Fine. I’ll Wake Up (50%) Vegan

Why did the tofu cross the road? | To prove he wasn’t chicken.

Two years ago when my mother declared that the family shall be vegan for the forty days of lent, I wasn’t exactly psyched. I was twelve; do I need to explain? This meant that I could no longer eat my Friday night frozen pizza, and no amount of begging would get her to run me to Burger King. Not even with my own money. Not even if I cried.

Suddenly, weird dishes containing sea weed and spinach turned up on the table, no matter if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner. We also had to replace our dairy milk with the coconut/soy/almond varieties. All of my favorites were gone, and everything seemed different. Not bad, just ‘parallel universe’ weird. Where’s the canned ravioli, and what have you done with the Doritos?

My mom tried to help motivate the family into this health kick by changing movie-night specials like Harry Potter and Inception to movie-documentaries like Food, Inc. and Forks Over Knives. The craziest one of all is with Paul McCartney called Glass Walls. Pictures of slaughter houses and mistreated animals showed us the truth behind our food. And if doing good didn’t calm the old cravings, then a side of guilt would do the trick.

We were living in West Virginia at the time, and I attended a really small Catholic school. I liked the people there, but the uniforms? Not so much. After we went vegan though, I excitedly got dressed every morning as the highlight of my day was (disgusting) cafeteria food. Sad. But don’t worry that the school food will kill me just yet. Shortly after the vegan-trial period was over, my parents signed up for a permanent membership. I thought life was over; but wait. There’s more. Mom took us out of school to be home-schooled.

Ok. NOW life is over.

This meant that I could never truly get away from my family. We were together all the time. And while it was fun on some days, others it was torture. We went out to dinner every now and again with other families, but ordering vegan was almost always our only option. And since most restaurants don’t offer many vegan options, I just lost my appetite.

Though no one else in our circle of friends was vegan, they were all very supportive of our family. Too supportive. If I did manage to escape to a friend’s house, inevitably I’d be served a vegan dinner out of respect to my family. No breaks for me! It’s not like that anymore, but at first, it was AWKWARD.

Eventually my mother created a blog called Waking Up Vegan, where she writes posts about how she sneaks vegetables into our spaghetti sauce (really? is that why it’s green?) or different recipes that she makes up (and sometimes they’re good, but always, we have to eat it.) Then, after we moved back to Fort Wayne, my uncle John introduced my mother to a business called Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. They offered her a job, and she quickly fell in love with all things organic and local. She uses her blog to promote this business as well.

Every time this special diet jumps in as a topic in a conversation with someone I don’t really know, I am asked the same question, “how do you get your protein?” and to this day I still don’t know the answer to that question. I know there’s protein in plants, and my muscles and hair are the same as always (or better), but I just can’t explain it.

I am not completely vegan. I do have the occasional meat option whenever I go out with a friend. Surprisingly, I don’t choose it that often.

To this day, my mother hasn’t had a bite of meat or cheese or a sip of milk. She’s started making “happy chicken” eggs for my sister, though, cause she’s stubborn and won’t eat. (And my mom wonders where she gets that…) But I guess Mom decided my sister is more important than eggs, and I would have to agree. My father is mostly vegan, and now is experimenting with a gluten free diet as well. They are as healthy as thirty-eight year olds could ever be and I think these are good decisions on their end. I can’t say I don’t miss “normal” food, but when I’m at home, there’s usually something worth eating. They now allow me to buy vegetarian food (mostly cheese) and keep it in the downstairs kitchen, and that has helped with my appetite.

I myself have strayed from the vegan path a little bit. I am fourteen years old, five feet and ten inches tall, and weigh one hundred and twenty three pounds. Almost seventy- five percent of the time I get the chance to eat out, I’ll make the decision to eat a salad and or meatless pasta. Every time we decide we’d like to eat out as a family, my mother calls ahead so she can converse with the head chef about fixing up something tasty, meatless, healthy, and green. If she isn’t with us, though…game on.

When I was in Rome last summer, I ate like a Roman. And when I’m in the Towner Maison de végétarien, I guess I’ll eat vegan. We’ve been vegan for two years, and it is a healthy way to live. I don’t mind eating facon and not-dogs, lentils and quinoa, and more vegetables than I can name. It’s what I’m used to, and I’m thankful for my crazy, different, vegan family. So please pass the tofu…I’m not too chicken to eat it.

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