A few years ago my (then 20 year old daughter) found out she is allergic to dairy and eggs. This came as a shock to us. We had no clue. She would eat diary or eggs and her skin would break out however, it took more than one trip to the dermatologist to get to the root of the issue. A slight food allergy. Of course by this time I felt like the world's worst parent. How did I miss this? Wasn't I paying attention? The questions and guilt ridden moments were endless.
About the same time her college was hosting monthly events. Each time there would be food items reflecting the monthly theme. Of course there were the typical Octoberfest, Asian Night, Italian Night themes. But one Friday evening the theme was Vegan Eating. My daughter came home excited and filled me in on the details of her experience and also informed me of a Vegan / Mediterranean restaurant. Which was only a few short minutes away from our home. So like all mothers I pulled myself up by my bra straps and decided I'm going to learn all I can about this new life style she was embracing. We went out for a mother daughter dinner and I was amazed at the items that were tweaked to make them vegan instead of the usual items loaded with animal products. The restaurant was Three Brother's on Merritts Road in Farmingdale, Long Island New York.
It was right there at that very table during dinner where I decided to challenge myself and eat my way through the vegan menu. Who knew you could have vegan macaroni and cheese ? Calamari made from mushrooms? Or penne carbonara without cream made from dairy but from cashews? I can't even begin to mention how many types of vegan cheesecake there was. My daughter turned her new found allergy into a new found discovery of culinary delights and I was fortunate enough to go along for the ride with my fork and knife in hand.
This opened the door to a new dilemma. While my daughter was giving up dairy and eggs she now was embracing the vegan lifestyle more and more. This got me thinking and researching. I learned how animals are abused and slaughtered so we can have them on our table slathered in spices and sauces. My husband and my two sons were still eating meat. I was giving up dairy and meat items one at a time. All the fad diets were stressing you had to have tons of protein and they could only come from animals if you wanted to be healthy. So I researched some more. I became what is considered a pescatarian, a fish eater who doesn't eat any other meat from animals. My daughter went full vegan. The men in my home laughed at us. Saying it would never last.
Here I am a few years later using chemical and animal free beauty products and my daughter is still a vegan, I'm a pescatarian, my boys and my husband have given up some animal products but not all. I have friends who are vegetarians (people who eat dairy and eggs but no other animal products).
I have learned that it is hard to change a lifetime of habits and learned behavior. That when you go to homes of friends and relatives for holidays and parties that you may have to be around food items you would rather not see. However, it is not for me to to force my lifestyle on others but to accept them for who they are and back up my knowledge when questions are asked. Hoping that they will also do research and make healthy changes in their lives.
So if you're wondering why the vegan chef, in my book Just My Luck, binge eats chicken parm after following the lifestyle for about a year or two, then mentally beats herself up for it, just keep in mind lifestyle changes are hard to make but in this and many instances, it is done one meal at a time.