Intention, Not Perfection

I read an article in Vegetarian Times that quoted a woman saying veganism is about “intention, not perfection.”  I am trying to take this to heart as I recover from a weekend of unhealthy and not-entirely-vegan eating.  While many people would consider my diet this weekend to be fairly healthy, after several weeks of eating an entirely plant-based diet, I felt tired, bloated, and just generally terrible. I guess transitioning to a vegan diet has had more effect than I even realized, and I was already realizing that I was feeling pretty great.  I haven’t had a food coma in ages.  Imagine living life without food coma!  You CAN have a meal and not feel like you’re about to pass out afterwards! It’s a beautiful thing.

A few other thoughts about transitioning to a plant-based diet:

1. I think I would prefer to call my new lifestyle “plant based,” as opposed to always worrying about whether something is totally, truly, 100% always vegan.  I’m doing my best, and that’s good enough for me.

2. Veganism is easier in places like Los Angeles or New York, where people are always on some sort of special diet.  I live in a town known the world over for it’s cheesesteaks, for goodness sakes!!

3. I really hate wasting food, so much so that I have decided to allow myself a transition period to eat some of the things that we still have in our freezer/pantry that contain animal products but can’t be donated.  No food pantry is going to take a partially-used bag of frozen shrimp, or the remains of my can of anchovies, or my 1/4 bottle of Worcester sauce that is getting used up at a snail’s pace.  But they’re still fine and I’m too cheap to throw them out.  So be it.

This weekend, that last part meant that I prepared a roast chicken for my mom’s birthday.  It’s one of her favorites, there’s no way to donate a frozen chicken, and I wanted it out of the house. So for her birthday dinner, we had the roast chicken and vegetables, sautéed broccoli, and mashed potatoes and celery root.  The next day, I felt like crap.  Complete and total crap.

When I mentioned to my husband that I was feeling bad after eating so badly, he was really shocked.  He thought we’d been really healthy–roast chicken, veggies…what’s wrong with that?  That’s when it hit me how much my body, and perspective, have changed over the past few weeks.  Most people share my husband’s view–that was a healthy dinner.  But once you start eating vegan, you really learn what it is for your body to feel healthy.  I haven’t lost all the weight that vegan books promise, and I don’t feel like I walk around glowing in some euphoric, blissed-out state, but I just FEEL better.  I’m not tired, I’m not cranky (well, not as cranky), I have energy, I can think again.  And now I realize the difference between “low-fat” healthy and vegan healthy–your body just works when you eat plants.  When you eat animals, you can be thin, but you’re never really firing on all cylinders.

Our Sunday night dinner of adzuki beans and kabocha squash with glazed daikon radishes (both from The Kind Diet cookbook) set me straight and I’m feeling so much better.  This week, we’re having tofu and bok choy with ramen, vegan mushroom stroganoff, and kabocha soup.  I raise my cup of kukicha tea to our good health!

A review of my visit to the Upper Darby H Mart coming up!