WHY I BECAME VEGAN
The day before I became vegan, I was eating a bag of beef jerky and literally said the words, “I don’t understand how anyone can be vegan. I just don’t think it could possibly be healthy.”
Little did I know how wrong I was.
The next day was the day Dustin and I moved to Boston from Burlington, Vermont. We had a 4 hour drive ahead of us, so I had saved up quite a few yoga podcasts to listen to on the drive. To my surprise, the focus of the episodes were all on the health benefits of being vegan. Eating a plant-based diet helps with reducing systemic inflammation and can be very helpful in certain diseases such as irritable bowl syndrome (IBS). Interesting, I thought. I had had IBS ever since I became very sick after spending a summer in the jungles of Madagascar. Then the host on the podcast mentioned the 22-day Vegan Challenge (https://www.challenge22.com/challenge22/). It’s essentially a Facebook group were you receive daily recipes and support from clinical dietitians and other group members. Best of all? Its 100% FREE. So, I decided why not?! Sure, I will try being vegan for 22 days.
The first few days of eating vegan were very overwhelming. I had to figure out what to buy to stock my kitchen. I went to Trader Joes and found out that they actually have a list of all their vegan products (https://www.traderjoes.com/dietary-lists/vegan). BUT this list really only contains products that companies label as being vegan. Many foods are naturally vegan, but are not labeled as such. One example? The whole produce section.
So I came home with a grocery bag full of what I thought vegans ate. Thank goodness for Dustin (my financé) in my life. He took one look at what I bought and said, “why did you buy so much processed food? We wouldn’t normally eat food like that, so why are you starting now that you’re vegan?” A really valid question.
I thought being vegan meant you had to buy food labeled “vegan.” I really do not know why I thought this.
Despite this slip up, the transition into veganism was surprisingly easy. The 22-day Challenge was helpful for learning about how to substitute and pushing me outside of my comfort zone (in a good way). For example, one day you are asked to make a vegan egg dish. I had no idea what this meant, so I had to do some research! This is now one of my favorite breakfast recipes: http://veganyackattack.com/2014/05/25/cauliflower-scramble/
After the 22 days of eating a plant-based vegan diet, my body felt better than it had in 10 years. I was full of energy (previously chronically fatigued), and I no longer had ANY IBS symptoms. NONE. I also felt stronger and less irritable. Honestly, the diet change was dramatic for me. For health reasons alone, I do not think I could ever go back.