It seemed to happen all at once. Sam said, “I don’t feel right” one Sunday night. We took tests, did another dance with the COVID fairy, and reset ourselves after a week of isolation. When you’ve recovered, the first thing you want to do is delve into the joy of wellness.
We watched The Game Changer* the next Sunday night, learning things we obviously knew before (eating plants = healthier) but this time it felt different because athletes modeled supreme health while chowing down on legumes. Sam and I are intense athletes ourselves so we thought, why not?
Sam was particularly affected by the doc’s showing meat-based-diet plasma compared to vegan plasma. Having survived e.coli and norovirus, he’s hyper-aware of his insides. I, too, am aware of my insides since cultivating a duodenal ulcer in my teens and 20s and, of course, the stomach flu of 2007. There’s also that I like to do drastic things and relish the self-loathing once I fail. Going vegan was perfect for us.
Our habits changed at once! I culled memories of the unintentional veganism of my 20s, mostly due to fear and paranoia. One can’t control traumatic events, but one can control what one eats. I only trusted things like potatoes, bread, cigarettes, and Sprite–from the beige, tar, and transparent food groups. These were trustworthy foods, and I didn’t feel bad at all. Surely I could avoid animal products thirty years later.
Sam and I discussed how veganism would support our cat, even though he himself is not vegan. Clearing out the fridge was a gradual chore. Wasting half and half is worse than drinking it. Somehow, I choked down unsweetened oat milk, which I would still drink if on a deserted island. But what would I do if the plants were poison and a rotting boar was the only thing to keep me alive? Would my stomach acid be strong enough to break down the boar so that I could survive? At the very least, I could clutch my new fake pearl necklace from J-Crew.
My week of veganism wound up being a topsy turvy voyage of feeling great, thrilled by my moral high ground, then a rapid plunge into despair. Even though I could skip a few meals, the idea of hunger reminded me of a darker time when I did not eat because I was afraid of what it would do to me. I’d been coping with the immediate aftermath of trauma and a lot of this involved learning to eat, sleep, be out in the world again. Going vegan wasn’t about giving up ice cream but putting hyperfocus on an issue that pushes my buttons.
There is a happy ending, one I know I can carry to the end of my days. As my vegan adventure ended, I started watching The Kardashians on Hulu–a never-say-never event. So maybe I could go vegan a few times a week, nudging me into healthier habits as I trudge toward the coffin. In the meantime, I can watch a matriarchal family do their thing and remember that I’ve spent my some of my 30s, 40s, and 50s watching them without suffering for it. It is a blessing to choose more vegan options and to find something that whisks me out of circular thinking — and COVID.
*An amazing documentary on Netflix