Today we’re talking to Jenny who has experienced a lot of changes since going vegan! As always please leave some comment love for her in the comments or any questions!
1. Tell me a little bit about your health before you went plant based…
For several years now I have suffered from problems digesting food. My father has had digestive issues and has had to have surgery several times to remove unhealthy bits of his colon and intestines. I lived in fear that I was going to suffer from the same fate as my dad. I would often get very easily bloated, stopped up and the like. It was very uncomfortable. This also contributed to making me very lethargic, irritable and moody. I spent so much time at the doctor’s office over this. Naturally, I was prescribed medicine to take care of my problem. I hated the idea of forcing my body with chemicals to do what I knew could and should come naturally to it. However, I was at the end of my ropes and thus, was resigned to a life of spending enormous amounts of money on and taking medicine (ie: man-made chemical powders) to be able to function normally.
2. What was your motivation for going vegan?
I began practicing yoga about a year ago. Early on, I noticed a shift in my mentality that lent me to becoming a much more compassionate person. It started with myself. Soon after it blossomed into deeper compassion for other humans. It continued in this fashion until one day I woke up and realized that my compassion had expanded past humans. From that moment I became vegetarian. I knew from the beginning that it felt very inauthentic not to become vegan straight away, but it took me a few months to make the switch. The whole time I was vegetarian though, I knew I couldn’t rationalize why I was still using other animal products and eating dairy and eggs.
3. How long did it take you to become fully comfortable with a plant based diet?
As I had begun practicing yoga, my diet changed naturally and I started shifting more towards a plant-based diet even while I was still eating meat. When I switched to vegetarian, I found it really quite simple. I had already drastically reduced the amount of meat I’d been eating anyway. All it took, at first, was a little bit of planning and scanning some cookbooks to get a new stock of go-to recipes. Within a few weeks, I’d say, it felt like I’d been vegetarian forever. It was simple. When I switched to vegan, absolutely the same was true, and I’d even say the transition was much, much easier. I have never once found it more difficult to be vegan. In fact, I think it’s easier than when I was a meat eater.
4. What were your biggest challenges?
I feel lucky because I credit yoga for gently bringing me to a place where veganism became natural and effortless. I’m struggling to come up with anything that has truly been a challenge. However, I was one of those people that thought I couldn’t live without cheese. I’ve been vegan just over a month now and I bought vegan cheese once, right at the very beginning. It was good, but I haven’t bought any, nor have I craved cheese since then. I don’t miss anything from my meat/dairy/egg days.
5. Was there any thing you learned about eating dairy/eggs/meat that surprised you in regards to their effects on health?
The biggest thing that I had never even considered was the effect of dairy/eggs/meat on my skin. I know this isn’t technically a health issue, but I have noticed a drastic change in my complexion since going vegan. My skin has cleared up and I am much less prone to breakouts. I only just realized that the change in diet has been the key. I remember when I first went vegan, I lamented slightly over giving up my pimple cream. It’s funny now because I haven’t even needed it since I made the switch!
6. What do you consider to be a healthy vegan diet?
I consider a healthy vegan diet to be one that is diverse and well rounded. I kept a copy of the vegan food pyramid handy for a while at first, and I have used that as a guide. Also- I don’t buy oreos just because they’re vegan. The same goes for soy or rice ice cream. I think it’s a common misconception that anything that is vegan is automatically healthy. I will certainly treat myself from time to time, but I regularly eat lots of nutrient rich plant foods and healthy grains.
7. What positive message would you like to leave people with in regards to the vegan lifestyle, in particular to changing the way they eat?
I honestly can say that I have never enjoyed food in my life as much as I do right now. My diet is more diverse than it has ever been. I have so much fun experimenting, trying new things and enjoying the flavors of my food. It’s not hard to be vegan. In fact, it’s rather economical and delicious!
8. What is your health like now?
I am very, very, very happy with the state of my health. Around the same time as my switch, I ran out of the aforementioned medicine I had been taking and was also in the process of moving, so I was too busy to go get a refill (also I wasn’t so sure I could actually AFFORD to get the medicine in the first place). It literally took one week for my stomach problems to disappear. Upon a doctor visit shortly after the switch, we discovered that I had actually been lactose intolerant and that is why going vegan solved my issues. All that time, all that suffering and fear- resolved in a week! Consequently, my mood is more consistent (and happier!), I’m much less irritable. I have a ton more energy. My body feels like I always knew it could and should and the best part is that I don’t need medicine. I always knew there had to be a natural solution and veganism was it!
9. What resources were most helpful for you? (books/movies/magazines/blogs/people)
The best resources for me, by far, have been books, blogs and Twitter. The first book I read was Vegan Freaks and subsequently The World Peace Diet. I’ve also enjoyed reading Gary L. Francione’s books and blogs. But by far, it has been Twitter.. Being able to connect with so many other vegans, share articles, information and recipes has been such a great thing for me. Living where I do, in Kentucky, I am certainly not surrounded by a strong community of vegans. Being able to connect with others on Twitter has been a wonderful outlet.
10. Has switching to a plant based diet been easier or harder than you expected?
It was absolutely much easier (and way more delicious!) than I expected. I have never once thought of meat/eggs/dairy and missed it, or thought that anything I used to eat before was more convenient than things I make now. Being vegan is ridiculously easy.
11. Anything else you would like to add about your health, living vegan, or the changes you have experienced?
I have been so thrilled with all the changes in my life since going vegan. In particular, with the health changes. I was truly resigned to a life of struggle and discomfort where my health was concerned. I have never liked taking medicine, always believing that it should be a last resort and that all natural routes should be explored first. I am so happy that veganism made living proof out of me that this can be the case.