By Megan Vick
Not that long ago, I was a voracious meat-eater. I would eat burgers, steaks, duck, chicken, turkey, and good ol’ fashioned NC pulled pork BBQ. In 2010, I started playing with the idea of not eating meat, but at least once a week, I fell off the wagon.
It took me nearly a year to cut meat out of my diet. Without detailing the ups and downs of my transition, the documentary Forks Over Knives solidified my desire to remove meat and dairy from my life. I had already cut out animal ingredients in my skin care products, but for some reason, my brain never truly made the connection between animals and food until I saw Forks Over Knives.
In November of 2012, I was lucky enough to take a wonderful eight day vacation to Beijing, China. My parents, husband, and I took a guided tour and saw the Great Wall, the Lama Buddhist Temple, the Forbidden City, and many other historical and cultural sites in Beijing. Luckily, the tour company provided vegetarian meals for those who requested them. Not only was it incredibly easy, but because the Chinese done usually cook with dairy products, I got to be dairy and meat free for a whole week. While eggs are a common staple in Chinese cooking, it was very easy to opt out of the egg dishes and still be beyond satisfied.
While I was in China, I realized I had never felt better. I thought it was the allure of being in an exotic, foreign destination, but looking back, it was because I didn’t have meat and dairy polluting my body’s systems. Upon returning to the States, especially in the South, I noticed how dairy is nearly inescapable. After a week of not having dairy, particularly cheese, my body rejected it completely when I tried to eat it. I then realized that my wonderful vacation was my catalyst into veganism. For several years, I had struggled with the inability to cut out dairy because of my own weakness (and my love queso dip…). After my vacation, I realized I was the only thing getting in the way of removing dairy from my diet.
I am still a work in progress. My transition to veganism is nowhere near complete, but as so many vegans have said, “Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t have.” This statement is beautiful, true, and I repeat it as an affirmation everyday. It doesn’t matter what label you put on yourself; the journey you’ll take to healthy eating is your own and I am here to support you!
Tell me about your path to a healthier you in the comments!