Boston Veggie

September 20, 2009, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Personal

My name is Carly and I am a 21-year-old college student in Boston. I’m using this first post to introduce you to me, and my goals for this vegan focused blog.

For 19 years, I was as omniverous as they come. I was brought up in an Italian household, so meat, cheese and empty carbs were common place in my home. Meat lasagna, bolognese sauce, stuffed shells, baked ziti, spaghetti and meat balls… you name it, Mom made it. Don’t get me wrong, I think these things are delicious. Buffalo chicken pizza and cheesy eggs were my favorite meals as a teen. So trust me, I did not grow up on some hippie compound with a bunch of tree huggers. Quite the opposite, actually.

However, as you can probably guess from that short list, most people in my family have a weight problem. Me included. And that led my family and I to constantly be on fad diets. Cabbage soup diet, Atkins, south beach, the lemonade diet, the 7-day-diet, the blood type diet, we tried it all! Some of these diets really do make you lose weight… temporarily. The second we returned to our Italian-American diet routine, the weight all came back and than some. So I grew up pretty confused about food.What was good, what was bad, etc.

From the age of 15 to 19, I was a firm believer in the low-carb-high-protein nonsense that was brought on by the South Beach craze. That’s the diet where you can eat “lean proteins” like tuna and turkey but you can’t have fruit or “carby” vegetables like carrots. Looking back I laugh at how ridiculous the idea is, that you can have turkey with melted cheese and lose weight but don’t touch those carrots! Too many carbs!

But like I said, I followed that way of life for many, many years. No pasta (Oh how I love pasta!), no potatoes (Love those too), no fun :-(. But I convinced myself that I enjoyed egg white omelets and tuna with no mayo and it actually was a great cop-out to not eat any fruit! Gotta watch those carbs, ya know.

So how does a meat, cheese eating Italian go from carnivore to herbivore? On Friday, May 16, 2o08 (yes I remember the date), I made the trek from Boston to Manhattan to visit my best friend from my hometown at NYU. Being such good friends, you can imagine we share similar tastes in food. She was a low carb girl too, but to my great surprise, when I arrived at her apartment she told me she was vegan now. Waaaait a second. Vegan? As in, no cheese? Is that what that means? (What a terrible word vegan is… it does not sound fun at all. If the word were more like “Cuddly Bubbly Sunshine,” I think people wouldn’t be so scared of it). But there I was, looking at her like she had 8 heads, and I just had to ask, “Oh My Goodness WHY?! That sounds terrible.”

She told me her reasons, but I already had my mind made up about this ridiculous notion of no cheese and no meat, so I just figured it was a phase brought on by living in the Village for too long. That weekend, I went to her vegan restaurants with her. They were okay, I didn’t really mind eating veganly. But I didn’t love it either. Overall we had a great weekend and the food thing was quite secondary to the overall situation. But on Sunday as I’m packing my things to go back to Boston, I couldn’t help but delve. She used to be right there with me, melting cheese on bacon on the South Beach kick and I just had to know what made her change. Also, I should mention, she looked AMAZING. She was in such good shape and her skin and her hair was glowing. I really became interested in what she must have done because she looked so good.

So again, she starts spewing stuff about “animal abuse” and “ohh you don’t know the treatment they get” blah blah yadda yadda. I’m not much of an animal lover, I’ll say it right now. I’m a vegan who kind of hates animals, actually. To me they smell, they can’t take care of themselves, they’re loud, and overall I’m just not a fan. So when she tried to appeal to me by talking about animal cruelty, it didn’t work. However, she ended her shpiel by saying “You just have to read ‘Skinny Bitch.'”

Now, as I’ve mentioned, I have been trying to reach an ideal weight for some time. Telling me I could be skinny from this diet, well that appealed to me. She told me the book could explain it better than she ever could, and she leant me the book for my four hour bus ride back to Boston.

Can I just tell you, I could not put the book down. It was funny, it was smart, it was well-researched; it had me laughing and crying and I finally understood. They explained so many things, like how the hormones and steroids that are in most meat could be contributing to America’s obesity problem: Steroids go into the cow to make it larger so it can be mass produced -> you eat the cow with steroids -> steroids make you larger. It also explained that cheese = fat. Human milk is designed to make a baby go through the biggest growth spirt of its life. It is supposed to make a 7 pound newborn turn into a 25 pound baby. That baby is quadrupling its size in a matter of a year or so. Well, cow milk is supposed to do the same thing for baby cows. A 100 pound calve will quadruple its size by drinking milk to become a normal sized adult cow. So, as you can see, milk is designed to make you fat. Plain and simple.

