Blog

no. 6

Its the last week! What the heck? Or should I say what the HEC because this is Human Ecology Capstone week? Holy moly.

Thanksgiving break was weird. At first I was super out of it. I went to the grocery store and couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening around me. Later, I had some sort of grand realisation of the many ways I was connected to my family and my house; connections I had forgotten about since being at Chewonki. After that, things were slightly more normal but I found myself increasingly more aware of the habits I was slipping back into and the differences in my mindset. It’s always strange to make such drastic changes but I’ve been getting quite a bit of practice.

When I returned from break, we began some new reading by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. I don’t think it’s possible to get through a semester of Chewonki without reading some of their works. I loved Emerson, but I wish we had been able to read slower. I felt like there was so much to be gleaned from each sentence and I simply didn’t have time to think that deeply. At any rate, I will likely be reading more Emerson in the future. Thoreau was also good, but his writing was a lot less dense.

We also had a ton of final assignments. I completed a self created project for art, using cut up magazines. I also wrote a final essay for both English and Spanish. Surprisingly enough, the English essay was a lot more stressful than the Spanish one. We had to complete it in class, and I did very minimal preparation. I think it turned out decent though. The Spanish essay was based around the connections between a movie that we watched and a story we read (both in Spanish) about immigration from Spanish speaking countries to the United States. I was super proud of my Spanish essay because it was the longest piece of writing I had ever done in a different language. We also had a few final science projects. The first was our phenology wrap up. We spent 25 minutes at our spot, making observations, and then wrote a follow up entry about long term changes we had witnessed throughout the entire project. We also had a written field journal prompt in which we had to outline the changes a specific forest would likely go through in the next 100 years. Surprisingly enough, forests have predictable stages of succession.

Our true test of knowledge, though, was the field final on Saturday. All the semester students piled into 3 buses and drove 45 minutes to Reid State Park. We were broken up into groups of 4 or 5. Each group had a proctor and 5 stations. First, we went to the dune ecosystem, then the rocky intertidal zone, the species quiz, the forest, and finally the salt marsh. At 4 of the stations, we had questions to answer about the environment. The species quiz was 30 species that we had to name based on memory from the class material. It was without a doubt the most fun final I’ve ever had in my life. It felt like a huge scavenger hunt where we all worked together to compile clues. At the end, we grilled hamburgers and veggie burgers and had a snowball fight using the 3 inches of fresh powder that had fallen as we were working. What a day.

As the semester comes to a close, it seems like all the students are getting even closer to each other. Everyone is becoming nostalgic for all our good times and every so often I’ll hear “Guys we only have a week left!” Everyone else immediately yells “STOP”. This week is pretty low stress, with days full of work time and group activities. We’re all enjoying our last few moments because soon Chewonki will be just a memory. We’re also all super sick. Everyone is coughing all over the place and my hands are getting so dry from washing. It’s great! I love sore throats. Awesome. Really quality stuff.

xoxox

gretel

 

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no. 5

Hello everyone!

Two days ago we had our our first snow at Chewonki and as you can probably imagine it was very exciting. There were a few people who had never seen snow in real life before and that was crazy. At first I was unimpressed because in Vermont we get snow every year, but then everyone started running around and laughing their heads off so the mood elevated quite a bit.

The last time I wrote I was about to come home for a few days to perform VYD’s A Twist on Oliver for the second time. We first performed it in April, but we were invited to perform at a different venue at the beginning of this month. That was one of the most incredible experiences. I almost didn’t believe I had it in me to come home from school for 4 days and perform a full show with only 2 rehearsals. It all worked out though. The show was absolutely amazing for the dancers and for the audience, or so I am told.

Coming home was a little weird which was to be expected. I’ve been surrounded by people at all hours for the last few months so having alone time was novel for sure. I couldn’t decide if it was relaxing or offputting. I got to sleep in my own bed, alone in my room, and share a bathroom with only 3 other people, not 11. I got to cook my own food which was really nice. Although the food at Chewonki is crazy good, it felt nice to make meals for myself. I also got my phone back, and I used it way too much. Part of my plan for Thanksgiving break is to limit my technology access. Other things happened at home too. I had a meeting with my advisor from SBHS, which meant that I went to school and saw everyone there. Some people at Chewonki come to get away from their sending school but I really love the people in Big Picture and in my life in Vermont. I’m excited to be able to see them more often when I return for good, but of course I am savouring every moment in Maine.

