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Guest post: Almost Vegan Boyfriend!

October 20, 2010

I am pleased and excited to introduce to you…my boyfriend Matt!

Matt’s eating habits and opinions on food have changed pretty dramatically over the course of our 14+ months together. With my departure to 105 Degrees imminent, he agreed to write this guest post sharing his diet evolution, from skeptic to dabbler to almost-“hegan.” I think you’ll all enjoy his story and perspective. So without further ado, here’s Matt!

How I became almost “hegan” by dating a beautiful, young
almost vegan

By Matt Crawley

Though I haven’t stopped all meat consumption, my diet is, for the most part, vegan. It wasn’t always so. A brief timeline is in order:

1977 – Was born into a carnivorous family
1992 – Talked with first vegetarian who was “doing it as an experiment” in college. He said his stomach hurt badly for the first two weeks.
1999 – Met first vegan who wouldn’t eat, wear, look at, or bathe with anything that was once a living animal. Can’t say she looked all that healthy.
2004 – A “vegetarian” told me she didn’t eat any meat except for fish. Why be just a dreadlock away from full fledged vegetarian? Because fish were slimy and gross. They apparently deserved to die.
2008 – Swore that I couldn’t possibly date a vegetarian, let alone a vegan. They were crazy. It was fact.
2009 – Met and subsequently fell in love with a vegan.

A choco-taco and a taco burger at Taco Tico in Wichita, KS

When Amber and I began talking, I consumed animal products on average twice per day. Vegetables were rare. I did eat legumes and nuts as a carryover from the time I followed the Body for Life program and, more recently, Tim Ferris’ ideas. Otherwise, I was a walking, talking meat = protein cliché.

October 2008: the night we unofficially first met at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, when Matt-the-raver asked Amber-the-nun to pose for a photo with him.

Then Amber arrived. In case you’re blind and reading this in its eventual brail translation, she’s super hot! So much so that I granted an exception to Matt’s Anti-Veggie Dating Act of 2008. Funny enough, my internal legislative and judicial system has not only repealed that law but has since enacted its exact opposite.

August 2009: the night we officially first met, after realizing we’d already met the time before.

Here’s how it happened and what she did right…

Find common ground
From the get-go, Amber and I talked about food likes and dislikes. It surprised me to find myself agreeing with what she disliked about certain foods. I hate cottage cheese regardless of its protein completeness. She does too, and she informed me there are other equally worthy protein sources. Conversely, as we discussed foods we loved, she would pepper in reasons why she doesn’t use animal products as ingredients in those foods. If you allow me the pun, this idea of “good tastes made healthier” eased my digestion of the whole vegan concept.

Cook, starting with something both will like
I love baked goods. She makes amazingly yummy baked goods. Clearly, this vegan thing isn’t so bad. As we started to eat dinners together, she would either cook things that were somewhat familiar to me or we would go to diverse restaurants under the guise of “trying something new together.” Soon, I was suggesting new places because it was a bonding experience.

Teach, don’t preach
Amber is a Doctor. No, not really. But if you hear her talk about nutrition, you would think she had formal training. There is nothing that I respect more than someone who has done their homework and has thoughtful reasons why they think as they do. I ask a ton of questions and Amber patiently answered every one of them. She would send me articles if I showed interest. But she never pushed. She has willingly accepted my health/food choices.

Excitement is contagious
Oh my god! Did you see it? Can you imagine it? I want it so badly, don’t you?

Curious about what I’m talking about? Exactly. Excitement makes you and I interested in stuff.

Amber talks about food… a. lot. Why? Because she’s excited about it! If she wants to bake, dehydrate, blend, freeze, or otherwise fashion ingredients into a masterpiece of flavor, she declares it with eagerness and a confidence that is undeniable. You can’t help but be at least curious about what it might taste like.

Morals won’t change
It turns out, my ethics are closely aligned with Miss Almost Vegan. If you are hoping to change the ethics of your friend, parent, lover, or pet tiger, forget it. Yeah, sure, it might have happened before with your aunt’s best friend’s sister. But there are no guarantees that they will change, or change in the direction you hope.

