Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Meal of Blood, A Meal of Bone » Thoughts During My Second Week of Veganism

/ My body looks like a melted candle /

My goal in going vegan wasn't to lose weight, but it's happening. I'm not sure how many pounds I've shed so far, because I don't own a scale. I do know that pre-veganism, I fluctuated between 157 and 147 pounds. For my height, this is an "overweight" BMI.

In college, I averaged 120 — a "normal" weight for my height. Before that, my lowest point (in every sense of the word) was 110 — which is actually an "anorexic" BMI for a 5'5" woman. 

I've experienced three categories on the BMI scale, and I can say with zero hesitation that I felt my best at 120 pounds, a  healthy weight.

I have no idea where I am now, but I know I'm losing weight. I know this because it's impossible to not lose weight if you cut out of your diet what I did. But also... my body looks like a burning candle that is slowly and inexorably collapsing in on itself. I am melting.

I didn't understand it at first. After a few days of veganism, I lifted up my shirt, looked in the mirror, and saw my fat bumps even more starkly than before. Then, things started to look really, really weird. Melty and jiggly, like I'd been left in an oven. 

I googled "I'm losing weight, but I look like a melted candle," trying to get some clarification. It turns out that "stiff" or "hard" fat is the kind that has settled in for the long haul. It can look innocuous, I think. It can even look good, because it's kind of... smooth? Well, when those fat cells start to deflate, they get all gelatinous and loose. It makes you look like a witch who just face-planted into a paddling pool.

/ Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer /

I didn't want the only book I've read about our food industry and plant-based vs animal-based diets to be titled Skinny Bitch. It's embarrassing. So I bought the audiobook of Jonathan Safran Foer's celebrated book, Eating Animals. 

I was supposed to have read it in college for my Food Ethics class, but... I never did. Oops. Well, I'm reading it now! 

It's said that this book is extremely thought provoking and will either turn you into a vegetarian/vegan... or make you think twice, really hard. I look forward to reviewing it for you all.


/ A family reunion was my first real test of willpower /

I find veganism to be a cakewalk and also really enjoyable... when I get to control my environment. But a family reunion crawfish boil? THAT... majorly sucks.

There was TONS of food at the crawfish boil, and I could only eat a tiny bit of it. There was the catered Greek salad (that I begged my mom to assemble without the cheese). And there was the catered fruit salad. Oh, and chips. I ate a lot of those things to stay full, and I even made a pitstop back home before the party officially began to eat some leftover vegan Chinese food — hefty rice and broccoli in garlic sauce. Staying full like that really helped. 

But during the party, it was hard to not have little bits and bites of dips that had old favorites in them — like crabmeat and sour cream. However, the only non-vegan thing I ate during the entire party was a green bean and a little potato that had been cooked in leftover crawfish stock.

Go me.

But then...

/ A Meal of Blood, A Meal of Bone /

... I learned some new stuff.

The thing about family reunions is that everybody asks questions and then gives their unsolicited opinions. I anticipated that my new veganism would warrant remarks, so I was prepared. Prepared to ignore everyone. Except, that is, for my brother-in-law.

Eric got his Master's in Agriculture and Urban Planning. His job, for over two years, was running an organic, urban farm. He has toured slaughterhouses and has extensively researched our food industry. Eric could tell me that I was a dingbat for going vegan, and I would have to seriously listen to him.

I knew that Eric would be dampening my freshly-vegan spirits a little. Because Eric, himself, still eats meat and animal products after everything he's read and seen. And he made that decision with an informed rationale.

Sure enough, he gave me a new perspective.

The industry of organic produce, Eric informed me, has a strong partnership with the meat industry. Because organic farms use fertilizers made with "blood meal" and "bone meal." It's just what it sounds like. It's the pulverized remains of slaughtered animals. 

Vegetables, Eric said, absorb a HUGE amount of nutrients from their surrounding soil. In order for the next crop to grow in the same space, the soil needs to be replenished with fertilizers. No-nonsense fertilizers, and lots of it. 

What organic farms use is fertilizer made from the pulped remains of the many millions of animals we eat each year.

Nothing is truly vegan, says Eric. Even our precious, organic vegetables.


Now isn't that food for thought?


  1. I didn't know that about the fertilizer, very interesting! I was a vegetarian all through high school and then later started eating meat again and have never gone back. I'm actually healthier now but, that is my lifestyle choice and what my body needed. Everyone is different. I know if I stay off dairy products I am better as well but that is so hard! I did it for almost two years and lost a ton of weight without even trying and I felt healthier. I really need to go back to all non-dairy again but the struggle was real. Especially like you said at family functions or when eating out.

  2. Yes! I believe diet is a very personal decision, and while it's easy to feel, as a new vegan and former vegetarian, that everyone should eat the way I eat because of beliefs, I wouldn't support that kind of behavior in the religious sense. Diet is incredibly personal and no one should impose their will on that. Thanks for sharing your history on this subject, Ali!