Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Vegan Blog and Why I Became Vegan

I only know one vegan in real life.  Sure, I read vegan blogs and have heard about vegan celebrities, but Morris is my only vegan friend.  He is the most badass, kind, and funny person that I know.  One day at work Morris asked me why I was not a vegan.  All of the reasons that I was a vegetarian are the same reasons that anyone should be vegan.  After all, the dairy and egg industries also kill and harm animals.  Morris told me to just go vegan.  I told him that I liked cheese too much.  He said that he loved cheese too, but that he gave it up because it was the right thing to do.  That conversation stayed in my mind for the next few years.

Not too long after that I got so sick from drinking a milkshake.  I went to my doctor and she diagnosed me as being lactose intolerant in the middle of my life.  Even that didn't stop me.  I avoided milk, but I still went crazy with cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products, and I felt the worst I've ever felt.  I was 28 years old, vegetarian, and I felt old, tired, and sick.  My doctor told me I might have asthma, I had constant bronchitis for about three years, and I never had any energy.  I still didn't get the message.

I didn't even need to go vegan.  What I needed to do was stop eating the processed junk that I was eating, give up the dairy that was causing stomach problems and excess mucus, and start eating vegetables and whole grains.  I have been vegetarian during years that being a vegetarian was definitely not cool or popular.  I even ate turkey and fish for one year so that non-vegetarians would view my diet as "healthier", but meanwhile I felt worse and worse.

I always viewed vegans as these weirdos who engaged in exercises of futility.  I also didn't understand then and still don't understand why people who don't eat animal products try so hard to model their foods after animal products.  I was a vegetarian who told people that I would never marry a vegetarian and would never want my hypothetical children to be vegetarians because it's too hard.  I was ashamed to talk about being vegetarian because I was so unhealthy.

It finally hit me when I was attending a cheese-laden, vegetarian potluck at the Buddhist center.  A girl there was trying to figure out which dishes might be vegan.  After the event, I heard her inviting others to a restaurant because there really wasn't much she could eat at the potluck.  I decided that I would bring something vegan to the next potluck.  I spent weeks thinking about what to make, but after a while I realized that almost everything I already cooked could easily be made vegan.  The dish that I ended up taking was a huge hit because it was simple, nutritious and not covered in cheese.

I then went on a diet and started exercising in an attempt to get healthier.  I started adding more leafy greens and legumes to my diet.  During my diet I realized that toppings like cheese, butter, and sour cream were adding a lot of extra calories that I didn't need, so I cut them out.  I was amazed by how much better I felt and how I no longer had to count calories or starve myself to lose weight.  The turning point was when I read The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.  I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking of going vegetarian or vegan or just thinking about getting healthier.  This book is the single most life-changing book I've read, and if you read my Buddhist blog, you know that The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron occupied the number one spot on my list for a lot of years.

Silverstone suggests that you don't have to go crazy.  You can just flirt with reducing your consumption of animal products.  I like that idea because it makes going vegan less scary.  She doesn't impose impossible rules on people or make becoming vegan too overwhelming.  Her website, The Kind Life, is a great resource for anyone flirting with veganism or thinking of making some dietary changes to include more plant-based foods.

In December 2011 I became a vegan.  I now feel great.  My sleep apnea, asthma, and bronchitis are gone.  I have lost more than 10 pounds with little effort.  I wake up every morning feeling refreshed and energetic.  Best of all, I'm eating the most delicious food of my whole life and starting to switch over to cruelty-free products in the rest of my life.

I hope that you more experienced vegans will help me along the way, share your knowledge, and offer me tips and tricks.  Speaking of, what are your favorite vegan things?

2 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm so happy you found my blog so I found yours. I was also inspired by Alicia Silverstone's book. Your story is really wonderful and I can't wait to read more. Keep up the good work! :)

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  2. Congrats on going vegan! When I made the switch from vegetarianism I felt like a whole new world of food opened up to me. I've definitely become more adventurous in the kitchen. I wish you the best of luck! :)

    Fave vegan things? Hhmmm...I adore scrambled tofu, tofu frittatas, Indian food, chickpea cutlets, vegan cupcakes! The list could go on and on! ;)

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