Do y’all have your muck boots? Because it’s about to get deep.
For the past 7 months I have been about 80% nontoxic with my diet, meaning I don’t regularly consume gluten, dairy, soy, artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners, processed foods, etc. For the past 30 days I have added “vegan” to that list (again, for the most part).
Okay guys, so I am a good ole, church-going, Republican, country girl from Oklahoma. Why in the world would someone like me feel so inclined to try out a vegan lifestyle, when so many of my friends, family, and the people surrounding me make their living off of meat, dairy, and gluten??
The answer is, my health.
No, I am not some crazy “save the animals” propagandist. I don’t particularly like PETA because they are ridiculously dramatic when it comes to animal rights. Seriously, a lot of what they advertise happening to animals, never actually happens on your typical farm or in a butcher shop. I believe in hunting and living off the land. I believe God put animals on this earth to provide us nourishment. After all, He personally provided meats like quail & fish to his people, and He specifically tells his people to eat ‘clean’ meats like sheep, cattle, goat, etc.
I also wholeheartedly believe that the “food”, if you can even call it that, on the shelves in our grocery stores today is a pathetic result of the demands of lazy Americans.
Now, I am about to explain my views and some of the things I have learned throughout the course of my journey. I am no different than the majority of the population when it comes to my knowledge about diet and how it affects our health. I am not a doctor, nor do I have any extensive training on the biological processes of the body (barring general Biology in college). However, I have developed a strong interest in the foods that we are consuming and how they affect our bodies, so I have done some research. I also have my personal experiences, which I think should count for a lot.
If you read my blog post Healthy & Happy , you will be able to see a glimpse of where I was before I made a change for the better. My diet, described in that post, was typical of most Americans, which now that I am on the other side of it, truly saddens me.
My health journey began as a search for weight loss, but it quickly turned into a passion for non-toxic living. I did Arbonne’s 30 Days to Healthy Living Challenge in January of 2017 in hopes of losing some weight, but after cutting out virtually all toxins from my diet for 30 days, I knew that non-toxic living was something I wanted to continue because I felt like a new woman. So for the past 7 months I have (mostly) cut out all gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods, and artificial colors/flavors/sweeteners, etc. I say mostly, because that is very very hard to do where I live. Walmart & United are our grocery store options, no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Sprouts. Nonetheless, I have focused on progress, not perfection. After all, just about anything was better than what I used to eat.
I want to briefly explain why I eliminate gluten, dairy, and soy because those 3 sometimes take people by surprise. Then, I will get into why I tried vegan for 30 days.
- What is it? It’s a sticky protein found in modern day breads, crackers, cookies, pastas, etc.
- What’s the big deal? I thought “gluten – free” was just a trend, but it turns out the reason so many people are popping up with a gluten intolerance is because it is wayyyyy more prominent in our foods today than it was even a couple generations ago. Thank you mass production efforts. A gluten intolerance presents itself as those bumps on the back of your arms, bloating, heartburn, digestive issues, etc. Here is a very in depth article about the history of wheat and why gluten is much more prevalent in our wheat products today. Against the Grain
- What is it? Anything made from the milk of mammals. (cheese, yogurt, sour cream, etc.)
- What’s the big deal? I could make another whole blog post about dairy, but I’ll try to keep it short for now. Dairy is linked to sooooo many issues with our bodies. From acne, bloating, and infections to cancer, and many things in between. You see, cow’s milk was specifically designed for a baby cow, so why on earth would we think it would be good for human consumption??? Oh, and then we go and add a whole bunch of hormones to it, thinking that will make it better. Dairy is highly acidic, and disease THRIVES in an acidic environment. Someone please tell me how any of this makes sense? I was going to give you guys some resources to back up what I have said here, but there were so many good ones to choose from that I thought I’d just let you do your own research on dairy. Even a simple Google search of “why is dairy bad” gives you a ton of resources to read through. Be informed. And for the record, you can get more calcium from a cup of Broccoli or almond milk than you can from cow’s milk.
