These days I identified as a plant-focused eater or for fun veganish. Why did my 100% vegan diet go up in flames like a char-broiled burger?
Thinking of going vegan? Here are three things to consider.
In June 2017, I made the switch to a vegan diet. I felt God was nudging me to change my life through my food. It was exciting to try something that doesn’t interest most people. While the word vegan feels a bit daunting, it’s quite straightforward: If it had a mother, don’t eat it. If it poops, don’t eat it. If it comes from an animal with a face, don’t eat it. I was on board: mother, poop, byproducts-not on my plate.
A few weeks after declaring the shift I was back in my hometown. I visited a local vegan restaurant for a meal to go, so my family and I could play in a nearby park. After ingesting over half of my burger, my throat began to get itchy. I told husband M.D. that I was going to drive to Walgreens down the street and get some Benadryl. Being the trooper that she is, my oldest daughter insisted on accompanying me. Before I made it to the car, I began to feel dizzy, disoriented, and it became hard to breathe. As savvy readers, you all know where this is going. I was having an allergic reaction to something in the burger. After I injected an EpiPen, my symptoms continued to progress. My husband knew it was time to call an ambulance. In the Emergency Department, the contents of my stomach ended up in an emesis bag. After a few IV bags and hours later my condition returned to normal. Therefore, consideration #1 is: Do you have any food allergies?
The trip to the emergency department should have ended my vegan adventure but I’m stubborn and eleven more months continued in a hyper-vigilant state. I believed I was meant to do this. While I now have a certified tree nut (cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, etc.) allergy, I CAN eat almonds. However, I learned from talking to vegan chefs that tree nut cross-contamination in restaurants is exceptionally high. Therefore, on several occasions, restaurants have just recommended I not dine at their establishment. This limitation makes things more complicated when traveling to places with limited vegan options. I refuse to live to dine out mostly on side salads and fries. My tree nut allergy was the #1 reason being 100% vegan was not sustainable.
Thankfully the next two considerations are non-life threatening. During my year as a vegan, I lost too much weight. Weight loss was never my goal. I love my body and enjoy the clothing I own. A new wardrobe was not what I wanted. So, consideration #2 is: Are you okay if your body changes? Finally, consideration #3 is: How will you handle your food needs at home, when traveling, or interacting socially? For me, it just wasn’t fun. Food experiences with others are inclusive. I enjoy traveling. So if I’m in a new country, I don’t want to say no to the BEST *insert meat item* in the world due to a deliberate vegan designation.
Now I identify as plant-focused or veganish. One woman who was vegan for over ten years describes veganish best: “Veganish means that you eat mostly plant-based foods, but you don’t hold yourself or anyone else a hostage to perfection.” These are still labels; however, I feel free to eat in a way that serves me. In short, plants are my priority, but my main focus is my overall wellbeing.
Have you considered a vegan diet? What diet best serves your overall health?