Can you be vegan sometimes?

I was spending five out of seventeen waking hours in a toilet. I had a cute tower of magazines in a corner of my living room. All ready and waiting to be renewed beside the holy throne as soon as I was done glossing over the latest stats of the pet economy, the special report on the new cold war’s flashpoint, and all meaty sneak peeks inside Karan Johar’s bachelor pad. My troubles were many and ranged from delayed menstruation to deranging constipation. So—as is understandable—I started flirting with the V-word. I began in one instant sweep of grocery orders. Replace cow milk with oat milk. Add more beans, lentils, peas. Say goodbyes to sugar. Shop soy and seeds for the cart and the cartilages. Of the remaining twelve waking hours I had, two went straight to the supermarket aisle. I devotedly read into all the ingredient info at the back of the salsa dips, Mediterranean sauces, and crisps and chocolates I was used to stacking up. I cut out blueberry yogurt and it felt equivalent to the heartache from my last breakup. That was before I started making my own desserts. I bought organic and overpriced dark chocolates. Yes, those were the dark (chocolate) days. I stress-tested my wallet and maxed out my cards for the choicest of ingredients. I made my own chocolate cubs and calves at home by refrigerating cocoa powder with coconut oil. I made lemon cheesecake with all my walnut stash from the last winter. Real dread of bread had set in. Eggs had to go. Honey had to go. The dairy had to really go(?) Yes please, and never come back. Well, only until it did. 

You always hear about vegans’ success stories. How an injured self-defense instructor used his downtime to study plant-based diets and got empowered to protect more lives than ever before. How an Olympic physician placed his trust and his team in the hands of plant-based protein, and soon enough, restaurants with vegan in their names and ‘give a damn’ on their websites were everywhere. Or how vegan influencers are now dictating how we bake our banana bread. How newly converted and/or devout vegan bloggers are sharing their everyday recipes and coupon codes. How kitchen refuse and garden produce are making their way into our handcream and how our pajamas are slowly untying themselves from the karma of sheep’s belches and pigs’ farts. 

But what about the failures? Bad vegans who were V-gones much too soon. Those who lied through their teeth about stuffing only chickpea salad and soy-based meat between them. The many who chickened out sooner or later for want of butter chicken or a fresh piece of tangdi kabab. Or the strictly pescatarian and eggitarian club who love animals but also their daily omega 3 and B12 gain. Those honest-to-god confessors standing on the thin border between environmental ethics and their gut ecology. Some transitions just don’t last. I remember making vegan Thai green curry with fresh lemongrass and coconut milk back in the day when I was struggling with PCOD. No matter how excited I was for my carrots and broccoli, I always felt the need for a sunny side up and iced lattes to get through the day energized and alive. Going out for dinners became a real wrestle. I remember going to a waffle shop once craving a buttermilk waffle with strawberries and cream but came out after a twenty-minute negotiation on customizing it (for sugar, waffle, and cream) with a sorry handful of sliced strawberries in a box. ‘Yeah, no—thank you, I will blend my own batter and whip my own cream once I get home’. 

And what about all the brunches and house parties and seasonal get-togethers and reason-al tea dates and just-because evening walks that all comprise hogging something or the other without a real choice. What about the weekend visits to your parents’ where your mother’s kitchen and you have a ‘for your eyes only’ policy thing going and she just doesn’t get it when you ask her to drain some quinoa in her pan? Remember now all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber you want to source only and only from a plant-based diet? They keep you safe against obesity, diabetes, heart disease, right? Sure, you could carry around one sexy pot of cabbage soup or you could uphold the vibe. You couldn’t do both.

Animal agriculture and global warming were and continue to be the greatest motivators for plant-based diets today. I personally subscribed (albeit, for a while) owing to my menstrual woes and suspected PCOD issues. But I weaned off the bandwagon faster than a farm cow could produce another gallon of milk. I would like to say that I being a conscious consumer contribute my bit to a more sustainable world, but I don’t. Not over my morning bed tea for sure. 

This post first appeared in bizzbuzz.

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