I have been a “vegan” for 60 days now.
In case you’ve missed the explanation – I put “vegan” in quotes as an indicator that I’m not living to the letter of the law. I periodically eat honey from the local farmer’s market because I support their beekeeping practices. I don’t freak out about every ingredient on ever label. I stay educated, eat mostly unprocessed foods, but I’m not throwing away my favorite running socks because they’re made with wool.
Or, as I’ve been using more lately, “Herbivore.” That word seems to stir up less of The Crazy from either side. (BOTH sides of the vegan discussion are bad, I’ve been accosted for eating something “not actually vegan” by people who say they’re vegan, and people who are omnivores.)
So! 60 Days the Herbivore!
The best result that I think will be what keeps me here well past the 90 days is the following: A Dramatic Drop In Food Related Guilt.
Even on days where I stress-eat and binge (like yesterday, oooohhh, yesterday was ugly) I’m still doing it vegan. I ate 42 bean burritos and a large order of french fries. Did I eat way more than my caloric limit? YES. Do I hate myself for it? No where near as much.
I don’t think I realized how much guilt I felt over some of the animal-based foods I ate. I listened to a podcast once where a Raw Vegan (Couldn’t do that, my stomach would leave my body) said that he believes we all push aside the “truth” we know every time we eat a chicken nugget or a plate of nachos. Before I started this experiment? I would have said, “Nope. I know that stuff is true, but I don’t really think about it.” But now? Now that I live without pushing aside that knowledge of what I’m eating, how the animals were treated, and what it’s doing to my body? Now that I’m NOT stepping over that information in my subconscious with every bite? I now realize how prevalent it was. I don’t think I realized how much the back of my brain said, “Oh, man. We’ve seen the videos of how these dairy cows are treated, yet here we are…cheese dip and tortilla chips by the bucket load…” whenever I ate.
Because I did know all of that stuff. I have researched it and watched the documentaries. I know how crappy of lives these animals lead. I know how horribly processed the food is. I know the practices/additives we use that are illegal in other parts of the world. I know how bad it is for me. I know all of that in the back of my head, I don’t think I realized how much I had to quiet those voices before, not until I stopped.
So, the absence of a HUGE amount of food-related guilt? Best part of this experiment. I can see articles posted about health factors, and processing rituals, and animal cruelty and I can look right past them guilt-free. “Not me. Nope.”
(Sidenote: I do still experience guilt related to feeding the stuff to my family. But that’s another article for another day.)
I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how easy it’s been. I eat the hell out of bean burritos now, WITHOUT CHEESE. That’s blasphemy! A bean burrito without cheese? WHO DOES THAT? Me, evidently. And it’s not a big deal. I really expected to miss the stuff more than I do, but I don’t. It’s strange.
The hardest part has been my digestive system. I’m very sensitive to raw or undercooked vegetables or nuts. I knew that before, but since my encounters with that stuff was periodic, I didn’t think about it too often. Now? I encounter that stuff daily. I’ve made myself sick by eating too much raw almond butter (ONE SANDWICH) and guacamole on chips one night made me want to jump off a bridge. The same issue arises: Intense abdominal pain. I’ve dealt with this for years, same triggers, but now that I’m eating vegan those triggers pop up more. And since I can sometimes get away with a little bit of the offending food, I’ll try it. And often regret it later.
Also – I have to make sure I get a variety in my diet. Too many veggies in one day, or beans, or fiber, and my stomach is UNHAPPY. I have to make sure I mix things up which is hard since I tend to cook a meal for lunch and eat the same thing for Second Lunch (I’m a Hobbit) and Dinner. I have to watch that practice to make sure I’m not getting too much of ONE thing. But again – all of that relates to my own sensitive stomach when it comes to things like fiber or raw veggies.
So, yes. I’m still sticking with it. I’ve found some great treats like Coconut Milk Ice Cream, and I get this killer tea from a local tea shop and some vegan truffles/chocolates from a local gourmet chocolatier. There are plenty of “splurge” type things I can still do which I really enjoy. And because I leaned vegetarian a lot I still can eat a lot of my favorite meals at a lot of my favorite restaurants. I even discovered vegan pizza recently and it was GOOD. No cheese but still DELICIOUS.
All in all? I’d call this a permanent change. But I think a lot of people would doubt I could stick to it so I’ll still give it the full 90 days of the “experiment.”
Oh. And I’ve lost 6lbs of the 10 I had put back on after my ultra-training season ended. That’s nice. I’m not stressing TOO much about weight loss/gain though because this is an experiment regarding a lot of other issues I have with food, no need to bring the body image issues into the mix too.