I never imagined that veganism would become so important to me. In high school I used to make fun of vegans and vegetarians. I read a lot of Maddox and enjoyed rude humour, so I definitely loved to mock people for their lifestyle choices — the old “For every animal you don’t eat, I’ll eat three!”
Fast forward a decade or so and I am extremely proud and open about my veganism.
People who aren’t too close to the movement often ask me if my veganism extends to the cosmetics and clothing I wear. I’m usually taken aback because it seems obvious to me — “Of course, if it didn’t I wouldn’t be a vegan, I’d just be on a plant-based diet!”
My ex used to be amazed that there were fat vegans in the world, because to him veganism was about diet and lifestyle, not about a moral issue.
You can probably see how this annoys a lot of vegans — those of us who went vegan because we take issue with the treatment of animals in the food industry, who also make a commitment to cutting down on produce gathered by under/unpaid farmers and exploited workers, don’t care to be lumped in with those who went vegan for their waistline, who plunk down hundreds of dollars every month on “superfoods,” who gush about the digestive wonders of a gluten-free diet and talk about how good they feel when they eat raw before pulling on their leather boots. I call the dichotomy the Green Smoothie Vegans versus the Daiya Pizza Vegans.
But here’s the thing: I drink a lot of green smoothies.
It’s pretty easy for people to think of me as a Green Smoothie Vegan, beyond the sheer number of green smoothies I consume. I’m an athlete, a bit of a hippie, and I’m undeniably a skinny woman. I’ve struggled with disordered eating in the past too, so I still have a bit of a fear of fatty foods, though that’s getting better.
The fact is, that kind of diet works better for my lifestyle — I feel like I can’t climb or dance as well when I’m weighted down from tons of soy and refined sugar. Plus, it helps that I absolutely love to cook. I have since my first year of university, when I was still a pretty substantial meat eater (I started cutting down on red in 2009 and it’s been a gradual slope since) when I would spend hours in my residence kitchen meticulously preparing a big pot of my once-famous chilli (I’m still working on the perfect vegan version). I’ll admit I’ve had nights when I’ve come back from two hours of teaching dance in Whitby to simply toss some Ficken fingers in the oven, but those days are becoming fewer and further between.
Eating to energize my body with healthy and consistent bursts of energy is something I really learned the importance of last year when I was working a very emotionally draining job for eight hours a day and then three times a week driving to Whitby to work a physically and mentally draining job at night, then driving home to a too-cold, too-expensive apartment with a roommate who left the kitchen in disarray. This year I’ve realized how little I’ve actively tried to make life easier for myself in the past, so I’ve started taking small steps.
That means making meals the night before (like this Oh She Glows Back On Track Green Monster — O.M.G., such a great sweet/savoury combo), drinking a ton of water, cutting back on coffee and, most importantly, relaxing once in awhile.
I’m chuckling a bit right now about how this started out as a rant about ethical veganism versus diet veganism and then became yet another clumsy unloading of all my issues related to my disorganized life. Oh well, my blog, my rules!
I’ll be around again soon, Internet-land. In the meantime, stay green (or full of soy and gluten — your body, your choice).