On my quest for Veganism, I found the pangs of hunger were different than the usual.
My vegan quest started after being vegetarian since 1989 & attempting to become vegan around 2011. Approximately three attempts were made before veganism “stuck”. The first rather meager attempt was made when I decided dairy might be adding to sinus pressure I was experiencing. I also wanted to be less “phlegmy”…less “post nasal drippish”. I had read articles about dairy contributing to excess mucus production and wanted to try. (Several years later I discovered not only ditching the dairy, but loading up on ginger and turmeric really helps sinus problems).
I hadn’t yet delved into the unfortunate reality of the dairy industry. I was previously aware enough, to only want products which were organic and had humane practices. I also wanted cheese that contained no rennet, only vegetarian rennet. *ren·netˈnoun, Curdled milk from the stomach of an unweaned calf, containing rennin and used in curdling milk for cheese.
I remember not being ready for this change. Dairy was everywhere & I didn’t understand that cheese has an addictive quality that scientists have discovered. My non-dairy quest which was supposed to parlay into full veganism was quickly snuffed out in a week or two. The cheeses won, that time.
The next full attempt came several years later, when I wanted to go full-boar into the vegan world. I tried harder, arming myself with better info and trying to prepare my mind. Alas, I soon discovered, one must prepare their cupboards & fridge as bouts of hunger-hysteria took over on several occasions. Here is where I found a new more harsh hunger, a pain in my gut that felt like a bottomless pit, a different hunger sensation I hadn’t felt before.
I remember driving along the river, on the way to the local co-op almost in tears. I felt angry and creepily hungry. I wonder now, if dairy and eggs…especially cheese keeps a certain coating in your gut that never lets you experience true hunger, unlike the way one feels when only plant matter is consumed. My anger kept popping up. I hadn’t thought ahead about having quick go-to’s that were vegan. I wasn’t prepared to make a lot of food at home, as we had fallen into the trappings of many new exciting restaurants opening in the Twin Cities. Also thinking I could easily veganize everything we would make at home, finding that it takes more planning than just dreamy thoughts. I remember telling myself, “Maybe this isn’t natural.” “Maybe vegans are kind of nuts.” “Am I becoming obsessed? This is all I think about, now…vegan this and vegan that!”
That empty, sharp, pitted feeling that made me feel angry, finally subsided when I cried because I didn’t know how I was going to make my famous French Toast for myself and my Fiance, without the use of eggs. (So unprepared!) I frantically whipped up the dish & felt happy with my decision to just be vegetarian again, but the nagging in my head to try again and do it right, had only just begun. I even remember going to a Superbowl party, having the hostess (very sweet to care) be very concerned about what I was going to eat since she heard I was vegan. I told her it seems crazy to be vegan and I don’t know how people do it. Others chimed in about how tough it was to feed their vegan friends, when they came for dinner. I proceeded to feast on the vegetarian fare that was available. The gnawing in my head said “try again soon.”
Attempt number 3 was the charm! in 2014, (year 25 of my life as a vegetarian) I said to my Fiance, “I want to be vegan, and really do it right this time!” He is quite supportive & let me tell you, it helps to have a guy who is not only a great cook but a creative vegan cook. The veg-coconut curries, the whole wheat roti’s and great salads abounded! I armed myself with big and little items like egg replacer for baking, plenty of plant based milks (already drank those for years), vegan cheeses & lunch meats, spices, oils, coconut for whipping, shredding etc… great produce, fun snacks, spices and the list goes on. I tried new recipe’s and the pièce de résistance was purchasing a Nutri-Bullet. THAT was the best purchase I may have ever made! It filled me up in hungry situations with all of the right stuff. I could feel the nutrients feeding my brain & curbing my hunger. For a couple of months I let a few non-vegan things sneak into my diet, maybe a sauce at a restaurant or an un-vegan doughnut. But, quickly I stopped that too.
The weird, almost inexplicable hunger, is now not a big deal. My tummy has gotten used to that occasional feeling, a feeling we should all have sometimes for empathy and understanding of what starvation must be like for so many people on Earth. I should be so fortunate as to feel those pains only on occasion and not for long.
Veganism finally won and the journey is incredible! A whole new world to explore and the good karma is priceless.
*definition found in Google search.