I accidentally ate some cheese.
Was that a white mushroom in my curry? No it was not. It was a *%&@(# piece of cheese.
Okay, I’m going to calm down now. It was bound to happen sooner or later. So here’s the whole story…
So I ordered some takeout from my favorite Indian/Pakistani food restaurant down the street from me (this all actually happened a couple of weeks ago but it took me a while to get this post up). I placed a phone order and I felt pretty confident that I was going to be getting what I wanted because this place actually has a little separate menu for vegans (YAY). I ordered some yellow lentil daal and mixed vegetable curry. I actually made a point to let the guy on the phone know that I was ordering from their vegan menu and I double confirmed that there was no Ghee (butter) in either dish. I was assured that there was not and my order was placed. I picked up my food, brought it home and started eating.
About halfway through my mixed vegetable curry (which I was heartily enjoying) I came across what looked like a white mushroom… It’s kinda hard to tell because everything is all mixed up and furthermore, is coated with a yellow-red curry sauce. Anyways, I thought, “oh yay, I LOVE mushrooms!”.
I took a bite.
Wait a minute…
What’s that weird earthy flavor…?
I poked around my curry a little and identified another “white mushroom”
I speared the “mushroom” with my fork and removed it from the dish for further inspection.
It was not a white mushroom but a little square of white paneer (a homemade indian cheese).
Needless to say I was disappointed, however, I was also encouraged. Cheese was the one food that I built up in my mind to hold a kind of diety status. A sacrifice I could never give up. The final frontier between me and veganism. Simply put, I thought I loved cheese too much. However, the experience of having it accidentally included in my dish was an eye-opening experience.
My natural reaction to the flavor profile of the cheese (before I knew it was cheese) was NOT “Oh my God what is that amazing flavor!! It’s so amazing, mmm wow!”. My genuine reaction was “hmm what’s that weird flavor which kind of contrasts to the rest of the dish?” It was the least vibrant of all the flavors in the curry. Honestly, judging only on the basis of flavor (not ethics) it was my least favorite component to the curry.
What I learned from this is that in many ways, our preferences (for food, flavors etc) are in part, decisions that we make. I said to myself for years, “I love cheese. Cheese food’s are my favorite foods, Mac & Cheese, Grilled Cheese sandwiches, Cheetos” but I’ve learned that this wasn’t entirely true. Cheese was my favorite food because I said it was my favorite food. Preferences and barriers to veganism (or anything else really) really centers in our mind.
When I chose to challenge myself to try veganism, I chose to challenge the decisions I had made about my food “preferences” and began to brake down (or loosened just a little) the barriers I constructed for myself that told me “I can’t”… (e.g. “I can’t be vegan because I love cheese”, “I can’t be healthy because I love bad foods” etc).
I’m bummed I unintentionally ate cheese, but glad to learn that by challenging myself through veganism, I feel encouraged to know that most barriers I face (in any experience in life) are the barriers I construct myself.
Consider your own preferences, foods you “love” or “hate”. Why? Are these ideas you have carried since you were 5 years old? Does the child within you say “I hate green beans!!”, if you find this is the case, isn’t it time to approach our food as adults? Adults who are free to make their own decision. Adults who have agency to make choices which will contribute to our health and our life.
I thought I loved cheese, and I found out it’s not so great. It’s cheese. I’ve had it before. I’ve had enough cheese to last for my lifetime. For me, it’s time to base my choices on my ethics and my health, and not my self-dictated desires. Consider it. 🙂