Well, God bless you.
I recently re-read a bunch of entries on my blog and realized what a marvelous tool a blog can be for the self-absorbed ! Like, who really cares about my digestion and dietary habits? Who is staying awake at night wondering if I’ve had my first Big Mac of 2023 in post-Vegan life? Honestly, it’s all a little insufferable. But, I feel like I owe at least a coda to my Vegan Experiment of 2022 and the teaser about new projects for 2023. And, maybe a promise for the future not to wax on about things of such little significance while war is raging in Ukraine, mudslides are threatening lives in California, and the political state of our country remains fraught.
But, here goes, for those of you on the edge of your seats. (all one or two of you, lol)
I’m easing out of a strict plant-based diet and into a more generous, less disciplined pattern that has me actually, more in-tune with what I’m craving, how I’m feeling and what I want to cook. I’ve really missed the variety that a broader diet allows (I would love to go an entire week without having to eat a chick pea love them through I do,) and the winter has some great opportunities for stews, one pot meals, etc. that are not necessarily vegan.
Interestingly enough, as I emerge from the strictness of a plant-based regime, I am re-focusing on the “why” of my past year of veganism and believe that some of that why will reengage me in a vegetarian style of eating. Climate change. Industrial farming. Water usage. These are some of the environmental reasons that I’d like to stick with plant-based eating. Better health markers (cholesterol, blood pressure, smooth flowing arteries) are another reason. I haven’t had any blood work to see how I’ve emerged from this year so I’m not sure if I am “healthier” or not, but I have learned that it’s just as easy to gain weight being a vegan as it is as an omnivore.
No, I didn’t dive into a vat of ice cream or belly on up to the counter at McDonald’s on January 1st. In fact, so far, I’ve only added a couple of meals featuring fish (baked salmon, fish tacos with cod) and some dairy (a little cheddar cheese, real milk on my oatmeal) into my diet in the past 10 days. Other than that, it’s been vegan business as usual. I did buy a wedge of parmesan reggiano to enjoy with some ripe pears, walnuts and arugula later in the week and I’ve had a craving for brisket… but so far, it’s been a gentle slide into the land of carnivorous activity.
My sister sent me an article from The NY Times about a trend called the “Social Omnivore.” The general idea was that there are many who are eating plant-based diets at home but relaxing when out with friends in order to be less of a pain to those who are cooking for them. I have found, in my odd professional calling, the opposite: last weekend (first weekend of non-vegan diet) the parish that I visited went out of their way to prepare three different dishes for me at a luncheon that I could eat (they had this secret stash of soba noodles with mushrooms, quinoa salad, and greek salad with vegan feta in the rectory kitchen) and I was so touched that they wanted to accommodate me! And, wow, was it good! So, I ate heartily and left the charcuterie board and sheet cake and breakfast casserole to the rest of them! I never formally told “the diocese” that I was a vegan and so I don’t feel like I need to offer a formal retraction, now. Truth is, I will eat pretty much anything that has been lovingly prepared for me.
Plans for 2023
Some people pick words for the new year. If I did, mine might be “minimalism,” or “decluttering” or dostandning (Swedish “death cleaning.” See the book by Margareta Magnusson, 2017). No, I’m not dying (not today, anyway, or tomorrow either, I hope), but it is time to give up the boxes and boxes of things that I don’t need anymore. I’ve written about this before. This year I am going to do it. One box, one room, one thing at a time.
I’ve been following some Minimalists on blogs and YouTube and their uncluttered lifestyles are interesting to me. I love my stuff. A bud vase my mom bought for me. A pottery dish my daughter made years ago. A cast iron Green Man that oversees life in our living room. But sorting through the stuff that I don’t need will allow me to more fully appreciate the things that I will choose to keep. That’s the idea, at least. One minimalist whom I follow made a list of everything that she got rid of and everything that she brought into her home during 2022. She ended up on the down-side of having given away more than she brought in. She’s into her eighth year of minimalism so her “on the way out of the house” list was shorter than my 2023 list will be. I do intend of keeping a list of my purchases, though, of non-consumables to see what will end up in the house and what I might resist. So far, in the first 10 days of this year I’ve added a new pair of trail runners (those might be considered consumables), a plastic mat for the bathtub, and a journal. Just knowing that I’m going to write it down has shifted my usual consumerist approach.
I’m building a tiny micro-cabin/hermitage in the back woods. (Actually, a friend is building it: http://www.stevessupersheds.com ) and I am looking forward to having this space to spend time to write, read, pray, do some stretching… This tiny place will be a refuge of sorts during my upcoming sabbatical and I am looking forward to the simplicity that a small space with no electricity (or wifi) will afford me. More on that, if you can stand it, as 2023 unfolds.