For those of you curious about my past month eating vegan and I know some are based on the inquiries I've had, welcome to an update!
4 weeks ago today, I decided to give an entirely new lifestyle a try, I went plant-based, I went vegan.
Now for those of you unfamiliar, vegans are different than vegetarians in that they don't just eliminate meat, they eliminate anything from an animal so yes, things like dairy and eggs fall under the "vegan" heading. There are many options and variations out there, especially as a vegetarian as some still choose to eat fish or just avoid red meat. This update is on my experience being plant-based, so I did eliminate anything from an animal and let me be clear, I'm not here to say anything is better or worse than something else and I'm not here to facilitate a debate. To each, his own.
About 8 weeks ago I was feeling like crap. I wasn't sleeping because all of a sudden I began "enjoying" hot flashes, hot flashes to the tune of about a dozen a night. If you have yet to experience this delight, you are flush with heat and in some cases begin to sweat, some folks so much, they end up soaked! I was lucky there in that I didn't sweat a bunch, but the heat alone was very disruptive. I would get hot, kick the covers off then I was freezing, put them back on, again and again, all night long. It SUCKED!
Around the same time, my right knee really was acting up. I've been having issues since the spring and it's been rough since long walks are my exercise of choice. I was at the point the first week of September of wearing a brace and limping so bad, I could hardly walk out of a store, ironically, the day I decided to go vegan.
Fast-forward one month and here's what I've found...
One, I thought most people when they talked to me about this would say that they would miss meat most, but NO, hands-down the most common thing I heard was "I could never give up cheese", followed by "I could never give up eggs", with meat rarely mentioned in a distant third place. It confirms to me an observation I had about a year and a half ago that the cheese sections (and yes, that's sectionS, not section) at my local grocery store had exploded in size.
I read that cheese is addictive in that it releases the same chemical you get when you laugh a lot or eat chocolate so no wonder we Americans and the sections in the grocery store continue to expand. Just for the record, I love cheese.
That being said I was asked often about what I actually DO eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I have to say that following this lifestyle over the past month wasn’t hard for me at all when I was eating at home, going out, is an entirely different story. It’s very hard to eat vegan out. Remember, no dairy, no eggs, and no meat. Almost everything has cheese on it or in it or dairy-based sauces, breakfast is limited (for the most part) to oatmeal when you go out and although vegan restaurants are popping up downtown in Detroit and have been around in neighborhoods on the other side of town like Ferndale and Royal Oak for awhile, (1/2 hour drive) they are almost non-existent where I live.
Finally, I want to share health-wise where I’m at. Within 3 days, I kid you not, both the knee pain AND the hot flashes STOPPED entirely. I was hesitant to say anything until the month rolled by as I thought it was too good to be true that I would stop suffering that quick but I did and I am happy to report that I am still pain and flash free!
So I’m staying the course. Why on earth would I go back when I feel better? That would be foolish. Two things I want to leave you with. One, I felt like crap, chronologically I’m 52 years old but between my ears, I’m 32 at best, sometimes 2 with a few of you. ;)
Feeling old and like crap, is unacceptable to me when I have choices still available. I NEED my body to stay with my mind. I have things yet to accomplish, souls to work with, loves to pursue and my body needs to stay my partner in this for as long as possible. It’s only right that I would give it a loving hand of support.
Second, I’m not here to push my agenda on others. I don’t expect others to go out of their way for my choices. I’m learning what I need to bring with me places and where I actually CAN eat out, etc. I, Jennifer, am not a vegan, I am Jennifer choosing to eat a plant-based diet in other words I don’t feel the need to identify with my choice in eating it’s just my choice in eating. That’s all folks.
In closing I wish to thank my family and my closest friends who when I would jokingly either thank them for “supporting my vegan lifestyle” or shook my head as they pretty much made love to bacon in front of me that it would be nice to have a bit more support of “my vegan lifestyle”, laughed.
Even a month in I continue to ride the “learning curve” – like when I ate salad, a big pile of green beans and mashed potatoes this past weekend at a family party thinking I was golden and my friend pointed out to me the next morning that mashed potatoes have milk and butter in them…the “light bulb” was clearly evident followed by an “Oh yeah, they do! Don’t they?” followed by laughter. Oops!
I’m not hardcore. I’m doing what I can to live my best life. I’m gonna "mess up" at times and I’m fine with that, I never want to get so attached to a belief system that I lose my ability to “go with the flow” or have a sense of humor.
Here’s to being 32 “between my ears” for the rest of my life and to enjoying a body not too far ahead! ;)