I’ll have an O’Doul’s please – 13 things I learned while vegan and sober:

For the entire month of February, I was completely sober and didn’t eat a single animal product. Here are some of the things I learned from my experience:

1. I like meat. A lot.

If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that eating meat is really awesome. At no point in my 25 years on this planet was this made clearer than the month of February in the year 2009.

2. Enjoying food is all relative.

Here’s a thought experiment: think of your own personal food satisfaction scale, with your favorite thing to eat as being at the top, and your least favorite thing to eat as being at the bottom. Now think about how psyched you would get if your favorite thing to eat was put in front of your face… and lets also say you happen to be really hungry from being locked in some dudes basement for 3 days with no food.

You’d be pretty psyched right?

That’s how psyched I was for things like beans and tofu. Satisfaction was all relative; my scale had just shifted.

When some of the only protein dense, healthy, and satisfying substances you can eat are legumes and a block of coagulated soy milk, you will still get really psyched for them, mainly because tastier things like meat and cheese aren’t even an option. You train yourself to stop getting psyched for them to avoid the feelings of despair.

So, after the neurosis I had developed (from constantly turning down tasty things) wore off, I finally began to enjoy really good vegan food just as much as I used to enjoy really good non-vegan food.

3. Alcohol does ridiculously bad things to your body and mind.

I had more physical and mental energy than I’ve had in a long time. Not drinking rules.

4. Alcohol does ridiculously fun things to your mind.

Booze is fun, but not necessary. Sober times with friends are really rewarding.

5. Spending a whole night in a bar sober is actually a lot of fun.

While sober at certain bars, you’ll end up mentally lapping people very quickly. It also immediately becomes apparent just how desperately people need to drink so that they can feel comfortable engaging in shallow small talk at the top of their lungs with their “friends” who are standing, often akwardly, right next to them.

6. Spending a whole night in a bar drunk is still a lot of fun.

I did this on March 1st… for 6 hours. It ruled. Go to the bar named “Drink” in fort point and tip the bartender Sam, he rules.

7. Eggs are so awesome.

I’m generally against lame ass internet memes, but if Xzibit pimped my ride the first line of the show would be Yo Dawg, I heard you liked Eggs…

8. David Bowie is more amazing than I ever imagined (This just happened to occur this month, it had nothing to do with my diet)

Hunky Dory.

9. Working towards long term life goals is slow going when you drink a lot.

I realized that putting energy into non-drinking activities was a lot easier when you weren’t engaging in the consumption of alcohol.

10. Not drinking has beneficial effects not apparent until at least 3 weeks of being sober.

This is a true statement.

11. I’ll never be a vegan.

Now, if you read number 2 you may think I might be at least open to this. Well I’m not. Health and animal safety are important to me, just not that important. Besides, I can still choose pastured grass fed beef, limit my red meat intake overall, and not permamently deprive myself of different options, all while staying healthy and choosing to support more humane ways of razing animals for slaughter. I’ll provide an analogy that I’ve given to many of my friends already… aside from the cruelty to animals part, I sum up being vegan as similar to having sex in only 1 position. Yes, it’s still totally awesome (as is eating good vegan food), but why limit yourself of all the glory’s of bedroom (or out of bedroom) adventure?

12. I’ll never give up drinking.

Beer is awesome.

13. Going through with this leans me towards philosophical (not political) libertarianism.

I don’t think I would have done this if Free Will didn’t exist.

All in all I felt great, lost weight, and learned to cook some awesome stews. I’m proud of myself, because I love meat and beer, and I think I gained some valuable perspectives and insights into my way of life. Also, aside from the obvious physical benefits the main mental benefit was the true test of my wills. I realized truly testing your will power is good for you, it’s a detox of the mind, like flushing antifreeze the opposite direction through the cooling system of life. It really gets the gunk out.

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4 thoughts on “I’ll have an O’Doul’s please – 13 things I learned while vegan and sober:

  1. Way to go, Tim. This just made my weekend. I bet your alcohol-free month was a hell of a lot easier now that Sparks is off the market. That liquid candy gets the party started. We need to hang out soon…sober, or not. Your animated gif is amazing. Just like you.-bcampbell

  2. Tim,Nice job sticking this one out. I have gone vegetarian, but never attempted vegan.I agree that enjoying food is all relative. I just got back from a trip that changed my diet a bit (seafood instead of red meat and pork). However, upon my return, I went straight for the beef. For me, beef is the only food that makes my mouth water; and I think for good reason. Despite the growing concerns over meat consumption, it is the only true source of creatine. Without going full-fledged “meathead”, I feel “off” when I cut out meat from my diet. I’ve heard the arguments that humans were never intended to eat animals, but I don’t buy it. I also don’t buy the argument that soy protein is better than, or equivalent to, animal protein. All I can gauge this on is my body’s response to either substance. I didn’t listen to the prudes who had never smoked pot when I toked my first toked, and I’m not about to have a vegan tell me I would feel the same results having tofu after a workout (not that I don’t like tofu). Some would argue it’s a placebo effect, but for me, it’s working. Another interesting point that Kate brought to my attention is the amount of vegan “substitutes”. That’s like telling someone they are too young for you and then going home and jerking off to kiddie porn. Why would someone opposed to consuming animal products eat substitutes that mimic the taste, look, and feel of them? I’m not sure I could spend a night in a bar sober. I don’t think I could handle the reality of the situation. Good luck with the rest of your journey (to all of you actually).Drew

  3. Hey Drew,Thanks for that perspective. Yes I agree, even in the depths of my vegandom I still had that lingering feeling about how much more satisfying a steak would be. Given the lack of alternatives, my excitement for non-meat proteins always ran very high. When I was craving protein I was craving steak as much as tofu. Consuming the non-meat protein was always satisfying, but not quite as satisfying as the meat based protein would have been. I can say this because as recently as yesterday I’ve gone breakfast and lunch vegan and then had meat/cheese for dinner and beans/tofu just doesn’t compare on the satisfaction scale when compared directly to steak/eggs. As for the “substitutes,” most of them are over-processed soy proteins and in my opinion rate as low or lower on the healthy scale than a lot of unprocessed meat products. Why do they eat meat substitutes? I think it just shows that vegetarians aren’t arguing that bacon doesn’t taste really, really awesome (because who the hell would argue that), rather they are arguing that they would really love to eat bacon but are opposed to it for health or humane reasons so instead prefer to get as close as they can. I’ve actually managed to stay vegan and sober for all but 4 days this month too, and will likely only eat/drink 1 or 2 days till the end of march. I wanted to ease back into it, hopefully some of these habits will stick so I eat better overall.

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