When I returned to Chewonki, things were a little crazy. I had missed a ton of work. I did homework almost all day last Saturday, aside from a laundry room dance party and a trip to a local Goodwill. But, I gained some major perspective in only 4 days at home. I realised how much I love it at Chewonki. Everything is so interesting all the time, and it feels like my headspace is much clearer than it usually is at home. There are less distractions, and people are right there with you instead of having to access them through a screen. The only thing that was a bit of a bummer about returning was that I had to get used to a new English teacher. Just before I left, my English teacher, Eli, had to leave the semester because of some complications relating to a previous concussion. He’s okay, it was just hard for him to focus on teaching instead of healing. That kind of threw me for a loop because Eli was one of my favourite faculty members in the school; someone who I really trusted and looked up to. Our English class runs a little differently now. While it isn’t bad, I don’t feel like we get to the depth of discussion that we did before. We do still have incredible material though. We just finished analysing a graphic novel called “Here” by Richard McGuire, and a book of poetry by Poet Laureate of the United States Tracy K Smith, “Life on Mars”. For the poetry, we all wrote an explication on one piece in the collection. This type of writing was previously unknown to me. They haven’t been graded yet, but I think it was a very interesting exercise to really dive into meaning behind words.

Another thing that happened was that we all got our midterm grades and comments. We all received comments from each of our teachers, as well as our advisors. They were insightful and individual, showing that each teacher pays close attention to the strong and weaker aspects of each student during class. I really appreciated having feedback for what I could work towards, as I feel like grades are often given with no explanation on how to improve. Later today I’ll be having a meeting with my advisor at Chewonki to talk about my grades and my Human Ecology Capstone Proposal. The Human Ecology project is similar to an STP so I’ll be doing both at the same time, as one. The proposal was an assignment earlier this week in which we were meant to outline our project idea, the problem that it was addressing, it’s significance, and the methods that would be used to accomplish it. I had to do lots of research which proved to be incredibly interesting and I spent even more time on it than I needed to. This was not the best of ideas because this past week my cabin also had to wake up earlier than usual for farm chores. I lost a bit of sleep doing homework, but that was okay.

Every morning for the past 2 weeks, the girls of South Hall woke up at 6:10 am, put on layers and layers of clothing, and trekked over to the Chewonki Farm. My chore was to take care of the chickens. First, I would bring food to the 4 baby chick cages. The chicks were super cute in the beginning, but they grew a lot over the course of our farm chores. They’re still cute, just a little older and not as fluffy. After they were fed, I would bring all 4 chick water containers out to the pump, dump out the dirty water (cracking the ice out if needed), and refill them all. When the chicks were fed and watered, I would bring grain and water to the hens. Other people fed the sheep and cows, milked the cows, took care of the horse, and turned the compost. After chores were done, we took turns carrying milk and eggs back to the kitchen.

Other news: science field trip two weeks ago was to the salt marsh, last week it was to a fish ladder, a dam, and a culvert at an old mill site to study fish passage and stream connectivity, and I just got home from a trip to a bog and a pond. Bog ecosystems are so cool and totally unique. We saw pitcher plants and lots of super old trees that were tiny because of nutrient deficiency. Also, I’ve been catching up on lots of art homework lately. Today we did some linoleum block printing from a self portrait project, and in a bit I’ll be finishing up a project based on invasive species.

Tomorrow is our last day of classes before Thanksgiving break so I’ll be leaving Maine once again on Sunday morning. Saturday will be a day to show all of the parents around and let them participate in some of the things we do all the time. Everyone is starting to prepare. On Tuesday afternoon, a few people and I made fancy menus for all the dinner tables on Saturday night. People are planning workshops and music. It should be quite exciting. And then we’ll be off!

xoxox

gretel

p.s. the picture this time is from wilderness trips which was a long time ago but I still think it’s cool. Peep me getting into the canoe.

no. 4

Short disclaimer: This blog post was written a week ago while the power was out at Chewonki and I have only just found time to upload it.

Good morning! It is storming hard outside but here I am rain pants and all writing to you by hand from midcoast Maine. Much has happened since I last posted. I have tales from two very exciting back to back weekends to share with you all.

