It's kind of funny that I wrote that great New Year's post about all my resolutions and goals for 2012. That I started a brand new fitness plan on Monday. That I was focusing more on whole foods and less on glutens and sugars. That I even played into supersitition a little bit by making black eyed peas for health and wealth on New Year's Day.
And then I came down with the stomach flu or food poisoning or some other horrid variation of gastrointenstial torture, not even two days later.
Oh, irony. You are not lost on me.
It's been five years since I've had this sort of stomach illness and needless to say, I did not handle it well. I am normally a pretty positive and cheerful person, but the second some germs get into me I am ripe with self-pity. So an apology is in order to the Twitter followers who were subjected to my whiny tweets on Wednesday - just be thankful you are not married to me! Ha!
I'm much, much better now, thank you for wondering. Whatever it was left as quickly as it came and two days later my ravenous appetite and desire to get back to that new fitness routine have both returned.
I did spend a couple days laying low on food, especially super spicy foods with competing flavours and components. This tofu noodle soup from Vegan Soups & Hearty Stews for All Seasons was the perfect way to transition back into food after not being able to eat for a day. Because I was still a bit queasy the night I made it, I decided to skip the dill and just sprinkled a little bit of poultry seasoning into the broth. The noodles are rice vermicelli. Warm, comforting and reminiscent of that other noodle soup from your childhood, it's the perfect thing for those feeling a bit under the weather. If you don't have the book, Vegan Break has a cool video demonstrating how to make it and you can find it here.
Because I wasn't able to eat for nearly 24 hours, I also decided to indulge in some homemade pumpkin cornbread too. The recipe comes from Never Homemaker and it is found here (I used the vegan version, obviously).
Being sick reminded me that I wanted to say a little something about being sick.
And that is that vegans can get sick too. We live in the same world as everyone else, and while I do believe that most vegans who are doing it properly develop better armour against illnesses than many of those who are fueled primarily by the Standard American Diet (SAD), we are still humans and we are still living in the same germ-infested world as our non-vegan counterparts. And sometimes those little germy buggers get through our armour.
This is probably very obvious to the lot of you, but I mention it because sometimes we vegans feel like we're not allowed to get sick. We feel like we have to be in perfect health, one hundred percent of the time, because we're considered examples for a life philosophy that is often so openly challenged by the mainstream with regard to its dietary appropriateness. I suppose we shouldn't care what anyone thinks, but I understand why we do. It's important to us that the mainstream finds veganism a viable and appealing option because there is so much more at stake than dietary choices. How we convey veganism affects not just us, but the animals and the earth, too. Our diets are but one component of a larger peaceful life philosophy, based on the concept of inherent dignity and compassion for all living creatures. If we're talking about how awful we feel, no one is going to want to go vegan, are they? So, you see, there's a lot at stake when it comes to how we present ourselves.
Denying sickness when it finds us becomes a kind of defense mechanism against the constant barrage of anti-vegan propaganda thrown in our faces on a daily basis. Because if we have a bad day, if we come down with the flu, if we're stressed out now and again, it almost always comes back to our veganism. About what we're "missing" in our diets, about how much of such-and-such food item we are/are not eating and essentially what's wrong with us and not what's wrong with the cold/flu/stressful situation. It's just easier to pretend like we are in perfect health, all of the time.
It's also true that just like we vegans can get sick like everyone else, we can also not take care of ourselves sometimes. And it has nothing to do with the overall compassionate philosophy of veganism and everything to do with how we "do vegan" on a personal level. About how we ([[cough]]-I-[[cough]]) decide to exist solely on seitan, sugar cookies and vodka for an entire month and maybe feel a wee bit sluggish when the bender is over. The way the "vegan diet" is lumped into one all-encompassing entity and then blamed for the ailments of some of our vegan friends is probably the most frustrating thing of all (pretty sure none of these folks practice vegan with the same irresponsibility that I did last month!).
I will note that since I went vegan, the only time my immune system lets up enough to let a virus in is when I fall under the lusty spell of proccessed vegan treats and neglect my fresh, raw, gloriously green veggies. Without fail. And even then, my body bounces back so much quicker and with so much more vigour than it ever did when I was SAD-fueled. Proof that it's not veganism that's helping me get sick, but the exact opposite - my deviation from it in it's truest sense, and that is with vegetables at its core. Veganism gives us everything we need to survive and thrive. It's up to each individual vegan to decide what they partake in and it's not fair to judge the entire cause based on each individual's choices. Or mistakes. Because even the most seasoned vegans make mistakes sometimes. Veganism as a philosophy is completely and totally separate from each individual diet. The two should never be confused and the fact that they so often are is likely one of the reasons vegans feel they can't be honest about their health when they're feeling unwell. Promoting the difference between the vegan philosophy and the individualized vegan diet is the key to encouraging honesty within the vegan community, I think.
Vegans, it's okay to be human. It's okay if you're not "on" one hundred percent of the time. It's okay if you're sick through no fault of your own. It's also okay if you're sick because you chose keg stands over lemongrass shots - just as long as you don't make it a habit. The vegetables are ready and waiting for when you are ready and waiting to feel better. It's important to the vegan cause that overall we are healthy and happy people. It's important to our individual selves, too, of course. And I suppose it might hurt the vegan cause to appear weak via illness now and again, but I think what hurts it more is not being real and honest about ourselves. Especially when it comes to our newly transitioned vegan friends who are still learning the ropes with regard to doing vegan properly - how frustrating must it be for them when everyone seems to be thriving and offering no admission of ever having made dietary mistakes or poor decisions now and again. This is probably where we come off elitist. Where we lose a lot of people.
Maybe I'm wrong. This sentiment isn't felt by other vegans as strongly as it is by me and that's okay too - another example of how "doing vegan" is an individualized process. Just know that I will always strive to be one hundred percent honest with you. If I feel like crap it's most likely my fault and you're probably going to have to hear about it. And if you're feeling like crap I'm happy to hear about it too. Maybe we can figure out a game plan together. I've been vegan for three and a half years and I will be the first to say that I still have a lot of questions. Veganism has the answers; we can work together to find them.
In summary. I got stomach flu/one of its horrid gastrointestinal counterparts. I'm better now. Feeling great, actually, and I can't wait to get back to my new running schedule. Sorry for complaining. Vegans get sick sometimes and that's okay. Taking care of yourself is important, but no one should judge you if you make mistakes now and again, because no one is perfect, not even them. Eat this soup. And the pumpkin cornbread, too.