In which our heroine begs for forgiveness - and support - in the light of straying off the path

It is probably self-evident that when I fail to post for about a month, particularly where my eating plan progress is concerned, it can mean only one thing: things have gone off the rails. So, yes, let me put it out there first and foremost. Tear off the band aid, if you will. There has been meat. There has been cheese. There have been many, many technically "vegan" items consumed that did not, in any way, shape or form, qualify as plant-based whole foods.

Who knew you could eat so much crap and still call yourself a vegan? (On that note, I need to qualify that when I say "vegan," I mean "eating a vegan diet." My shoes are still leather, yo.) I'm beginning to understand why Engine 2 doesn't describe itself as a vegan diet - because, believe it or not, identifying as vegan doesn't necessarily mean you're eating many whole foods or even plants.

In the interest of being gentle with myself, I'm going to go ahead and say I'm in an experimental phase. I'm trying to figure out the practical applications of the whole-foods, plant-based diet in my real life. I'm trying to balance what I need and what I want, and sometimes the battle ain't pretty.

In addition, I should note that Chris and I have eaten meat-free and dairy-free about 98% of the time since mid-May.  That's the part I'm trying to focus on these past couple weeks when opening the Cheese Door seems to have caused some nutritionally disastrous results.

I may be an all-or-nothing gal.

I don't want to be an all-or-nothing gal. I don't want to live a life without some real feta or a pizza with strings of good-quality mozzarella cheese. I'm just having trouble figuring out how eating cheese occasionally does not become eating all the cheese in the world.


As for the meat, I think that's actually going to prove easier in the long run. I celebrated day 60 of Engine 2 eating, following a weekend of super-healthy consumption, by wolfing down a Five Guys burger. I know. You'd think if I were to eat meat, I'd pick something more delicate and healthy - a piece of fish, perhaps, or a morsel of grilled chicken. Or a top-rated piece of filet mignon.

But I may be an all-or-nothing gal.

Because what I wanted, what I craved, was the opposite of what I'd been eating for two months: a greasy, delicious burger. So I got one. And I ate it. And it was, sparing you the details, digestively disastrous.

So you'd think that would be a lesson learned. But, no. I am a girl with deep junk cravings and a selectively short memory. Thus, this past weekend I went for my second Five Guys burger. And, perhaps even more disastrously, it was...fine. No stomach problems. It was like my body was taunting me with the possibility of full-time meat-eating.

Which is why the next day, when Chris went to Subway to get us veggie sandwiches, I oh-so-casually asked for turkey on mine. Like it was nothing. Like I was a meat-eater again. I could actually feel the tilt of the slope I was on. I could see how easy it would be to pretend I hadn't worked so hard to change the way I was eating and just...slide into the past.

So I found it necessary to focus my thinking on another aspect of the meat-eating.  Because although the last two carnivorous instances had gone fine, from a my-body-didn't-reject-them perspective, they also weren't particularly rewarding. Taste-wise. Enjoyment-wise. I wasn't sure they were worth the diversion from my plan, worth the bother. They didn't bring anything to the table, so to speak. That's what I've been trying to examine: do I think it's worth it to eat meat?

And, really, after running this experiment, I think the answer remains: no.

But ask me again in a couple weeks.

The dairy's proving trickier, but only in the form of cheese. I'm completely used to soy creamer in my coffee, almond milk on my cereal. I'm learning to live without butter or even a butter substitute on most stuff. But when I experimented with cheese on my pizza - twice - I couldn't deny it was pretty great. And the tang of real feta on a Greek salad? There's just no substitute.

So I'm not sure where I am on the cheese issue. Trying to remember, I think, that it was my cholesterol that brought me to all of this in the first place and becoming a regular cheese-eater isn't going to help on that front.

Thus, today is another day. Another day when I swear I'm back to being a person who eats primarily plant-based, whole-foods. We'll see where I end up by evening. I figure, as long as I keep trying, as long as I'm starting over each day, I've got a fighting chance.

When I'm eating a cheeseburger for breakfast, it's game over.