We found Johnny Depp! At 3am on a Thursday, no less.

After a year of this exposure, a new image of healthy living has been burned into my neural pathways. Now, I consume meat, dairy, and/or egg products in no more than about two meals per week. My intake of vegetables is consistently 5 to 10 times higher than it was before (and I’m intending to raise that number). Fruits are far more common as well, about 1 to 2 servings of whole fruit per day. As a consequence, I have lost nearly 15 pounds of blubber (my weight having gone from ~175 to ~160) without a significant increase in exercise, and while eating more food than ever. My energy level is more consistent throughout the day. And I am now very regular, as I once was not (yeah, it’s what you think it means).

In almost any activity at which you strive to be good, a mentor is invaluable. Honestly, I am so incredibly fortunate that I have such a wonderful, health-inspiring woman guiding me through this process. She is a shining example of reason and competence applied to the enhancement of one’s health through diet. Moreover, I’m filled with overwhelming joy knowing that she is pursuing her passion by attending The 105degrees Academy.

So what’s next for me? Well, while “Heganism” is certainly in the cards, I have a feeling that several other cheesy portmanteaus are in my future. Rawsome!

If you like this, you might also like…
An almost vegan wedding
Date night, Ethnic Fest, & crêpes!
Adventure at the Berry Patch

47 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2010 2:35 pm

    What a sweet story! Thanks for sharing and guest posting, Matt.

    • Matt permalink
      October 20, 2010 3:32 pm

      Bitt: My pleasure. Glad you enjoyed! Cheers!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:29 pm

      He’s great storyteller, isn’t he? 🙂

  2. Brett permalink
    October 20, 2010 4:22 pm

    Great story Matt. A lot of similarities with me and my change in diet. From meatitarian to veggie…though my journey took bit longer (5 years!). Bravo.

    • Matt permalink
      October 20, 2010 11:12 pm

      Some of us just come quicker than others Brett… to vegetarianism/veganism that is. ;-P But glad to hear I’m not the only one I know. Thanks for reading!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:28 pm

      Brett, you’ve come a long way too, so don’t downplay your own transformation! I’m proud of both of you. 😀

  3. October 20, 2010 5:05 pm

    What a touching, amusing, beautiful story! The pictures are great too, but being word-oriented, your telling of your relationship and your embracing of all the positive messages that Amber had to offer them, how you welcomed them into your life, is the real gold. How fortunate you both are to have the bright spark of each other! Enthusiasm is a wondrous, contagious thing, as you note; but acceptance and encouragement are too. (In my last blog post, I talked a little about my ‘opposite’ diet compared with my husband: how I fix him all the gluten and meat that I don’t eat. It’s more a situation of mutual non-judgment and unconditional support in that case.)

    And you’re both really good writers.

    Thank you so much for this – I’ve been feeling down and discombobulated, and this makes me feel like the world can’t be such a bad place!


    • Matt permalink
      October 20, 2010 11:44 pm

      Ela, I’m so happy I could help realign your combobulation (probably not a real word)! Amber is a bright spark in everyone’s life she touches.

      As for you and your husband’s situation, sounds like you have a mutual respect going. If you make eachother happy, probably everything will work out just fine. My best to you and yours.


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:27 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Ela! Matt really has welcomed all this vegan-ness into his life so warmly and positively. He’s been open-minded and constantly interested in self-improvement the whole time, to a degree I never thought I’d find in someone. He’s just the best.

      Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s always been important to me that the person I’m with is also deft and adroit with language. Matt fits the bill. 🙂

  4. October 20, 2010 5:39 pm

    What a great story! Thanks for doing a guest post! You two are too cute together! 🙂

    • Matt permalink
      October 20, 2010 11:58 pm

      You are quite welcome and I appreciate your lovely comment. 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:30 pm

      I was thrilled too that he agreed to guest post! I got to show him off a little. 😛

  5. Tracy permalink
    October 20, 2010 6:08 pm

    Loved the story Matt! Thanks for sharing and Congrats on you unexpected weight loss along your journey!!

