I remembered the first day Michael and I walked into Dr. Gil’s office in Chapel Hill, for the acne problem that has been bothering me for many years, that was fall 2009, not knowing at the time that I was pregnant. The journey took an interesting turn, two and half a years later, we changed our diet completely, from getting rid of the red meats, to giving up anything made from cow’s milk to vegan when the boys turned 22 months in early May this year.
It’s not surprising that most people would be surprised and worried about having a vegan diet not only for us but for the boys. Why would you stop feeding them dairy, meats and eggs while other parents couldn’t give them enough of those proteins to help them grow? Well, we know this is not “normal”, but we also know premature suffering or even death from heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity – this long list of preventable diseases is considered “normal” in this day and age, in both western and eastern culture (growing rapidly for the latter due to higher consumption of processed foods and animal products). For years we have watched almost every possible food-related documentary/film that are available. Eating, Supersize Me, The New Way to See Food, Food INC…you name it we’ve seen it. But the most shocking one is definitely Earthlings (is there’s a Oscar Best Cruelty Award it will for sure win). We stopped eating meats (including seafood) the next morning, we just couldn’t. The more recent one “Got the facts on Milk?” and “Forks over knives” are the last straws to the conversion to veganism. Along the way, we’ve stuck to every dietary change we’ve made, so this one will just be fine. Once you learn the facts, it’s impossible to ignore, once you know the truth, it’s impossible to go back. I was still enjoying my sausage, or Chinese tea egg (one of the last and hardest comfort food for me to give up) just a few months ago, but now (surprisingly) it’s not hard at all to stay away from it all.
If changing to vegetarianism is more of an ethical choice, then veganism is more because the health concern. And we are very excited about exploring a brand new world of cooking with plants, not just to feel good about ourselves mentally but also physically. We understand that we can’t change a thing about the system, can’t stop the food companies getting their hands on the USDA nutritional guidelines and using schools as a dumping ground for their products, can’t have a constructive conversation with most parents on nutrition, can’t ease the concerns of families on boy’s health, but we CAN, on a personal level, choose where to spend our money, what to put into our body and ultimately make the world we live in a little better for our boys, and that is a very powerful thing!
Just after a week of cutting out dairy completely, my “acne” disappeared…I am so lucky to have Dr. Gil along the way as the best mentor possible and proud that it only took us 2 1/2 years, instead of 25 years to reach the finishing line, we still have a long time to condition our body to live the healthiest way rather than being forced to cut out “things we can’t give up” due to a stroke, or high blood pressure.
I took out a few books from the library mostly vegan cookbooks, it’s amazing how vegan dishes can easily triumph the traditional “delicious” meals. And our boys are the best proof of all, they will continue to be breastfed until they stop produce enzyme for milk protein digestion, which usually occur around age of 2. Then they will go dairy free just like any other mammals (minus human) on this planet. They haven’t had any ear infection but colds and fevers, they do not have allergies other than to raw egg yolk, and neither of them had one diarrhea since they were born. They are built solid at 75~ 80 percentile for their weight. So we will just have to quit talking about nutrition with people who strongly believe in meats and dairy but refuse to learn about information that says otherwise and continue to get their information from the Tube or “Got Milk” commercial. Yes it is inconvenient, a trip to the supermarket will only take about 5 minutes, the complete list of things we can buy is organic olive oil, organic fruits, organic rice and soy milk. The rest are either processed, dairy, conventional (with pesticides) or combination of those. Even non-dairy products such as pickles these days have milk derivatives so we can only shop directly from the community organic farms or organic shop, plus my own garden. These are all frustrating things, but we are at peace with our decisions, which matters the most to us.