It’s Sick, How Healthy I Am

Yes, after over a year of being a vegetarian, I am disgustingly healthy. Even my doctor says so.

And while it took me several months, initially, to get over not being able to eat bacon and fried chicken, I’m now fully adjusted to not eating meat. However, as a vegetarian, I’ve continued eating eggs and dairy (cheese, butter, milk, yogurt, ice cream.)

That’s not all. I’ve also given up drinking caffeine.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, but I had a mean diet cola beverage habit and addiction. After giving that up, I realized all my morning fog and grogginess was due to caffeine. The very product that helps you “wake up” and gives you “energy” is the SAME product that makes you tired later in the afternoon when it wears off. If you don’t ingest caffeine, this cycle of up and down stops. When you feel tired, you’re actually tired.

What do I drink now, you may ask? Answer: Water. Lots of it. (If you do too, your digestive system will behave itself very nicely as it processes your meals.)

I also take vitamins. Everyday. A multi-vitamin, a B complex, and extra Vitamin C (500 – 1000 mg.) Sometimes, for an extra boost, I take an Omega 3 supplement. For people who aren’t taking vitamins but who want to start, I suggest beginning with a complete multi-vitamin of your choice.

I do not take the “best” vitamins on the market, and that’s because I’ve decided to take gummy vitamins. Why gummy? Because they’re extremely easy to take; I don’t have to swallow a pill… which means I will actually take them everyday. If you don’t like swallowing pills, you may also want to consider gummy vitamins or chewable vitamin C, for example.

And yes, now I exercise regularly too. Nothing crazy, I’m not out doing Ironman competitions…but I am walking 4-6 miles several times a week. Walking is good for you, easy to do (do you sense my theme?) and the only “equipment” needed is a pair of sneakers. Walking is easier on your joints than running, although it is also less aerobically intensive and therefore doesn’t burn as many calories.

Coincidentally, other “stuff I don’t do” includes drinking alcohol. I was never a drinker (maybe with the exception of one sip of champagne at a wedding) so I don’t miss it; nor do I miss the calories that get added to your diet when you drink.

.

But now I am thinking about going some extra steps. And these steps will be more difficult and challenging.

I’m strongly considering giving up eggs and dairy. Just as it took me several months to give up meat, I’m not planning to go “cold turkey” (haha) on eggs and dairy.

My first step on this journey is giving up butter and liquid milk. Giving up milk is really easy for me because I don’t drink it. If I want a milk substitute, almond milk tastes great. Butter is also relatively easy because in cooking I use olive oil, but I do like the occasional piece of toast with butter that I’m now planning to “sacrifice.”

Eggs, on the other hand, are a HUGE DEAL. Giving up eggs is like… I don’t know. It’s big. Eggs are the last vestiges of “giving up meat” in my diet.

No more fried eggs!

No more omelettes!

Just like with chicken, I’d guess that when it comes to eggs I might slip up for a while. Maybe I’ll go to an egg white system before I wean myself off eggs, I’m not sure. I don’t mind admitting, it seems a bit scary, but I think I can do it.

ALL of these things are taking me down a path towards… ve… veg……… oh man, veganism. I’ll be one of those totally wierd, vegan hippies.

How did this happen?

Well, for starters, I FEEL BETTER.

I HAVE MORE ENERGY.

I am HEALTHIER now than I’ve been in years.

And yes, I’d like to lose even more weight than what I’ve lost to date.

Hell, I’d like to LIVE LONGER.

And while I’ve been investigating all this stuff, I recently came across a documentary that sums up some of the scientific literature behind why this works. It’s called “Forks Over Knives.” It’s interesting to watch, if this area is something you want to know more about, so I’d recommend it.

In the meantime, even I can’t believe that it’s possible to be even healthier than I am right now, which is pretty downright disgustingly healthy.

But I’m gonna try.

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10 Responses

  1. Good luck to you! I have quite a few vegetarian and vegan recipes on my blog to help you get started 🙂

    • I see a lot of the recipes are Vegan on your blog Ani, very cool.

      I also see you’re in your early twenties, so it’s great you are cultivating these super-healthy habits at your age.

