I’ve definitely shed some weight since becoming vegan in summer 2013. People are starting to notice, and I appreciate people noticing, but losing weight wasn’t my motivation to completely change my diet.
My motivation comes from having watched some documentaries regarding nutrition and how it relates to individual health and the general environment, and then reading some books on the subject. Once I decided to forgo all animal products in my diet, there was no turning back. I had a fairly easy time of it when I stopped eating eggs, dairy, and fish; a lot easier than I expected. The foods I prepared for meals were barely passable at first, but I didn’t let that deter me. I’ve been at this for about 7 months now and there are many recipes I use to cook meals that even my omnivore family enjoys. Ok so maybe the midgets hate it, but this isn’t a democracy. After having made this switch, I started to notice a big improvement in my overall mental and physical health. I hadn’t expected to feel brighter mentally, and I didn’t expect to feel physically better so soon after the switch.
For years I had been self-medicating with carbohydrates and alcohol. Being a mother, working full time, adding in a house and everything that goes with home ownership, extended family issues, and blah blah blah all added up to a helluva lot of stress in my days and nights. Slowly but surely, over the years I increased my pasta and cheese intake because that sort of comfort food made me feel better instantly. I love wine, red or white, and I love the warm feeling in my chest and the laughter that lifts the corners of my mouth after I’ve enjoyed a glass or 2. Besides all of that, drinking wine is incredibly social. I enjoyed meeting friends for a drink or savoring a glass of wine with husband after work or after the midgets finally went to bed for the night.
All of these foods and liquids gradually stopped doing their job of smoothing over the rough edges of my days, and they started to weigh me down mentally. I guess this weighed me down physically too? Especially considering the change in my appearance lately.
I’ve noticed during the past few years many Moms wax poetic about their wine habits:
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
“I drink wine because I don’t like to keep things bottled up.”
“OMG I so need a glass of wine before I sell my kids.”
Those are just a few quotes taken directly from Facebook. Currently, wine drinking, especially among parents, is very fashionable. If there’s anything I’m not, it’s fashionable. I suppose my non-wine drinking self is consistent at least.
When a person notices I’ve physically changed, at some point he or she will ask how I’ve done it and what I changed about my life to achieve this. They don’t understand that to me, this body isn’t my achievement but instead is just a by-product of my real goal: a stable happy mood. And so, after I explain that I have eliminated all animal products from my diet, I further explain that I made this change because I wanted to feel better, not lose weight. And I go on from there to describe how my mood and energy has benefitted from being a vegan.
Typically after I explain I’m vegan, my audience exclaims that they could never give up meat and dairy because they love it too much. Ok, but what if someone they trust (a doctor? a celebrity?) told them that by eschewing all animal products they would feel better and therefore look better? Would they be more willing to try it then? I really get the sense the listener thinks I’m nuts. Also it’s hard to give up our comfort foods if we are in fact deriving comfort from them. Like I said earlier, I had reached a point where those foods were having an opposite effect on my mood and so was willing to try something new.
There have been and will continue to be challenges for me to overcome to maintain my restricted diet, although I don’t feel deprived in the least. If anything I feel freer than ever to enjoy foods without experiencing a crash, a hangover (in its many forms), or guilt over having eaten something yummy.
If you’re interested in the material I used to reach this conclusion:
The China Study
The China Study Cookbook
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (documentary)