• Lara Flanagan

Journey Begins for a Vegan Virgin

Updated: Mar 4, 2020


I do not want to focus on my diagnosis as ‘my notes...’ is not about that.  Whenever the dreaded term ‘MS’ is used I feel that people’s instinctive reaction is one of pity.  If truth be told it has taken me well over 18 months to cautiously start being open with people about the fact that I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and I am still getting there.  When I went to the OMS retreat at the Gawler Foundation, one of the participants said that her diagnosis was the best thing that had ever happened to her.  I can remember at the time thinking that if I had a cricket bat I would have gone and slapped her over the head with it and told her to ‘snap out of it!’   I am not at the point where I can say my diagnosis was the best thing that ever happened to me, I am not sure if I ever will be.

One thing for certain though, is that my life has changed dramatically.  When you are told that your life will either be shortened drastically or the quality of it will be vastly reduced you do tend to look at things differently.  When I realised that the only option for me  was to embrace a new lifestyle – the first thing I panicked about was food.

Food.  All I could think about was food.  From here on in for me it was a plant-based wholefood diet with no saturated fat, as far as practical.  I lived in a country town where Beef was king and Lamb was its queen.  I described the best things in life with food based analogies.  Sleep for me was as good as a Bacon and Egg sandwich.  I loved my kids more than ice-cream.  Happiness was cheese and lightly fried chorizo.  Initially all I could think about was deprivation and lentils.  I could not stop thinking about lentils.  

I had only ever eaten lentils once. It was years ago at a very odd birthday party I had been invited to by a couple of very strange lesbians.  They had wanted us all to wear white so we could be clean slates and to sit at the banquet table of life and eat a lot of Indian lentil curries.  The only problem for me was that I did not wear white and that every dish tasted the same – very bland with the consistency of overcooked porridge.  Suffice to say I left the event as soon as I could in my blue jeans, stopping off at the bottle shop to get too much wine and swearing to myself that vegan food was not for me, and nor were vegans.

Now some years down the track I was about to become a vegan.   And it scared the hell out of me.  Not so much because of the lack of meat.   But what scared me most was the lack of flavour, of taste, of colour.  I did not want to lose that feeling of indulgence when you bite into something so good that it makes you want to weep with joy.  (I genuinely really love food.)  So armed with the knowledge that this was no longer a choice I began to research vegan food, began to cook it and began to eat it.

Thus began the journey of  a food obsessed vegan virgin.


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