Empowered: For years, I used Lent as an opportunity to try out life as a vegetarian. I didn’t actually want to give up meat and cheese; I wanted to loose some weight before spring break and figured this was my best bet. For 40 days, I would survive on pretzels and Diet Coke, and slide into Easter weekend ready to go on a killing spree. When I accidentally woke up vegan, I took a different approach. And since I’m still (mostly) vegan 5 years later, and you couldn’t PAY me to go back, I must have stumbled upon the secret to success.

I didn’t over-think it, I just decided to do it. Immediately. And I focused on where I was going, not what I was leaving behind. Because I was done with the insanity. I spent hours in the gym each week (I was an instructor and a personal trainer! I was supposed to know what I was doing!)  read all the magazines (Self, Shape, Fitness, Oprah…) promising big results with a few quick changes.  I was gaining what my mother termed “middle-age weight” and my face looked puffy in pictures.

I invested in inspirational cookbooks, watched documentaries, wrote shopping-lists and planned meals. I recognized the truth and I immediately felt the results, even getting excited to go through detox symptoms.

Five years later, my journey has included many bumps, and I’ve questioned the wisdom of an all vegan diet. I firmly believe it is the best way to eat, and I’m done with dairy forever. But I’ve come to that conclusion that different life phases might require different choices.  I’ve watched my 16 year son struggle to maintain his raw vegan status for 2 years. And he’s just not getting everything that he needs, and my mothering instinct trumps my book knowledge that the vegan diet is complete. Maybe it is for me, but even as he drinks various vegan protein powders and uses more supplements than I can afford, I feel like the obvious and most simple answer for him is to eat a small amount of organic meat a few times a week. But the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and he’s stubbornly sticking to his beliefs.

Inspired.