First up is Outdoor Leadership Weekend which was so busy it felt like part of the school week. There were two parts: encampment and wilderness first aid training. The purpose of this weekend was to prepare everyone for solos which happened the following weekend. To begin with, the semester was broken into four groups. Two of the groups started with encampment. This meant we took a trip to some woods on Chewonki Neck for a day and a night. Our leaders were from the Outdoor Classroom, another program that runs here on campus. We went out, did some work on the challenge course, learned how to set up tarps to sleep under for solos, and made our way to the campsite where we got to relax and cook dinner over the fire. The leaders just gave us the food bag and a quick rundown on what we were making, and left the responsibility of creating an edible meal up to us which I thought was very cool. After dinner, we had a one hour practice solo where everyone found a spot near to the campsite to be alone in the forest. This may not seem like much but it was the longest I had been completely alone since I got here, seven weeks before. I spent my whole hour lying on a rock next to the water in between wakefulness and sleep. When they called for us to come back I was sure I’d had at least 17 very cool dreams but I couldn’t remember any of them.

After our encampment, my group and one other participated in a wilderness first aid certification course, where we learned how to administer epinephrine in case of a severe allergic reaction, perform cpr, splint an injured bone or joint, safely reposition people if there was concern about spinal injuries, clean wounds, and other super cool stuff. The best part was that on multiple occasions, we were given scenarios with a patient and a responder and made to act the part. Patients got grease paint for bruises and scrapes, and were instructed on how to show symptoms for various ailments. One day they used wax and fake blood to create puncture wounds that we had to clean by removing sticks, dirt, and tiny stones. We also practiced identifying the severity of head wounds and hypo/hyperthermia. It was one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken, and I imagine I will build upon that knowledge sometime in the near future. I’ve been considering taking an Emergency Medical Responder or Wilderness First Responder course when I get home.

In the midst of all this, semester students had been assigned a few intense homework assignments that made for a pretty crazy week when put together. One was a book analysis essay with a turnaround time of about 4 days, another was an essay about food choices in This I Believe format as a final for Farm and Food Systems Seminar, a third was a several page packet about our Human Ecology Capstone project, and as always we had a species quiz and a science field trip. It’s usually hard for me to condense my ideas about literature into a compact, easy to follow essay with an argument and a conclusion so the analysis essay was stressing me out in a very big way. My English teacher gave me a piece of advice for this type of writing that I had never heard before. He told me the essay isn’t to explain everything in the text; rather it’s all about picking a thread and following it through the story. He also told me that the essay was probably going to feel way shorter than I expected so I should pick one thing to write about. Those sentiments proved to be very useful, and I ended up with a decent piece of writing to show for myself.

As part of the Human Ecology assignment, I had to speak with someone in the Chewonki community about a potential project idea. This prompt led to an incredibly interesting conversation about hands on science in schools, sustainability, and the next generation with one of my science teachers. She mentioned that observation is a great equaliser, in that it’s a skill everyone already has. Science at Chewonki is based in natural history which mainly uses observation to draw conclusions about the environment. This ensures that students can succeed no matter their individual backgrounds in science.

On that note, science field trip that week consisted of observing a stream and collecting Benthic Macro Invertebrates, or BMIs, to measure its health. Some BMIs are much more sensitive to stream quality than others, so the percentage of sensitive ones out of all that were collected helps to judge whether the stream is in good condition. This trip was definitely one of the most fun so far. We got to wear thigh high rain boots, or waders, and in order to collect the BMIs we stood in the middle of the stream and shuffled our feet, kicking rocks and generally agitating the stream bed so any little bottom dwelling creatures would float into our nets. We collected mayfly, stonefly, caddisfly, fishfly, and dragonfly nymphs, as well as hellgramites and various other worms and larvae. Then, we brought them all back to campus to look at under the microscope.

The next day, we got to interact with real animals again during our species quiz. Since all the species we learn about live in the same area we do, part of our species quiz took place while watching the birdfeeders. We had to identify real life blue jays and tufted titmice. We also went on a forest walk to complete the tree identification section. After that, we had lunch and then we were off on our solos.

Solos at Chewonki: all of the semester students get an area of land to live on for three days and two nights. During this time, we ate cold food like trail mix, crackers, apples, and granola bars, and slept under tarps held up by a ridgeline tied in between two trees. This time was free to do as we chose, alone in the woods. For me, it was very reflective, and a welcome break from being constantly surrounded by people. I journalled some, sang a bit, balanced on dead logs, and watched my environment change throughout the day and night. I saw the moon move across the sky, peeping out from behind a tree and then moving towards the next one. I also saw a seal, a flock of turkeys, and several types of smaller birds.