      Thx for the comment!
      Carol

  2. I just got up and had a cup of water. I did.

    This is all great news. And advice. I pretty much gave up red meat 3 years ago. Chicken is hard to give up. As to caffeine, I’ll have to think hard about that one.

    Glad to hear you’re disgustingly healthy.

    • Some thoughts on…

      Giving up some food of choice:

      I think it’s easier to make gradual changes with certain foods. So if you like the idea of giving up chicken, but think it will be hard, give yourself “permission” to have chicken when you are really craving it. Don’t “punish” yourself if you eat any selected food, when you are on the way to not eating it anymore.

      A funny thing about what I just said above. I would be on my way to eating something on my “giving it up” list, and having the full intention of eating it… then I’d get to the moment when I’m either buying the food, or sitting down at the restaurant and I’d realize that I didn’t really HAVE to eat it and I’d always wind up going with something else. When you do this, you feel a small victory in allowing your will power to carry you through on your healthier choice.

      I’m planning to do what I’m saying here with the eggs. I just gave the four organic eggs I had left in my refrigerator to my neighbors, along with the one stick of butter I had. I felt good giving it to them because they will use it, and I didn’t have to throw these edibles away.

      This is step one…step two will be for me to figure out if I’m going to eat the two hard boiled eggs in the fridge, or throw them away. Or maybe eat the egg whites, and throw the yolks away. You see, I will continue to negotiate with myself … step by step… until I am “doing” the behavior I want as my result (not eating any eggs.)

      Giving up caffeine:

      Caffeine is different because it is a mood altering chemical, not a food. So if you are “addicted” to it, and you really like your delivery mechanism (a lot of people really love coffee) it can be tough to give it up.

      In this case, I’d suggest considering doing a caffiene de-tox over the course of several days (a weekend perhaps, in case it makes you irritable not to have it, and gives you headaches during withdrawal) and then go a few extra days after the de-tox to “see how it feels.”

      If you can go a few more days *after* your few extra days, and you still feel good… keep going. And if you decide to go back to caffeine, try to capture how you feel while you’re off it, so you can compare how you feel when you go back on it. If you prefer the way you feel on it, you’ll know that’s best for you. If not, well… 🙂

      And your body will thank you for drinking the water – well done!

  3. Way to go! I’ve been a vegan for almost 4 years and I’ve never felt better. I think once you eliminate dairy products, you’ll be amazed that you feel even better than you do now. I should work on the caffeine thing myself . . . I don’t drink soda, but it may take some work to get rid of my morning coffee. If you need some vegan inspiration, I also have a vegan blog: http://epicureanvegan.com/ Good luck!

    • Hi April, I just took a peek at your blog and it looks fantastic!

      I’ve already “followed” you and I’m glad you commented. I’ve been hoping to connect to real, live vegans in the blog-o-sphere so I hope you are the first of a new group of friends I can reach out to for inspiration.

      Based on what I understand today, dairy products are actually a source of inflammation in the body, so I can believe giving them up will help me feel even more energized.

      In Forks Over Knives, they propose something more intensive than “straight veganism” because they recommend giving up processed foods. That is something I want to do.

      There are a LOT of fats, sugars and unhealthy preservative related chemicals in heavily processed foods to prolong shelf life. This INCLUDES products like “vegan meat”, “vegan cheese” (both are made with high amounts of oils and sugars) and a host of other processed foods that are vegan, but not what I’d consider optimally healthy.

      I didn’t want to put that in my post above because it’s a much, much bigger step that I don’t know if most people would be ready to take.

      I think it’s more important people know they can give up meat first and feel better, then take it from there….

      • Thanks for following the blog! Yes, dairy is so awful for our bodies and I think most people don’t realize it because they’ve been consuming it their entire lives, so they think that’s how they’re supposed to feel. Just after a week of no dairy, I couldn’t believe how great I felt! I love the Forks Over Knives movie–one of the best out there. And I agree, if people would try eliminating animal products from their diets (and do it properly by replacing their calcium, protein, iron and B vitamins) they’ll see such positive changes and from there, just baby steps. I truly believe diet is the crucial component in treating chronic illnesses. Check out Food Matters–another great documentary about how plant based foods take the place of drugs and poisonous treatments.

