Today is the first day of November, and it is also World Vegan Day. The last time I could call myself plant-based or vegan, I maintained a negative relationship with and outlook on non-plant food. I became obsessed with reading labels and spent time stressing over the outcome of each meal I ate.
Would this meal harm me?
Did I just open the door to disease?
These are the kinds of thoughts that ran through my mind constantly. And I couldn’t enjoy what I was eating because of how I hyperfocused on each meal’s long-term effects. For a while, I didn’t enjoy cooking and lost my creative spark in the kitchen.
My unhealthy thoughts reached their worst when I became pregnant and dealt with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). This condition completely ruined my ability to keep most food down, but green vegetables sent me running towards the bathroom the fastest. The phrase “kale salad” once had me wrapped around the commode for 10 minutes.
The girl who was all about plants could barely keep any down. So what did I do? I took the advice of a wise midwife who told me to “eat what will stay down.” Listening to her meant incorporating meat into my diet again, and I could finally eat enough to get through each day. Managing HG with the help of my midwife was a good thing, but I felt like a horrible mom every day. I struggled to get over the fact that I was no longer plant-based, and thought I was harming my child.
Sadly, there are no good treatment options for moms suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum. So in those moments when I felt the worst, I had to remind myself that I was doing the absolute best I could. To help with the negative thoughts, I blocked every vegan page and blogger I followed. I removed any messages that would make me feel bad about myself and fought to keep meals down.
After months without plant-based meals, the first thing I ate after delivering Lennox was a salad and smoothie. It was a happy reunion! For the past two years, I have enjoyed a flexitarian diet, eating meats and plants. Over the last six months, I’ve been on a gluten-free, Whole 30-type diet. And it’s been helpful with controlling some of the conditions I have. But for World Vegan Month, I am excited to make a return to a plant-based diet.
Why A Vegan Diet?
People choose to eat a plant-based diet for different reasons. Some follow it for the animals, some for the planet, and others for their health. I fall into the last category. When I am on a vegan or plant-based diet, I feel lighter and have more energy. Because I am dealing with a chronic illness and taking pharmaceuticals, I have been doing all I can to make positive changes to my health. And since I haven’t tried eliminating animal products since my diagnosis, I am interested in seeing how not eating them will make me feel now.
So, this month I will be leaving the goat, chicken, and fish behind for more beans and lentils. I’ll be skipping the Thanksgiving turkey for a double serving of greens. And honestly, I’m looking forward to the challenge. Because like everything else I’ve been working on lately, eating this way will require different habits. Things like making a meal plan each week, keeping cooked food on hand, and getting my grocery order in on time will matter.
What I am most excited about is the fact that my brain views everything differently now. I don’t think of foods as good or bad; I consider how they make me feel. I’m grateful that I’ve done the work to undo the harmful ways I viewed food before. And I’m excited about focusing more on what I will eat than what I won’t eat this month.
If you’re interested in learning more about a vegan diet, I wrote a whole e-book about it last summer. It’s filled with great plant-based swaps, recipes and, meal plans. I’ll be gifting a copy of it to the first interested person who comments on this post.
Also, if you didn’t know, the Atlanta Veg Fest is happening this Saturday! If you’ll be attending, please let me know. I’d love to say hello!
Have you ever tried out a vegan or plant-based diet or recipes? What has your experience been?
Thanks for reading,