Friday, March 1, 2013

Yeah, I Know...Yuk it Up, Y'all. ((sigh))

At least twice a month (three times if we're feeling particularly ambitious), I meet up with my homegirls, Kelly and Gina, for dinner.  The fact that three women with vastly divergent schedules can actually coordinate said gathering is unlikely enough, and yet nowhere near as unlikely as the fact that we are friends to begin with.  Kelly is a hippy-dippy liberal who works as a vegan nutritionist and personal trainer, Gina is a type-A attorney with raging control issues and a penchant for torturing defendants until they weep, and I am a complete dipshit with a hoopty ride and a student loan.*

*I choose my friends wisely, y'all.  You see, my plan is, should I ever get arrested, I'll have Gina defend my sorry ass in court.  And if she can't get me off, I'll have Kelly whip me into good enough shape that I won't get shanked in the prison yard. . .or at least have me looking hot enough to be somebody's bitch.  Genius!

Kelly and I sat at the restaurant nibbling on our appetizers when Gina breezed in with her usual fashionable tardiness.

"Hey, guys, sorry I'm late; there was. . ."  We watched as Gina froze, her coat halfway off and pointed slowly at the table in shock.  "Whaa. . .what is THAT!?!?"  she gasped.

"It's fried zucchini, grilled pita bread, and organic hummus!"  Kelly beamed, patting the empty seat next to her.

Gina stood, unmoving.  "Sooooo, the buffalo wings just haven't come out of the kitchen yet, right?"

"Nope." I noted wistfully, skewering a zucchini spear with my fork.

"Oh, I get it!"  Gina sighed with relief, sliding into her chair.  "The wings are hidden under the vegetables. . .right?"

Kelly shook her head smugly.  "Nope.  No wings tonight.  Tonight we're having all-veggie appetizers."

Gina clutched my arm and examined my face with great concern.  "Jen?  Are you OK?  You aren't dizzy, or light-headed or anything?  I don't think I've ever seen you go this long without a piece of meat in your mouth."*

*That's what she said.

Kelly smiled with glee and grabbed Gina's arm with excitement.  "Didn't she tell you?  Jen's going vegan!"

After Gina recovered from a laughing fit that may or may not have culminated in her falling sideways off of her chair (I'll neither confirm nor deny said action) she asked the $25,000 question:

"What the HELL are you thinking!?!?"

What the hell indeed.  Well, for the last year and a half or so, my kidneys have been more erratic than Diane Sawyer at the Winter Olympics and my liver enzymes have been up and down more times than a bride's nightie.  I've been diligently following my doctor's protocol. . .*

*Except for the "no coffee" rule, because Mama needs her Starbucks, yo.

. . .but despite my best intentions, my internal organs are determined to behave like a group of toddlers on Red Bull.  So, I started doing my homework.  And I started reading about the link between animal proteins and kidney/liver disease.  And I thought, "OK. . .changing my diet is pretty non-invasive" and when the doctor starts throwing around words like 'living donor' and 'dialysis', suddenly the thought of doing without that cheeseburger at lunch doesn't sound all that extreme.  

Besides, I'm not totally against things like nutritional therapy, and juice fasts and detoxes and acupuncture; I believe in trying anything once.*

*And by "trying" I of course mean talking someone else into doing it first so I can make them the proverbial canary down the mineshaft and see how unpleasant it really is.  

But seeing as how Kelly's been a vegan for the better part of a decade and (a) can run a marathon in less than four hours with minimal effort, and (b) looks like a "Friends"-era Courteney Cox at age 44, it seemed like a pretty safe option.  So, I asked my doctor for her opinion and was met with her patented apathetic shrug and reply that "Meh, it can't hurt."*

*I loathe my doctor with the burning fire of a thousand exploding dwarf stars.  But in her defense,  I'm relatively certain that in medical school they teach them that patients my age should just be heavily medicated until the check clears, then we can be set off on an ice floe to die. 

I explained all of this to Gina in great detail, but she remained nonplussed.  Honestly, I really couldn't blame her.  Watching a friend make a major lifestyle change is a little like watching Quevenzhane Wallace at the Academy Awards. While a part of you is really rooting for the kid's success, the other part of you is just sorry that she's in this fucked-up business to begin with.

"A s long as your doctor's OK with it, I guess I should be too."   Gina conceded begrudgingly.  "But, Jen, I'm concerned.  Are you sure you'll be getting enough protein?  And what about cheese?  How will you survive without cheese?  And ice cream? And bacon?  Seriously, think this through. . .I'm worried.  I'm scared you're going to go to the Dark Side and I'll never get you back?"

"Dude, seriously?"  I said with a roll of my eyes.  "All of the stupid shit you've seen me do since we met and THIS is where you decide to go all A&E 'Intervention'?"

Gina shrugged.  "I just don't want you to set yourself up for failure."

"Oh, ye of little faith."  I scoffed.

