learn about the environment and ecology and food. I'm hoping that my readership will grow (thus far only my wife has commented and my mother-in-law is one of four readers - THANKS BETSY!!!!!!!!) and I'll learn new things. If you read this post, please visit FAKE PLASTIC FISH.