Being a good Catholic (Pt. 2).


(Pt. 1 is here.)

It’s Holy Saturday, which to a wussy agnostic isn’t necessarily important, but my beloved (and awesome) granddad died on Holy Saturday, so the day always makes me a little sad.

Easter is going to be a small affair and involved Bellinis and quiche. Yes, you heard that right, quiche. The end of Heathen Vegan Lent is upon us and, though I thought I’d have an in-depth report at its terminus, I’m not sure I do.

I don’t know if you know this, but food is food. And eating vegan, after the first couple of weeks of obsessive label reading, is really not that difficult, especially if you have the basics of vegan baking and cooking down.

Being more mindful of my choices was the main goal of this experiment, and that has worked beautifully. I think that I will be one of those irritating ‘flexitarians’ that the media wants us to know about; someone who is mostly vegan, but not even fully vegetarian. I mean, right now, I’m at a point where a mushroom quiche (which I will make in the morning) seems like a huge deal; bacon isn’t even on my radar (though, undoubtedly, my brother will make some), which seems strange given my love of a club sandwich in the last couple of years. Maybe I will never have a club sandwich again. Who knows? I think pigs are grand animals and I would like to contribute less to suffering in the world (be it human or animal).

But I also need to be human – there is only one friend who has invited me out for dinner this whole six weeks, maybe because folks are intimidated by veganity. Or maybe because I smell funny. It seems a selfish reason to ‘lighten up’ and not eat strictly vegan all the time, but I have other concerns as well.

1. Soy is still a problem, making protein somewhat of a problem. There were days where I was really, really flagging and needed to overcaffeinate or find a sugar hit to get me through the afternoon. Yes, I kept almonds as snacks, and had peanut butter with apples slices sometimes, but it was still difficult. There are only so many pulses one (well, I) can eat without feeling inflated and uncomfortable too. I didn’t track my food much after the first week, so I’m not sure about percentages of fat vs. carbohydrates vs. protein, but it’s clear that that last number was sometimes too low.

2. Due to the above, my body has changed shape a bit. I don’t normally gain weight around my middle, but I have. It’s made things fit oddly. Between that and regaining some muscle with the beginning of bike season, fresh-out-of-the-dryer jeans look borderline obscene right now (and some bloaty mornings won’t even zip), even though I managed to lose about 8lbs of my winter weight since Shrove Tuesday. I was never one for worrying much about carbs, but now I know for sure that the ‘bad’ ones are not good for me either. (I don’t think carbs are bad, BTW.)

3. Less-than-whole foods are super tempting. ‘Oh, it’s fine to eat this, it’s totally vegan!’ apples not just to Auntie Loo’s treats, but things like Fudgee-Os and Twizzlers and things I wouldn’t normally buy. Then I’d buy them and eat all of them. It was weird and kind of comical and reminded me of when I lived in the U.K. and was broke, but could buy a tube of Jaffa cakes for 79p, then eat them all in one go. ‘I can eat this, SO EAT THIS I SHALL.’ (Please note, not all Twizzlers are vegan, as was pointed out to me by a local tv anchor (kindly) when I met her at a vegan bakery a few weeks ago.)

4. This attitude problem comes being limited in what I could eat, in a similar way depriving oneself of calories does. Like folks who guzzle Diet Coke because it’s something they are ‘allowed’ to eat on a low-calorie diet, but is mostly just a stimulant and then a kind of crutch.

So, yes, these are probably not the most well-defined or spiritual revelations, but I definitely think that this might become an annual thing in future. As I mentioned at the beginning of this experiment (I hate when people use ‘journey’ or ‘challenge’ in this kind of situation – I didn’t go anywhere and it wasn’t that difficult), I think it’s important to take a step back and assess how we eat and how we relate to the planet and all of its denizens from time to time. We’re all part of a greater system, which I think a lot of people tend to forget when they got bogged down in their own woes and triumphs, and should focus on that a little more often. I know I will be.

(That attempt at poignancy was brought to you by Samantha Brick and her even less convincing attempts at it in her laments about being soooooooo beautiful. I think that you’ve never been a bridesmaid because you’re a conceited turd, not because of what you look like. (And thank you to Kirsten for raging with me about this.))

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