Am I now a Vegan?
I never thought I would be in the position where I would need to explain my health or diet to anyone. However, after posting recipe ideas and various articles, a lot of people have reached out to my husband and even my parents questioning my new diet.
So lets cut the bullshit & get right too the point! :)
Am a I now a Vegan?
While I post a lot of plant based meals & Vegan style recipes, I am by no means an absolute "Vegan". I am a huntress married to a hunter. I know many hunt for sport, however we hunt to harvest our dinner. This being said- I could not be a Vegan & still eat/hunt animals. It doesn't work that way.
[And to those who feel the need to make status' basically calling me a hypocrite/making fun of me because I hashtag #Vegan on some of my food posts then #Hunter on the next- Get over yourself & get a more purposeful hobby, You know who you are.]
My reason for including more Vegan style meals into my diet was my last desperate attempt to help my deteriorating health. This was not something I had planned on or even wanted at first. However, I decided to be open minded to the idea & have since embraced it to the best of my abilities.
Why the sudden change?
Please know this is something I really felt indifferent about sharing with world....but after going through my experiences and finding the light at the end of tunnel, I wanted to share my story. My hope is that anyone else out there who is battling the same issues I have/had that they will find the strength to seek help.
Behind closed doors, I have been battling a lot of health issues. Over the past six months, I experienced such severe depression that I would just come home from work and sleep. I didn't spend time with my husband, I didn't workout...basically I just worked and slept. I didn't feel like myself... I always had headaches, heart burn, stomach aches, & had zero energy. To top it off- my mood swings were so out of wack that the littlest thing would turn me into a raging bitch. I was out of control. Having a background history of family members who had mental health issues, I was concerned it was a hereditary issue. So as much as I hate going to the doctor, for the first time in almost three years, I made it a priority to see one.
The first doctor I saw told me that I was just "being a women". As much as I know females can be difficult, (and I'm aware how difficult I am) I refused to accept that. So I was just expected to deal with this because I'm a female? What solution was there out of that statement? None.
The second doctor I saw, told me that I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, severe depression & a hormone imbalance. She immediately prescribed me to three medications. And despite how miserable I felt, I refused to go get the prescriptions filled. I hated the idea of being reliant on a pill to function normally. I had watched a friend completely go crazy when being off their medicine (same ones I was prescribed) and couldn't bare the idea of being mentally reliant on a pill, screaming and crying into a raging fit because "I need my meds!!!" as I witnessed her do. No. No. No.
-You see I didn't just want a fix to my problem I wanted to know the root of it. Why all of a sudden had my physical and mental health completely plummeted? What had I done wrong to my body to cause these issues? I didn't want just a pill, I wanted answers.
[Disclaimer: I believe in medicine for those who truly, TRULY need it. Diabetes, Cancer, etc. I am not a person to usually believe in Homeopathy. However, I do not think a pill is ALWAYS the answer or should be! See when I was growing up, I was taught to take medicine as the complete last option and when that was the option, you were REALLY sick and needed it. I have since applied that into my adult life and therefore rarely take medicine. I want my body to learn to fight things on its own. This way when I do finally take medicine, it has a stronger & quicker impact getting better results.]
Finally, the third doctor I attended gave me the hopeful answers and steps to a solution I had been looking for. While she also diagnosed me with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, severe depression & a hormone imbalance. Blah, blah, blah- This doctor said that she too could prescribe me to medicine and it would solve everything the easy way. However, she surprised me when she put her clipboard down & looked right at me & said "I could hand you these prescriptions & see you on your next check up in year, but I refuse to do that. I refuse to let a 23 year old women take the hormone/cholesterol/blood pressure medicine of a 65 year old women." I wish I could put into words the amount of relief I felt just from her words alone. She then explained to me she truly believed my health issues were a result of diet. She said "Lets try to all fix your health issues without a pill & if it doesn't work, then we will reassess a different method."
For the next two weeks, I wrote every crumb and drop I put into my body. After the two weeks were up, we sat down together and analyzed the things I ate and drank over the period of time. My husband & I rarely went out to eat and only drank on Saturday evening or a glass of wine after work. I truly had thought we cleaned up our act quiet a bit. Apparently we had not cleaned it up enough...
