Sunday, March 22, 2009

The state of my vegan-ness

Several people have asked if I’m remaining vegan or vegetarian while pregnant, so I thought I’d write an update about that.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to stay vegan, but I am still a vegetarian. I had every intention of remaining vegan throughout the pregnancy, but I also had no intention of developing hyperemesis gravidarum. When the first waves of nausea overtook me back at Christmas, I was unprepared for the onslaught on my digestive system and appetite. My mother had prepared a boatload of lovely vegan food for Rob and me, but just the sight of it brought bile to my throat. Fruits, vegetables, beans, soy—all if it somehow caused my innards to experience a full-fledged panic attack that ended in me kneeling before the toilet. What I found was that I was starving, but there was virtually no food in existence that didn’t provoke raging, nearly sentient nausea. Well, virtually no food. At Christmas dinner, I was horrified to realize that the ham everyone was eating actually looked good. What was the matter with me? I struggled through it, but eventually, I needed something, anything to eat. I realized that cheese and crackers sounded good. After much debate, I finally decided, so be it. If eating cheese and crackers would keep me from diving into the Christmas ham, then I would do it. So I ate cheese and crackers, but just like everything else, they tasted terrible. And that’s how I stopped being vegan.

I had hoped that this strange new nausea and my vegan-lapse would be temporary and fleeting. I was not prepared for the endless days and weeks of vomiting and the extreme desperation it would leave me feeling. If any food ever sounded even remotely like I could chew and swallow it, I attempted to eat it, whatever it was. The strange thing was, as averse as I was to vegetables and tofu, I was equally as averse to dairy, eggs, and meat. But every once and a while, without warning, something disgusting like roast beef or a glass of chocolate milk would sound good. On the latter occasion, I drug my vomit-crusted self to the store and bought an obscenely expensive carton of organic chocolate milk. Came home, drank 2 glasses of it (the first milk I have drunk since circa 2001), and then never touched it again. That time, luckily, I kept it down. Other times with my random food desires, I wasn’t so lucky. Two of the most truly horrifying experiences of my life involve throwing up 1) cheese tortellini –and- 2) tapioca pudding. These two incidents put a halt to my already minimal dairy consumption.

At this point in the game, I find dairy to be mainly revolting, but I haven’t been able to resume la vida vegan because of the incidentals. Egg and dairy are in an awful lot of foods that you’d never suspect, and in truth, I just don’t feel like fighting it. Being vegan often requires the ability and wherewithal to either prepare/bring your own food all the time, or to be willing to go without. I definitely don’t have the energy for that struggle right now. I just don’t feel like worrying about whether there is milk powder in the bun of the portabella mushroom sandwich I get at Crane Alley after yoga class, or asking them to withhold the feta cheese and pesto sauce (which undoubtedly also contains cheese) in addition to the red onions, which definitely make me ill. I have finally—thankfully—reached the point where some soy products are appetizing again. This week, I heard somebody mention chicken nuggets (which initially sounded revolting), but later when I was at the grocery store trying to figure out what I could eat, I saw that Morningstar had some Vegetarian Chik’n Tenders, and I simply had to have them. They contain egg whites and milk ingredients, which—under the circumstances—I decided to overlook. In other words, if I cannot taste that I am eating egg or dairy, then I will grudgingly do it. I have to admit, it does feel pretty weird to eat stuff like this. Rob and I used to eat veggie burgers every once and a while, but seriously, in over 11 years of being a vegetarian, I have never been a fan of fake meat products like that. I always felt like fake meat was the epitome of lame. With the whole pregnancy-induced nausea thing though, all bets are off. I’m just trying to hang in there and do the best that I can.

At this point—or even before, I suppose—I guess most people would wonder why I’d even want to be vegan at all. Let me point out that I’m opposed to evangelism in all forms, so I don’t want this blog to sound like a lame bumpersticker that’s been designed with the vain hope of converting a few tailgaters. Do what you want; I’m not here to tell you what to eat. But I will say that I am not a vegan because I think that animals are cute and furry (though—with the exception of cows—many of them are). I think if people really knew how the animal products they are eating actually get to their plates and what is in them, there would be a lot more vegans out there. I cannot even begin to comment on the horrors of the meat industry; this is neither the time nor the place. But dairy. It annoys the hell out of me when pregnant women are told to drink milk or consume dairy products for the sake of calcium. There are infinitely more efficient ways of getting calcium. Even if you eat organic dairy (which somewhat eliminates the issue of consuming antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides), there is still an acceptable amount of pus and fecal matter that the USDA allows in the dairy products sold to American consumers. Pus and fecal matter. That is why I am doing the best that I can to avoid dairy and why I wish that I were doing much better at it. For the foreseeable future, I am 100% responsible for Fig’s growth and development. And dairy is some nasty shit (literally) that I definitely don’t want to put into Fig’s little bod.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

WAY TO GO, LIS!!!! Great writing ... keep hanging in there!
hugs, auntie

Anonymous said...

Melissa - you just need a good "chuck wagon" meal! (laughing)


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