Monday, November 5, 2012

Fakin' the Bacon: The Journey Begins (Part 2)

My vegan awakening came slowly, at first, and then it slammed into me with force of a 20-pound pumpkin chunked by an oversized BB gun.

I gradually converted to an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. I simply couldn't see myself giving up eggs or my beloved cheddar cheese. My husband joined my new diet plan and everything was going well--for the first six months or so. Soon the Call of the Wild Cheddar Bacon Cheeseburger sounded throughout our home. We did our best to ignore it, but as often happens, stress and "I don't feel like cooking" and "We don't have time to cook" slipped back into our conversations. Fresh fruits and veggies were passed over for paper wrappers and fried, dyed, glued, and processed "foods." We had fallen off the turnip truck and rolled back into the world of beef, bacon, and barbecue.

And our health was starting to reflect it. Hubby's blood pressure shot up to dangerous levels. Mine rose slightly but my blood sugar levels were in wild flux. We both gained back weight we'd been so proud to lose. We felt sick. Tired. Unhealthy. To make matters even worse, during our reversion, we told friends and family we were still actively working on switching to vegetarianism. But we were closet carnivores, greedily eating animal flesh in private. We even made a joke of it: "What are we having for dinner tonight? Hypocrisy on a bun!" Our efforts to "lighten" the moment didn't work. We were hypocrites. We knew it--and we loathed ourselves for it.

I knew I needed to change my diet, not just because I hated myself for my inability to control my cravings for meat, but I needed to change to save my life. Obesity runs in my family, as do diabetes, heart attacks, and some forms of cancer. I was in deep denial about my health, and my husband wasn't far behind me regarding his own. We both needed a wake up call.

As it turns out, we got three...

On October 27, Hubby and I were sitting on the couch, bored, and flipping through the available movie options on Netflix. We came across Forks Over Knives, which "examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods." We were intrigued. Maybe this would be the kick in the ass we needed to get back on track. We watched it...and we were impressed...and a little shocked...and a little disturbed. Could we reverse our health issues by changing our diets? Were we slowing killing ourselves simply because we'd been brainwashed from an early age to believe animals were the only proper source of protein?

Being the educated people Hubby and I believed ourselves to be, we searched for other films. Next on our list was Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. I wasn't convinced that I could survive 60 days--or even 7 days--on a pure juice diet. I continued watching with skepticism until Phil Staples, a 429-pound truck driver, melted in front of me on the screen. Maybe there was something to this planet-based diet, whether you incorporated juicing or not.

The wheels in my head were turning. Windows were opening. Light was returning. I was willing to accept that vegetarianism was a viable option. But I still wanted my cheese...and eggs...and maybe the occasional bacon strip.

Hubby and I took a lunch break before moving on to our third film. What did we have? Hot dogs made from Angus beef. At least that's what the label said. Yep. We'd just watched to documentaries on how processed foods could kill us, and we were bellying up to the table for some hypocrisy on a bun. (I should note that these were the last hotdogs from a single pack, and I was taught not to waste food as a child. I can happily report, however, no hotdogs have crossed our threshold--or our lips--since October 27, 2012.)

Lunch sat in our stomachs like twin ghosts of Jacob Marley dragging leaden chains and bemoaning past sins. And, like a couple of Scrooges, Hubby and I tired to ignore the guilt gnawing at us. To distract us, we switched on the third film, and like Scrooge facing the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future, our fate was sealed...

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