On Sunday afternoon, we came back to campus. Our window of good weather was about to end. As we all sat and spoke of our experiences, a massive storm began to brew outside. That night, the power went out, and did not come back on for about a week.

to be continued because I’m still in Maine!

xoxox

gretel

 

 

 

 

 

 

no. 3

Hello everyone!

I tried to write last week but I felt like I had nothing to say. Luckily, lots of things have happened recently. Maybe most glaringly, the PSATs. This past Saturday morning, all the Chewonki students left their comfy warm beds to gather at 7:30 for breakfast. Immediately following, we were all subjected to 4 hours of cruel and unusual torture… That was actually a lot easier than I expected. Surprise! Standardized tests are not so bad.

Another thing that I thought was going to be more stressful than it turned out to be was my Spanish presentation this morning. I had to speak in Spanish for 8 minutes about an animal of my choice. A combination of practicing my presentation out loud while walking through the woods and a regular habit of unconsciously translating all of my thoughts into Spanish helped me remember my lines. It actually might have been one of the most organised presentations I have ever done. I figured that winging something in another language would be decidedly less easy and way more stupid, especially because I was a bit sleep deprived from staying up until 1:30 am finishing my poster. So I can’t say I didn’t procrastinate, but the product was good. I also managed a long walk through some fields and forests, some tree climbing, good conversation, and leaf identification. Overall, not a bad tradeoff for a little missed sleep.

On the topic of Spanish, I have been cultivating an incredibly strong love of language in all its forms since I’ve been here. This is something I didn’t anticipate, as my main motivation to come to Chewonki was the sciences (which are equally intriguing and awe inspiring). Not only have I been speaking Spanish, I’ve also been learning a bit of French. Two nights ago, the French class cooked dinner for the whole semester, speaking nothing but French for the entire time. They then presented the dish they had prepared to the entire community, giving a description, history, and the preparation method. This served as their quarter exam, but they needed a few cooking helpers because there weren’t enough people to cook for everyone. So, I got to chop some carrots and learn some of yet another language. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to learn French as well. I already understand a fair bit of it since it is also a romance language, and I picked up the accent in no time. When I return to Big Picture, I think a project on language is in order. Mark my words, I’ll be fluent in another language by the time I get to college.

My other classes have been incredible as well. We went on two art field trips this past week. One trip didn’t even require a vehicle. We went to watch Matt Russ, a landscape artist, as he painted the waterfront. He is the husband of the admissions director here at Chewonki, and apparently he has painted for and spoken with the art class in years past. The other trip was to the nearby town to the gallery/ studio of Keith Rendall, a local printmaker. I thought this trip was especially cool, as we have been working a bit with softcut printmaking in art recently. Keith doesn’t work with softcut or linoleum at all, but he does work with wood, which is a little more difficult and time consuming. He also does aquatints and a few other types. He spoke with us and we got to see some of his work. A lot of it was very large scale, and incredibly intricate. Some of his pieces have taken upwards of 2 years to carve. Watching artists work, and hearing them talk about their profession is a little strange to me. It makes me wonder when people begin to consider themselves artists, and what that means.

We also took a trip to Monhegan Island, not as an art class trip but as an entire semester trip. There were 6 foot swells on the boat ride there. It actually felt like a roller coaster, and I found myself becoming increasingly more thankful that I don’t often get seasick. While we were there, we got to interview people about many different topics concerning island communities such as their water sources, energy and sustainability efforts, waste management, transportation, education systems, and the like. This is all in preparation for the Human Ecology Capstone project that we’ll complete by the end of the semester. Currently, we are practicing how to ask good questions to get the answers we need. The setup seems to be similar to a Big Picture project in some ways, so it hasn’t been too difficult.

Other places I have been recently include Popham Beach and Pemaquid Point. Last week we went to Popham Beach on science field trip. We learned about dune species, adaptations, and struggles of living near the ocean. At the end, I jumped in the water with my jeans on, and then rode 45 minutes back to campus in a chilly van. I think it will suffice to say that I thought I would never be warm again. Worth it though. The week before that, we went to the rocky intertidal zone of Pemaquid Point and learned how to gather unbiased data with belt transects. We used a tape measure at low tide to evenly space 10×10 inch wire squares from the edge of the water to the beginning of the dry rock. Then, we counted and identified the species found in each square and created a table based on our findings. Finally, we compared the findings from the East side of the peninsula to those from the West side, and talked about processes that would dictate the differences. We also learned about exactly what makes the tides happen. Perigee and apogee, anyone?

