My Vegan Experience
Updated: Mar 17
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I know you thought about it. You watched a video about it. You even tried it. Yes we are talking about going VEGAN ! So you want to try being VEGAN. First let me say that this way of eating will definitely give you a physical response. Meaning that you will observe physical changes. Next, the definition: VEGAN (vee-guhn) a person that does not eat any animal products or anything derived from animal products.
Let us began with why you want to eat VEGAN. In my experience most people that I know want to at least try veganism for one of three reasons: love for animals, improved health, and/or weight loss. Sorry, so far I haven’t met a person looking to gain weight by means of eating a vegan diet. My first experience with someone not wanting to eat meat was when I was a youth maybe around 10 or 11. I had a close family friend that did not like the idea of eating meat. They had a family dog and she really liked animals. She was in her early teens. I thought it was cool, but not cool enough for me to give it any extra thought. I simply placed it in my mental memory bank. Later in life I had several encounters with family and friends that did not eat meat because of the risk involved with eating red meat. As humans God created us with the desire to live forever. It is understandable that if we find out that something could shorten our life span, we began to make choices to eliminate the offense. Last but not least, others just want to drop some pounds. In my opinion, all of these reasons are completely valid.
What about my reasons? The reason that I chose to try eating VEGAN is because of an eye exam. Yes an eye exam. That exam that we all to often ignore. Eyesight is a beautiful thing and our vision allows us to store so much information. We look and see back with our eyes every single day. Yet, getting an eye exam does not make it to the top of the to do list unless you happen to wear vision enhancements: glasses or contacts. Just as side note to those that do not have impaired vision, consider getting an eye exam.
During my eye exam the ophthalmologist saw a small section of concern behind one of my precious eyes. He asked if I had headaches. I said “No.” He was was surprised. At the time I was not aware of the details of the human body and the way that it works. So I was very nervous about this area of concern. He wasn’t overly concerned because it was not having an impact on anything else and my cholesterol was fine. He explained to me that it could be a small area of plaque deposit. Plaque deposit small or not, is not something I am OK with. I acted cool but I knew I would research more later. We agreed to keep an eye on it. Pun intended, laugh out loud!
That day I made a choice to educate myself on the human body. I must have read hundreds of articles, watched many documentaries, and studied a lot of diets for improved health. I learned and researched. My approach to all of the information was to take everything with a grain of salt. After all this is the internet and everything is not fact, it is someone's personal experience. The way that I would determine a health fact is if I saw it agreed upon within the communities of meat eaters, non-meat eaters, and the vegetarians. If they all agreed there was truth to the matter. I approach all of my research in this manner, because it helps me to avoid unnecessary extremes. Believe me, at the beginning I was extreme. It took time for me to balance out. After all, anything your passionate about you want to shout it from the mountain tops.
OK, your like girl how did you do it ? I eliminated meat first. Next I eliminated dairy. Last I eliminated seafood. That is it. Now, I have strong will and determination as a personality trait. I was serious! It took me three months to put all of these eliminations into practice. In order to maintain an attachment with my new vegan way of eating I subscribed to vegan channels on YouTube and shopped at vegan friendly grocery stores. I also exclusively ate at vegan friendly restaurants. I was living my best vegan life! Naturally, your immediate circle of friends and family are probably not vegan. This why I created and VEGAN bubble, so to speak, to keep me focused with this area of my life.
I was not a junk food vegan. The whole point of trying the VEGAN diet was to eliminate negative food ingredients and eat more foods without a bar code. I DID NOT cheat, I did not eat any fish or eggs. I did not want to cheat. I felt special being vegan, mainly because I was exercising self-control. This is overall a great quality. Now try to follow me here. Being VEGAN actually strengthens some very desirable qualities. Self-control, determination, insight, and attention to detail. Sometimes in life we approach a problem with a solution. The problem goes away and we attribute our approach to the problem as worthy of praise. My results were: more energy, 25 pound weight loss (starting weight 155 pounds), and almost cramp free menses. This is great ! Right! Now I ask you, were the health benefits from not eating animals or from not eating junk food ?? Hmmm…. good question. Remember, once you are VEGAN you do not even fool with ingredients derived from animals. This makes your food choices clean by default. I DID NOT cheat meaning that I wouldn’t touch anything with a listed animal or animal derived ingredient.
OK, girl so what did you eat ? I hear you! I hear you! For breakfast I had a plant based smoothie that always had spirulina in it. Remember that for later. I supplemented with iron, folic acid, B12, and vitamin D everyday. I would scramble tofu with nutritional yeast and turmeric. I would put the tofu in a VEGAN tortilla. I would add salsa. I made seasoned strips of tempeh. I also added VEGAN cheese. At lunch I would have another smoothie with more fruit and I added VEGAN protein. I often made homemade hand cut baked potatoes. For dinner I made VEGAN chili, VEGAN spaghetti, and beans and rice with guacamole. This was the basis of my regimen. At times I ate some VEGAN substitute frozen stuff. I was VEGAN for one year!
Let’s do some detective work! Why did I feel better? Why did I loose weight? Why was my menses better? Remember, spirulina? Spirulina is a green algae that infuses the body with chlorophyll giving the body oxygen, hence the increased energy. Remember, the fruit and protein smoothie ? It was full of vitamin C and plant based protein that are anti-inflammatory. Side note: continue getting your teeth checked every six months because your teeth can suffer if your not eating things that strengthen them. Hence, less menses cramps. Remember, the complex carbs without a bar code? They are full of good stuff that kept me full as carbohydrates should do. They were NEVER fried. This cut out unnecessary grease. Was it a diet void of meat that benefited me, or was it diet full of quality ingredients that benefited me? You decide.
After one year I literally began dreaming about steak! I found a Blog of a VEGAN that had returned to eating meat. She was honest and reasonable about her choice. She did not put down the VEGAN way of eating. She simply expressed that her days with being VEGAN were up. I gave it some thought and after a few weeks I decided to incorporate animal products back into my food regime. Wait a minute ! DO NOT judge. Hear me out. I took all of the self-control, attention to detail, insight, and determination with me on my new journey with animal products. I only eat clean high quality meat products. At times I order from a local farm. I still do not partake in junk food like chips, cookies, or candy bars with a poor ingredient list. I only drink water and low sugar bitter organic fruit juice ex. cranberry juice and beet juice. I still incorporate a green powder. My powder of choice now days is wheat grass. I drink high quality milk, eat high quality yogurt, and I pay to attention to buy cheese with clean ingredients no fluff. After about six months my weight was still good and I felt good. I did fall back into to eating food with dirty ingredients for about three months. That is a whole different Blog. Trust me I paid the price and that experience taught me that for me and my body, we thrive on clean ingredients. I can occasionally have some fried foods and fun snacks but that is not my normal.
Currently I eat a balanced diet of whole foods that include eggs, meat. milk, and cheese. I supplement with vitamin D and food based vitamin C. I am in my thirties so I supplement with a little collagen too. As for that concern behind my eye, we looked at it recently (3 years after eating vegan) and it is the same with no progression. I was happy for that. I enjoy life and I enjoy eating. Everyday I put forth effort to eat food that is GOOD to me and GOOD for me.
The take away here is that any diet of elimination is going to give you results. Evaluate periodically is it what your not eating or what you are eating that is having a physical impact. Give your body and gut microbiome variety. So there you are: I tried it. I liked it. This is the Blog about it!
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© Monique Albritton 2019