Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ex-ex vegan story

I've written and rewritten this story, so hopefully this one will stick. There is so much I want to write about, so I'll have to spread it out over a few posts. I've had both positive and negative things happen since going vegan again, and while I feel the negative isn't talked about enough among vegans, I'll start with the positive. A balanced vegan diet that incorporates a b12 supplement is a diet that I believe can bring about optimal health. I accept that one doesn't need to give up meat for optimal health, and it may be more natural to obtain b12 from food sources rather than supplements, but I was never able to maintain balance as a non-vegetarian. I grew up eating mono-meals of whatever I can throw in the oven, foods such as pizza rolls, mini corn dogs, and popcorn chicken. The lack of balance in what I ate explains why I've been underweight most of my life. Going vegan is in line with my personal views, and was a choice that helped me gain balance with my diet and improve my health.

I have my ex-vegan story still saved, but I'm not sure if I'll post it again. Basically, I was vegan for a year, but I struggled to eat enough food, especially living in a dorm on a tight budget. a couple months before going back to meat, I donated blood, which I felt I never recovered from. I had no energy, and I was losing more and more weight. I went back to eating meat when I started having chest pains from what I assume to be weakened muscles (doesn't help that I've had collapsed lungs and two lung surgeries in the past). Like other ex-vegans, the paleo mindset made me skeptical of veganism, which made me blame veganism for my failing health. After I got past feeling like a monster for eating meat, I quickly embraced a meat heavy diet low in carbohydrate. To make a long story short, I lost even more weight and I started smoking. I thought it was bad enough being vegan, but it was worse eating low carb. I eventually gave up trying and started falling back into my old diet of processed mono-meals. Unless you are surrounded by health conscious people, it's hard getting out of the cycle of processed food, fast food, and greasy take out food. Needless to say, I never felt good during this time and frequently wondered why I was inflicting myself with food that made me feel miserable. I remembered how being vegan at least cured my IBS, so why couldn't I stop eating the foods that caused IBS?

Eventually, I decided out of nowhere that I wanted to start eating less meat and more vegetarian foods that I previously gave up because it doesn't fit in with paleo or low carb eating. I noticed a spark of energy as I ate a veggie burger instead of a beef burger, so I kept eating vegetarian foods in place of meat whenever I could. I continued eating this way even though I was worried the extra carbs would cause insulin resistance. All I knew was that I felt better, and I was able to give up smoking. I did however have terrible anxiety at this point, and become very much out of shape.

This continued until the end my second to last semester of college when I decided that I desperately need to get in shape. I was going up the stairs heading to class when I started getting palpitations bad enough that I needed to sit down at a lounge area to catch my breath. I decided to quit caffeine, go January without alcohol, go lacto-ovo vegetarian, and start exercising. I never had a real new years resolution before, but I was determined this time. I immediately went vegetarian, and gave up alcohol and caffeine. I made it through January without alcohol, but I only lasted a week without caffeine. I didn't notice any change until I started exercising halfway through January. I felt inspired to run ever since going in to class early in the morning, and seeing how many people where in the rec center on treadmills that early. Even though I was told it was unhealthy to run, I did it anyway. With the addition of exercise, I started turning around all the health problems I previously had. I started gaining muscle, which meant I was no longer underweight, my anxiety disappeared, and so did my palpitations. I started eating vegan most of the time, and started eating less processed food. I quickly noticed that eating vegan meant running would feel easier, so I stuck with it as much as I could. When January was over and I allowed myself alcohol again, I was surprised that it didn't affect me as negatively as it used to. Moderate alcohol and caffeine no longer made me horribly anxious, I was still energetic and generally in a good mood. I finally was more balanced.

Veganism wasn't without its negative side, but the negatives didn't start until I started listening to vegans on youtube promoting a restrictive form of veganism. I'll post about that next.

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