Vic the Vegan Loser. That’s what some of my friends used to jokingly call me in high school. Well, kind of jokingly. Some of them thought and perhaps still think that I was seriously weird for being vegan. Some assumptions that go along with that are:
- That I must be super weak. How could anyone get enough protein on a vegan diet?
- That I ate a diet consisting of spinach and grass. That’s all vegans are allowed to eat, right?
- That I loved animals more than people.
- That I was just following some fad diet, and that it would wear off.
- That I was dumb for not eating exactly what the government recommended.
- That I wouldn’t be getting the nutrients I needed. Their “dad is a doctor, and he knows”.
- That I couldn’t eat out with them because no restaurants could accommodate a vegan.
- That I must not enjoy my food.
- That I am in a constant state of temptation, and will crack and eat some beef (or milk, or cheese, etc.) at any moment.
People definitely thought that I was different for eating this way. So why did I keep being vegan? Well, let me tell you my story and how becoming Vic the Vegan Loser was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
Growing up, we ate pretty healthy at my house. My mom was vegetarian, and later vegan, so we always had an abundance of healthy food in the house. But, even though my mom ate that way, it doesn’t mean that the rest of us did. We still drank milk, ate cheese and eggs, and even savored the occasional tri-tip steaks for special occasions. Things started to change, however, when my dad started having health problems. He got diabetes and started having problems with his blood pressure and heart. It was determined that if he didn’t change his lifestyle, his problems would become increasingly worse. So, coached by my mom, he started to eat a vegan diet and things got much, much better. Some of my older siblings started to eat that way to support my dad too.
I was about 16 years old, and running track and cross country pretty competitively when all of this was happening. One day I was talking to my mom about how I could improve my athleticism and become a better runner. She suggested that I at least try eating vegan for a week and see if it made a difference in how I felt. So I decided to give it a go.
That was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After a week of eating that way I noticed a huge difference! I honestly felt more alive. I had more energy, I could run longer and faster than before, and my recovery times were way faster. I remember feeling like my body was a machine, and that the better fuel that I gave it, the better it would run. Even though there were a few minor social discomforts at first, I decided to keep eating a plant based diet. I was hooked.
At first I didn’t really understand the science about food and our bodies. I kind of just trusted my mom and the way that I felt. But soon, it became apparent to me that I would have to know not just the “how’s” of being vegan, but also the “why’s”. People would always ask me why I was vegan and I didn’t know what to say. I started to do some pretty heavy research in high school. I would find PubMed articles about animal protein, or research topics like how drinking milk actually INCREASES your chances of getting osteoporosis. I started to understand the relationship between our health and the foods that we eat. I understood the chemistry and science involved.
All of the research papers that I had to write for school started becoming interesting to me because I would write about eating a plant based diet. It was fun for me to be different, and have something that I was somewhat of an expert on. My close friends gave me the nickname Vic the Vegan Loser but I didn’t care. I had found something that was right and true and it didn’t matter to me that other people thought I was weird. My investment in my health now and in the future was far too important.
So, although some of my friends still jokingly call me Vic the Vegan Loser, it’s worth it. My health is much more important than any minor social discomfort that my diet may cause. I love eating this way, and in my experience, so does anyone who gives it an honest effort. I am convinced that eating plant based is going to become much more mainstream. I see a very near future where kids in schools are taught the truth about diet, where doctors give their patients more options than just popping more pills, and where we as a society understand the role of food in the prevention and reversal of life-altering diseases. I see a future where people understand the consequences of their actions on the environment, and actually care about it. I see a future where people live longer, suffer less, and enjoy their food more than ever before. I see a future full of people THRIVING ON GREENS!
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