• Paula Tiberius

Mama, We’re All Vegan Now

So apparently it’s not enough that I became a vegetarian. Now I have to give up dairy too. Well, not all dairy, just cow dairy. I can eat goat and sheep related stuff. This came about when I was talking to the awesome Natalie Kling about her secret to being so damn happy and healthy all the time. Basically she doesn’t eat crap. But she does remove crap from her bowels. It’s all very cleansing.

I’ve been getting these acid reflux symptoms since I quit meat, which seems entirely unfair to me. Here I made this deep sacrifice in my life to curtail global warming, save furry creatures and avoid ever needing to say the phrase, “I’ve got a piece of gristle stuck in my teeth,” and how does the universe thank me? With a weak esophageal valve! Unfair!

But like all things unfair, it’s allowed me to consider new possibilities and bring further enlightenment hurtling towards me. Yes, it’s another baby step on the path of the nervous breakthrough. Now I’m a frikken vegan. Well, not really. I still eat cheese, but just not cow cheese. The way Natalie explained it to me is that cow milk enzymes were created to manufacture a giant beast, completely out of scale with human growth. Yet goats and sheep are a more reasonable size, ergo the enzymes in their milk are easier to digest, more complementary to our systems. And since quitting meat, I basically started eating cheese like a, well, cheese-eatin’ bastard.

So now I’m embarking on a new ‘diet’ (every time I mention ‘diet’ someone tells me I’m skinny. Apparently changes in diet are only supposed to be for weight loss) which entails the following colossal changes:

NO COW DAIRY

NO WHITE FLOUR

JUICING EVERY DAY

Apparently cow dairy and white flour are the two worst offenders for creating acid in the system, and I’m trying to go alkaline, so they are banned. While Natalie was telling me about all the delicious alternatives to cow’s milk (almond milk – Violet loves it) and white flour (anything that doesn’t tell you it’s ‘enriched’ apparently) I was thinking okay fine, this isn’t such a big deal. I can totally do this. I love quinoa goddamn it! I live in California – the land of the tree-hugging grocery stores! No problem.

Two days later, Richard and Violet and I went to her friend’s third birthday party. It was adorable and awesome, complete with a bouncy house and balloon-animal-making clown. Violet was in heaven.  For food, they had ordered a bunch of mouth-watering pizzas and made a lovely fruit salad with berries and melon.

I stood for several moments staring at the pizza. I love pizza. I love the crispy crust and the dripping mozzarella. How bad would it be for me to have one slice? I went to consult Richard who said something to the effect of “Do whatever you want, but do you want to get better or not?” As he hauled on a cigarette. Deep sigh. Yes, I want to get better. No pizza. Instead I had a big bowl of fruit salad and marveled at Natalie’s trickster ways. By simply saying “no white flour and no cow dairy” there were suddenly an unimaginable amount of everyday delicacies that were out of my reach.

Such as pizza and….cupcakes! When the delicious, white-flour cupcakes with beautiful sugary frosting came out for the birthday-song singing portion of the afternoon, I briefly lost my mind. I grabbed a key lime cupcake and took a big bite. Then as I lifted my gaze, Richard was staring at me. He began to shake his head. I gasped. Truly, I had already forgotten. It was such an automatic response to the cupcake that I literally couldn’t resist. I went on cupcake auto-pilot. But I didn’t take a second bite. Richard didn’t want the rest, so I went and sheepishly threw the rest in the garbage and had another bowl of fruit salad.

As we were leaving, I was really hungry, but I’d had my first taste of what the future would mean for me. Difficult choices at restaurants, no fast food ever, etc etc. It suddenly seemed like way more of a sacrifice than I had originally thought. But even so, I felt clean and maybe even pious as we left. I am stronger than white flour and mozzarella. And I’m not going to have this fucking burning in my esophagus for the rest of my life.

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