Monday, February 5, 2018

I Went Vegan for a Month and Here's What Happened

Wanting to start the year right is always part of our goals when January turns around. Having positive thoughts and maintaining a positive outlook is also one of my goals for this new year. This is why I am sharing here a positive experience I had a few years back. I decided to switch to eating vegan and I did it cold turkey.

I started a vegan diet cold turkey and I'm still loving it.

I had started researching about healthy eating when my grandmother started getting sick. I particularly looked for articles which offered information on how to reverse diseases and this is how I came to know more about vegetarian and vegan eating.

Because of my desire to get my grandmother healthy again, I learned simple vegetarian and vegan recipes. My grandmother understood my intention and was very open to whatever food I cooked for her. I also requested that she cook my favorite foods without meat and use tofu instead which she obliged willingly.

My grandmother succumbed to her illness and passed away but I believe our change in diet helped prolong her life a bit more. Combined with her strong willpower, she was able to say goodbye to all of her children and close relatives before she was whisked away from us.

After her funeral, I did not want to stay around the house. I know I would just drown myself in sorrow. Instead, the very next day, I went to an out-of-town trip for work. I stayed there for 3 weeks and each day was full of work matters so I did not have time to drown in my sorrows. This also meant that there was limited time to look for places to eat.

The nearest place to eat was a mall where me and my companion had no choice but to pick which fast food place to eat from. I had begun feeling sluggish and definitely unhealthy by the third week of our stay. I was fearing a heart attack any moment. It was then that I decided that I would go on a vegan diet when I get back home.

The first thing I did when I got home was to shop for my groceries and meal prep. I decided that I had to detox all of the junk food I ate for 3 weeks out of my system. I was feeling bloated and sluggish and so aside from going full vegan I also removed rice and sugar from my diet.

What I Ate Each Week on A Vegan Diet
I started the morning with a green smoothie. I blended together bananas and other fruits, leafy greens (e.g. spinach, camote tops, etc.), some water and peanut butter to add sweetness. I also added in some superfoods like moringa, maca powder as well as cinnamon, cayenne pepper and turmeric. This kept me full all morning. Sometimes I added in rolled oats for more fiber.

Sometimes, I made banana pancakes. This was just mashed ripe bananas with some water and rolled oats which I fried in coconut oil. Or I made overnight oats and just took it out of the fridge for breakfast.

For lunch, I usually had a big salad, usually raw or I ate cooked vegetable dishes with some pita bread or baked potato wedges when I’m craving rice. I just varied the veggies and the dressings for the salads so I don’t get bored.

For dinner, I usually had vegetable soup with baked potato wedges or I just eat the same thing I had for lunch. If I wanted something warm to drink, I drank hot chocolate with muscovado sugar. This wasn’t too sweet so I had gotten used to the bitter taste of chocolate.

Note that I worked from home all this time so I was able to maintain this diet on my own. I only went out once or twice a week to the grocery store for my produce. I also aimed to drink at least 8 glasses of water during this time. I had to pee more than usual the first week but that lessened afterwards.

So how did I change with this vegan diet? I experienced a lot of benefits.

Benefits of My Vegan Diet
Regular Bowel Movements
We take this for granted but this is such a relief each morning. No more spending so much time trying to get into the zone. This happened quickly with no straining of muscles involved.

All Day Energy & Productivity
Yes, I had energy all day! I was able to work on projects more productively because I had better concentration. I found that because I finished work earlier, I had more time to do things I had been putting off or things I wanted to do. I didn’t experience “siesta” moments; that slump one usually feels in the middle of the day after eating lunch. I was still pretty energetic and alert after lunch and all through the rest of the day.

Better Sleep & Waking Up Alert
It was easier to go to sleep. Once I hit the pillow, I was on my way to dreamland. When I woke up, I did not feel groggy. I felt energetic and alert because I actually had a good night’s sleep. Thus, I was able to start working on my day’s To Do list quite early and so I finished tasks earlier. Which meant, I was able to go to bed earlier as well.

Natural Weight Loss
For the first time after high school, I could fit into my skinny jeans again and even needed to use a belt. I did not feel bloated anymore and I actually had a flat tummy so I was able to wear the body-hugging clothes that had been hiding in my closet for who knows when.

Well-Toned Skin
Whenever I saw people for a meeting, I got compliments that my skin was glowing. The dry patches of skin that I had around my hairline went away and my lips never felt flakey. I also noticed that the crow's feet around my eyes became less noticeable. My lips were also a healthier color and my complexion overall was not pale anymore.

No Body Odor
I also noticed that my arm pits didn’t smell bad when I sweated. It smelled of sweat but it didn’t smell bad so I didn’t even use deodorant. That saved me some money to buy more vegetables with.

Some Things to Consider
Based on these results, I highly recommend eating the vegan way. However, I understand that each person’s body is different and there may be side effects when you change your diet drastically like I did. So I strongly urge seeing a doctor first or having a checkup before embarking on any change that will affect your health.

As for me, the major and rather alarming side effect that I experienced when I started going vegan was a change in my monthly period — I had it for 3 weeks and it was heavy. I thought of going to the doctor but I didn’t feel faint or dizzy so I thought it was the effect of my change in diet. My complexion also didn’t look pale like it should.

I had been eating a lot of iron-rich leafy greens, particularly camote tops in my morning smoothie. I was previously anemic and had painful periods but although my period lasted for 3 weeks, it wasn’t painful and the next month it wen’t back to it’s regular schedule and duration and without the pain.

Today, I still continue to eat vegan at home. I still cook my own meals. Although I do keep items that I consider emergency food for times when I am too exhausted from work or get to home too late to cook anything.

When I need to go eat out, I usually look for places where I can get vegan options and suggest to friends that we go there instead. Or I go for vegetarian options if there aren’t any vegan items on the menu.

It is quite difficult to eat vegan outside of my home but I try to take it day by day. I am happy to note that more and more establishments are offering vegan options and there are new places offering vegan food items in my area. I hope reading my experience leads you to making healthier food choices. Here's to more vegan food options and a healthier lifestyle this new year!

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