I’m not a vegan

I just don’t eat meat or dairy

Gerry McDermott
Dec 7, 2013 · 3 min read

Some years ago I had to accept the fact I was dairy intolerant. I didn’t want to believe it, but the evidence was overwhelming. If I stopped eating dairy for a few days the symptoms would cleared up*. As soon as I started eating pizza and ice cream, the symptoms came back. In my bid to prove each experiment was a fluke, I repeated the above cycle 6 or 7 times. Tsk!

I wasn’t happy about giving up dairy. My diet contained a lot of it — in fact, I started keeping a note of what I was eating and was horrified at how much cheese I was eating every day. Apart from thinking I would miss it, I wondered what I’d replace cheese with, and worst of all…. I hated the notion of being the problem diner in a restaurant. I’d spent my every group dinner in graduate school listening to people interrogate waiters about dishes on the menu. Some of these folk took being vegan to the extreme. They wanted to check the utensils used to cook their meal hadn’t been used previously to cook meat. As if molecules in the meat would irreversibly contaminate kitchen spoons.

I just didn’t want to be that person…..ever.

Once I accepted I had to stop eating dairy I realised I should also stop eating meat. Its relatively easy to get meat-free vegetarian dishes in a restaurant — mac ‘n cheese! But, getting dairy-fee meat dishes is way more difficult means checking with the server that there is no cheese in the pasta, or the sauce on the steak wasn’t butter based, and so on. Eating meat would mean I risked becoming that person.

Intolerance doesn’t need to mean intolerable.

Requesting meat/dairy free dishes is much lower key than checking for ‘bad’ ingredients, and can be done discretely.

Changing my diet dramatically was much easier than I expected. I read somewhere the way to do it painlessly is to only make the change for one day in the first week, two days in the second, three in the third, etc. By the time the sixth week rolled around I really didn’t even think to eat meat or dairy. The advice I’d picked up on the internet had really worked!

Now, close to a decade has passed. I still don’t eat meat 99.9% of the time or dairy ever. I’ve discovered I do still need to eat some meat a few times a year. Even though I’m pretty careful to make sure I eat a healthy, non-meat diet I still must be missing some key nutritional component. I start feeling ‘odd’. Its difficult to explain exactly, I just don’t feel ‘right’. At which point I know I need to eat some meat. Sure enough, it takes the feeling away, almost instantly. So, although some people can appear to exist on a completely animal free diet, I don’t think I can. Its clearly something that meat delivers and I only need in small quantities — I eat meat perhaps once or twice a year — but it feel essential.

Symptoms: Mucous. Lots and lots of mucous. No matter how many times I blew my nose it still wasn’t enough. It was pretty miserable. Plus eating a bowl of ice cream left me feeling tired and listless for a couple of hours.

    Gerry McDermott

    Written by

    Been here and there, and done a bunch of stuff.