I won't lie becoming a vegan wasn't easy. Giving up meat was simple. I never really cared much for burgers or steaks, or any of the like. The difficulty was giving up my coveted breads, and the cheesy topping on my burritos and chili and nachos and potatoes. I can go on and on, but I think the point has been made. Veganism cannot replace some foods. There are attempts. Those faux products usually contain soy, and I eagerly replaced my animal products with soy. It was not until I went to the doctor's office and the diagnosis was to eliminate estrogen that forced my over-consumption of the seemingly harmless plant to come to a dead stop.
Inspired by The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M Campbell, II, I opted for the vegan life because of the so many ill-effects of animal protein. My health was dwindling before I read the book, even as I ran avidly and I ate healthy with an occasional indulgence. Despite the five miles my feet bore, I crossed the finish line with a fibroid the size of a tennis ball. At 28, that is rare for someone my age and becoming vegan was not an option but a necessity for me to feel like myself again—possibly shrinking the foreign body in my belly.
A year later, the fibroid is still there and the prognosis from my doctor was that my body must produce a lot of estrogen. The one food that I questioned eating before, but allowed myself believe it was okay because it contained "good" estrogen was the next to be thrown away into the trash can where all my previously discarded animal protein was tossed a year prior.
The problem with eliminating soy is that it is in everything. There are no more mock tuna, fake hot dogs, or soy cheese for me. Luckily, I found a non-dairy butter that also does not contain soy. This ingredient is vital for my many baked goods that I must make myself to satisfy my grain tooth because I cannot buy many of my goodies at the store anymore. My label reading is even more meticulous, scanning the list for any semblance of soy along with animal products. I have found that eating whole foods is the safest option for me now.
I feel much better than I did a year ago and am growing proud of my new world of foods. Trying foods I have never tasted before appeals to my adventurous personality, celebrating new tastes and trashing foods that do not agree with my selective taste buds. My new task is to find an ice cream that is non-dairy and soy free. I need an indulgence after rewarding my body with a plant-enriched diet. This summer dessert should also be absent coconut. What can I say, I am picky, and I am choosing good-for-me and good-for-my-taste-buds in order to reward my body but not harm it further with animal protein or foods that I find the taste repulsive. It's a balance, and I enjoy the exploration every day.