Well, I’ve lived a whole week eating as a Vegan.  It’s been a week of ups and downs, but this morning I’m feeling well and can give the experience so far a big thumbs up and a smile.

This week being ‘Vegan’ has not stopped me doing anything I wanted to do.  I’ve ridden my bike to work every day, seen friends, done my job, had my acupuncture appointment, done the housework…  The only thing I’ve said no to was a chocolate when someone was passing some round at the office, and, to be honest, given my previous record, that’s probably a good thing!  There was the dodgy 36 hours on days 4 and 5, but that passed quickly and I’m getting on fine.  I’ve not had any particular cravings for anything, and I’ve been busy making sure I feel well-fed, which has left little time for brooding.

Here’s something I wrote in my notebook a little while back:-

“Omnivore days to go: 19.  Not long to go now until I start on my Vegan Pledge, and the looming knowledge of that date has me consciously savouring mouthfuls of things I think I’m going to miss, and scrutinising packaging to see what will have to go.

Today, for instance, I was eating in the work canteen, which, although it’s in the Health Faculty of a university, is not the most enlightened place when it comes to healthy menus.  My foods of choice, having failed to organise myself to bring in my own lunch, were a prawn mayonnaise sandwich, Walker’s Prawn Cocktail Crisps and a pear.

Now, I’ve read about intensive prawn farming, and have to admit to having felt some guilt at the thought of what these pretty invertebrates have suffered on the way to my dinner plate, but it hasn’t stopped me in the past and one of my favourite food sensations is sinking my teeth into a juicy prawn mayo, or picking them straight from the supermarket packaging to munch on unadulterated. I really love them.

This is where vegan ethics are going to bring me slap-bang up against my desires, my notions of love.  I’m going to be forced to abandon this incorrect, and over-applied, use of the verb, and exchange it for “I really like eating…”, because, from what I’ve read of the Vegan Manifesto, it could be summarised thus:  if you love other sentient beings, don’t use them, using is not ‘love’.  Much as I like prawn sandwiches, I am moved by this.  I would like to try and live by it.”

As it happens, I’ve not so far felt deprived by not being able to eat a prawn sandwich, and it’s been a deliciously foodie week.  It culminated yesterday evening with the first meal I’d eaten which was prepared by others and out of my control, which turned out to be a superb mushroom risotto, accompanied by salad, bruschetta and a dessert of mixed berries.  The food was warming, nurturing, pungently flavoured, a perfect meal for a cold, February evening.  I felt grateful and happy that my hosts had responded positively to my request for Vegan food and seen it as an enjoyable experience rather than a bind.  This additional layer of needing to ask for something, trust in receiving it and then being granted it in such a tasty form, made the meal even more enjoyable.  (The poetry afterwards was an added bonus!)  So, a big shout out to Liz and friends for a wonderful meal.  Thank you.

Now for the metaphysical bit… Going back to my musings about love, this going Vegan thing is asking me to give a bit of a work out to the way I live.  It’s definitely not just about food.   It seems like I’m embarking on an emotional stretching regime as well as a different way of eating.  Love is not about possession, property, control…  I can feel the implications of this rippling out beyond simple food choices already.

(But I promised Dan I wouldn’t be preachy, so I’ll stop there 🙂 )