"Oh, ye of littler will power."  Gina replied with a smirk.  "Or shall I remind you of the times you vowed to give up coffee?  Or Taco Bell?  Or need I remind you of the Great Juice Fast of 2012?"

I sputtered indignantly.  "That was a TOTALLY valiant effort!  I drank that nasty shit and didn't complain ONCE!"

"Ha!"  Kelly cried.  "And then you showed up at noon with a burrito.  I see where you're coming from, Geen."  she said, patting Gina's hand reassuringly.  "But she's under the supervision of a doctor, and I'm a certified nutritionist.  We'll take good care of her."  Then Kelly gasped and turned to me with excitement.  "Ooh!  I know your doctor's kind of a C-U-Next-Tuesday; do you want to start seeing my natureopath instead?"

I smiled serenely and stirred my iced tea.  "Yeah, thanks but no thanks.  I'm down with the whole dietary intervention thing, but when it comes to doctors, I'd prefer someone who graduated from an actual accredited institution, and not someone who got their degree from 'Uncle Zappa's Med School n' Smoothie Shack'."

Kelly flipped me off surreptitiously and immediately launched into a lengthy monologue about food combining and plant proteins, and antioxidants and free radicals and before long my brain was stripped down like a Range Rover in Cabrini Green.  Gina looked at my glazed expression and held a hand up in protest.

"Whoa!  Slooooooow down there, Alicia Silverstone."  she told Kelly firmly.  "I think you're losing your target audience here.  Keep in mind, you're talking to a die-hard carnivore whom, if you cut open, would most likely bleed a melange of chevre and BK Stackers.  She probably thinks spirulina and chlorella were girls on last season's 'Bad Girls Club'."

"I do not!"  I cried indignantly.*

*Yeah, I kinda did.

"Anyway,"  Gina continued patiently, "let's just start slowly, and see how she does for a week or so before we go all 'Food Inc.' on the poor girl."

"You know,"  I mused.  "If you really wanted to show your solidarity, Geen, you could do this with me."

"Ha!"  Gina snorted, taking a swig of her beer. " Bitch, please.  I come from a long line of people who like our food unconscious and bleeding.  It's in my genetic code."

Kelly shook her head in confusion.  "Wait a minute.  You're Japanese."  she told Gina "The Japanese were the forerunners of vegetarian and vegan cuisine.  Rice, seaweed, tofu..."

Gina cut her off with a wave of her perfectly manicured hand. "Yeah, but I was raised in Texas, and Texas trumps Japan any day of the week and twice on Sunday.  Trust me, I wasn't meant to be a vegan anymore than Julianne Hough was meant to be an actress."

I laughed in agreement.  "Fair enough.  Just promise me you won't give me a hard time about this."

"Deal."  Gina conceded.  "Just as long as you promise not to go all Linda McCartney on me."

"I think the point of the diet is so she DOESN'T end up like Linda McCartney."  Kelly interjected as our waiter approached.

"I meant the Linda McCartney with a pulse."  Gina drawled.  "You know what I mean. . .just don't get all preachy and holier-than-thou because the second you start shuddering and scowling when I eat a B.L.T. in front of you, I will flip the Tarantino switch faster than you can say 'Zed's dead'.  Got it?"

"Got it."  I conceded, smiling at our waiter and reaching for the proffered menu.

"Oh, that won't be necessary."  Kelly said, brushing the menus aside with a smile.  "She'll have what I'm having."

Happy Hunger Games. . .may the odds be ever in my favor.



Tiffany Turner said...

So now you're my canary in the mineshaft! Thanks! I need detailed results.

Also, I was reading this morning about flouride in toothpaste. Ask Kelly if that's BS or if I should really try & find a non-flouride toothpaste.

And yeah - Texas (or any kind of Southern) beats any other heritage. We're awesome down here.

Enjoy your fake food!

Erica B said...

one problem I have with food is that my intestines get upset easily and it doens't take much to make them angry. As much as I like beans and their health factor I just can't eat them a whole lot at all, unless I know I will be at home for the next 12 hours. I tend to eat more carbs than I should because, those are fine, and chicken. I eat mostly chicken. I bought some quinoa and it's been in my cabinet for 3 months because I haven't had the time to figure it out.

best of luck with the diet change, and like I said on FB but others should know too that, Oreos are VEGAN!

Jen said...

TIFFANY - I keep hearing all about the fluoride thing too...I'll ask Kell when we have lunch today and get back to you. I've only been eating vegan for about 4-5 days now and I'm not gonna lie, I feel great. Last night I slept for 6 hours (way longer than the 3-4 I usually sleep), my skin looks great, and my meat/dairy cravings have pretty much disappeared.

ERICA - Oreos? Are. . .are. . .VEGAN!?!? Oh, HELLZ yeah! :)

Laura said...

Jen... I applaud anyone that can make and stick to a lifestyle change. But I beg of you. YOUTUBE John Pinette - Vegans

"we don't eat meat or dairy" ??? what to do you ? what do you do? I'll tell ya what they do... they lose their minds...

