In January of this year as part of my “Lighten Up” project, I completed 14 days of the Master Cleanse. This was no small feat. You see, I work in a restaurant surrounded by freshly baked French baguette, plates of butter, accessible soup, and late night staff meals like baked cheesy pasta, burgers, and mashed potatoes with horseradish. And trust me, everything is delicious. The biggest challenge of the Master Cleanse is the mental aspect. Life goes on the same way for the most part, except for the two hour long bathroom routine in the morning. I went snowboarding once–it was too much to have to go to the bathroom after each and every run.
After the fast ended, I found myself much more sensitive to foods that I hadn’t been before. Sugar would keep me up all night, even just one little piece of chocolate, I could feel alcohol actually absorb into my tissues and bread left me feeling thick around the middle. I thought I was going to become “one of those people”–someone who is allergic or affected by every food under the sun. No bread, no alcohol, no sugar, no fun. I had been vegan for a few months before I started, and I went right back to that, just limiting those foods that left me feeling worse off for eating them. It was a good process to actually acknowledge how certain foods reacted with my body. I even felt a little yearning to go back on the Master Cleanse–my blood sugar was stabilized, I didn’t feel guilt or anxiety about eating foods, and it was easy. I didn’t have to plan meals or go shopping for anything but lemons and maple syrup.
Then just a few weeks ago, I decided to try a protein-rich diet advocated by Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four-Hour Body. Don’t believe everything you read. What is good for one person, may not be good for you. Be an expert of yourself, and listen intently to the feedback. I was kind of excited to eat meat again, but when I didn’t go to the bathroom for three days, I knew something was wrong. And I felt gross. So it’s back to the vegan plan for me, which is more exciting than eating meat. The protein-heavy plan induced panic, guilt and anxiety in me, so that the emotional fights I had with myself certainly weren’t helping me lose weight or feel good about myself.
I re-watched Fork over Knives, the movie that inspired me to change my diet in the first place. The diet statistics are astounding and reveal some pretty scary facts about our wonderful Western diet. I don’t think becoming vegan is going to reduce global carbon emissions. I am not a vegan because I am against ranching or farming. I like leather and natural textiles. I choose to be a vegan simply because it works for me. I feel like everything I eat is good for me–the guilt and anxiety disappear. For my long-term health and insurance-free life, it is a good choice. And maybe I shouldn’t say “vegan,” because I still like a dash of cream in my coffee, oyster happy hours with Vanessa, and the once-a-month gourmet burger.