For Lent, my cousin and her husband did a vegan fast. I thought it’d be interesting to get her perspective on the fast – from an omnivore’s point of view. This is what she had to say about over a month of veganism (completely un-edited by me).
by Christine Wilson
As part of the season of Lent, the senior pastor at my church proposed a Daniel Fast. A Daniel Fast, simply put, is being vegan (no animal products) as well as no caffeine, sugars (except those found naturally in food), leavened bread, refined grains, or artificial sweeteners. We did ten days of the Daniel Fast, had a two day break, and then continued the fast for about three weeks. By the end, honestly, I was going more vegetarian than vegan.
I thought it was a challenging diet to fulfill, but I think a lot of that had to do with the no sugar/caffeine/bread as much as (if not more than) the vegan aspect. It took a lot of planning and creative thinking and searching the internet for dinners to make for my husband and myself. It seemed like it would get easier once I built up a stock of vegan recipes that I knew my husband and I enjoyed. It’s about trying lots of recipes and maybe only coming away with a few.
But there were a few that we tried that we are going to keep eating on a regular basis! We really enjoyed pasta with peas, pesto, and potatoes. I fell in love with homemade pesto while doing this diet and I even went and bought some basil to grow on my back patio so that I can continue to make it this summer. Vegetarian chili is awesome and we did not miss the meat in that at all! The strong chili flavors overpower everything anyway, and it was still so hearty with all of those beans in there. And we’ll keep doing meatless burritos (refried beans, brown rice, tomatoes, avocado), although I think I’ll be adding cheese and sour cream to that when we make it in the future. Which brings me to my next point…
The dairy was hard to give up for me. Probably the most difficult. I’m accustomed to drinking multiple glasses of milk per day. My go-to snack is a granola bar, peanut butter, and a glass of milk. I did try other milks, like soy milk and almond milk, which would be great for smoothies and recipes. But just drinking them straight was not the same to me as cow’s milk.
I did not miss meat at all. Except when it came to eating out at a favorite restaurant and I had to figure out what to get instead of my regular order. And after the diet ended, I was sometimes turned off by meat. I remember eating meatballs after stopping the fast and thinking, “Ugh. So much meat. Didn’t I just have meat yesterday?!”
I don’t think I felt too different while on the diet. I think I lost weight, because I actually got a few comments from friends and family members. I don’t own a scale so I can’t say for sure. I did feel “cleaner”. I don’t know if it was a perceived thing or a real physical thing, but I just know it felt great to not be putting a bunch of thick, heavy foods (like meat and dairy and junk food) in my body and instead putting high-fiber, fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, and water. Water never tasted so great to me.
In terms of the spiritual aspect of the fast, I feel like God did impress upon me to move in a new direction in terms of food and consumption in general. One of the reasons our pastor called the fast was to go against the intense need to consume we seem to have in our society. We do many things in excess, and it’s unnecessary, in my opinion. And it also exploits the earth God gave us, as well as the animals in it, and even people in other countries who make our products. While on the fast, God gave me new resolve to change my ways. It really, really does sadden me the way animals in factories are treated, and I think it definitely goes against God’s design. I think there is a natural food chain that He put in place and that eating meat and animal products is okay, but I think we overuse and abuse it.
So, moving forward, here are my goals. I’m going to buy meat only from the farmers’ market. I’m going to learn about the establishments where my meat is coming from and even try to visit them. I’m going to eat less dairy. I’m going to cook less dishes with meat, which goes well with the fact that farmers’ market meat is more expensive. I’m shooting for cooking only 1-2 meat dishes per week, and the rest vegetarian or vegan. When eating out, I’m going to first look through the vegetarian options to see if there’s anything I’d like. If I really, really don’t want any of the options, then I’ll go with a meat dish.
In addition to all of this, I’m also going to give up spending money (except on food) until Christmas-time. No clothes, no home improvements, no meaningless knick-knacks, no craft supplies, etc. I just feel so bogged down by consumerism, and I think God is calling me to much more purposeful things than shopping and filling my house with things that I will one day grow tired of and then get rid of or throw away. And don’t even get me started on UNfair trade and the exploitation of the people making our goods…
One of the main reasons I am going back to eating a little meat here and there is because it just seems so tied to so many traditional recipes. And, it is an easy, straightforward source of protein. But, I would really, really like to see it as the exception rather than the rule. In so many other parts of the world, where people have less, meat is special. It is not eaten every day. Here, it’s easy to eat every day. We can afford it. But, I feel that just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.