Tuesday, July 3, 2012
month of beauty: eating well
I remember days, when my son was five and my girl was two, and I was tired. I remember days picking him up from school and—knowing my husband would be out 'til late teaching—I'd think, "I'll take it easy tonight; we'll have a treat; this will be fun," and off we'd go for a Happy Meal. One cheeseburger with fries and an orange juice. The kids would love their toys and the Special Treat.
Win Win, I thought.
There were more nights like that than I want to admit! Sometimes dinner felt like a mountain. Like a really big mountain with stairs at the top, and then maybe a fence to climb and a guestbook to sign in and a secret password you had to guess before you could even glimpse the peak. What parent hasn't ached some nights for an easy meal?
Now, I suppose I've picked a whole new mountain, because being Vegan and Wheat Free has sometimes felt kind of enormous. It sure felt gigantic when we started. First there was the getting over dairy. What a long love affair that had been (over 40 years for the grown-ups). Oh, the days of pining that followed, the longing looks, the sad love letters! Worse than Romeo and Juliet!
The detox lasted about a week, and then we were fine. But then there was the "Whatever Will We Eat Now?" stage and the "Can A Person Really Survive on Beans (and Lentils and Nuts and Grains and Vegetables and Fruit) Alone?" thoughts. In those first weeks and months I poured over cook books, health books, the internet. Each meal needed to have protein, plus iron and zinc and calcium, Etcetera. I had to make sure there was vitamin C to help absorb the iron and we needed to have our B12 supplements and I wanted the meals to be tasty, so that we wouldn't be miserable. Big deep breaths! Such a big mountain!
But then… it suddenly wasn't so big. Because I discovered some really yummy recipes. I learned there is literally protein in every single grain, bean, nut, lentil, vegetable and piece of fruit you eat (I had no idea). Once you find meals you love, you can make them in a flash.
And trying new things is actually fun, because they are usually insanely scrumptious. And because we are so committed to this choice, the hardest days (when we've forgotten to go shopping! and er, there's a single limp carrot in the fridge and some old mushrooms and only two cans of beans and half a bag of pasta!) are just that—days. And I have learned that eating a plant-based diet is not just a really kind thing to do for animals, but also incredibly, incredibly, good for you.
Do we have easy meals now? Do we ever have take out? Yes, and yes. Easy comes when I've made such a big pot of lentil bolognese that we can use it three days later for a quick pasta meal. Easy is when there's lots of bean mix from the nachos dinner, and I can pop it on rice the next day for lunch, with slices of avocado on top. Easy is snacks of fruit and carrots with hummus and peanut butter on rice cakes and smoothies with mango. Easy, is going to the local Thai restaurant and asking for Pad Thai with no egg and tofu instead. They know us now and cook everything with vege stock.
Easy, is sitting down to a meal and knowing that every bite will be a good one. We are eating so, so well. It feels all kinds of Beautiful.