Almost Vegan

Here we are, 7 months have passed again, and no blogs have been posted. I’m not going to feel tooo bad about it, life has been pretty busy. Since my last post I’ve gotten married, gotten a new house, and gotten a puppy (best decision: if you are debating getting a dog, get one!)  Justin and I have been settling down, resting + recovering from the chaotic months that precede a wedding. Gosh, it feels so good to come home to him every night. It also feels so good to have a home, one that I can call my own, and decorate exactly to my liking. Aside from my puppy and my husband, the best thing about having your own home is having only your food in the refrigerator! No refrigerator overcrowding. No 17 day old leftover chicken, rancid leftover salads, and 2 month old bell pepper remnants with no one to claim it. No, just all the things I want to eat, and moldy leftovers that I can only blame myself for. The glory.

On the topic of food, Justin and I are tackling the feat of going Vegan for the month of August. Today is Day 1. Almost Vegan, not fully vegan because there is no way this man would agree to not eating meat for an entire month. It’s a miracle to get him to drink almond milk, and steak is his version of chocolate, so I’m taking this compromise as a win. No butter, no cheese (if you only knew how much brie we ate on a weekly basis), no ice cream (help), no eggs, no milk, no dairy, no animal products outside of the bit of lean meat a couple times a week as a compromise, for the entire month of August.  I could say Whole Foods Plant Based Diet + Some Meat for Justin, but Almost Vegan is so much easier.

So if we eat relatively well and exercise, why are we doing this? Well, Justin is doing this only because I asked him to do it with me, and because he wants a dietary change to encourage him to work out more and be healthier in other areas. In lieu of that, I’ll just list my reasons for wanting to do this.

1. Reset my system 

I have digestive issues, FR. I eat gluten free, which should be a reallll challenge in also going “almost vegan”, but it’s not enough to fix all of the unwanted side affects of digestive and absorption issues like low iron, brittle nails, tiredness, etc.  Many people who have a gluten intolerance also have trouble digesting dairy and other animal products, so this is not a surprise. I really just want a chance to put only good, wholesome foods into my body, reintroduce other things afterward, and be able to identify triggers, or foods that just aren’t working with my body. Because of this “whole foods” goal, we looked into doing Whole30 and Paleo diets in order to have a month of clean eating, but there are things about both diets that I can’t get behind. Using bacon grease to cook with, banning legumes, no potatoes, and things that are packed with nutrients like quinoa, doesn’t make sense to me. Phytic acid, bla bla bla – legumes aren’t bad for you. Bacon grease is. The end.  I don’t think these diets are bad because they really do help millions of people change their eating habits, but they were not for me.

2. I’ve watched too many documentaries

I took a Biological Foundations of Pyschology class in college and it changed my life. After one viewing of Food, Inc., my food path changed. It was my first glimpse of how our food is mass produced and essentially infected. My first glimpse of food production as money making industry that cared not for the health affects of selling heavily processed food to consumers.  This documentary left an affect that encouraged me to almost entirely cut off my fast food habits (except chick fil a, ahem), only eat free range chicken and organic meats, never ordering meat in restaurants, and start buying way too much organic food for a college student budget. This is coming from the girl who ate KFC once a week. The earth shattering affects of this documentary eventually faded (after I got into the best shape of my life my last couple of years of college).  I stopped spending the money on grass fed beef, but many things I had implemented in my diet lingered. Never, ever again will I eat Purdue or Tyson chicken.

Food Inc. was the start of my nutrition knowledge obsession. I’ve watched almost every food documentary on Netflix, and many of them point to the same truths. That autoimmune disease is sky rocketing, our nation is obese and terribly addicted to fake food, diabetes and cancer are preventable in so many cases, and gut and digestive issues run rampant. We are a nation of consumers yet we are malnourished. One of the most disturbing things I learned was that cardiovascular disease wasn’t just happening in unhealthy or obese people.  People who were runners, who ate well balanced diets have coronary heart disease because of the way animal products react in their body.  It’s not just red meat, but cheese and milk and chicken can be leading causes in cardiovascular disease, bone density problems, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.  The foods that we consider to be nutrient dense, are essentially causing our bodies to attack themselves and leads to a slew of health issues. I couldn’t get enough of learning about these things, and became really passionate about the healing power of food. I’m not a dietician obviously, and I have no medical knowledge of how food and your body interact. But I read a lot, and I consume everything I can get my hands on on the topic.  If you start digging into this stuff and don’t want to change the way you eat, I’d be shocked.

Doctors don’t treat core issues all the time, they prescribe medication to treat symptoms because medicine is money. They wouldn’t suggest that your headaches are related to the food you eat. People aren’t asking questions about the root cause, rather taking a pill, and then adding another pill to that, to help deal with the symptoms of the first pill.  Many Physicians mask symptoms with a medicine, which is why diabetics get stuck on a regimen of 10-15 pills a day rather than reverted to a plant based diet that has the potential to reverse diabetes.  Many physicians just aren’t educated on the impact that nutrition can have. I could go on for hours, really, but just check out some stuff and educate yourself.

Here are some documentaries that I recommend: Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Food Matters, What the Health (granted this one is kind of extreme in it’s claims). All of these are available on Netflix and then some. Go crazy.

3. Increase energy levels and overall feeling of healthiness

I wanted a diet that removed animal products and encouraged plant based eating in order to let my body get the nutrients it needs, and not have to constantly react to all of the dairy that I eat, or gluten slip ups. But given the fact that I’ve had low iron since I was 3 years old and got shingles the last time I gave up meat,  I am going to have to be really proactive about making sure there is enough Iron in my diet, and I am concerned about not getting enough nutrients (calcium, b12, etc.). However, most of those things can be solved with intentionally eating nutrient rich foods, like nuts and green leafy veggies, and taking a multi-vitamin.

4. Environmental Responsibility 

Animal farming is not sustainable. Cows in the US emit more Carbon Dioxide than cars, and is officially one of the most damaging things for the environment.  We produce more than we need and we do it in a really unnatural way.

Fish: at this point, can you even find fresh caught Tilapia? Fish farms are ruining the nutritional value of fish.  Overfishing will lead to starvation in poor regions that are completely reliant on fish for their main food source, and is impacting the overall ecosystem of the ocean, which is seriously troubling y’all.  Over the past year I’ve learned more about the impact that farming and meat and animal product consumption has on the environment, and it’s one of the main motivators that I have in taking a stab at being “Vegan”.  The US government is too wrapped up in profit and money and lobbyist and political non-sense that it will take years for us to see any serious policies being made toward protecting and preserving the environment, so I want to do what I can on my own to live a more eco friendly and sustainable life.

I know going vegan can sound extreme in some ways, but I am so excited to see the results of forcing myself to eat a ton of nutrient packed nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, and how it affects my energy levels and body. I’m excited for the challenge of experimenting with new recipes and making plant based meals just as filling as my usual meat centric dinner. Most excited for making my carnivore husband a believer that he can be happy and full, and feel better, from a mostly vegan food arsenal. I’ll post recipes along the way!



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