In light of its recent popularity (I feel due largely in part to documentaries like What the Health), I want to talk about my experience being Vegan.
After a very brief conversation with a co-worker last July, I decided to go Vegan with reckless abandonment. I said goodbye to all animal products and completely overhauled my fridge and pantry in a matter of days.
Why’d I do it?
Mostly because I had so little energy, all the time. Literally. I’m talking sheer exhaustion for no apparent reason. I’ve struggled with fatigue my entire life and I’m certain anyone who knows me can attest. Years ago, while visiting my grandparents for the summer, my great-grandfather was so concerned about how much I slept that he was convinced I was ill. Perhaps I was growing. But as I got older, my energy continued to wane…so much so that I felt I was missing out on life.
My co-worker suggested I commit to Veganism for 30 days. I recruited my sweet Mama, who often gets suckered into even my worst plans (because there’s strength in numbers!), and we went Vegan hard! After the 30 days was up, I was astonished at how creative going Vegan allowed me to be in the kitchen. Not only were my meals more colorful but cooking vegan required more thoughtfulness in my meal preparation to ensure that I was getting the proper nutrients and eating a balanced diet. So, I decided to continue on my Vegan journey.
I maintained this lifestyle until around the holidays, when I lost all self-control and threw caution to the wind. I made a very unwise, impulsive decision on Thanksgiving day to eat everything I laid my eyes on and have never felt worse (you can read more about that here). I spent most of the holiday season feeling sluggish and tired again. I hadn’t noticed any significant changes in my health until after I reintroduced meat back into my diet. So I quickly got my act together and, once again, eliminated meat, dairy and eggs at the beginning of the year.
However, going Vegan wasn’t the magical cure all for my life. I was Vegan for six months. In that short time, I noticed some pretty significant changes to my body. I gained about ten pounds and was constantly bloated. I ate primarily fresh vegetables and limited my intake of soy but truth be told, I felt and looked my best when I was being less restrictive of the foods I ate. I’m still not certain what attributed to the weight gain but, while Vegan, I learned very quickly that a meatless diet isn’t always a healthy one.
Don’t beat yourself up if you find that Veganism isn’t for you. While a lot of my meals don’t include meat, eating 100% Vegan just isn’t for me. I understand some people eat Vegan for moral reasons (which I totally understand and respect by the way) but I believe in more balanced eating.
If you’ve ever met a Vegan, past or present, they can be pretty impassioned people. It’s definitely a conversation starter and something I still love to chat about! Around the time I was considering returning to my carnivorous ways, I was hesitant to do so because of how “interesting” being Vegan made me feel – never mind that it was wreaking havoc on my body. I started a gym membership at the first of the year in an attempt to shed the ten pounds I’d gained and was so annoyed with one of the trainer’s criticism of my diet, that I canceled my membership and never returned.
Regardless of what or how you eat, don’t let anyone else berate you for the choices you make! If I see one more vegangelizing video on social media about why I shouldn’t eat animal products, I’m going to scream (and barf because they’re disgusting!). Eat what’s healthy and right for you and your body.
If you’re considering going Vegan, I encourage you to do it in the healthiest way possible by avoiding processed foods and keep mind that Veganism is NOT a weight loss diet. I’m not a dietitian and these opinions are simply that…my opinions, so if you’re interested in learning more about living a Vegan lifestyle, consider checking out One Green Planet. It’s a great resource that I found super helpful throughout my journey.
Are you Vegan, or have you committed to a plant based diet in the past? I’d love to hear from you and learn more about your experience!