a true test of success.

So this weekend marks six weeks since I have started documenting this transition, and it also happened to be Jay’s brother’s graduation from college. You may wonder what one has to do with the other, but this created an opportunity for the most authentic test of how much my mindset has changed. You see, when we are with family we tend to eat out and go a little crazy with the food consumption… We are feasting after all. I was curious to see how I would do as far as staying faithful to my vegetarianism, when I could easily say it was a rare occasion and opt to eat whatever. But it seems that a switch truly has been flipped in my brain. It was not even that difficult to look for the vegetarian options. The hardest experience was the first night at Olive Garden. I have never, I repeat NEVER, eaten vegetarian at Olive Garden. But once l made that decision, it became easier all weekend. While I still have a ways to go on dairy, I am incredibly pleased! And I still had an awesome time eating with everyone, not to mention that my sister-in-law, Olivia, and Jay are also vegetarian. And the coolest part was that I felt like I was in camaraderie with my husband. Everything I was eating, he could eat too. So the verdict is, I think I can do this. Whether it is total veganism or minimalism, it suddenly seems more possible. All it took was a little online accountability. I have included a snapshot of a few delicious meals from this weekend for your viewing pleasure.

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over share?

So the question here is, when is it appropriate to mention that you are a vegetarian and when is it appropriate to suck it up? Today I was gifted with free pizza, which happened to be meat lovers, and since I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, I had some. Good news though: I didn’t go crazy; I had what I feel is a respectable amount of restraint. 🙂 I have also witnessed a few situations where Jay was given food with meat, and he ate it because he knew it could be hurtful to refuse and say he was a vegetarian. I think hospitality is always the goal, as I have mentioned before. But coming from this side of things, I will reiterate that the best time to mention you are a vegetarian might not be right before someone hands you a meat-laden plate lovingly home-cooked by them. While I believe in my convictions, I understand that not everyone is there. I certainly am not all the way there. And while I want to keep the discussion open, I don’t want to oppress others with my opinions. When someone asks, I will definitely share my impetus for the shift to more vegetarian practices, but I won’t do it to shame them. I hope that we will all strive for hospitality and love in this discussion and pray that grace will make up for our shortcomings along the way.

going in with a game plan

This marks 5 weeks of aspiring vegetarianism and ethical, more healthy eating. I do feel like I fell off the proverbial (I just realized that word comes from proverb) bandwagon a little this last week. But I think I realized my downfall: free food. Not only did I eat meat two times this week when it was offered to me, I ate a lot more processed food and dairy. It is so hard to say no to cheese! In the past seven days, I attended three free meals at different venues, and all three times I was not proud of my decision making. This makes me realize, while I may have things pretty much in order when I am in control of what is provided, I often fail to go in with a game plan otherwise. Not deciding what I will and will not eat ahead of time leaves me throwing caution to the wind. And this week I could tell a difference in my weight, my moods, and my energy level. So from now on, I’m going in with a game plan. I have been trying to make a real transition, and I want to be prepared for real situations in life. I want to be healthy and ethical even when it’s not convenient. I have renewed purpose for week six. Stay tuned.

Choices and Hospitality.

4 weeks down – and I finally went a full week without any meat! And I went out to eat twice, so that is the truly miraculous part. As far as processed food goes, we have been buying a lot less so our snacking has looked very different. Jay recently read in a book that for vegans and people who want to eat more healthfully and ethically there are basically four new food groups: whole, non-enriched grains, fruits & vegetables, nuts & seeds, and legumes. Honestly, we can find all the nutrition our body requires with these four food groups. Dairy and meat should only be eaten sparingly if at all. This is a huge paradigm shift for most of us, and I was reflecting this week on how easy it is to assume everyone eats meat, and possibly be annoyed when they do not. And please do not think I am coming from a place of judgement, because I did not buy into this lifestyle right away at all and often became frustrated by the conviction I felt on myself and my own eating habits when I encountered other vegetarians. But watching my husband and listening to him explain his choices to often wary inquisitors softened my heart daily. I felt a little pit in my stomach when a meal would be provided for us but there was very little available for him. Still, he never complained, and he was always hospitable about his eating. (He wouldn’t sit there with an empty plate to make a scene or statement). It has made me think more about being hospitable to others when we eat. After all, breaking bread (gluten free or otherwise) together is one of the oldest symbols of community. And community is about consideration of “an other.” Let even the ways that we eat together show love for neighbors close and far.

#nutribullet

So this week in the mail came an amazing gift for Jay and my anniversary… A nutribullet! If you have not heard of these things, you should definitely check it out. It’s basically a smoothie maker with an awesome blade. We have been trying all sorts of combinations of fruits and spinach or kale. While admittedly I am not awesome at making great tasting smoothies yet, I am excited about my soon-to-be actualized smoothie skills. As a side note, I am feeling great and I have only eaten meat 4 times in the past 3 weeks! This brings me to my third and final reason for adjusting my lifestyle: weight loss. I really want to make this my third reason because I would like to value ethics and health above vanity. Still, I have that magic goal number in my head that I would love to see again. I will certainly not hit it in the next three weeks but it has seemed more possible lately. If there is an impressive weight loss at the end of six weeks, I will post a before and after. But I suppose everyone will have to hold their breath on that one. 😉

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hating myself on monday.

I find that every time I try to adjust my eating habits, I follow a similar cycle. I do really well all week and then find the weekend as a license to go hog-wild (I wish this word wasn’t so accurate). However, I have noticed the past couple weeks that since my focus hasn’t just been weight loss but overall health and ethics, I have been more likely to limit my “bad” choices even on the weekend. It’s not yet where I want it to be, but I can sense my thought process changing when I choose a snack. And I feel much less lethargic and bloated when I do well. So win-win!

Lunch

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I am not even close to perfection, but meals like this make eating healthy fun. This is a spinach and arugula salad with strawberries, apples, avocado, feta, and poppy seed dressing. We also mixed in a veggie burger patty, but that wasn’t going to create a beautiful picture 🙂 Side note: I am addicted to avocados.

Easter Dinner, Vegetarian Style.

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For once I didn’t eat myself sick 🙂 And it was delicious!

Incorporating Food.

So the straw that broke the camel’s back (sorry, camel) after 6 years of knowing this transition is the right thing to do was actually my teaching job.  I teach Environmental Science to high school students, and Food Inc. is part of our spring curriculum.  My deep desire in this particular class is to help my students think globally about the decisions they make.  We do not live in a vacuum, and everything we do impacts others.  So as we viewed this film, I could sense my heart being pricked into action. After all, didn’t I become a teacher to combat oppression?  So I started to think about ways that I could adjust my food consumption to participate less in this system of oppression.  And while it is impossible to remove ourselves completely, I want my role to be as thoughtful as I can make it.  If you have not watched this documentary, I strongly recommend it.  It will be uncomfortable, I guarantee, but worth it.

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fitting in

I think the most difficult thing about healthful and ethically conscious eating is going out. It takes a lot to know where your food is coming from or what is in there. Here is a trick you might try. The more plants you can actually recognize in your meal, the better. Jay and I went to Spin! Pizza tonight and as you can see from the picture, enjoyed it so much that we were almost done before I snapped a shot. We both had Sonoma salads and a Sun-dried Tomato Olive pizza. Delicious! Also, they have the option of Dairy and Gluten Free! Being healthy doesn’t mean hiding under a rock (near lots of foliage) until you hit your goal weight. We can be a part of and possibly change the land of the living!

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