Gina will laugh at it too. Kelly... um may not.

I was never so medicated as the days of the therapist (shrink) and the physio therapist (massage) that thought they could "reprogram my organs with supplements". I profess to you Jen that there is a reason people eat food. It is so they don't own a shoe box full of supplements to go with the "fake food"

Happy Almond Mushing. xoxoxo

Laura said...

Jen... I applaud anyone that can make and stick to a lifestyle change. But I beg of you. YOUTUBE John Pinette - Vegans

"we don't eat meat or dairy" ??? what to do you ? what do you do? I'll tell ya what they do... they lose their minds...

Gina will laugh at it too. Kelly... um may not.

I was never so medicated as the days of the therapist (shrink) and the physio therapist (massage) that thought they could "reprogram my organs with supplements". I profess to you Jen that there is a reason people eat food. It is so they don't own a shoe box full of supplements to go with the "fake food"

Happy Almond Mushing. xoxoxo

Jennielynn said...

You have my most devout prayers and good thoughts. The thought of going without meat and cheese makes me teary-eyed.

Fyre said...

GASP!! What's next...hemp clothing? Patchouli?? Have you finally been assimilated??? Seriously, though, good for you doing what you need to do. And am seriously impressed that you are going straight from carnivore to vegan without even a stop at vegetarian. That drastic a change would be beyond me...

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

Best of luck on the vegan trail!I ate a salad today. Go ME!
Give your liver and kidneys all the love they deserve. xxoo

mothers little hleper said...

Good luck with the new change in your diet. I know what its like to have your body rebel against what you put into it.
Your body will thank u for it!

Anonymous said...

I'm with Gina on this one . . . you cray cray, girl. I could not live without my cheese.

But good luck. If you can handle it, and you feel good, I say . . . make that vegan lifestyle your bitch!!

Von said...

Veganism is a pretty strict discipline, good luck. I would have started at vegetarian and progressed from there. Maybe. Has your whole family gone vegan? Do you have to throw out your leather shoes and bags?

Jen said...

LAURA - That video was hilarious, and Kelly actually laughed her ass off! The great thing about this shift in eating is that I'm finally filling my body with the fruits, vegetables and fiber I'd been lacking so I DON'T have to take supplements. It's been nice to not have to on hale a handful of pills in the morning and drink an awesome smoothie instead.

JENNIE - I actually havent missed the meat at all. The cheese? A little, but mostly because the majority of vegan substitutes taste like they've been soaked in feet.

FYRE- Pfft! I'm still a soulless a republican, just one that's drastically improved her eating habits. :)

JOHI- Potato salad doesnt count, Jo. I'm just sayin... ;)

Jen said...

MOTHERS- Thank you for the support! So far I feel fantastic! I'm already having diminshed pain and my skin color is improving, so yippee!

MISTY - this is one of those time when living in a hippy-dippy town is beneficial-- there is rad vegan food everywhere!

VON- throwing out my shoes wouldn't really help my kidneys, so I've hung on to them. :). I'm not "embracing a lifestyle"; I'm just trying to save my life. If eliminating animal proteins and taking the additives, preservatives, and toxins out of my diet can buy me a few more years or at least take me off of the transplant list then I'm crazy not to at least try. My son M is a vegetarian who dislikes all dairy products but cottage cheese and ice cream. My son J LOVES cheese, but other than chicken and shrimp once or twice a week, doesn't care for meat all that much either. The shift in eating has gone totally unnoticed except for their excitement about getting to drink "Alien Blood" with breakfast in the morning (a green juice blend of carrots, oranges, mango, and kale).

Maggi Shelbourn said...

Congrats on the dietary change! I've been vegetarian for almost 26 years. I try to be more vegan than vegetarian, but I still need my yogurt and cheese...

Azalea said...

I might be too late to this, but good luck with the veganism! I was sick for about two years (chronic fatigue can suck my non existent dick) and going vegan was the only thing that actually helped. Within a week, I felt so much better. 
Hopefully it will be the same for you! 
Don't beat yourself up if you can't stick to it all the time...just tonight I had Chinese steak and veggies. So long as it's more exception than rule you should be fine :D
And yes, it is AWESOME the things that are unintentionally vegan. For instance, lots of chicken flavoured things contain zero actual chicken ;) and Oreos. Oh, my beloved Oreos...sadly though, dunking them in almond milk just isn't the same. 

Jen said...

MAGGIE- So far, so good. It helps living in P-town where vegetarian living is more the rule than the exception.

AZALEA- sadly I hate Oreos, but there is an a-may-zing vegan bakery that hawks its wares at my local market. All organic, no preservatives, and delicious!!! I've only been doing the vegan "clean eating" for about 10 days now and already my skin is glowing, I've lost 3 pounds, and my liver enzymes have dropped. Yippee!!!!