Of course, people can disagree, I’m not here to preach to anyone. I’m just explaining why I made the decision to be vegan. And the book appeals to many different people. To me, the ability to lose weight appealed to me. To my friend at NYU, the animal cruelty it details appealed to her. And for others, the environmental costs of the meat production industry and its affect on global warming (Quoting from  TIME Magazine article “Where’s the Beef?” published 5/27/2009 that you can read, here “According to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, meat production accounts for 18% of annual greenhouse-gas emissions — more than transportation, which accounts for roughly 14%”) appeal to them. Anyway, I’m not trying to advertise the book here, I’m just saying that what I’m telling you here is what appealed to me, but if you read it, maybe a different section would appeal to you.

It is important to note that I didn’t just stop eating animal products. I stopped eating crap! I read the ingredients on everything I eat, I avoid sugar, I avoid high fructose corn syrup, I try to eat organically, and I am conscious of how much nutrition I am getting from my food. People always ask, “Well how do you get your protein?” and let me tell you, not only do I get enough protein, I get enough everything! Do you know how many omega-3’s you’ve had today? How about lycopene? Iron? Calcium? Vitamin E? The B’s? C? Antioxidants? Well I do, because I have to. And because my high vegetable, high fruit, low crap diet pretty much does the work for me.

Oh and carbs… I LOVE carbs and finally someone explained it to me: White nutritionless carbs = bad, whole grain/whole wheat carbs = good. FINALLY I could eat pasta again! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise God, praise Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, pick your deity, I can eat carbs again! I could eat pasta and bread, as long as it was whole wheat… FINE with me!

So on May 18, 2008, I boarded a bus to Boston at 11 a.m. as an omnivore and by 3 p.m. when I arrived at South Station I was vegan, to much of the surprise of my friends and family. Let’s just say for now, my veganism was not met with bells and whistles, but that will be for a later post.

So how’s a girl to adjust to a complete life style change? Pretty easily, actually. I thought I would be vegan for a few months until I reached my goal weight and go back to at least eating cheese again. But it just felt SO good to be vegan. I had so much energy, I could tell my skin was better, my hair was nicer, my body just felt so good. And I dropped those pounds. It melted off. Within a month, I had lost close to 15 pounds, which is amazing. My whole life I wanted to drop 15-20 pounds, and finally I did… and it was so easy! I had always worked out, so that wasn’t the problem. In fact, I was always baffled by why my 3 mile runs never worked. But compounded with my new eating habits, I was finally able to get into shape. And it’s been that way ever since.

Unfortunately, at the end of August I went on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and had no choice but to eat cheese. And can you believe it, I gained 10 pounds in ONE week of eating cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely ate a lot of cheese. But I still couldn’t believe how much weight I gained. So now I’m back at school, back in my element, and back to full blown veganism and it feels great. I can’t wait to watch the weight shed again, to feel that energy of being vegan again, and finally go back to being me. Because almost 2 years into it, this lifestyle is part of my identity.

Now, to the blog. I am calling this blog “Boston Veggie” because when I first told one of my friend’s parents that I was the dreaded “V” word, she replied by saying “Oh so you’re a veggie?” I don’t know if she thinks it’s some kind of religion or cult or something, but it sure made me laugh. And since most of my posts will be Boston based, it just made sense. In this blog, I hope to address the many facets of veganism. Of course, there will be recipe posts a plenty, and tips on eating veganly in such a carniverous city like Boston, but sometimes I’ll talk about other things. Like how hard it is to tell your family you’re vegan, how to deal with those issues of acceptance and isolation that come from being the only vegan at the table, and the good, the bad and the ugly about vegan substitutes. I personally don’t love the substitutes, I just embrace eating lots of fruits and veggies, but my friend at NYU loooves her substitutes. So we’ll explore it all, basically. Until next time!


3 Comments so far
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Heyyy girlll! Love the blog and cannot wait for more posts….hhaa and i’m glad my mom got an honorable mention in this one for “veggie.” haha hilarioussss the blog was fun and easy to read so keep up the good work and perhaps you can change the world and help closeted vegans to come out to their friends and family and hopefully the states will agree to a vegan-vegan or vegan/vegetarian marriage! =p

Comment by Bobby

I love vegans!! You sound like the coolest chick everrr!! You’ve opened my eyes to a whole new world of beautiful! Cuddle bubbbleesss!!

Comment by jimboo

[…] and do research on it. Also, I liked having an outlet for my personal issues with veganism. The first long posts were almost therapeutic for me being able to write about my personal experience “Coming […]

Pingback by Final blog assignment « Boston Veggie

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