        • Thanks April. Yes, I’ve seen “Food Matters,” which highlights the Gerson Institute which talks a lot about the links between unhealthy diet and cancer. For whatever reason, it didn’t have the same impact on me as “Forks Over Knives,” but both were good.

          I also recently saw another documentary I didn’t like called “Vegucation.” The premise of that documentary is the film maker takes “regular people” who agree to go Vegan and then “educates” them about how to go about it over a 6 week period.

          In that film, she tells the group – while they’re in the supermarket – that fake vegan meat and cheese is great, Oreos are vegan, blah blah, which I found ridiculous. Actually, so did two of the people getting “converted” because they joked – oh, so I guess I can be a fat vegan, huh? In any case, I’d not recommend watching it. It also has horrific video clips of animal cruelty thrown in for good measure.

          Like you (and unlike what you hear in Forks Over Knives) I DO believe in taking vitamins to supplement our diets. Without animal protein a vitamin B supplement is critically important because humans cannot produce the vitamin otherwise. A multi-vitamin is just a good all around “insurance” blanket, in the event that you fall short on any given nutrient on a given day.

          But yes, I’m on the baby steps program.

          Step One – I DID throw away the two hard boiled eggs that were in my refrigerator (referenced in the post above).
          Step Two – today I threw away some feta cheese crumbles I was using on my salads.
          Step Three – will be to dispose of the container of organic yogurt I like, which is still sitting in the fridge, calling my name… :-}

  4. Yeah, I saw Vegucated too and I remember the grocery store part and was surprised at first how they touted those products, but at the same time, I can see where these products can help temp and wean people off of meat and dairy products. Then hopefully . . . they learn to rely on more natural, clean sources of protein, calcium, etc. and limit their consumption of “fake” meats. I think when urging people to give up animal products, these fake meat/dairy items are sometimes just the thing to get people on the track to going vegetarian/vegan. Fortunately, there are some healthy “fake” meats out there, like Field Roast. They make vegetable sausages and roasts that are mainly wheat, fruit, vegetables and spices. It’s all about reading ingredient labels. Kudos on tossing the eggs and feta! Good luck with the yogurt . . .baby steps. One thing to keep in mind that might help in getting rid of cheese, is that most cheese isn’t even vegetarian. It contains rennet, which is the lining of a calf’s stomach. It’s used to coagulate cheese. In fact, there is only ONE brand of Parmesan cheese that uses a vegetable-based rennet. I think there are also only a couple of cheeses that Kraft makes that uses a plant-based rennet; the rest is animal-based. That’s why you might see some cheese packages marked, “Suitable for Vegetarians.” Anyway, that’s something to consider because I can guarantee restaurants all use cheap, bulk cheese (likely Kraft or similar brand) that is made with animal rennet. Knowing this made it easier for me to give up dairy products. I’m looking forward to hearing about your journey toward a plant-based diet and eliminating processed food–you are so right–it’s NOT EASY! So much of our food (vegan included) is processed.

    • Thanks April. Yep, I knew about rennet and how it is an animal product. I found out only recently when I went to buy high end cheese at Whole Foods. This was before my “conversion” of course.

      As far as people using the fake products to transition… I guess it’s all about choices. I transitioned to be vegetarian with eggs and dairy at first so I had back up sources of animal protein.

      Now making a second transition to vegan, I don’t miss meat so eating fake meat has no appeal to me. But rather than rely on substitute dairy products I’m going to try and tough it out without that crutch. We’ll see how I do.

      And the processed foods, well, again, I’ll have to find a balance that’s right for me.

      Tonight I gifted the rest of my dairy (including that $10 piece of raw cow’s milk cheddar cheese) to my upstairs neighbors. They got a lot of stuff that is really tempting to me, and now that it’s not in my refrigerator I feel better.

      And I can already tell that not eating dairy is having a positive effect. This morning I went for my normal 4-6 mile walk, and today I had so much “gas in the tank” I jogged on and off for about 20% of the 6 miles. I felt great when I got back, not tired at all.

      I suspect this is just the beginning.

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