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 12:08 am

      Glad you liked it! I haven’t weighed 160 lbs in many years. It’s a nice feeling.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:32 pm

      You should have seen his face the day he randomly stepped on the scale and saw “159.5”. He was flabbergasted! It took him by surprise, since he hasn’t even really been TRYING to lose any weight this entire time. I’m super proud of him. 🙂

  6. October 20, 2010 6:28 pm

    You guys are cute together! I used to think vegans were a bunch of extreme, crazy, granola-crunching hippies. I never thought I’d be working towards that diet and lifestyle myself, but now that I’m here I’m almost embarrassed by how closed-minded and uninformed I was then. Now, I want so badly to tell everyone I know how great I feel eating less meat and more veggies, but many people still hear that as “crazy hippy talk.” It’s exciting that vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more mainstream and less taboo. Congrats on your own journey to health and a happy relationship!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:35 pm

      Thank you! I know many people who think the same of vegans. I didn’t think about it too much when I was younger, but if pressed, I would probably have said I imagined all vegans (or even just vegetarians) were shoeless, acoustic-guitar-strumming, dirty-haired hippies, OR angry, buckets-of-blood- flinging PETA fanatics. How wrong we were! I would never have thought I’d find myself here, either, but now that I AM, I can’t imagine being happier anywhere else.

      I’m also loving seeing veganism go more mainstream. The more ears (and plates) it reaches, the better. 😀

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 8:26 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Alayna. Ironically, now that I’ve “come out of the pantry” with my near vegan diet, I find that there are a lot of people at work and in my social circle who are mostly vegetarian or at least friendly to the idea. I’m certainly trying my best not to come off as the teacher in Charlie Brown.

      Anyway, those damn hippies were right after all. Who knew? ;-P

  7. October 20, 2010 7:36 pm

    Great story and photos! Thanks for sharing your sweet little love story!

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 12:24 am

      I suppose it IS a love story. Thanks for reading!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:36 pm

      Thanks! Matt is as sweet and loving as his story is. 🙂

  8. October 20, 2010 11:01 pm

    And you’re both fantastic writers, too? Just another reason to be in awe (rawe?) of the Matt-Amber coupledom! While I couldn’t help giggling at the 2004 vegetarian’s comment, I’m really impressed by your considered, well-thought-out and “sane” response to this shift in your lifestyle, Matt. As another technical-omnivore-tending-towards-veganism, I really value your insight.

    Particularly about not being able to change someone else’s minds re: ethics… I think the world would be a better place if more people accepted each other’s viewpoints without using it to promote conflict and nastiness! (*cough religion cough*)

    A lovely guest-post interlude… and yes, you’re right. Amber clearly is a darn-tootin’ talented and smokin’ lady of wonderment! 😀

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:41 pm

      You wouldn’t think I’d date someone who WASN’T a wizard with words, would you? 😛

      And aw, you and your compliments. You give Matt’s charm a run for its money! 😉

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 10:40 pm

      Indeed! In our coupledom, all citizens must spell correctly and be able to compose complete sentences. Should you visit our coupledom, I believe you’ll be delighted with the local metaphor, hyperbole, and sarcasm that occur daily.

      Sooooo, yeah… your compliment makes me blush. Thanks for it.

      In other news, it sounds like you have personal experience with people trying to change your viewpoint. So do I, and it nearly always fails, except when you are presented with someone like Amber who has superior reasoning ability on her side. (Damn her for being smart AND pretty at the same time!)

      Glad you enjoyed it!

      • October 21, 2010 10:46 pm

        The only thing better than metaphor, hyperbole and sarcasm is the correct use of apostrophes. Can you promise me that? 😉

        My experience with people wanting to change my viewpoint is less to do with food than with religion/politics/all that good stuff! *sigh*

  9. Aunt Di permalink
    October 21, 2010 9:23 am

    Awwww. This was wonderful to read!!!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:41 pm

      It was wonderful for me to read, too 🙂 Initially I was just happy he agreed to write it, but then when I actually read it, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 8:33 pm

      The opportunity to write it was wonderful. Though I had to be badgered a few times to remember that I agreed to do it. But I’m glad I did.

