2) The Farm Sanctuary
3) Going on a cruise as a vegan for the first time
What I thought would be a truly difficult task ended up being a whole lot of fun. For four days I was surrounded by more meat than I could possibly handle, and I had to find a way to sift through it all and find vegan options for myself. And this is what I found - beans and rice can be a delicious and simple meal, a sense of humor can help any tricky situation, always bring non-dairy milk along with you (because that is simply not an option on a cruise - yet), and you never know who you are going to meet that will inspire you to continue your vegan journey. For me, it was Mirella, our cruise waitress from Romania.
The entire cruise, Mirella served me dishes I had to make very specific due to my dietary "limitations" (I put this word in quotes, because I really feel it was the cruise food that was limiting), and she always did so with a patient smile. On the final evening of the cruise, Mirella asked me why I didn't eat animal products. I answered with a simple "because I love animals". Her eyes brightened up as she exclaimed "Me too! Me too!". It turned out that Mirella was a vegetarian on her way to trying to go vegan, and she had read the same exact book that changed my life in so many ways - Kathy Freston's "Quantum Wellness". I left the cruise even more dedicated to my cause and realizing how wonderfully small our world really is.
4) My Trip to Vegan Treats
A few months ago, Steve and I made a decision - we would serve one giant vegan cake at our wedding, rather that one cake for him and one vegan cake for me. We rented a zip car and traveled all the way from Brooklyn to Bethlehem, PA, where we would taste samples for our wedding cake at the famous Vegan Treats bakery. We had no idea what was in store for us - pure dessert heaven. Not only were the cake samples unbelievably delicious, but so were the donuts, cheesecakes (!), cinnamon buns, and cupcakes. We took home more sweets than we could handle, and the entire experience showed me how much fun vegan eating can be.
5) Seeing "Food Inc", and Steve taking the "Veg Pledge"
This is my final summer experience so far, and maybe my favorite.
"Food Inc." - if you haven't heard of it already - is a startling and eye-opening new documentary about how the food we eat is made and sold (http://www.foodincmovie.com/). As scary as the prospect was, I was ready for the horrific views of the animal slaughterhouse and kill floor. What I wasn't prepared for was to learn that corn is at the core of most foods we eat (and not because it always has been), tomatoes out of season are injected with chemicals to make them red, and low-income households oftentimes face dilemmas such as being forced to choose between buying expensive vegetables and ordering off the Dollar Menu at McDonald's.
All of this made for a great "wake-up call" moment in my life - I already knew I was done with animal products, but now I must also worry that my vegetables are safe. The result? I now buy organic as much as possible, I read ingredients lists and labels like it's my job, and I try not to settle anymore for convenience when it comes to my health.
The result for Steve was much more powerful - he chose to take a 30-Day "Veg Pledge". And after a month of forgoing meat, he's still going strong. Funny story: The other day, a group of his friends were sitting around eating lunch, and one of them jokingly insuated that the meat-free sandwich he was eating was not "man food", to which Steve replied that you don't need to eat meat to be a man. I love this guy. :)
At the end of the day, it's moments like these that I look back on and am truly grateful for having. I don't know why my life directed me this way, but I have chosen to commit as much of myself as possible to living a vegan lifestyle. And after nine months, I am still at it with a vengeance.
I hope everyone has a beautiful, warm, and relaxing last month of summer. Mine will be filled with theater performances, finishing up my summer camp job, more wedding planning, my sis's 21st birthday, and a little bit of vacation if I play my cards right.
And food. Lots of food.