Today I am thrilled to present my very first guest blogger–my sister, Marley!
As a young woman living with moderate to severe lactose intolerance, Marley has learned a lot in the past year and a half about what it’s like to have to read labels, ask questions, and put some real thought into what goes into her body on a daily basis (something with which vegans are very familiar!). Below, Marley explains how her transition into dairy-free living has introduced her to a world of new foods and taught her how to deal with negativity from those who don’t share her lifestyle.
Without further ado, please welcome Marley!
One thing that they don’t tell you when you decide to start reading labels is that everybody begins to read you like a label as well.
During the fall of 2012, at 21 years of age, I made the decision to cut dairy products out of my life for good. Following a particularly terrible lactose-attack caused by nachos, I became determined to live and eat in a way that would benefit, not internally destroy, my body.
That fall was my last semester of college, a particularly difficult time to make any quick or sudden life changes. You cannot control what goes on all around you, but you can certainly control how you fuel yourself and make yourself feel.
I have been eating dairy-free since that September, and physically, I feel wonderful. However, this kind of ruckus is constant:
“Oh, you don’t eat dairy? I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, I’m also kind of lactose-intolerant, but I just ignore the pain. Ice cream is too delicious.”
“I don’t know how I would live without cheese!”
Sometimes I wonder if people actually listen to the way they sound when they speak.
Here’s the thing: my allergy warrants no pity. I eat well and I eat often, albeit possibly too well and too often. Unlike many of my friends (and Ashley’s followers!) who lead a full vegan lifestyle, I dabble in veganism but still label myself as an omnivore. I don’t tell people I’m dairy-free for pity. It is just how my system runs.
The fact that people suffer and hurt their stomachs from ingesting these kinds of ingredients, and intentionally continue to do so, just makes me sad. What seemed like such a simple and quick change to me is more terrifying to some than the crippling bouts of indigestion and pain that come along with abusing your body with dairy.
But enough about the naysayers – Let me show you some more of the delicious vegan treats that can be found in the Greater Washington DC area, or the “DMV” as we like to say.
Frozen Yogurt from Tutti Frutti, a chain that has my heart on lockdown
The “Vegan Pizza” from Z-Pizza in Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland
The impossibly good Misoba Salad from SweetGreen in Downtown Silver Spring
Like I said, too much and too often. This is the short list of pictures I’ve been compiling for this post. My possibilities are endless and I am lucky to live in a metropolitan area where people recognize that we all have special needs for our machines, and are very accommodating when it comes to how you choose to eat.
I guess I should sign off with my favorite phrase, #dairyfreetears. These are tears of joy, of course, for when you find something amazingly dairy free, and get to revel in its existence. I guess life begins where the label ends.