Almost One Year

It’s somewhat arbitrary. I suppose I should have waited for the one-year milestone to start writing. Perhaps being a vegan* for a full year would officially cement my decision to forego eating animal protein. Well, I’m committed to my decision and you’ll just have to wait to celebrate the day with me when it arrives!

In January 2014, I’d realized that I had not eaten any red meat in over two months. Even prior to that, my wife and I rarely cooked red meat at home, but dinners out were a time to be indulgent and professional chefs had a knack for making a steak taste better than what we could ever achieve. But even those extravagant meals were becoming less frequent. The indulgence wasn’t paying off. The food sat heavy in our stomachs, and I knew that it wasn’t the healthiest choice.

So I declared: I was done with red meat.

For a couple months we ate more vegetables. Many meals were now centered around what we thought were healthy animal proteins (chicken, pork or fish). It seemed we were making a move to a healthier diet…

Then I went to Yale and got schooled.

OK, I was never a student at Yale, but last April I attended an alumni event and got to hear a talk by Jane Esselstyn. In short, she spoke about the effect of eating animal protein. The bulk of the science behind her talk came from Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure written by her father, Caldwell Esselstyn. It was an odd setting for her talk as the purpose of alumni events tends to be to raise money. I never heard how many attendees were converted, or how many alums made a donation. To me it didn’t matter, I was intrigued! To close the talk, a vegan dinner was served (plant-strong in Jane’s words). The food was amazing! I wish I could remember all the dishes, but they opened my eyes to the possibility of simply eating veggies.

The next morning I had my last egg breakfast.

Since then I’ve been living on nothing but plants. This transition turned out to be a fairly painless. My wife was not ready to officially give up all meat, but ultimately had no objections to leaving it off our grocery list. There were concerns about how my new diet would affect cooking at home: endless bowls of steamed tofu, platefuls of bland lentils and bags of uncooked coarse grains—think Joey Ramone in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.

And so, it became a personal challenge to make the food as interesting as it could be healthy. As it turns out this has proven to be easier than expected.

* I realize that in order to be a fully vested, card-carrying vegan I must avoid all animal products which I have yet to realize. For those black-belt vegans who may be tempted to enlighten me, please don’t. I’m fully aware of this conundrum. I haven’t embraced the the terms plant-based (so there’s room to stray?) or plant-strong (sounds a bit pretentious) to describe my food choices and so far I’m enjoying the effect of declaring my vegan diet.