The Vegan Diaries

vegan

I’m going vegan.

Go on. Groan and moan. Call me a dirty hippie at least once, please.

Once you’re done, we’ll meet back up here.

Done?

Okay, cool.

I’m going vegan.

For the next 3 weeks.

The Backstory:

I love food. Pizza is my soul mate. I live in one of the most foodie cities in America. I’m surrounded by cuisine after cuisine, waking up each morning wondering and planning what exciting meals I’ll consume that day. I’m a little obsessed with food; I can out-eat my husband in almost every food-related circumstance. I would do moderately well in an eating challenge. Food is an exciting part of my life. I yelp restaurants like it’s my part time job to discover what’s new and amazing here in Portland. You get the point. Food = Love.

Unfortunately, I’ve had intestinal issues for about as long as I can remember (inherited from my mother… geez, thanks, Mom). I’ll never forget seeing my mom make a bagel with melted cheese for herself almost every night growing up. Her stomach couldn’t handle anything more complex.

Recently, my issues have been more severe. I wake up in the middle of the night by unbearable abdominal cramping. This leads to me feeling as if I’ll pass out any second, which then leads to me (TMI warning) vomiting. The next day, I’ll feel dizzy and lightheaded for most of the day.

I don’t know what it is.

It could be lactose. It could be gluten. It could be both or neither.

The point is, I’m very convinced that these issues are diet-related. I could go to the doctor and have test after test run to tell me it’s this or that and potentially be prescribed a medication, but I don’t want to do that. I’m not anti-doctor and I’m not anti-drug, but I do believe that many health professionals offer “quick-fixes” as opposed to lifestyle adaptation remedies.

The Backstory (continued):

Scott and I watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives. The main premise calls for a whole-food, plant-based diet. It’s on Netflix if you want to check it out.

This is the first food-related documentary that I didn’t fall asleep halfway through. A few friends have suggested other documentaries in the past, including Food, Inc. and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, but I find that these types of extreme documentaries often make me feel so guilty about the choices I make on a regular basis that it paralyzes me to change anything.

Forks Over Knives didn’t leave me feeling guilty or sorry for myself at the end. Instead, it left me feeling encouraged to make a lifestyle change that has the ability to reverse poor health.

My Health:

For starters, I’m not a health nut. As stated above, I love food. Sometimes, I eat on the healthier side of the spectrum, but many times I don’t. I exercise a bit- yoga, hikes on the weekend or a walk to the park. I’m not running marathons, but I’m not fat or even out of shape. I’m average.

My skin is okay. My weight is okay. My energy is okay.

But nothing is stellar.

I don’t wake up feeling amazing or refreshed. My motivation for physical activity is usually lacking.

I want amazing (skin, hair, body, health). I want to feel rejuvenated in the morning, and I want my energy to improve.

The Plan:

grapes

I’ll be partaking (with my lovely husband) in a vegan diet for the next 3 weeks.

What I can eat:

  • Whole foods
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Herbs and spices

What I can’t eat:

  • Anything that came from something with a face (beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs)
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, cream, yogurt)
  • Refined foods
  • Oils
  • Artificial foods
  • McDonald’s (duh)

___________________________________________________________________

I’m feeling a mixture of holy excited and holy shit.

I never gave much thought to a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it’s hard to ignore the benefits after seeing the effects of the alternatives every day: obese children and adults, fast food over real food and the growing rise of heart-realted surgeries simply because of a poor diet.

The Research:

Forks Over Knives offers these shocking statistics:

  • Two out of every three people are overweight
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Half of the population is taking at least one prescription drug

The common beliefs of “protein from meat is good for you” and “you need calcium from milk for strong bones” are radically shaken. A whole-foods, plant-based diet has been shown to reduce and even reverse degenerative diseases.

The documentary refers almost exclusively to The China Study, considered to be among the “most comprehensive health-related investigations ever undertaken”. A friend of mine actually lent me the book of this study months ago, but I haven’t had the chance to read it I’ve been eating McFlurries.

Questions:

I want to address a few things that may be going through your mind.

Why vegan? Isn’t vegetarianism enough?

The main difference between vegan and vegetarian is dairy. I have a sneaking suspicion that dairy may be causing some of my issues, so I want to try cutting it out completely.

What happens after 3 weeks?

We’ll see. I’m hopeful for better health and a better understanding of the ingredients and nutrients I put into my body. I may continue it or I may opt for vegetarianism. Or maybe, I’ll significantly reduce my meat and dairy intake to once or twice a week.

What about animal by-products?

I’ll admit it. I am very ignorant to the ingredients in most of my household products. Toothpaste, a plastic bag or even my shampoo could contain ABPs. I don’t think I’ll investigate everything I own, but I do plan to be more cognizant of the products I buy on a regular basis.

Can I do this with you?

See below, friends.

The Challenge:

Do you want to make a lifestyle change?

Do you want to try something that you never thought you would?

Join me these next 3 weeks by pledging to live a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. I’d love for you to challenge yourself, in addition to helping me stay accountable (because you know there’s going to be that time when pizza is like “love meeee” and I’m like “I love you pizza, but I can’t” and pizza is like “just a teeny tiny bite” and I’m like…)

You know.

What I Want You to Do:

twitter challenge

Tweet me @dmcrae17 or leave a comment here letting me know you are joining the challenge! Remember, this is about giving up meat. If you want to keep eggs and dairy in your diet, that’s perfectly fine too!

Use #3weeknomeat

Through the Vegan Diaries, I’ll be sharing what’s going well, what’s really hard (but pizza is so good), foods I’m trying and more!

“If it walked, hopped, swam, crawled, slithered, had eyes, a mama and a dad- don’t eat it.” – Terry Mason, Forks Over Knives

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