I am pleased and excited to introduce to you…my boyfriend Matt!
Matt’s eating habits and opinions on food have changed pretty dramatically over the course of our 14+ months together. With my departure to 105 Degrees imminent, he agreed to write this guest post sharing his diet evolution, from skeptic to dabbler to almost-“hegan.” I think you’ll all enjoy his story and perspective. So without further ado, here’s Matt!
How I became almost “hegan” by dating a beautiful, young
By Matt Crawley
Though I haven’t stopped all meat consumption, my diet is, for the most part, vegan. It wasn’t always so. A brief timeline is in order:
1977 – Was born into a carnivorous family
1992 – Talked with first vegetarian who was “doing it as an experiment” in college. He said his stomach hurt badly for the first two weeks.
1999 – Met first vegan who wouldn’t eat, wear, look at, or bathe with anything that was once a living animal. Can’t say she looked all that healthy.
2004 – A “vegetarian” told me she didn’t eat any meat except for fish. Why be just a dreadlock away from full fledged vegetarian? Because fish were slimy and gross. They apparently deserved to die.
2008 – Swore that I couldn’t possibly date a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. They were crazy. It was fact.
2009 – Met and subsequently fell in love with a vegan.
A choco-taco and a taco burger at Taco Tico in Wichita, KS
When Amber and I began talking, I consumed animal products on average twice per day. Vegetables were rare. I did eat legumes and nuts as a carryover from the time I followed the Body for Life program and, more recently, Tim Ferris’ ideas. Otherwise, I was a walking, talking meat = protein cliché.
October 2008: the night we unofficially first met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, when Matt-the-raver asked Amber-the-nun to pose for a photo with him.
Then Amber arrived. In case you’re blind and reading this in its eventual brail translation, she’s super hot! So much so that I granted an exception to Matt’s Anti-Veggie Dating Act of 2008. Funny enough, my internal legislative and judicial system has not only repealed that law but has since enacted its exact opposite.
August 2009: the night we officially first met, after realizing we’d already met the time before.
Here’s how it happened and what she did right…
Find common ground
From the get-go, Amber and I talked about food likes and dislikes. It surprised me to find myself agreeing with what she disliked about certain foods. I hate cottage cheese regardless of its protein completeness. She does too, and she informed me there are other equally worthy protein sources. Conversely, as we discussed foods we loved, she would pepper in reasons why she doesn’t use animal products as ingredients in those foods. If you allow me the pun, this idea of “good tastes made healthier” eased my digestion of the whole vegan concept.
Cook, starting with something both will like
I love baked goods. She makes amazingly yummy baked goods. Clearly, this vegan thing isn’t so bad. As we started to eat dinners together, she would either cook things that were somewhat familiar to me or we would go to diverse restaurants under the guise of “trying something new together.” Soon, I was suggesting new places because it was a bonding experience.
Teach, don’t preach
Amber is a Doctor. No, not really. But if you hear her talk about nutrition, you would think she had formal training. There is nothing that I respect more than someone who has done their homework and has thoughtful reasons why they think as they do. I ask a ton of questions and Amber patiently answered every one of them. She would send me articles if I showed interest. But she never pushed. She has willingly accepted my health/food choices.
Excitement is contagious
Oh my god! Did you see it? Can you imagine it? I want it so badly, don’t you?
Curious about what I’m talking about? Exactly. Excitement makes you and I interested in stuff.
Amber talks about food… a. lot. Why? Because she’s excited about it! If she wants to bake, dehydrate, blend, freeze, or otherwise fashion ingredients into a masterpiece of flavor, she declares it with eagerness and a confidence that is undeniable. You can’t help but be at least curious about what it might taste like.
Morals won’t change
It turns out, my ethics are closely aligned with Miss Almost Vegan. If you are hoping to change the ethics of your friend, parent, lover, or pet tiger, forget it. Yeah, sure, it might have happened before with your aunt’s best friend’s sister. But there are no guarantees that they will change, or change in the direction you hope.
We found Johnny Depp! At 3am on a Thursday, no less.
After a year of this exposure, a new image of healthy living has been burned into my neural pathways. Now, I consume meat, dairy, and/or egg products in no more than about two meals per week. My intake of vegetables is consistently 5 to 10 times higher than it was before (and I’m intending to raise that number). Fruits are far more common as well, about 1 to 2 servings of whole fruit per day. As a consequence, I have lost nearly 15 pounds of blubber (my weight having gone from ~175 to ~160) without a significant increase in exercise, and while eating more food than ever. My energy level is more consistent throughout the day. And I am now very regular, as I once was not (yeah, it’s what you think it means).
In almost any activity at which you strive to be good, a mentor is invaluable. Honestly, I am so incredibly fortunate that I have such a wonderful, health-inspiring woman guiding me through this process. She is a shining example of reason and competence applied to the enhancement of one’s health through diet. Moreover, I’m filled with overwhelming joy knowing that she is pursuing her passion by attending The 105degrees Academy.
So what’s next for me? Well, while “Heganism” is certainly in the cards, I have a feeling that several other cheesy portmanteaus are in my future. Rawsome!