January 16, 2012

Celebration Not Deprivation

When I first quit drinking nearly seven years ago, going to bars and being social was very difficult for me. I had built my identity by being "that guy," at the bar. I was fun, loud, and I often drank more than anyone. After I quit, I became the quiet one who would nervously watch everyone else. I hoped that the real me was still worth hanging out with, but I wasn't really sure. This social anxiety coupled with my strong physical need to drink, and the missing longing for nursing a drink or slamming a shot made bars not so much fun. So for the most part, I stopped going.

But then, I decided to take control of my life and my addiction. I wasn't going to allow alcohol, or in this case the lack of it, dictate how I socialized. I brainwashed myself to thinking that I was going to be okay. I decided to place greater value on a clean cold glass of water.

Amidst the smoke and grime and stink of booze, whenever I felt wanting, I would focus on the crispness and the clarity of the water. It was a metaphor of sorts for my mental change as well a physical affirmation of my choice. I would sip the water and really feel and taste it going down my throat. Every glass was a cleansing of sorts.

I am sharing this story, because I am using the same technique with my attempt at going vegan. This time I have substituted the booze for dairy, and the water with clean crisp vegetables. I am hoping that instead of trying to find complex recipes that try to substitute things that cannot be replaced, I am going to focus on the perfect flavor of a raw cucumber with salt. Or raisins with shaved carrots. Maybe some garbanzo beans and mint.

I want to simply enjoy the flavor of food in general, but particularly vegetables. My goal is not to deprive myself of anything, but to celebrate the things I love, mainly fruits and vegetables. Of course I still miss a great glass of wine and no glass of water will ever be a tumbler of scotch, but we make choices to help clarify our lives, and this choice for me is just that. I want to remind myself how good fresh, well-cooked and simple vegetable dishes can be.

Food like all things in life is a habit (addiction) so if we want to change old habits, we need new ones.
I had a great dinner tonight. One that I made up on the spot and pieced together with what we had in the house. Nothing fancy, but it was tasty. I am full. I enjoyed it. Just like a clean glass of water in the midst of a bar. Day one...so far so good.

Butter bean, garbanzo bean, and edamame salad with bean sprouts and golden raisins. Just a regular green salad, toast and corn. I am looking forward to payday, so I can play with some herbs and other fresh flavors.

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