So I gave myself a free pass over the weekend on being a Vegan. I know! I do feel a bit guilty. But I was in Paris for a wedding. Being a Vegan is hard enough (though still totally doable) when you are traveling, let alone when you are in a country where chocolates, pastries and foie gras are part of the daily food intake and nothing is cooked without being drowned in butter.
The last time I was in France, when I was 14, I was also a vegetarian, an ovo-lacto vegetarian who ate fish, but a vegetarian nonetheless. My French hosts did not really understand the concept of vegetarianism, and later confessed to my sister that they thought I was avoiding eating meat because of Mad-cow disease. So instead of serving me meat they gave me a can of tuna at about every meal. It was really terrible and, being the flexitarian I have become, I shudder at all of the delicious meals I was missing out on at the time. My boyfriend worries about it too. He told me before my trip that there was no way I should miss out on French food again. He has been to Paris twice, and culinary tourism was high on his agenda both times. In any case it was my decision to give myself a temporary leave of absence from Veganism for the weekend.
And so while in Paris, while I still tried to avoid most milk products, I ate and enjoyed the following; crepes (made with milk and eggs), butter croissants, organic salmon, fish, caviar, duck confit, steak salad, pizza, seafood paella, custard, macaroons, chocolate moose cake, cheese, chestnut and whipped cream pastry and probably more things vegans don’t eat. And you know what? It was all very good. But it wasn’t that good, and I mean it.
A big discovery was french desserts. Surprisingly, they weren’t nearly as sweet as anything we have in Canada, and that made them very palatable and delicious. But the even bigger discovery was just how little desire I actually had to eat meat or milk products. At no point in time was my body singing to me, thank you for this food! It was tasty, but it was almost as though my body wants animal products less and not more now that I am vegan.
My theory about my indifference to fatty french food is that part of the reason we enjoy rich, buttery, meaty food is because we are not doing a good job of feeding our bodies in the first place, and the more nutrients we are missing in our daily diet, the more tasty one of these meals will be. For example, the two times when I remember enjoying meat the most in my life were the day I decided to stop being a junk-food vegetarian at age 15 when I devoured my aunts chicken shake and bake drumsticks at my cottage and also the first steak I had since then. Both of those times I remember feeling my body screaming to me, this is giving you something you are missing, and every time I tried to have the same meal again (same steak, same chicken) it was disappointingly less satisfying. So my point is that I probably didn’t enjoy the food in France as much as I would have otherwise, precisely because I am doing a good job on this diet and my body is already getting what it needs. Instead of telling me, ‘you really need this’ when I ate meat it was telling me ‘this will do more harm than good’.
And now really, truly, despite Paris, or perhaps now even more so, I am convinced that being a Vegan is doing me good and I will probably continue doing it even at the end of these 40 days.