I feel like every time I write one of these it just gets longer and longer, so I’ll cut it here. I could probably say any number of other things, but I think I covered the basics. More to come at a later date!

xoxox

gretel

P.S. The book we are reading for my English class is literally incredible. Everyone should read Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. Go. Now.

 

no. 2

So last weekend, all of us were preparing for wilderness trip, and Saturday was taken up completely by a trip to the Common Ground Country Fair, where all of the Chewonki students volunteered with the trash and recycling crew of the fair so we could get free admission. It was crazy so I didn’t get to write but here I am again, documenting things.

Common Ground was refreshing for sure. It was the first time I’d been off campus for almost 3 weeks, so it felt pretty monumental. We had about an hour car ride until we reached the spot, at which point we all unloaded and began to explore. It was very much an agricultural fair, so there were a lot of tents dedicated to herbs which made me feel right at home. There were tents selling succulents and mushrooms, a blacksmith shop, vintage clothing, chair makers, you name it. And, of course, there were tons of food vendors. I bought a tiny jar of cream honey and ate about half of it with my finger, and walked around barefoot all day. Surprisingly enough, they require you to wear shoes at Chewonki which is kind of a bummer so the day at the fair was a nice change. Sometime near the middle of the day, I worked for an hour helping people sort trash, compost, and recycling into different containers. My partner at the station was a guy named Pete who talked to me about sustainability. Later, I stumbled upon an artist collective tent outside which hung huge, incredibly detailed and absolutely gorgeous fabric banners advocating for citizens rights, social justice, and the environment. They all told a story, whether it be the history of Mesoamerica or the true cost of coal, and featured insects as all of the characters. The kind of thing you could look at for hours and still not notice every bit. After that, I got a smoothie and walked through the farmer’s market at the far end of the fair. I also played a 7 minute long game of caution to the wind chess right before we had to leave, and ate an apple straight from the tree. That night, we had a bonfire back on campus and it felt very campy and sweet.

Come Monday, my wilderness trip group travelled 4 hours North to the St. Croix river which is an international waterway on the border of Canada. This meant that while we were canoeing, the bank to our left was Canada, and the right bank was Maine. We weren’t allowed to step foot on the left, though, so all of the places we camped were American. Never have I ever seen a less protected country border. There were 5 other wilderness trips including canoeing, sea kayaking, and backpacking, so each group was only about 10 people. This was cool because I got to know people I hadn’t spoken to much before.

We began our journey by packing all of our things into drybags and loading 6 canoes onto a big trailer. I learned several hitches to tie all the boats onto the trailer, and then later when we reached the water I learned how to properly tie gear into the boats so we wouldn’t lose it if we flipped over. This river was not flat water. Our trip was one of the only ones that encountered rapids. I learned how to steer by edging, and how better to steer in general. On our way, we saw 6 bald eagles, and my muscles got crazy sore from paddling 9 or 10 miles every day. We also hit some rocks during the faster water, occasionally got stuck in shallower parts, and banged up the boats a little. One night, we decided to sleep outside the tent because it was so warm, and almost got stormed on at 4 am. Luckily, we made it to shelter in time. We saw regular lightning as well as heat lightning, and cooked with a little too much cheese, but it was all good. Overall, a very cool experience. I could have stayed off the grid for way longer, but surprisingly I was glad to be back on campus. Even though I’ve known people here for less than a month, the prospect of seeing some of them again after a week was exciting.

Also, the picture for this post is me looking at birds on science field trip two Thursdays ago. I wrote a pretty bang up species account, if I do say so myself. Alexis Grillo took this picture and I snatched it off the Chewonki Flickr, so if you want to see more pictures the link is here.

xoxox gretel

PS: I now can identify hemlocks and cedars in addition to spruces, firs, and pines, as well as several types of seaweed and some snails! Wowza. This kid is learning things.

 

Maine Coast Semester no. 1

Hello from Maine!

 

It has been almost 2 weeks and things are just beginning to settle in. It feels like I must have been here for at least a month already but it also feels like I just arrived yesterday. The first full week of classes ended on Friday and the next one begins tomorrow morning.

Classes have been a bit strange to get used to again after a year in Big Picture, but so far they are absolutely amazing. My English class is called Literature and the Land, and it is one of my favourites. I despised the last English class I took, even though I have always loved reading and discussions (surprising, because those are the things I always imagined an English class would consist of), but this semester is shaping up to be incredibly different already. My teacher and I get along so well and our entire class is just sharing our writing if we want to and finding meaning within texts we’ve read. Often the connections we reach just blow my mind.

