Friday, July 13, 2012

month of beauty: the song of the cheese

My mom is doing the fundraiser "Dry July" this year. She's not having a drop of alcohol all month, and says she doesn't miss it at all.

She's also going vegan for the whole month too. That's a lot to take on! Two weeks in, she's feeling it.

It's small things, she says. Like walking down the cold foods aisle at the supermarket and seeing all that cheese! Ack, and oh! So tempting!

I totally remember the same pull, fresh into our vegan-ness. I swear as I walked down those aisles, the cheese was singing to me. Love songs, gorgeous harmonies, sweet somethings crooned straight into my ears. For my mom, it's the blue cheese. It loves her so much! How could she walk away from a love this strong? Doo Wah!

And there's stuff you just can't find in most regular stores. Agave syrup, soy cheese, and nutritional yeast: all hard to find at first, but easy once you find the right shop. It's finding the right shop that can seem so impossible. Why aren't they all marked on Google Maps?

And all the things you don't know about and new things to buy. Did she know she needs to take B12 as a vegan? No? And does she know you can use egg replacer instead of egg? And that sometimes applesauce will work just as well? No? Well…!

And there's the going out, when people are providing food, when you feel you're putting them out if you ask for vegan. Or when you go somewhere and it's catered and the only options are meat or egg or dairy. Oh! and Double ack! for the new vegan, the vegan at the beginning of an enormous and amazing journey.

It's hard. I know that. It's hard because it's different and it's marginal and people question you and make jokes and some days, especially in the beginning, you really have to be dedicated sometimes to make it through.

But, you see, that's where it works for us. Because somewhere along the way, we got so dedicated, so committed to this choice that the hardest days just stopped being hard.

Something switched. Something huge in all of us turned away from eating animals and animal products, and we truly cannot imagine ever going back.

So when people say, "Your diet is so limited!" I say, "Ah, but it's not. I can eat this and this and this, and it's so yummy!"

And when people say, "Oh, so, you can't have ice-cream?" I say, "I can. I have sorbet, and soy ice-cream—it's delicious!"

And I think to myself (and sometimes say):

"Actually the word "can't" doesn't apply here. I choose not to have these things. This is a choice, and the choice brings joy."

I have looked closely at the animal food industry—read the hard stuff, seen the hard stuff. Then I've  read and seen more. I haven't turned away. I am unbelievably glad I don't support an industry that brings pain, unhappiness and terrible fear to millions of animals. Choosing to live differently now feels utterly right.

I have learned about the benefit of a whole foods, plant-based diet. I've read just how good it is for our bodies. I didn't realise before what a truly healthy choice this was. I feel pleased to bits that this is the path we've taken.

I've listened to people's doubts about eating this way, or being able to keep to it. And I feel incredible strength, because this choice is just the right fit for us. It is a compassionate and mindful choice,

and that, for me, is the way to beauty.


Here are some links for recipes, for those keen to try some seriously yummy vegan food:

Forks Over Knives: Recipes

Vegan Starter Kit: Recipes

Cooking With the Vegan Zombie

And these are two books I've really enjoyed, that give you practical (and fun) tips on how to live as a vegan:

This Crazy Vegan Life

Vegan For Life


I'm so proud of you, Mom, for giving this a try. I love you so much


  1. I am almost done with Eating Animals and you are is life changing. I have reaffirmed my choice to be vegetarian. That book has changed the way I think and created a whole new paradigm in the same was the Omnivore's Dilemma did for me over a year ago.

    I love your reply to those who say you can't do something. Yes....we can.....but we Choose not to. That is very powerful. My girls and I are beginning a year long study of health and nutrition. Unlike our independent study last year, we are joining with 8 families and our goal is having the children make a documentary about healthy choices and the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. We just watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (me for the second time, them for the first....) and I am now juicing 2 of my 3 meals a day for a few days. They learned so much from this one movie. My hope is that they will realize on their own how important it is to move away from a meat based diet, for health, for ecology and for morality.

    1. Jess, isn't that book extraordinary? I can say, without a doubt, that my life changed the night I saw Jonathan Safran Foer give a talk about that book. There are only a handful of moments in my life as definitive as this.

      I'm so glad you and your girls are going on this learning adventure together! It has been incredible to have my husband and kids go with me on this 'journey,' and have us be really committed to it as a family. My kids made their choice very much independently and are incredibly strong in their resolve—I think that is really important, as you say.

      I was thinking of you when I posted the links to those recipes! I hope you find some you like. Thanks so much for your comment, Jess—I loved reading it.


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.