A mouthful of bright colour and flavoursome delight disappears into my mouth. My cheeks bulge with overindulgence, like a 2 year old at birthday party dangerously close to the customary bowl of Flings and Oros. As a trickle of juice sneaks its way to the corners of my mouth I smile and almost lose the mouthful – rescuing it quickly with the side of my wrist. There are so many reasons why I love this food... this plate full of undairified, meatless bounty.
The photos from my 25th birthday are well – hard to get hold of – and as I sit eating my lunch I page through the few I’ve kept. The girl in them is just too miserable to even look at. She’s weighed down by so much baggage (physically and in all ways possible) that people have dumped on her over the years, you can barely see underneath it all. It makes me sad to see her that way, like an emotional pack mule, because underneath it all I’ve always suspected that she may be spectacular. It was shortly after the celebrations at my farm that I decided I needed a change. Not a little change like switching moisturiser brands, a massive catapulting catharsis.
Ed: “Why are you doing this? To lose weight?”
Carly: “No. I just have to do something. I want to get excited about something again.”
Ed: “And your thing is going to be becoming a vegan?”
Carly: “It’s only 3 months Ed.”
My almost carnivore roommate gave me a look of serious doubt. I’m sure he thought I was plum crazy (maybe I did a little as well) but I just knew it was the challenge I’d been looking for. A new focus for me, away from all the stresses I was facing daily. Now what I need to highlight, behind all my rantings and reasonings is the phrase “For Me”. For the first time, I was going to go on an adventure with myself – for myself – and no one else. Just that idea in all its simplicity was as exciting as the prospect of spending the day at a spa.
So I did what I always do and jumped in as project manager – I got creative in the kitchen, I started reading vegan blogs every morning at work, I discovered some groovy health shops and restaurants where I could sip soy cappuccino’s and sample tofu biltong, I even reconnected with an old friend: Coriander. I never weighed myself once, I never stepped foot in a gym and I never forgot what was driving my veggie campaign. Just me, lil ol' CTB.
After my three month probation I felt elated. I looked great, I felt lighter and I had found a new respect for all things digestible. I’d had to think about each thing that went into my mouth for the past 90 days and I’d grown quite a conscience. But after the ecstasy of achieving my goal had worn off, I slipped back into old habits. I retracted my presence in the universe, I put myself at the bottom of a long list of to-do’s and I stepped right back into position ready to battle with my obstinate body again. And that’s how the story WOULD have ended, if I wasn’t armed with a ridiculous amount of Goetspa. I told myself that a lapse didn’t have to mean a relapse and that I was going to fight – for me.
I knew I wasn’t ready to be a full time vegan. I’d been vegetarian (sometimes flexitarian) for a few years but the thought of never tasting Emmentaler cheese again was just a little too daunting. And then, as though the wisdom had always been inside me – hidden like a genie’s lamp in a magical cave, I shifted.
I began a dialogue with myself that brought to light some revelations, the main one being:
When you are good to yourself; yourself is good to you.
I subsequently started a balanced eating plan and got enthusiastic about my place on the earth. I put myself first which resulted in me shedding close to 23kg’s, by constantly relaying back to the fundamentals I’d learnt while being vegan.
This is why every year; I rally up as many friends and family members as I can to celebrate World Vegan Day (I try sneak in a WHOLE week!). In some ways it’s my tribute to a fantastic way of living that has given me so many learning’s and moments of self discovery. It’s sort of my own cheesy (dairy free of course) Independence Day – reminding me to take care of myself and to be aware of how food is actually healing. I truly believe it was an integral part of saving my life – or maybe just giving me an even more splendiferous one.
When I’m in a muddle of the ordinary, confounded by existential dilemmas or just not embracing my title as President of Anything Can Happen – I remember that it can. It did. And it can again.