  10. October 21, 2010 10:51 am

    Awe…loved the story! You guys make such a cute couple!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:42 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed Matt’s tale. 😀

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 8:34 pm

      Well, she’s the cute part but I help make the couple part. Thanks for reading!

  11. October 21, 2010 3:01 pm

    fabulous post, loved “meeting” Matt…you two are adorable and wonderful together…love the happy pics and lovely attitudes about it all 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 21, 2010 3:45 pm

      So happy you liked reading it! Matt has an upbeat attitude that’s infectious to those around him, and he’s taught ME a lot about positivity. I’m lucky to have a man like him. 🙂

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 8:40 pm

      Good to “meet” you too! Glad you enjoyed. 😀

  12. October 21, 2010 4:31 pm


    What an amazing post from the Hegan… 😉 Honestly, that’s so cute! Well written, clever, cute, funny, and most of all- Almost Vegan, I think he loves you. 😉

    Lovin’ this post!

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 8:45 pm

      It’s true. I love her. No need to let her know though so keep it on the DL. Oh wait… crap!

      (Thanks for the comment and so glad you liked it.)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:05 pm

      I KNOW! Adorable, isn’t it? I’m a lucky lady! 😀

  13. October 21, 2010 8:59 pm

    Loved this post!! I agree with so much of it (and so many of the comments). My husband has been really receptive to adopting a near-vegetarian diet, much to the shock of his carnivorous friends. I’m always a little sad for my girlfriends when they say they’d like to eat more vegetarian/vegan foods but their spouse/sig other won’t go for it and they don’t feel like making two meals. I’ve learned to start off interested folks with semi-familiar foods (like a black bean chili with chips) instead of jumping right to a tofu curry.

    Getting people to try raw foods – that’s another story – unless it’s sweet! Which is why I’m so excited for those blondies!

    • Matt permalink
      October 21, 2010 10:24 pm

      Michelle, I agree that it seems really hard to practice habits that are in direct opposition to your significant other. No surprise that the dominant personality usually wins that battle. So it’s safe to assume I’m weak and Amber’s strong. ;-P But really, I’m happy to hear that you have struck a similar accord with your husband. Also, good idea that you didn’t start off with exotic dishes that would have been too much of a change for his carnivorous comfort level. Cheers!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:10 pm

      Michelle, I feel the same way—I’m often saddened to read that other women’s husbands/boyfriends are so anti-vegan that they either have a hard time sticking to it, or it requires twice as much work to do so. Also, just having the moral support and encouragement there (instead of ridicule or derisive comments) is SO important.

      And I’m totally with you on raw desserts! They are THE best “gateway drug” to raw! 😛

  14. October 22, 2010 3:56 am

    I think that my boyfriend would tell a very similar story. Although we are (well I am) probably better defined as “meat and animal produce reducers” and I try and eat vegan 80% of the time.

    I love spreading the message that you can eat delicious healthy food that is not expensive to people.

    • Matt permalink
      October 22, 2010 1:42 pm

      Well, good for your boyfriend and you! I’m slowly but surely phasing the high-cholesterol foods out. Keep spreading the news!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      October 22, 2010 4:11 pm

      It makes such a difference when you frame it as a positive message rather than use threats or scare tactics. Food should be HAPPY!

  15. November 19, 2010 10:06 am

    Matt, Amber,

    This is so cute! Thanks for sharing. Similar experience in my house with my partner… without the array of sexy nun pictures, film stars, etc.

    Just goes to show that sensible, open, honest, and enthusiastic pursuit of good health and ethical living has a major impact on those nearest and dearest.

    Go forth, and spread the word… arise Sir (almost)Hegan!

    Thanks guys!

    • Matt permalink
      November 23, 2010 11:07 am

      Happy to share!

      Amber’s awesomeness certainly had an impact on me. Both with and without the sexy nun outfit. 😉


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      November 23, 2010 11:13 am

      “Just goes to show that sensible, open, honest, and enthusiastic pursuit of good health and ethical living has a major impact on those nearest and dearest.”—I couldn’t have said it better myself!

      Sir Hegan has indeed arisen, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere 😛 Lucky for me!

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