Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Flip the Switch, Flip the Menu (#ThinkKit Day2)

Flip The Script

What did you change your mind about this year? Was it a big deal – the way you feel about an issue? Or something small – maybe you learned to like Brussels sprouts? What was the moment or series of moments that changed how you felt? How did your friends or family react? Have you uttered the phrase, "I'll never change my mind!" since then?

I'm a little suspicious that #ThinkKit is creeping around in my brain like Donald Duck in MathMagic Land, poking at fragments of thoughts I've had over the past few months. I read today's prompt blearily at 5 a.m. as I was throwing my cat off the bed repeatedly, and I thought it said Flip the Switch. Close enough, I think. Recently a switch flipped for me, and it wasn't like a plastic coated light switch. It was more like one of those heavy metal fuse box switches, the kind that slide into place with a satisfying bang. Like when Chevy Chase's wife in Christmas Vacation flipping the switch and the whole house lights up and blinds the neighbors.

The switch I flipped at the end of September was going vegan. I've written about it before, so I'm not going to go into the reasons why. I'm more interested in the process of going vegan, or really, my lack of a process. One night, I saw a film that convinced me to go vegan. And the switch flipped. I no longer wanted eggs, or dairy, or butter. And it stuck. I kept waiting for the cravings to come - the kind I had when I gave up my daily Mountain Dew and had the urge to snatch cans out of unaware bystanders' hands as they walked by. But I haven't had any wild cravings, and passing up the holiday plates of cookies has actually been easy. My brain doesn't even really seem to see that stuff as food anymore. I think that's incredibly weird. I became a vegetarian way back in high school, so I don't have a lot of clear memories of it, but I do remember that for a time I really missed tuna fish sandwiches and Steak 'n Shake steakburgers. But this time, nothing, nada, I'm A-OK.

This is only a small portion of the awesome food at veggie Thanksgiving.

So where does that switch live in my brain? And, how can I use it for other things, like motivating myself to put the clean laundry into the dresser instead of just getting dressed straight out of the basket until it's time to do laundry again? I have no idea, but if I could patent and replicate it, I'd be a millionaire.

The reaction of my friends and family has been generally supportive. It's more casual acquaintances that have a stronger reaction when they're told what I eat, or rather what I don't. Most people widen their eyes and tell me they could never do it. That's fair enough, I don't have a problem with that reaction. It was how I felt up until recently. Some of the more amusing, or just odd reactions, have included;
  • An acquaintance who, after being told I went vegan, said to me that it was a very first world thing for me to be able to do. I thought that was a strange reaction but I thought about it. I suppose it does show a touch of socioeconomic advantage that I can choose what I eat, instead of having to eat whatever is at the local convenience store. But in terms of the first world versus the third, when I traveled to the Philippines after college, it was considered prestigious to eat as much meat as possible, and as few vegetables. Vegetables, I was told more than once, were what poor people ate. 
  • A date that seemed incredibly freaked out about what it was that I could possibly eat, even though she kept picking the edamame off my giant salad and eating them. When she asked what I ate, I just responded, "mostly plants," and attempted to change the subject. I could tell it mattered way more to her than it did to me. While she was perfectly nice, we didn't go out again. 
  • The same date's coworker (yes, she brought three coworkers on our date as a last minute surprise, but that's a story for another day) who proudly told me that she doesn't eat much red meat. I always think that's a funny response, although if I were vegan for health reasons I guess it would make sense. But since that's not the case, it seems odd to me that someone would be proud that they eat legions of chickens (yes, a whole chicken army) but not that many cows. To me, it's all pretty much the same, although viscerally I do admit that a cow makes a more sympathetic figure. They are cute little buggers. I'm actually not criticizing, though. Anything people can do to eat healthier sounds good to me. And I do get that she was trying to find some common ground. I appreciate that, even when I think it's funny.
The fun part of my new diet is all the new foods I get to try. Some friends hosted a vegan Thanksgiving and there was more food than I could fit on my plate, all delicious. And meeting new people has been fun too. I even joined a team of vegan runners for a relay race in the spring. I don't know most of them yet, but at least we'll have a few things in common from the beginning. Just don't tell them I sometimes still eat honey. Everyone has their line, and that's inside the one I've drawn, because I think more people should raise bees. There's a bee shortage, doncha know, and if people can raise bees and responsibly harvest their honey without replacing it with sugar water, then I don't have a problem with that. I've learned, mainly from the passionate online vegan community, that that makes me a bit of a heretic. I respect the people who disagree with me. Oh, and I actually really do like Brussels sprouts.