This past Tuesday and Wednesday, my husband was out of town on a work trip. These two days also happened to be the days I got my pathology report alerting me to precancerous cells in a polyp that was removed and my first full day of eating a mostly vegan diet.
My husband’s travel had not gone smoothly. His flights were delayed both ways and a non-working GPS left him directionless near the Philadelphia airport. As he waited for his twice-delayed flight home from Midway, he texted me that he wanted to go to Culver’s on the way home from the airport.
The sentiment was not lost on me. Greasy cheeseburgers have become our comfort food. In a previous effort to clean up my diet, I made a resolution to only eat fast food on days I had doctor’s appointments, as if crawling into a bag of fries could soothe my anxiety and frustration. Culver’s is especially delicious and I knew I would be tempted by their cheeseburgers on butter-slathered buns, fried cheese curds, and choose-your-own-mix-ins custard concretes. I was barely past the twenty-four hour mark of veganism and I needed some fortifying to be able to withstand the temptation. After all, I had a narrow miss at lunch when I got Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips instead of plain. Luckily the “made with real cheddar” boast on the bag caught my eye and I gave the chips to one of the starving millennials I work with.
And so, armed with the knowledge of my husband’s fast-food intention and the need to pick up a prescription at Target, off I went in search of reinforcements. I got my prescription and, after browsing the book section for a vegan cookbook (No luck there. Target was sold out of the Oh She Glows cookbook–their only vegan option.) I swung by the frozen treats aisle. Even the limited grocery selection at my non-super Target included two non-dairy ice cream options in a variety of flavors. I chose a cashew milk based chocolate ice cream and headed to the checkout. Even though this splurge was counter to my goal of reducing sugar, I rationalized that if I was to withstand the temptations of Culver’s, I needed something a little more sexy to come home to than taco-seasoned tofu.
After yet another delay, I picked up my husband at the airport and pointed the car to Culver’s. As he was selecting his dinner from the drive-thru menu–something called a “pub burger,” fried cheese curds and a salted caramel concrete–he asked what I was getting. I reminded him that I was going to eat vegan and told him I had some non-dairy ice cream at home. As we drove home, we talked about my decision. He agreed that it was a reasonable choice, given the potential benefits and limited drawbacks.
When we got home, he dug into his burger and cheese curds, having already eaten his ice cream in the car. I ate a little of my cashew milk ice cream and was surprised at how tasty and satisfying it was. My husband started feeling the physical pangs of regret you get in your stomach from overeating and offered me his last few cheese curds–old habits die hard. I declined. We did a few chores and went to bed.
I woke up this morning around 6:00 and my husband wasn’t in bed. His fast-food binge on top of his two days of travel-induced poor eating left him with a terrible stomachache. While I felt bad for him, his experience also reinforced my choices. Why put myself through the physical discomfort of an upset stomach when the offensive food might also be feeding my cancer cells?
Miscellaneous Notes: Pro, Con, Pro
Pro: I found out today that I’m in good company. A friend of a friend is also now vegan after having a similar medical experience to mine. It’s good to know I can reach out to someone who is in my shoes.
Con: I ate some leftover fish and cream at lunch as part of a veggie-filled taco bowl. In total there was probably less than 2 ounces of whitefish and 3/4 tablespoon of heavy cream. My husband ate the other leftover serving for dinner so my non-vegan leftovers are gone.
Pro: My mother-in-law is planning a family dinner for Sunday with a menu of takeout from the local BBQ joint. I called her to ask what I could bring, explaining that I wasn’t eating animal products because of my pathology report. She was mostly concerned about the diagnosis and said she thought my decision to go vegan was smart. I wasn’t looking forward to navigating family dinners, but I’m glad to have that conversation behind me and thankful for my mother-in-law’s understanding!