November is World Vegan Month! Woohoo! If you’re already vegan, you already know why living a plant based lifestyle is worth celebrating all month (and year!) long. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge, there’s no better time to start “flirting” with veganism than now.
Confession: I became a vegan somewhat by accident. I had been a vegetarian most of my life (since I was in elementary school), but I never thought I’d want to eliminate dairy and eggs from my diet. I really enjoyed eating these foods (especially cheese and eggs) and wasn’t ready to give them up in any capacity, and felt that veganism was “way too extreme” (my own words) for me. I imagined a vegan lifestyle being synonymous with deprivation: I pictured myself at parties without anything to eat, ordering limp green salads at restaurants, and battling constant hunger and obsessing over ingredient lists. Truth be told, I refused to consider changing my diet because I really love food and enjoy eating (no surprise, given my job!) and felt that I would have to live like a monk if I went vegan, which wasn’t – and still isn’t – an option. Life is too short to be unhappy.
Then, one day a few years ago, I was driving to work and started listening to a new-to-me podcast called “Vegetarian Food for Thought”. I was probably only a few minutes into the podcast when I realized that the host – a woman named Colleen Patrick Goudreau – was promoting a vegan diet, but I listened on despite my reservations since she talked about her lifestyle so joyfully and enthusiastically. Plus, the subject matter was super compelling and caused me to pause and question what I thought I knew about my diet. That particular podcast was all about vegan cooking, and before long, I was salivating at Colleen’s descriptions of risottos, thai curries, luscious pastas, chocolate cake, warm, gooey cookies…all vegan, with no weird ingredients – just good food. I started to think that maybe this didn’t sound like a diet of deprivation after all, and downloaded a few more episodes. Before long, I was listening to Colleen’s podcast religiously and decided to slowly eliminate dairy and eggs from my diet and learn as much as I possibly could about health, nutrition and the food/animal agriculture industry. I told myself I could always “go back” if I was miserable and didn’t even call myself vegan at first, so as to avoid feeling constrained by that label.
Fast forward several years later and I consider “going vegan” to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have never felt better, physically or emotionally. I don’t feel like I’m missing out, and instead relish in getting to try all sorts of new dishes and ingredients and cuisines that I otherwise might never have tasted. My career as a chef has not suffered, as I previously feared – instead, it’s flourished, since I am working with clients who are equally excited about this way of eating as I am.
One of my favorite quotes from the aforementioned podcast is this:
“If you look for lack, then that’s what you’ll find. If you look for abundance, then that’s what you’ll experience.” – Colleen Patrick Goudreau
Abundance is exactly what I’ve found and experienced, and I’m happy to celebrate World Vegan Month for this very reason! I hope all of you enjoy a healthy and happy November, and I hope your Thanksgiving table is filled with abundant, delicious plant based food.