Posted by: periodistalibre | March 27, 2013

Egg-Sucking Vegan

vegan-labelSucking down, that is. Yes, it’s true. I’ve added eggs to my diet. It’s a shock to my psyche, but nourishing to my body. Here goes.

I’ve been vegetarian and vegan for the better part of 12 years. One watch of Meet Your Meat as a college sophomore was all it took to turn this cattle-farm-raised girl to a veg-head. I dove into the socially conscious, subversive intelligentsia I’d always knew was waiting for me and didn’t look back. Fast forward to my first desk job, a summer internship at a local newspaper, and, coincidentally, the same summer I decided to shift into a vegan diet. It seemed like a natural progression, a new challenge, and another way to control my diet as about eight years of eating disorders was dying down.

Like most new converts, I wasn’t initially the healthiest vegan or vegetarian. I was eating on a college student’s diet for much of the time. I was vegetarian and then vegan in Costa Rica, which was by no means easy, healthy, or cost effective. But I did it to uphold my ideals—ecological, political, physical. I ate fish and meat (maybe two servings a day, max) for roughly two years when I lived in New York. My body needed the energy, I said. When I migrated my current dairyland biome, I quickly weened myself from the meat, then the dairy. No easy task in Cheesetopia, but it felt right.

Did I mention that I’d been suffering from mild acne the entire vegan time? Bad skin had never been an issue, not even as a teenager. I chalked the unsightly development up to stress, spent exorbitant sums on products and facials, and hoped it would go away. About a month ago, I sought the help of a professional trained in Chinese Traditional Medicine as a last resort. Now, for the first time since buying over-the-counter (prescription strength in the U.S.) harsh topical chemicals in Central America, I’m actually beginning seeing some relief. Much of it is likely dietary.

See, the herbalist told me, based on what he’d assessed from an extensive battery of questions (dude asks me about my”bowel movements” A LOT and other lady things frequently), that I wasn’t consuming sufficient fat and protein. He also implored me to stop eating soy, tofu, and soymilk, the building blocks of my protein intake. What the hell was I going to eat? I didn’t want beans for breakfast and snacks every day! I invested in a $20 tub of chalky rice protein powder. At the same time, I was reading Michael Polan’s expose on American food culture, In Defense of Food. The thesis of this book is, Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize because the commercialization and politicization of food hasn’t yielded the healthiest results.

So, last weekend, after experiencing some of the fear I used to feel about eating certain things, I researched local egg producers. I bought a dozen from my local food co-op. They’re produced without feeding soy to the chickens, which have their full beak, as well as pasture space to scratch around. Now hard-boiled juevos and omelettes are a healthy part of my diet!

What I haven’t done is bring this up to any of my vegan friends. I feel the need to justify my decision, though I know there isn’t one. It wasn’t easy to admit to myself that I probably damaged my hormonal balance for the last decade in the name of doing something “good” for my body and for the world. There’s also a bit of admiration that most people, even vegetarians, have for self-denying vegans. Remember, I grew up on a family cattle farm and I know how delicious T-bone steak and roast are. That’s, like, all I ever ate for the first 17 years of my life. But it wasn’t a CAFO or industrial dairy. So the only eggs I plan to eat are local and humanely treated.

Now, in a healthier body, I can better promote general well-being, which totally includes mine. Even the Dalai Lama isn’t a vegetarian because his body can’t work optimally on that diet. Also, it’s good to remember that most of us live in a world where one has the choice of what they eat, rather than subsisting on anything available. For that, and for happy chicken eggs, I am grateful.

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