That’s me –> the Neophyte Vegan! That’s right, I have taken the plunge. You’re probably thinking, “What?!” Yeah, believe me, I know. I fought this for a long time. Or maybe you’re confused about what a vegan is. A vegan is a person who does not consume any animal products. No meat, eggs or dairy products.
Let me tell you how this all came about. For the last several years, I have been reading and listening to audiobooks to learn more about all kinds of things. Knowledge is power, right?! The types of books that I actually read are usually religious or spiritual type of books. I usually binge on audiobooks during the summer when my workload drops considerably and I am stuck working by myself all day. Most of the books I read or listen to are the non-fiction sort. I think I only listened to 2 and read 1 fiction book in the past three years. All the rest have been non-fiction. After going through all of the books that my library had on Christian and Islamic religion, I started on Buddhism. In that, I found that I really enjoyed the books by Thich Nhat Hanh who is a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, but lives in France. It was one of his books that talked about the health benefits of veganism and also about the consequences of animal product consumption on the environment. The environmental impact statistics that he quoted made quite an impact on me. He said that if you could not give up eating meat, then maybe you could cut back to maybe one meal a day or one meal a week. Any movement in that direction helps. So that’s what I did. I wasn’t ready to give up meat and dairy products. I reduced that amount that I was consuming.
Next, I got active on Instagram. Lo and behold, for some reason, I started following all of these vegan people with their beautiful smoothie bowls and colorful plates of fruits and vegetables. I don’t know how this happened, to tell you the truth. Serendipity? Kismet? Whatever the case, I suddenly had daily inspiration. And then I started trying to make my own vegan smoothies. But I still wasn’t vegan. And after a couple of months, I started having serious digestive troubles. I had to quit eating avocados, chia seeds and cashews. They seemed to really be bothering my digestive abilities. Plus, I was feeling fat and bloated. The whole fat and bloated thing had been going on for a while, but this exacerbated the situation. In December of 2014 and May of 2015, I had miscarriages. In the pregnancy of late 2014, I had been pregnant with twins and had gained a considerable amount of weight rather quickly. I was in the process of trying to lose the extra weight when I found out I was pregnant again in the Spring of 2015. After that miscarriage, the extra weight would not budge, no matter how much I cleaned up my eating habits.
With all of these health issues, bad digestion and weight frustration, I started looking for health related books. I stumbled across How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D. Greger is also the creator of nutritionfacts.org, which is a great online resource. I decided to check out the audiobook from my library on the Overdrive app on my phone. That’s how I listen to all audiobooks. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Greger does his research and quotes study after study. And he tells you if it is a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study or some other type of study. He gives you the facts. Maybe it’s my journalism background talking, but I really appreciate that. After finishing the audiobook, I decided that I needed to have a hard copy of the book for future reference. I ordered it from Amazon for about $16.50. The following weekend, I saw it at Costco for about a dollar cheaper. Whatever the case, you should get this book. It may end up saving your life. But it was this book that put me over the edge and, for health’s sake, made me decide that it was time to give up the meat and dairy and go vegan.
Since my reading and listening options are limited to what my library has available, I listened to The Happy Vegan by Russell Simmons. I figured I needed some help in how to go about this and to point me in the right direction. I was really glad that this was the only other vegan audiobook available at the time I was looking. All the others were already checked out and had a waiting list. Simmons has been vegan since the mid-90s. The parts of the book that made the most impact on me, for good reasons to be a vegan, had to do with the environmental statistics and the way that factory farms, known by the US Environmental Protection Agency as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFO, treats, processes and slaughters animals. I enjoyed the book. If you don’t know who Russell Simmons is, look him up on Google. He made it a fun and interesting read.
I started the neophyte vegan voyage at the end of May. I’m only really a few weeks into this whole thing, but I have noticed some positive changes. My digestion is back to normal. I can eat avocados and cashews again without any problems. I have switched from chia seeds to flax seeds, so I don’t know about those yet. I feel like I have a lot more energy. Nothing that I have ever done before in my entire life has made me feel like I have more energy, so that is saying a lot. The fat and bloated feeling has gone away. I still have some weight to lose, but it seems to be coming off gradually. What does one eat as a vegan? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, etc. Being vegan is actually a whole lot less restrictive than many of the popular diets these days. There are vegan meat, milk, cheese and ice cream alternatives available, but I would limit the amount of many of these items, because they are processed foods. I am not starving. When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m satisfied, I’m done. And I don’t have to worry about what I’m eating, because everything is healthy. Now, there are a lot of things that are vegan that aren’t healthy, but I’m not eating those. I’m limiting anything that is processed, meaning anything that comes in a package, box, bag, can, etc. Unless it’s a box or bag of salad greens or other fruit or vegetable. And, probably the most amazing thing of all, I don’t crave sugar. I consider that a miracle.
What does this mean for Organic Andrea? I am going to have to start coming up with ways to make healthy, delicious and organic vegan food. Being the neophyte vegan that I am, I will probably be scouting the major vegan blogs for recipes that I want to try. We have already been making up some of our own stuff around here. I will bring you the best of all of our vegan experimentation. I hope you will come back and see what it’s all about and try out the things I will be bringing you in the future. In the meantime, check out the books and authors I have talked about here. Until next time…