This month marks 5 years as a vegan for me. In some ways, it seems like forever. In others, I can’t believe it’s been that long. I didn’t get here overnight, though. The evolution has been slow, from transitioning to pescatarian as a new college student, to vegetarian later in adulthood, then finally to full vegan in my 40’s.
The week I chose to make the transition coincided with the Ragnar trail relay race. That weekend was, well, interesting. I packed lots of vegan-friendly items so I wouldn’t have to count on any provided food that may not accommodate my new diet. But I’m not sure if it was the adjustment to eating vegan, the miserably hot and humid weather more characteristic of August than April in Virginia, or the lack of sleep that made that weekend terrible, but it was. I did survive, obviously. And eating vegan became much easier.
What have I learned about myself?
- Going vegan wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be, especially transitioning from vegetarian.
- I don’t need cheese. Perhaps the food I miss most as a vegan, this item has few suitable non-dairy substitutions. I will say that my favorite is Kite Hill ricotta cheese, an almond milk based option. It’s wonderfully creamy, and delicious with pasta or on pizza. Unmoo vegan mozzarella, which I’ve had on pizza from local favorite The Hop Craft Pizza and Beer, is another favorite.
- I can still do amazing athletic things without dairy and eggs. Last year, I ran my first ultramarathon!
- If it’s possible, I’ve developed more compassion for other living beings.
I went vegetarian for the animals, but vegan for my health. So, how has my health improved?
- Eating so many plants with lots of fiber means I never get constipated. Really.
- I still haven’t had a major respiratory illness since going vegan. I used to get bronchitis 2-3 times a year.
- My cholesterol is lower than ever: 142.
- My skin is the clearest it’s ever been.
- I look younger than I am. My patients all think I’m in my 20’s, and I get carded on a regular basis, especially if my kids aren’t with me! I’m pushing 50…
- Sometimes I feel like a burden when going out to eat. Since I have the most restrictions on my diet, my family and friends feel obligated to choose someplace that has vegan options.
- Speaking of dining out, I can tell if my food isn’t vegan or has been contaminated. My stomach will let me know. I keep antacids on hand for cases like these, and don’t travel without them.
- Speaking of travel, it’s really difficult to find places to eat on the road, especially since my husband is not a fan of Taco Bell! I always travel with snacks.
Even with the challenges, the benefits of a vegan diet outweigh the difficulties for me. I know I’m healthier eating this way. I also love that I’m reducing my impact on the environment. Although preserving the planet may be a lost cause at this point, I’d like to think that vegans might just save the world after all.
Want to know more about going vegan? Look at my post earlier this year about Veganuary, where I’ve linked vegan recipes and all of my grocery store tours for vegans!
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.