What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
When I first went vegan.
In my twenties, I became a sort of vegan. I still wore leather, I just didn’t eat it. Then 9/11 happened and I decided life was too short to live without a slice of proper pizza.
In my 20s, I was fine with being the “Oh, I don’t eat that” girl. It felt like some sort of badge of honor; it proved that I was capable of discipline in at least one aspect of my life.
I started eating fish when I was pregnant with Boogie because I wasn’t getting enough protein. It was already a high-risk, grueling pregnancy, so when someone brought me food, I just didn’t have the energy to ask questions like, “Well, was it grown at least 5 feet from my apartment?"
When Boogie started eating solid foods, I added chicken to the game. He was already a picky eater and it didn’t seem right to restrict him more just because of some beliefs I'd developed in my 20s. Then it was just convenient to eat essentially what he ate. Who wants to make two separate dinners: one for me and one for someone who hadn’t been on the planet as long as "Friends" was on the air.
But the truth of the matter is: Meat still kind of grosses me out. I bite into chicken or fish and immediately feel the “once aliveness” of it. It becomes flesh and not meat. Sometimes I start chewing, then spit it back out in a napkin and throw it out. Still, I choke meat down when I am too lazy to cook for myself. Things need to change.
About six weeks ago, I started a quest to get healthier. I joined a 30-day boot camp and threw everything I had into working out, getting fit and eating better.
After the 30 days of boot camp were over, my arm muscles found their way back and I could do more burpees and pushups in a row than I ever could before. But the scale didn’t move. I didn’t lose one ounce the entire month.
I needed a diet overhaul. I’d heard a lot about raw food over the years. My first boyfriend owned a raw food restaurant in DC called Delights of the Garden that specialized in vegan and raw meals. It was good, but back then I wasn’t into kitchen activities, so I never learned how to make anything but raw kale and garlic.
To find out more I emailed Laura-Jane, author of "30 Day Raw Food Challenge." I emailed her a few questions about food prep and whether there were any meals that didn’t require days of sprouting, soaking and dehydrators. She assured me that she had tips to make the raw food transition easier. I also found out that she lived in my literary favorite place in the world, Prince Edward Island (She even kind of looked like Anne Shirley). I decided that this made us kindred spirits.
The cool thing about Laura-Jane's ebook is that she not only gives you a meal plan, but also a weekly shopping list that tells you exactly what to get and how much of it.
The raw diet itself is pretty basic; you can't eat anything that's been heated for more than 100 degrees or so. Dehydrating is OK, but it takes forever.
On Sunday, I started the Raw Challenge, which isn't a race or anything. You just eat "raw" for a month and see what happens. So far, the lack of easy and convenient choices is a little off-putting. I don’t like having to put so much thought in my food every single meal.
I can eat any vegetable, fruit, nuts or seeds that I want, including dried seaweed like kelp and nori sheets. It's basically gourmet bird food. My blender and food processor have taken the place of stove, oven or microwave. Soaking the nuts and seeds help soften them up in order to make it easier to process. I have a dehydrating function on my toaster oven, but did I mention the part where that takes FOREVER?
Even the “easy and quick” meals are pretty time consuming. And honestly, I don’t feel any different. If anything, I'm a lot more irritable. I’m not sure if it’s the food or the fact that I need to start making something almost 24 hours before eating it.
A lot can be said for convenience. I mean, I’m not a farmer for a reason. I don’t feel any more accomplished because I literally handmade salad dressing (which I did and it tasted awesome.)
I mentioned my issues on Twitter and someone tweeted me that the “act of making your living food is gratifying." I must have missed something. I believe in eating healthier, but don’t feel any more accomplished (or better) than someone else who is eating something delicious that took 30 seconds in a microwave. It’s like when people act like giving birth without drugs deserves some big prize for the next 20 years. Good for you, but I'll take an epidural. And by epidural, I mean pizza.
It’s only day 4 and I have 26 left. Honestly, I don't know how I'm going to make it, guys. So help a vegan out! Got any raw recipes? Anybody out there want to do this challenge with me? No? Well at least tell me how to make a good raw dessert. No bananas!