Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Little History

Those of you who know me know that I grew up very poor. My brother and I lived with my mom, who was on welfare most of the time. When she did work, we were even more poor, because she made minimum wage, she had to pay someone to babysit us, and we didn't qualify for food stamps. There were many times that my brother and I had nothing to eat. There were many times we scrounged for coins in the car and house to be able to buy a burger at McDonalds. There were times we lived on saltine crackers with peanut butter all day while she was at work. Our meals were cheap, heavily processed, and extremely unhealthy. We ate an unbelievable amount of fast food. When we were with my dad every other weekend, it was a little better, but not healthier. I grew up on white Wonder bread, white pasta, tons of soda, whole milk, frozen foods, a lot of meat and a lot of dairy. My dad worked at a dairy, and still does, and still believes that people need lots and LOTS of milk and cheese to be healthy.

When I was seventeen I became a vegetarian for the first time, much to the dismay of my family. My step-mom was very considerate about it, and always made me a meat-free version of the meal she was cooking. I remember feeling so good that year. When I moved out and was living with my aunt and uncle, it was even harder for them to know what to feed me. These people lived on red meat. They still do. I also was unsure of what to eat to be healthy and get the right amounts of protein and vitamins, and I was often so hungry that I would eat meat. I would get cravings, and there weren't a lot of meat substitutes back then. When I moved out and into an apartment with Todd, I just kind of fell back into eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), even though I felt guilty about it every day.

A little over three years ago I made the final switch. I was tired of just living life the convenient way, and wanted to be who I really was no matter how difficult it was. The last piece of meat I ate (intentionally) was an Asian Chicken Salad from McDonalds. I was at the park with a friend and our kids were playing. I told her I was thinking of going back to being a veggie. For supper that night, I got a bean and cheese burrito and that was it. I was done.

This time it was so easy. I learned to make dishes with foods I had never eaten before. I made things with lentils, black beans, chickpeas, tofu. I tried new spices, new herbs, new greens and veggies. I bought an avocado. Many people in my family didn't even know what an avocado was. I felt so daring, so excited. It was all new territory to me. I learned to love cooking. LOVE it.

I knew that veganism was the way I wanted to go eventually, but I couldn't imagine giving up cheese. I did it a year ago now, and I have never looked back. It has opened even more doors to more possibilties, and I feel wonderful. For this blog, I just want to share the things I have been eating in this adventure, the new recipes I try out, the new foods I discover, and the road I am taking to good health, both mentally and physically.

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