An occasional series in which ordinary people
talk about living a plant-based life
US police dispatcher Liz, the latest contributor to our series, says that, strangely enough, her evangelical Christian upbringing made becoming a vegan perfectly logical
My name is Liz and I work as a police dispatcher in a decently sized county in Maryland, USA. The job is very time consuming (12 hour days, six days a week, constantly working). We get three days off after every six-day shift but I find that the first day off is usually just occupied with recovery. I am essentially useless until about day three of the days off.
I have so many interests that I cannot possibly keep up with them all. I enjoy yoga, horseback riding, running, crocheting, playing piano, clay modelling, hiking, writing, paddle boarding, travelling, and reading; I’m never bored. I’m also constantly getting involved in new things. I’ve tried just about everything there is to try – fencing, rock climbing, Krav Maga scuba diving, acrobatics, etc. If it seems interesting, I’ll do it at least twice.
I’m 30 years old now, about to be 31 in February, and at first I felt super old and as if nothing interesting could happen again, as if I’d have to dress like a super-old person, and I got really depressed there for a while. But then I realised that I still have the same energy I had in my mid-20s but I have more follow-through, more experience and more intelligence. So being 30 is the same as being 26 or 27 but better because you make fewer mistakes (and people take you more seriously). I say all this because I have only recently chosen to become vegan but I feel as if I am better equipped to make this a sustainable lifestyle now than I would have been a few years ago.
I’d messed around with vegetarianism in the past, but I never stuck to it (or anything really). I attempted Whole30 a few years back, but caved as soon as someone put some cheesy crab dip in front of me. After that I sort of floated around until I saw the movie PlantPure Nation and really sort of started thinking about why I eat what I eat.
This next bit might sound a bit absurd to some readers, but I grew up in a Baptist household (my dad is a pastor), and so I was taught the Creation story in my private Christian school. In Genesis, God creates everything perfectly and tells the humans that they can eat any of the plants and vegetables they could possibly want. They don’t need anything else, because God gave them the plants and veggies. He never told them to eat animals – they didn’t need to. It wasn’t until after the Fall (when sin entered the world) that humans were given permission to eat animals.
With this as my background, it was not difficult to grasp the concept that people don’t actually need to eat animals. If the original, perfect, humans could survive just fine on only plants, so could I. There is also the story of Daniel, who refused to eat meat for 60 days and insisted on eating only vegetables. After 60 days they compared him with a bunch of other men and he looked and acted the best.
Honestly, having grown up on these stories, it is difficult for me to understand why more Christians aren’t vegan or at least vegetarian.
So I just decided to go primarily plant based and see what happens. My energy got better, my moods stabilised and my periods are much more bearable. Is it a perfect nirvana now? By no means. But my health is noticeably different from how it was before.
I went totally vegan three months ago, though became mostly wholefood plant-based (WFBD) five months before that.
Having lost a lot of weight from November 2017 to about June 2018, I realised that I could not survive calorie-counting for the rest of my life and needed a method of eating that would sustain my new weight but not make eating a chore. Plant-based wholefoods fitted the bill.
I can’t see myself going back to being an omnivore. Any time I look at meat, I just feel grossed out. It’s so greasy, you are eating so many calories for not a lot of food, and I feel tired after eating meat; the concept of eating pig fat is just disgusting to me. This was all before I started learning about factory farming methods. Now that I know how these poor animals are treated and what they go through… I just can’t stomach it at all.
But I do have a problem with cheese. I’m working really, really hard at not giving in to the pizzas that my fiancé brings home. We made a deal that he can bring home whatever pizza he wants, it just has to have anchovies on it. I won’t eat anything with anchovies.
For the most part, I eat really healthily. I originally started eating WFPB because I wanted to maintain my weight and still have great energy. I don’t drink Coke or eat Oreos. In fact, one of my co-workers who isn’t even on my shift told me the other day that she knows I “don’t eat junk food”, so it seems I’ve gained a reputation.
But my local Wegmans (high-end grocery store) sells some amazing vegan cookies and I definitely give in pretty much any time I see them.
Due to my job I need some sort of stress relief and I’ve found yoga, running, paddle boarding and horseback riding to be great outlets. So by default I’m doing a lot of exercise just to reduce stress. I like the results I’m seeing, but I do it mainly for my mental health.
I do not like time-consuming recipes. There are a lot of good vegan blogs out there, but as soon as I see ten ingredients I just run out of there. I simply do not have the time.
I generally eat veggie bowls that consist of a base (quinoa, brown rice or beans, depending on my mood), topped by any number of veggies (celery, olives, tomatoes, avocado, onion, mushrooms, carrots, beets, bell pepper), some sort of nut or seed (usually sunflower seeds) and some lemon juice or mustard. I have been eating some form of this bowl for months and since you can vary it so much it never gets old. For breakfast I’ll eat a banana or some oatmeal. For snacks I really like pineapple, grapes and almonds.
Sometimes we’ll order out at the centre. My co-workers are super understanding. We’ll group order Chipotle, Noodles and Co or Sushi, all of which have great vegan options.
I shop at my local grocery stores. If I’m feeling particularly rich, I’ll head to Whole Foods. I’ve never been one to worry about my “macros”. If I feel like I’m getting sluggish I’ll adjust some things but I’ve never had any real issues.
I’m fortunate to live in a part of the country where people are very accepting about whoever and whatever you want to be. There is a general consensus among my friends and co-workers that what I am doing is very healthy and an ethical choice. They don’t necessarily want to make the same choices, but they don’t make fun of me.
My family is a bit… conservative. And I’m not sure they understand how serious I am about this. I’m going to see them next week so we’ll see how this goes.
I actively seek out forums and groups of vegans online. Reddit has been a great source for me to find people who have struggled similarly. I don’t participate much but I do enjoy reading other people’s stories.
My fiancé is not a vegan. However he is crazily accepting and, like my co-workers, he knows that what I’m doing is a healthy choice. He goes out of his way to accommodate my choices. The other day we had a roasted veggie salad and a mushroom pizza for our date night out. He never pushes me to eat something I don’t want to eat and doesn’t make fun of me at all. He’s been incredibly supportive.
For some people, veganism is a fad. I know a lot of people do things because other people think it would be a good idea. If you don’t make this choice for yourself then yeah, you probably won’t maintain the lifestyle.
I don’t know how this translates into the wider general public. I hope it does. It’s so easy to see the benefits very quickly; I hope this grows into a legitimate thing where you have to find restaurants that offer meat options instead of searching for restaurants that have vegan options.
Personally I don’t like the horror-show videos of how meat is made, because they are gruesome, but some people will not go vegan unless they can see the whole picture. I’m just concerned that people might feel like the videos are so terrible that they can’t be true – that they are made-up vegan propaganda.
Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll see the end of the meat and dairy industries in the near future due to the amount of money involved. Money will always make the world go round.
Having grown up in an evangelical household I know that badgering and preaching to people will have very little effect, when it comes to encouraging others to go vegan. We are going to have to just live the life and show people the benefits through our lives and gradually win people over.
One of my co-workers tried a vegan chicken nugget the other day and actually didn’t throw it away. He mentioned that my lunch smelled good so I offered him one.
If you are interested in sharing your thoughts in our Everyday Vegans slot, please get in touch and we’ll let you know what to do.