Almost exactly a year ago I made the switch from vegetarian and occasionally eating fish to full on vegan. I had just given up alcohol and caffeine at the start of 2016, and following a brief experimentation with raw veganism, I decided that going vegan was the best thing at the time. It felt right and in tune with what my body was asking for. I did tons of research, and it opened me up to a whole new world of cuisine that was exciting to explore. I was pretty sure it would be a long-lasting decision. Little did I know.
For some context, it’s important to state that over time I’ve developed a strong sense of following my gut and intuition. I think it’s what people mean when they say “follow your heart.” For a while now I have given that small whisper of a voice priority over all opinions from the world around me. I was really quite surprised when about a week ago my intuition started telling me to drink milk. Not almond, soy, or coconut milk - real cow's milk. I dismissed it over and over. Surely that couldn’t be my intuition speaking - I’m VEGAN, and I was led to become vegan by following what my body wanted. After a few days of dismissal, I had this wacky dream where I was looking upwards to the sky with my mouth open, and milk was being poured down my throat in a constant stream. I woke up perplexed. At this point, I knew pretty certainly what my body wanted but still was resisting it. It took some poignant words from a friend to help me finally take the leap:
“Are you doing eyes-wide-shut on something that you know you need but you don’t want to give yourself because you think it’s not right?”
That question hit home. It’s funny how someone telling you what you already know seems to give it more validity. I started to take a look at how I had come to judge, quite harshly in some cases, certain foods as “right” and others as “wrong.” It all stemmed from a well-intentioned desire for greater health but somewhere along the way it had become more about getting it right and being perfect than honoring what my body was asking for. I finally saw the irony of what I was doing. Feeling empowered by my new realization I went straight to the closest grocery store and bought a pint of organic, unhomogenized whole milk from a local farm as well as some other things I hadn’t consumed for a year or more. You might think that a slow and gradual re-introduction would have been best but the feeling I had when drinking that first glass of milk after abstaining from dairy for a year or more was similar to how it feels when you finally get a drink of water after being severely dehydrated.
This whole experience was quite freeing. It forced me to admit how much judgement I had unintentionally placed on food and as soon as I faced those judgements they disappeared. The decision to end my vegan ways also felt challenging because I had told so many people about my dietary choices. It was almost as if I had made being vegan some noble character trait.
Needless to say I learned an important lesson that it’s best to listen to what my body is asking for and to honor those requests even if they’re contrary to what the latest study totes as the diet that is best.
A close friend helped me to put it all into perspective after I had asked her to proofread this blog post:
“No one cares if you’re vegan or now not-vegan :) They just care about you.”