In early December, I realized that I didn't like the way I ate. My purchases and consumption no longer reflected my ideals. I had become inattentive to what I ate and frequently consumed convenient, commercially prepared food from national chain stores and restaurants. Conventional meats at the grocery (at under one dollar per pound) were far cheaper than the local, grass-fed, organic meats I claimed to prefer. Snowed in for a few days, without coffee, sugar or dairy products, I cooked up pans of roasted vegetables and hearty bowls of fruit-and-nut laden oatmeal. I was prevented - by the snowdrifts - from dashing to the store to buy something else.

I ate well for three days and thought about everything I put in my mouth. I realized that my dissatisfaction stemmed from three sources: 1. my failure to make meaningful social and personal choices through my food purchases; 2. unhealthy body condition resulting from over-consumption of non-nutritious foods; and 3. a false sense of economy from buying cheap food. The solution was simple - and for me, already tested: go vegan. I knew from my personal experiment during an international vegan month that one month of vegan choices made me mindful, healthy and thrifty. I've had bouts of vegetarianism in the past, and meat often grosses me out.  I really do enjoy fruits and vegetables. I had found it easy to commit for only a month. This time, however, I decided that I should be a vegan for a year, and at the end of the year, decide if I was ready to make a life-long commitment.

New years are good for resolutions, so I decided to start with my new vegan lifestyle on January 1, 2010. I had a few ground rules for myself: anything I already owned that was made from an animal, like leather shoes, could remain but I would not buy any new items. I would continue to take fish oil capsules until the large jar I had was finished. My dogs and cat would remain omnivores.

Breakfast on New Year's Day was not vegan; it involved butter, eggs and milk in the form of waffles served at the home where I awoke as a guest. This re-introduces a challenge I faced when I was a one-month vegan before: how to remain committed to eating plans when outside my regular routine. Although my hosts would not likely have been insulted had I asked for an alternative, or concerned had I had only the fruit topping and coffee, I felt it would be rude to decline the waffles that were prepared as a special breakfast. What a lame excuse!

Does veganism become easier with time? Was I setting myself up for failure by deciding that my first meal would be away from home? Would it have been as easy as asking for oatmeal instead? If I had a medically-necessitated condition that prevented me from eating waffles, would I have felt justified in rejecting what I had been served?  I'd better figure out the answers, because I don't plan to eat at home for every meal in 2010.


Leave a Reply

    Note from
    Mary Alzire

    Thank you for taking the time to visit my site.  You can comment on any post by clicking its title. I welcome your comments and questions.

    "The Year of the Vegan" is a diary of my challenges and triumphs during 2010 - a year in which I will not consume any animal products. This commitment is motivated by my disgust about the hidden and externalized environmental, social and societal  costs of our nation's food network. Join me considering what we eat, and why.

    This year is also a year of personal transitions - from graduate student and freelance writer living in rural southwestern Virginia to fully-employed DC resident.


    August 2010
    July 2010
    June 2010
    May 2010
    April 2010
    March 2010
    February 2010
    January 2010