Want to hear a cliché anti-vegan sentiment? How about something like "Going vegan is extreme/absurd!"
Yup, I’ve said that. As little as a year ago, I scoffed at the idea of doing something as nuts as trying to be vegan. My stance on so-called "diets" of any kind was: "I'm not going to deprive myself of what I want!" How do you think that way of thinking worked out for my health?
Everything turned around on me without me knowing. I started following this blog that I loved. Her recipes were simple and easy. Quite by accident, I tried several of her recipes one after another for two days, just because I wanted to try them. Bored one evening, I finally read the first chapter of her book where she talks about her illness. Something jumped out at me. "I don’t like to use the words vegan or gluten free, because it scares people away."
Wait, what? Are you saying that for two days I’ve been eating vegan and gluten free? How is it possible that I didn’t even notice? Isn’t being VE and GF like absurdly depriving? Sitting there lost in my surprise, I realized something that would become a driving force for me. I felt really good.
As it was a Friday, I figured "Why not give this a weekend go?" My first foray into purposely eating vegan was as a weekend warrior. I thought of it as a cleanse or detox to clear my system for the week. I never intended to keep going. The weekend went really well and I made some way too delicious meals from her book. I felt active and clear, and I was so committed that before I knew it, Monday morning dawned bright and early.
Here’s one thing you have to know about me. I hate mornings. Picture one of those old Garfield comics where he has a giant cup of coffee and looks like he was hit by a train. That’s how I normally felt. But this particular Monday morning, I sprang out of bed and before I knew it I was humming while putting on my makeup.
That was what finally sold me on really giving this a go. If something could change my mornings, then I wanted to be part of it. I’d survived the weekend, so I made a plan to keep going for the week.
I look back on that first week now and laugh at myself for being so surprised. I’m so addicted to feeling good now that I can’t wait to eat the next amazing, nourishing meal. I barely think about animal products because my meals are so delicious and filling that there’s no need too. I get enough protein and fats because I've done the research and know where to find them.
I don’t want my story to pretend that being vegan is completely easy. Any diet that changes everything you do day-to-day will be a pain in the butt when habit starts to take over. What I’d like you to take from this is that there is a huge gap that lies between the word "diet" and the word "health". I had no intention of going on a diet. I was just checking out new recipes. I hate all those magazine articles that start with stuff like "Don’t diet for your weight, diet for your health." I would roll my eyes and buy Vogue. Maybe if the headlines had read "The reason your mornings suck could be because of what you ate the day before," I might have been interested.
Want other things that changed since I started eating Vegan?
1.) Oh how I glow!:
My skin looks amazing. I’ve never had the most beautiful skin. Acne as a kid and random red pimples as an adult just kept happening. I don’t even use a quarter of all the products I used too! I’ve become one of those annoying people who washes with a gentle soap, uses coconut oil as moisturizer and viola! Time to go out!
2.) I’ve become regular:
It still feels weird to talk about bodily functions like this, but I'd always struggled with being regular. (By that I mean pooping every day.) I don’t even have to think about it anymore!
3.) Energy dips are completely gone:
I used to be the queen of the mid-afternoon lull. You could time your day around when I would become moody. Now I feel positive and vibrant all day.
4.) Cramps be gone:
Yes ladies, this applies to most of you. I was considering literally getting rid of my stupid baby-maker, because I was in so much pain every month. I mean-- who wants kids anyway? I barely notice it anymore.
5.) Of course I’m going to mention my weight.
I’ve always said "I like the way I look" and I meant it. But being thinner was a nice idea that I’d sort of given up on as a possibility. After going veg, the weight just began melting away as my energy increased. It wasn't fast or a "quick fix", but I started noticing right away and it helped spur me on.
Well. That’s my story of how I became accidentally vegan! I can’t even imagine going back to the way I used to eat. Sometimes I crave certain foods, and I allow myself to fall of the bandwagon if it’s something that really haunts me at night. But I find that those times I let myself falter, I end up feeling like crap the next day, and helps remind me to ignore craving in the future. I don’t believe in harshly depriving myself. It’s the fastest way to lose motivation and make healthy living a chore. Do what feels good in the long run, and your day to day moments will get sweeter and sweeter.
*Image courtesy Flickr Creative Commons.