Thursday, November 3, 2011

3 of 30: Veganism... The Diet That Made Me Fat

“Being vegan just makes you better than most people”   
-Envy Adams, Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

My favorite food in the world is Bacon. 
Anyone who knows me and knows me well can vouch for this fact. I can eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner, and I sprinkle it on just about everything.

Which is why the thought of going vegan was pretty intimidating.

It was something I decided to try when I found out my friend, J, was doing it as a detox of some sort. He’s a runner, and he had a few marathons lined up. He said he needed to drop weight for it. It intrigued me! All diets intrigued me, actually. I think I’ve tried all the diets in the world, like Atkins, Southbeach, The Onion Soup Diet, The Master Cleanse, The Starvation Diet… But I haven’t tried veganism yet… nor vegetarianism for that matter! It sounded like… a challenge! Plus, I thought I would be really cool to do it with a friend so we could keep tabs on each other! And who knows? Maybe this could be the beginning of a healthy lifestyle! YES, I was excited.
So all I knew about veganism I learned from the movie, Scott Pilgrim. Brandon Routh’s character is vegan, and he had this line that said, “I partake not in the meat, nor the breastmilk, nor the ovum, of any creature, with a face -- Which I assumed meant, no meat, no dairy. Easy. I didn’t have to go to Vegan Academy for that!

Grocery shopping for vegan food was – erm – difficult. Everything in the grocery store I wanted to eat had cheese in it. EVERYTHING! I thought I was gonna get away with buying pre-packed vegetarian food, but they all had dairy ingredients! I’m not particularly fond of raw vegetables and I’m not an expert in cooking them either, so I knew I was in trouble. Mildly panicked, I walked slowly around the grocery store, trying to figure out how I could survive this feat I got myself in. I hadn’t even started yet, and already, I wanted to give up!
But when I got to the fruit area, I calmed down a little. Fruits! I could always eat fruits! Its easy, filling, and I don’t need to cook them!
I stocked my cart with apples, pears, grapes and bananas. Then I saw corn. Corn! I could eat corn! And if I could eat corn, then that meant I could also eat corn CHIPS! And with corn chips, comes salsa and or guacamole! All of those were vegan! I was feeling better already…

I got so used to different types of protein diets where they teach you that carbs were the enemy… Well in Veganism, I kinda had no choice but to eat carbs to make up for the lack of meaty stuff! Wheat pasta, rice and even some bread… I ate them all without guilt! Which was pretty scary, but fun. :)

At work, I bought salads from the food lady that comes around at noon everyday. Sometimes, she would bring me vegan options too… noodles with vegetables and mushroom. I would snack on apples or bananas, throw in some nuts, and every now and then, I’d eat a twizzler. Twizzlers are vegan.

You know what else is vegan? Potatoes. And french fries ARE potatoes.
Soon after this realization, I drove over to KFC and bought myself lots of potatoes. Their fries are yummy. I’d eat them with a side of corn.

Then it became sort of a ritual. Everyday after work, I drove by KFC to pick up my potatoes and corn, and felt really good about my new vegan lifestyle! This isn’t so bad,  I thought! I could eat yummy cereal with soy milk in the morning, which was more than any other diet would have allowed me. I could eat as much fruit as I wanted, which again was a big “no-no” on some of the protein diets I’ve tried because apparently, fruits had too much sugar. Best of all, I could eat bread! Not all kinds of bread, but still… BREAD! And whenever I ate at an Indian restaurant, I could have Naan!

At one point, I even had a couple friends over for a “vegan dinner,” where I served some bruschetta as an appetizer, a pear and walnut salad with raspberry balsamic vinegar to start, and a mushroom risotto as my entre! I had never even cooked risotto before, but thanks to my friend A’s recipe, I am now an expert risotto maker!

To top it all off, doing number 2 has never been easier! For realz!

What I didn't think was going to happen was the weight gain though. I don’t know why I was so silly to think that eating corn and potatoes and bread everyday will make me drop weight due to the lack of meat and dairy in my body. I guess, now that I think about it, Veganism IS a diet, but not necessarily a diet that makes you lose weight. At least not for me. Haha! As far as I could tell, in those two weeks, I was a hard core vegan, and ate only what vegans do. But maybe because I liked the food so much, I ended up eating a little more than what I should have? I dunno!


One thing’s for sure though… Going vegan is easier DONE than said. It honestly isn’t as difficult as most people think. And this is coming from a carnivore!
Living in California, the “healthiest state,” makes it really convenient as well. Almost all the restaurants have vegan options, and our grocery stores have them too! The food is really good, super tasty, and pretty healthy. It didn’t give me vegan super powers, nor did it make me feel like I was better than anyone else… But it made me appreciate and love veggies! As a matter of fact, even after my two weeks was up, I couldn’t help but keep eating the stuff I got used to. Broccoli, Corn, Potatoes, Fruits, Tofu… It wasn’t until about 3 weeks later that I ate a baby back rib. It was gooood! But I threw up afterwards. Too much too soon, I think.

So will I become a vegan? No… I don’t think my body or even my DNA will survive without meat. I’m Filipino. And Filipinos eat lechon (roasted pig with an apple in its mouth) and crispy pata (pork hind legs with knuckles) for breakfast. They have been for yeaaaaars and yeaaaars… Meat is part of who I am, and I don’t think I can deprive myself from something my people have been devouring for decades. I know that now. Even if I had fun and was pretty successful (meaning I didn’t cheat) in my vegan experiment, it felt a little unnatural… you know?

I did learn to appreciate the food though. I ate things I never would have thought of choosing in a menu or a grocery isle… and I loved them! It taught me how to cook dishes I never would have thought of serving! And going to the bathroom was always a delight! Because even if I did stuff myself with corn and potatoes, I also ate more vegetables in those two weeks than I have the past year! I’m proud of myself for being able to at least stick with it without cheating. Veganism isn’t just a concept anymore. I discovered that it isn’t really my style … but at least I can say I tried. And I’m okay with that.

Oh and as for my friend, J? He only lasted a few days.