So … today marks a month since I stopped eating animal products (aside from honey and the eggs my own chickens produce, of course).
It isn’t a permanent change. I’m just doing it as part of a marathon training program. But it’s going really well — much better than any of my previous forays into vegetarianism — and I think I know why.
In the past, I’ve focused all my attention on what I wasn’t eating, then tried to come up with synthetic substitutes. This time around, I’m enjoying vegetables on their own terms and having fun developing recipes that highlight their natural flavor. In other words, instead of focusing on what I can’t eat, I’m enjoying what I can eat.
There’s a good metaphysical reason this approach is working. (You knew that was coming, right?)
When you focus on what you don’t have, you feel a sense of lack. It’s hard to appreciate things when you’re busy wishing you had something else. But gratitude breeds contentment. As Mary Baker Eddy put it:
What better way to show gratitude for food than to “avail ourselves of it” by enjoying it as-is instead of wishing it tasted like something else?
I’m not saying there’s nothing I miss. You know how I love a good cappuccino, and it’s downright painful to pass a taco truck without stopping for barbacoa. But I don’t dwell on that. Instead, I concentrate on gratitude and enjoyment of what I have. Oreo cookies, for instance, are 100 percent vegan. The Lebanese restaurant right across the street from my office serves terrific falafel. And in recent years, there’s been a proliferation of great restaurants whose entire focus is made-to-order meals, which means you can order a wholly vegan meal without tying up the line or causing a hassle for the kitchen.
All of those things are reasons for gratitude — and gratitude, regardless of your dietary choices, is the best seasoning there is.