Being Vegan: Dreams of Meat
Posted by Anni on Friday, May 4th, 2012
When I was in college, I was a vegan. I’d been a vegetarian for years before that. Like Lisa Simpson, at ten I decided it was wrong it eat animals. It seemed cruel and unnecessary: we can get all of the nutrition we need from plant-based materials and dairy products. I was right, in as much as I grew up strong and never developed a vitamin deficiency. But I was also naïve: avoiding meat and avoiding all dairy products are two very different things.
My first week of college, I was seduced by the freegans. These were vegan dumpster divers with a panache for overt politicism and hairy armpits. They were compelling: excitable, smart, outrageous, free, and happened to count among their members a very cute boy from Connecticut. I gave up milk and cheese immediately, along with eggs, leather, and gelatin (it contains horse hooves, I was told.) Of course, I wasn’t rich and I didn’t have a car so I couldn’t get to the health food store for protein-rich vegan sausages or tempeh dogs. I was left to subsist on the cafeteria’s meager vegan options: stir fry and bagels with peanut butter.
Angelina Jolie is a vegan:
Week one was great. I was surrounded by new friends and was applauded on all sides for my immediate enlightenment. The cute boy from Connecticut was very impressed with me. So what if I had to eat bagels with peanut butter for breakfast lunch and dinner, it was a sacrifice worth making: until it wasn’t. I thought being vegan would make me lose weight but all the carbs were putting on the pounds. Then, about a month in I started getting bruises. They appeared out of nowhere and didn’t heal. I happen to have very fair skin and these bruises were dark. It looked like I’d been beaten by a gang of meat eaters out for blood. I was also bone tired: the kind of tired that keeps you from going upstairs because of the stairs.
I went to health services, my college’s poor excuse for a doctor, and they sent me to the emergency room. Apparently I had a dangerous B12 deficiency alongside deficiencies in every other vitamin and mineral on planet Earth. It turns out, a girl can’t survive on bagels and peanut butter alone. Who knew? If I’d been smart—eating a variety of leafy green vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes, and grains and taking a multivitamin—I might still be vegan today, but probably not. It turns out I really like hamburgers.
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