Another extra cool class is called Natural History of the Maine Coast. There are a few different aspects to this class. Namely, phenology, field journals, and actual class time. Phenology, for those who don’t know, is when you take time in a particular spot at regular intervals to see changes in your environment over time. Today, I went running in the woods to look for my phenology spot, but ended up trekking across some seaweed covered rocks to see if I could find any crabs or other animals on the mud flats. I did not realise how muddy the ground would be so, expecting a solid surface to stand on, I stepped right in and accumulated a lovely layer of squishy grey ocean mud on the outside of both sneakers. It was not in vain, though. I saw a crab shell, some transparent little worms, and lots of shells. As for the field journal part, my class took a trip to a small mountain about 30 minutes away for our very first Science Field Trip this past week. Science Field Trip happens every week and each time we go to explore a different ecosystem and document it in our field journals. We hiked up the mountain (comparable to Mt. Philo for those in VT, maybe a little smaller) and drew a site map, a species account, and made lots of observations. I also learned that not all pine trees are actually pine trees. Surprise! Pines have long needles that come in groups, spruces have shorter individual needles that grow from all sides of the branch, and firs have individual needles that grow flat from either side of the branch.

I’m also taking art, which is a nice break from all this thinking I’ve been doing, as well as math and Spanish which is amazing because we speak in all Spanish for the entire class and sometimes my brain doesn’t know how to transfer back to English. Case in point: Lunch was right after my Spanish class and when someone came to sit at our table, I immediately said “hola” to them without a second thought. A minute later, I realised my mistake but it was no big deal and the day carried on. For art today I mixed some watercolours to the exact colour of the water in the sun and in the shade, and also I messed around on the wheel in the pottery studio but nothing turned out mindblowingly good so I just put all the clay I’d used back in the soft clay bucket.

Other notable things: there is an unlimited bread drawer, the food is really good, I hate the smell of milk, there was a wild dance party last night, I found a dead chicken yesterday while doing farm chores, the hens lay SO MANY EGGS, I got to feed a baby cow, and the horse is really nice. Her name is Sal. Life is good.

 

xoxox gretel

Veganism Experiment

In December of last year, I decided to go vegan for winter break. I had recently eaten too much steak and it made me feel sicker than I had ever felt before. I figured that maybe going vegan was a necessary change, because it was a new experience and it would help me to be more aware. I was also hoping to get rid of some of the cloudy headedness I was experiencing. I had been vegetarian before, but I had never cut all animal products out of my diet. Ultimately, it was a lot easier than I expected.

 

Immediately I could tell the difference. I was much more aware of what I was eating and when, because I had never restricted myself from so many things. I didn’t regret my decision however. I was committed to my cause. I think this stemmed from the fact that I was just trying it out so I didn’t feel any long term commitment. Another effect that I noticed was that when I ate something, I could immediately tell how it made me feel. There was no energy in me from other animals so my body was able to react quicker. This pushed me to be sure that I had a balanced diet, because when I didn’t, I was aware of how I felt and why. For a while, I fell into a routine of eating almost the same thing every day. No more eggs and milk meant minimal baked goods, no omelettes, and I could only eat cereal if I used almost milk. No meat meant I had to make my sandwiches out of something else, and eat a lot more beans. I soon recognised that I had to work to diversify my diet. So, I began cooking regularly, trying out different combinations of ingredients and spices. I got to practice a skill that will be useful for my whole life, and I made it so that my family didn’t have to worry about changing their diets as well. I also did feel less cloudy. It could be the placebo effect, but either way it worked.

 

I didn’t miss animal products at all, and still don’t. I even began to develop an aversion to anything that wasn’t plant-based. One day at school, a girl was eating eggs next to me and the smell made me feel sick. Another day, I ate a caramel before I knew it had cream in it, and once it was fully dissolved there was a lingering taste like bitter milk. It also made my mouth feel a bit slippery. I used to love those candies and I had never tasted that flavour before. Apparently the reason for that is animal products are extremely rich. They cause your taste buds to become used to strong flavours, so when you stop eating them, other things begin to have more flavour. I appreciate the newfound depth of taste I have, and the cooking skills I’ve gained from this experiment, and I like the way a plant based diet makes me feel. So, I think I will stay largely vegan for a while yet.