Thursday, November 5, 2015

Still vegetarian for another 30 days

Since I started eating vegetarian and almost-vegan (things I ate that weren't vegan: oyster sauce, some birthday cake with egg and milk, and cheese) on October 1, I've lost seven pounds and two inches off my waist. The weight goes up and down a little depending on my water intake, so my main metric is the inches.

I'm going vegan for two reasons: it's good for my health and good for the planet. I will do my best to be 100% with it, but with the way my brain works, I'm going to leave room for some tiny, tiny cheats and recommit every 30 days.

That means there's always a possibility I'd go back to eating some animal products. I'll be approaching it like I'm a forever recovering carnivore. (Hi, my name is Althea, I'm a meat eater!)

Just a note on how I'm eating: I'm more or less following Dr. John McDougall's diet plan, which is a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. That means no animal products and no added fat (including oils extracted from their sources, like olive oil and sesame oil).

Whole-food, plant-based

McDougall doesn't call this way of eating vegetarian or vegan because it doesn't allow many things vegetarian or vegan diets allow, but I use those terms because the diet is vegetarian and vegan, and I'm getting a lot of support and tips from vegetarians and vegans. I'm not yet 100% on following the McDougall plan, but I'm working on it.

What got me started on reading up on McDougall was watching Forks Over Knives. The documentary struck a chord because my dad died of a stroke in his early 50s, which is less than 15 years from my age now. More recently, my uncle from my mother side had to get heart bypass surgery. Cardiovascular disease is in my genes.

Also, after working in a job that made me unhappy more than it made me happy in my last two years on it, I was in my worst state of health ever. I must have gained close to 40 pounds since 2009. (Hi, my name is Althea. I'm also an emotional eater.)

Then I had gout, and I learned that medicine for gout is really bad for the kidneys, so managing it with medicine was not an option.

I still love good food

Anybody who knows me knows I love good food, and I thought I'd have a hard time staying off animal products. Well, the only difficulty I'm experiencing is in finding vegan options when I eat out and learning to cook WFPB. Given the choice now, I'd choose the WFPB dish over any meat dish and not feel deprived, really, as long as I have my starch.

To be honest, meat still looks and smells tempting. Maybe I'll never get over that, or maybe as I become more exposed to the ethical side of veganism, I'll be one of those people who feel bad when they see animals on the dinner table. I don't know yet. I'm still new to this.

What I do know is I feel better, health-wise, and I want more of this better. When I struggle in the shift in my relationships because I've bonded with most of my loved ones on good food that usually includes meat, or when I struggle to introduce myself as my new identity, I always remind myself, hey you're still the old joyful, funny, emotional, food-loving you. Still the same, except with less inflammation and healthier arteries and better calcium retention.

One day, I may get an additional kick out of knowing I contribute to helping the planet too. One step at a time.