books, eating, food, health

Beautiful: Mark Bittman, My Parents, and I Are Part-Time Vegans

“Hi Gang! Guess what? Oh, you’ll never guess in a million years so I’ll just tell you. We’re becoming vegans and tonight we launched the operation.” This from my mother who is 71 glorious years old and a passionate omnivore. Their chiropractor has recommended a vegan diet to improve overall health so they’re going for it. If Bill Clinton, fast food’s most loyal customer, can do it, so can we. Somewhere, Mark Bittman is smiling wide.

Ironically (or as my therapist, Brian, would say – synchronistically), when my mother’s email arrived I had just started reading Mark Bittman’s new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good. Her email flew into my inbox about 6 hours after I read the intro to Mark’s book and I thought, “You know, I should send this book to my mom.” Oh, Universe…

I’ve failed at being a vegan, and for that matter being a vegetarian, for many years. That Mister Softee song starts playing on my block, and I’m done for. (Mister Softee and Access Hollywood Live – my guilty pleasures.) It’s been a sore point with me for some time and I had all but resigned myself to never being able to live up to my dietary potential. I know being a vegan is better for me and for the planet. And I love animals, very often more than I love people, so why couldn’t I just do it?!

And then Mark Bittman gave me permission to try on veganism on a part-time basis. Now this kind of deal is music to my ears. His plan is simple – give up highly processed food (okay, I can let go of Mister Softee in favor of real ice cream but do not ask me to give up Billy Bush!), eat more plants, and be a vegan until 6pm. Once 6pm rolls around, I’m free to eat whatever I want. There’s nothing magical about 6pm. There isn’t even anything magical about making dinner your non-vegan meal. He’s saying give yourself one meal to have whatever you want and then be a vegan the rest of the time. He even gave me permission to slip up and fall flat on my face off the vegan wagon once in a while. And then he told me that I can always just start again.

This is similar to the advice that I got when I first really started to learn how to meditate. I had tried for a number of years, wouldn’t feel anything happening, and give up. Then, I read some advice from Sri Swami Satchidananda. “When you notice your mind wandering, just come back. It happens to everyone. You don’t have to give up. Just start again.” Now three years later, I’m still practicing meditation and teaching it to others without any kind of angst or sense of inadequacy. Failure is only permanent if we allow it to be.

And so, I started right then and there to be a part-time vegan, after beginning Mark’s book and reading my mom’s email. I didn’t need to plan to start. It wasn’t hard; I didn’t need to analyze it and make a pro / con / consequences / “oh crap, what am I going to do if this doesn’t work out” list. I just decided to begin. Want to join me?