VeganMoFo, also know as Vegan Month of Food, is happening this October. Those who participate, blog about vegan food for the entire month.
This event (along with veganism) is quite new to me.
I decided to participate basically to see if I could go vegan for an entire month. Why I wanted to challenge myself in the kitchen with a new type of diet, is probably something a long time coming.
I started to question the way I cooked (and then ate) after Roo told me his cholesterol results. A startling number of 250 loomed over me as I continued to cook through that week’s groceries, wondering what I had done.
Granted, genetics do play a part in high cholesterol, as in if it runs in one’s family, you’re more likely to have it. Apparently Roo has had high cholesterol since he was a child (he has never been below 200). However, I never knew of this, and when we moved in together, I wanted nothing but to cook him the most comforting, delicious food I could think of. “Eating the love,” if you will.
And what did this “love” consist of? Butter, red meat (at least twice a week), so. much. dairy. (brie and I were BFFs), eggs, lots of eggs (I loved making frittatas with pancetta on weekends), and lots of cakes…and cookies. Maybe. Ok, yes, lots of cookies. “It was bad,” is an understatement.
There was also weight gain. I have probably gained 15 pounds since moving in with Roo. Roo…Roo has gained more. While I love Roo no matter what he looks like, weight gain and high cholesterol levels scared the bejaysus out of me. I want Roo to be around for a very long time, and I knew that these symptoms meant we were on a path of unhealthy living. That, does not mean a long life together.
Roo also doesn’t cook. I’m the one who (mostly) feeds him. While I cannot control what goodies his students bring in at school, there were three meals a day that I was responsible for. To be honest, once I started to think about how responsible I was for Roo’s main diet, it freaked me out. We had both ended up this way, mostly, because of me.
Working in research, I knew I had to find some “data.” I immediately headed over to the Boston Public Library and checked out books. Loads of books.
I read on the bus back and forth on my commute to work, trying to figure out if just cutting out red meat from our diet would be enough.
When I started reading the nutrition labels, I saw that practically everything I was going to substitute red meat for still had high amounts of cholesterol. Pork shoulder? Nixed. Ground turkey? 86-that.
And then there was dairy.
Brie and I were no longer speaking. Roo’s weekly habit of a gallon of 2% milk also had to go. And Ben and Jerry were no longer welcome in our apartment.
As I started to close in on Roo’s favorite foods, I did start to sense some panic. He began questioning if we were going to have meat the next day, or when I did actually tell him what we were having for dinner, he’d then ask, “and what protein?” I felt like with every meal I had to rationalize what our “protein” was, and why meat wasn’t necessary, ie how it didn’t work in the dish.
It was starting to become a losing battle. I felt like what I had to say had no weight against what the dairy council or the beef industry has convinced all of modern America since childhood. But then thankfully, oh so thankfully, we watched a documentary on Netflix one Saturday night.
Roo is not one to watch a movie and decide that we need to be proactive about something. We’ve seen multiple documentaries on food, agribusiness, even bees, but nothing that was discussed has made him turn around and suggest we try something different.
This documentary made him change.
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I think with all the recent data I had presented, even the news of Bill Clinton (the man who would plan his jog route with Secret Service to fast food restaurants) becoming vegan for health reasons, that this documentary finally made him realize that what I wanted for us, was not crazy.
People who were (unfortunately) in worse health that went on plant based diets dramatically changed their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and even weight. It was inspirational to say the least.
In a way I wish a documentary wasn’t the tipping point that made Roo be on board with a vegan diet, but per the clichéd saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” I couldn’t make Roo want to eat a plant based diet, unless he chose to want this kind of change. I still wanted him to “eat the love,” but in meals that I knew that…well, wouldn’t kill him in the long run.
I hope that with this month of VeganMoFo Roo and I can walk away from it with a few new favorite recipes that we love having during the work week, along with a healthier outlook on life. A tasty, healthier outlook on life.