- What is it? All soy (soybean oil, soy sauce, soy lecithin, soy milk, soy protein, tofu, tempeh, etc.) comes from soybeans, which is the second most common GMO, aside from corn.
- What’s the big deal? Soy is a GMO, which means we don’t know much about what the long term effects from consuming it will be. (Read this article — 10 Reasons to Avoid GMOs ) GMOs are a relatively new concept (like 1980s), so the effects they can and will have on society and the environment are virtually unknown. Soy contains something called isoflavones, or phytoestrogens, that mimic the effects of the female hormone, estrogen, in your body. I don’t know about y’all, but as a woman, I do NOT need any more of that hormone, and I can’t imagine any men would want more of it either. There’s a reason you see things labeled “non-GMO” in the grocery stores today. Basically, there is a whole lot of unanswered questions in the GMO farming industry, and I, for one, don’t want to chance it.
Sooooooo, what about this whole vegan thing?
For me, trying out a vegan lifestyle was just so I could say that I did. However, I uncovered some surprising truths throughout my 30 day vegan journey. I was already eliminating dairy from my diet, so really the only big change was eliminating meat. Pretty doable. Now, like I said before, I’m not some “save the animals” activist, but I am entering into the vast realm of healthy living and I wanted to know what the big deal was about ‘vegan’.
Vegans can eat A LOT, and still not reach the recommended caloric intake for the day. Now, I don’t usually worry about calorie intake. Now that I know what foods do serve and do not serve my body, I have found that knowledge and those choices to regulate my weight pretty efficiently. However, a friend of mine advised tracking calories for a few days while going vegan to make sure my body wasn’t in starvation mode. And boy, was she right! I found it interesting though, that even when I was consuming way less calories due to eliminating meat, I wasn’t any more hungry than usual. Wanna know why? Because I was serving my body with foods that were high in nutrients! Uhhhhh light bulb! My body was getting the nutrients it needed, so it wasn’t begging for more all day long like I expected it to be. Now, I don’t think the same would be true if I fed my body with a whole bunch of processed foods that are extremely low in nutrients. It’s all about choices, people.
Meat is flippin expensive!! I bought soooooo many veggies over this past 30 days (enough to make me wish I had actually followed through with my plans for a vegetable garden this year LOL), but we still spent significantly less at the grocery store. Of course, I already knew meat was expensive beforehand, especially toxin-free meat, but it didn’t really register to me until we cut it out.
I knew it would be hard to eat vegan when we went out because of where we live. However, one night we went out to dinner at a fancier restaurant. Ya know, the ones with the cloth napkins? Anyway, I ordered a chicken breast with a side of green beans. All in all, not a bad meal, but obviously not a vegan meal. At that point I had been vegan for almost 2 weeks, long enough to rid by body of some of the toxins stored up from previous meat consumption. Guys, after I ate that one chicken breast at that fancier restaurant, I broke out in a rash….. Why? Because I reintroduced those toxins into my system!
Eating vegan for 30 days required a lot of rewiring in this country girl’s brain. Before, our meal plans revolved around meat. What sides were we going to have with our meat tonight? It was weird to have to rewire my thinking. So, in that regard, I’m super thankful that my Arbonne team already had a vegan meal plan set up for me.
Eating vegan is actually pretty simple once you get the hang of it. I had a lot of fun experimenting with different concoctions and learning new recipes. I learned that there were a lot of foods I had either never heard of before, or had no idea how to cook, like chickpeas. It was fun though! It was also still full of flavor and color, just how I like it.
Over all, vegan was a pretty good experience. My husband and I have decided we don’t like the idea of eating meat that we don’t know where it came from, even if it is labeled “free-range” or “grass-fed”. Thankfully, my parents butcher one of our cows every so often and are raising about 500 chickens right now, so we should be good in that department. And if there ever comes a day when we don’t have that readily available, at least we’ll know how to eat vegan!
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