I never knew that at the age of ten, my whole life would change due to the purchase of one cookbook. My kitchen turned into Whole Foods and I was drinking milk made from ingredients that should have been turned into friendship bracelets. At dinner, my plate consisted of what looked like a branch off of a Florida palm tree or algae from a local pond. Instead of watching the Harry Potter Movie Weekend on ABC Family, I had to sit down during a quaint Sunday lunch and see clips of slaughterhouses all across America. This was not a choice I made, but it was the best choice ever made.
Yes, I’m a freak-a dairy free, egg free, carb consuming, organic cotton buying freak. But I suppose I’ve always been a little different. I clearly recall wearing a solid pink outfit from my shoulders to my ankles at the age of ten, accessorized with a Green Day wristband. Even earlier in my life, I would walk around my house in mid-December, parading in a lime green bathing suit and red fringe skirt – Merry Christmas.
One dark and stormy day (realistically, it was probably radiating beautiful sun), my parents approached me, proclaiming the then-horrifying news that we would no longer be eating chicken fingers. Or ice cream. Or salmon. Or macaroni and cheese-MACARONI AND CHEESE! COME ON-I’M TEN! Take away my diet, but not my reason for living! Our living room floor was covered in books like Vegan for Dummies, Main Street Vegan, and Everyday Vegan. After spending several content evenings with Rachel Ray, I felt that all of my culinary knowledge would become as extinct as the dinosaurs I studied a year prior in 4th grade.
However, this change in our grocery cart (and the extent of our receipt) presented me with even more opportunity to wear hand-painted aprons, for now every single triple chocolate cupcake I ate would have to be made completely on my own, with only organic ingredients.
Of course, this lifestyle and diet subjected me to teasing in the later years of my elementary school successes-while every. Single. Other. Student got to enjoy Goldfish crackers (Not some GMO-Free, Beige Colored, Faux Food) and Twinkies (I had never had a Twinkie even BEFORE I was vegan) and Chips Ahoy Cookies (Not Mother Nature’s Oatmeal Raisins, which aren’t even real cookies-they are PUNISHMENT cookies), I was eating wheat. Maybe it was wheat crackers or wheat bread, but everyone else made it seem like I was eating just stalks of wheat.
I do admit that I went through periods in which I remained vegetarian needing the taste of greasy, orange cheese melting off of a thin crust Italian pizza, happiness oozing and steaming into my pores. Though I did occasionally eat meat (give me a break, I was really struggling with not being allowed to eat Chicken Nuggets in the school cafeteria anymore), once I hit the big one three, my hormones kicked in and I was back to filling my grocery cart with twenty cans of coconut milk, five varieties of mushrooms, bags of Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Peanuts, Pistachios.
I don’t know when the moment came in which I realized that I was actually…*gasp*…enjoying this lifestyle. Definitely after I had my first horrid plate of tabouli but far before Starbucks came out with Soy Frappuccinos (Because believe me, it took about three years of requests before they were added to the menu). Of course, finding Dairy Free and Soy Free Macaroni and Cheese AND ice cream alleviated my appreciation for such a diet.
Though dining at restaurants has been repeatedly frustrating (Trust me, if you choose to be vegan, expect to send your food back the first hundred times of eating out before learning EGG-ZAKT-LEE how to order), there, well…there really aren’t that many benefits to going to a restaurant that isn’t Italian except for an awesome excuse to eat the bread basket. However, my sister and I did get extra special treatment on our last trip to Disney World (Major Props to the Chefs at Boma African Grill and the Riverside Hotel Food Court)-the fact that I discovered Rice Dream Ice Cream at the Main Street Ice Cream Shoppe made me consider a career change from being a writer to becoming a Mint-Green-and-White-Striped-Costumed Sundae Decorator.
Now that I have matured (I’ve gone from a Grande Soy Coconut Mocha Frappuccino No Whip to a Triple Venti Soy Cappuccino), I’ve come to realize the activism I can bring about in my suburban high school friends. Though some may disagree with my choices, others have followed through with my self-designed slogan for PETA-“Vegetarianism-It’s Not as Bad as Being Slaughtered!”
Even singing in the shower has brought inspiration, as I repeatedly sang the melody for a spontaneous song I wrote entitled, ‘Stop The Killings.’ This number eventually landed the highlight performance in my soon-to-be written 1960s musical, Slaughterville, about a young Jewish boy who wants nothing more than to please his father and the animals. With the hopes of one day producing this musical for a performance in my suburban high school (or for Neil Patrick Harris at the Tony’s), I can inspire many more carnivores to hug a pig rather than clothe one in mustard.
Post by Kelly Vaughan.
Featured image via.