One Year Vegan Anniversary
One year ago I decided to stop eating animal products and instead only eat plants. This lifestyle choice is commonly referred to as “vegan” or “plant-based.” I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. Personally I prefer the “plant-based” label because it focusses on the positive (I only eat plants) rather than the negative (I don’t eat animals). Anyway, I’m not really here to get bogged down on the semantics of what words I use to define myself. And I’m also not here to try to tell you how to live your life. Unfairly or not, vegans have a reputation of being preachy. I don’t want to come across as annoying or self-righteous. I’m here today writing these words because I want to communicate the truth of my experiences.
Over a year ago, I felt pretty healthy. I had stopped eating processed foods, added sugars, or gluten, but I still ate fish, chicken, and crickets. Eating crickets was an experiment I tried because they seemed like the most sustainable form of animal protein. Anyway, one day my friend Lorian said, “Aren’t you worried about the high levels of cholesterol in chicken?” I laughed because I had always assumed chicken didn’t have any cholesterol. Honestly, I didn’t even really know what cholesterol was. I knew some people were like, “Cholesterol doesn’t matter,” and other people were like, “It’s the only thing that matters.” After googling cholesterol levels in chicken I realized there was a lot of cholesterol in chicken. I got a little worried and thought, “Am I going to die now?” Unfortunately, the last time I googled this question I didn’t find a reliable answer.
For most of my life, I had always assumed the human body needed meat. In college, I played baseball so I did a lot of meat because every person I had ever seen touch a baseball ate meat. Then after I graduated and gave up on doing baseball I began to read things about how the brain needed special oils from fish. Little did I know, fish get their oils from algae. Time passed, I continued my relationship with meat.
Around this time last year when I began questioning animal products, I was listening to the “Rich Roll Podcast.” He is a vegan ultra endurance athlete. I really liked his interviews with doctors (Michael Greger, Robynne Chutkan, Garth Davis, Michelle McMacken, and Joel Kahn). His podcast opened a window in my brain and through this new found space escaped the notion that the human body needed meat to survive.
On July 31, 2015 I finished the last of the cricket powder I had special ordered from Canada. I took a picture with the empty bag. The next day I posted the picture on instagram commemorating my first day as a vegan.
The first month was a little strange. I felt very high on life. I was eating smoothies constantly (tip: a good blender helps a lot in the transition to a vegan/plant-based lifestyle). I also dropped some weight. This isn’t uncommon. Your body is transforming itself. It needs to relearn how to be a body. The microbes are adjusting to the new food you’re giving them.
Going home for the first time after adopting a vegan/plant-based lifestyle was interesting. My parents were generally open and supportive, but there were the usual questions like, “Where are you going to get your protein?” There were also some weird moments. At one point, my father jokingly questioned my masculinity, which is fine. I could care less about the notion of masculinity. It’s just another social construct used to repress people and keep them from achieving a true vision of themselves. So, yeah no big deal when my dad was all like, “You eat too many vegetables and your pee pee is going to fall off.” And I was like, “death to mens,” while eating an entire head of cabbage.
I’ve found that the more I do plants the more my body seems to like doing plants. I can feel the microbes inside me changing. My digestion has improved. Things that bothered me stopped bothering me. Before going vegan/plant-based I had this bad tendinitis in my foot from running that has since disappeared. In general, plants cause way less inflammation than animal products. Also, one other thing. My blood pressure dropped from around 120/80 to 90/60 since I decided to only eat plants. It has gone from decent but maybe concerning to perfect thanks to plants.
It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since I went vegan/plant-based because it’s become such a big part of who I am that it feels strange to think back when I still ate animals. Considering the health, environmental, and moral benefits of not eating meat, I wish I had made the switch a lot sooner, but there’s nothing much I can do now about all the meat years in my past except continue to eat plants and feel better and better.