My dad hisses to me in back-alley tones from behind the open refrigerator door. He looks around suspiciously as he rustles toward the back corner of the crisper drawer. When he emerges, in his hand, he holds a small brick covered in familiar black wax. It is plainly stamped Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar and next to it, a bright orange sticker declares it, Aged 15 Years. My dad refers to this block as “the good stuff” and slyly cuts me an orange sliver.
There’s a reason this prized cheese is hidden in the back of our crisper. It’s the same reason my family keeps a pile of dummy cheeses stacked up like a defensive line in front of this tiny piece of Wisconsin gold.
It’s because it’s amazingly delicious!
As a health and wellness professional and someone who has recently begun the transition into veganism, I struggle with this. I had no problem giving up red meat, poultry, fish, yogurt, butter and milk, but cheese?! That is my Achilles heel and I don’t think I’m alone.
I maintain that I am part of a narrow and specific demographic of vegans who, despite having exclusively pure vegan diets, still love and sometimes indulge in cheese.
We are “The Wisconsin Vegans.”
I know what you’re thinking, “She’s not a vegan, she’s just a liar.” In the past I would have agreed with you—however, changing one’s lifestyle in order to become a pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan is not usually something people do overnight. It’s a transition. Something to be done in steps, a little bit at a time.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you’ve eaten or who knows about it. Contrary to what Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World will have you believe, there are no Vegan Police and the only person you have to answer to is you. It’s up to you to draw your own lines and abide by your own moral compass.
For the most part, I have given up cheese entirely. That’s not to say that I don’t have occasional slips. Especially when I visit my family. Cheese is such a part of my family’s culture and my childhood. The point I’m trying to make is, don’t beat yourself up for every little mistake.
Transitions are never perfect.
If you make a mistake, learn from it, get back up and try again.
Even on a perfect day, the Vegan Police will still have a problem with me using a car or wearing leather hiking boots (even though I bought them years before going vegan and getting rid of them before their time would be in direct opposition to the frugal old lady in me.) There will always be another battle, transition or step in your journey. It’s about being ok with where you are right now and moving forward as you see fit.
If you are transitioning into a more healthy and active lifestyle and would like some support contact me through my info on my bio or simply leave a comment on this blog.
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Assistant Editor: Gabriela Magana / Editor: Catherine Monkman
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