The first thing she recommended switching was my coffee creamer. I refuse to give up coffee & drink a lot of it during the week. She explained that I don't need to give it up, just find a healthier way to drink it. Typically I drink my coffee with a lot of Coffee Mate flavored creamer & sugar. Instead, she suggested I switch to a non-dairy creamer which to me tastes better! Only issue I have is that not every grocery store carries it, but it's that good I'm willing to go out of my way for it! Silk Almond Creamer is the one I switched to and haven't looked back! It's dairy & lactose free, gluten free, soy free, cholesterol free & much more! I love both the Vanilla & Caramel one. No joke, when I have regular creamer in my coffee now- I notice myself getting headaches, stomachaches and heartburn.
The next thing she suggested was cutting alcohol for 30 days. I knew this was coming, so I accepted it even before we sat down. As hard as those 30 days were- I never felt better. Not only was it a great experiment on my body, but a very interesting social one as well. I truly never realized how much people focus on the one person in the room who isn't drinking. It's so sad one cannot attend a social event without drinking a beer and be questioned if you're pregnant, sick or going to AA. So sad the only time you stand out is when you don't have a drink in your hand and even then you're considered the freak of the event. FYI it's okay if people drink, but it's also okay if others choose not to. You do you and I'll do me.
The last thing my doctor really stressed was trying to include more Vegan meals and products into my diet. I admit, when she first started talking this nonsense I wanted to get up and walk the hell out. Vegan?? Girl, please. I could eat steak and chicken everyday. Not to mention the fact that I hunt and so does my husband. How the hell would I explain to him I was going more Vegan?! Despite my doubts, I took her advice on going two days a week without eating any animal product.
How did I do it?
Again, I was not thrilled by this idea. With no idea what to make for food, I hit the internet for some inspiration. The biggest and most inspiring Vegan I found was from the Instagram account @earthyandy. Andy always posts such gorgeous, yummy food that it makes eating a Vegan diet look amazing! I was even more thrilled when I read her bio and how she had VERY similar health issues to mine. Her reasons for going Vegan were nearly identical. No in your face "Eat plants, not animals" bullshit or rowdy hate towards others who aren't Vegan. Just gorgeous, food ideas and good vibes. Stumbling upon her account has seriously been the best thing for my health!
[Follow @earthyandy on Instagram for more on her beautiful life]
In addition to recipe ideas from @earthyandy, I also find a lot of ideas everywhere! You would be surprised the yummy meals you can make that don't have sodium, meat or any animal product! One of my favorite recipes I did was 'Black Bean Cilantro Tacos'. While, the recipe was a little more complicated on Pinterest, I simplified it and the results were AMAZING. Seriously, after my first bite I laughed. I was really skeptical and so moody towards even doing this change, that my bratty mind already was planning to go to McDonald's if the recipe failed. I'm not afraid to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. (Recipe coming on blog soon!)
While some days I try to get creative with my Vegan meals, most of the time I just cook up some veggies or eat an Acai bowl for dinner. My doctor also said that this change wasn't meant to complicate my life, but to better it. So that's the approach I have been doing. Clean and easy meals so I get on with it. It's amazing how quick dinner can be whipped up when there isn't meat or other animal products involved!
Food ideas were only one part of the battle in this lifestyle change.... Presenting the idea to my hunter husband was not ideal, but I could tell this man truly loved me and was concerned for my health because he was willing to be as supportive as he could be. Despite the critics and their trash talk, I have not forced him to eat anything or change anything he does. He is his own person and I am mine. So to those thinking I force my husband to eat nothing, but veggies and fruit-this is for you.
How has my Vegan diet helped me?
As much as I thought my eating habits weren't that bad prior, after undergoing this extreme lifestyle change I have to admit- I have never felt better in my entire life. I've dedicated myself into learning about my body and the effects different foods can have on it.
Never did I ever think food and diet could be cause of such extreme health issues. I don't even want to tell you how bad my cholesterol and blood pressure was because I'm that embarrassed that at only 23 years old it was that high. However, I will brag to you that both have DRAMATICALLY dropped! So it has been effective!
I addition- my energy levels have increased, my mental health has taken a turn for the better AND the best yet? I have lost 12lbs!!! Not a huge victory for some, but for me it's an incredible accomplishment. An accomplishment that I was able to train my mind to be open minded to new things and an even bigger accomplishment that I have been able to stay committed and true to this journey. Despite all the difficulty, hateful remarks from others and small minded people-I proved to myself I am capable of more. My body deserves more and so do I mentally.
During this journey I have dropped more than just animal food products- I dropped the non-supportive people who I found weighed more on me than any amount of body fat I've ever had. So to anyone out there considering a lifestyle change: Do It. You have no idea the strength you will find mentally and physically when you start to let shit go and make the change for you. This Vegan diet started as health change, but turned into a complete mind AND body change. Good Vibes Only Y'all <3