Evolution of a Vegan

December 2009

Reflection. Over-thinking. Indecision. Resistance. More resistance. Then finally change.

A few weeks ago, I woke up singing, “Shut up and put your money where your mouth is.” That’s my intuition speaking and it was nudging me forward. For the past year or so, I have been conflicted over writing a blog called It’s Easy Being Vegan! I believe it is easy being vegan (about as easy as eating the standard American diet (SAD) depending on where you live) and I want people to understand that. It’s not as hard as people think, so that should never be a reason why people don’t give it a shot. However, as I evolve personally, I’m not sure how much I care about it being easy anymore.

Easy is good. A challenge is good too. But doing the right thing is even better. I originally started this blog to combat all the negative comments and resistance about giving up consuming/buying animal products. At this point in my journey, I have become more interested in the health benefits of being vegan. I went vegan to fight animal cruelty — one meal and one new pair of shoes at a time. So now that I have been vegan for over five years and am learning the health benefits of a plant-based diet, I have been wondering why I care more about the animals than my own health.

Don’t misunderstand. The animals are still and always will be very important to me. Their plight set me on this path back in 1985. Make no mistake, compassion is important, but lately I’m relating more to the airplane analogy. I need to put on my oxygen mask first before I put it on the kids or the senior citizen sitting next to me. I can do more good for the animals when I feel great. Being vegan does not equal good health unless I eat healthy. A plant-based diet is by far the healthiest diet around for all involved, i.e. humans, animals, and Earth. But eating a HEALTHY vegan diet is not easy — at least for me. Does anyone relate? As I wrote in Evolution of a Picky Eater, I did not grow up loving healthy food. Yes, I have made great strides for sure, but I have a long way to go. It’s a journey after all.

This morning I watched a talk given by Dr. McDougall called The Fat Vegan. It hit home. I know why I struggle with weight — even if it is only 5-15 pounds. I doubt anyone would call me fat but it’s highly unlikely anyone would suggest I run out and buy a pair of skinny jeans either. But this isn’t really about how I look. It’s more about how I feel. I do struggle with my weight though and I feel better when I’m thinner. I have more energy. I feel lighter. Yes, I want to be vegan. I love being vegan, by the way. But I want it to be easy. So I eat more “transition” foods then I should. (Transition foods are faux meats and other substitutes like non-dairy cheese and sour cream.) They may be vegan, but they aren’t health foods. It’s processed food. Plain and simple. These foods may be better than meat or cheese but not optimal by any means. They are fake foods. Whole foods are by far the healthiest. They are natural and real. It just makes sense to focus on whole foods. But, I fall off the wagon and eat processed foods for days (and sometimes weeks) at a time. Part of my problem is that I want to try it all. I see the word, vegan, and I want to taste it. Vegan chocolate cake. I’m in. Vegan chocolate pudding. Give me the spoon. Vegan crunchy corn sticks. Give me the bag! I’m still amazed at all the great vegan food available. But I need to stop. Take it down a notch. It’s like I’m a kid in a candy store. My inner child is ruling my food choices. So it’s time for me to grow up my eating habits.

With all that said, I eat way healthier now than I did the first few years of being vegan. I really do try to include a green vegetable at every meal and am successful most of the time. But I want to take my life to the next level. I want to thrive all the time. Instead I start and stop. Start and stop. Start and stop. Over and over again. So sometimes I’m thriving and sometimes I’m just surviving. Lucky for me I’m in good health and thriving is a very real and immediate option. But to make that happen, I need to be consistent. Disciplined. Committed. Food is only one component. Regular exercise matters. Doing work I enjoy is critical. Thriving in life requires much change for me. So food is only one step. But it’s an important one.

Dr. McDougall’s talk inspired me to take action today. To hold myself accountable. Quit thinking about it and just do it already. And what better way then to start making changes here. Will I always eat healthy? Unlikely. But wouldn’t it be awesome if I indulged only occasionally, like on Thanksgiving Day? Or my birthday? Adults still need to play!

So what’s next for It’s Easy Being Vegan? A name change. Perhaps a new look. My focus going forward will be to write about being vegan from a healthy perspective — whether it’s easy or not. Will there be tips for making it easy? Of course! Will they be geared more towards good health? You bet. I have a new tip up my sleeve already. And from time to time, I’m sure I will write about some plain old good vegan food whether it’s healthy or not.

The link to my blog will remain the same for now. After all, I will always be the vegan girl next door. Evolving Vegan is the front-runner for the new title, but I’m still playing around with ideas. Please share if you think of something snappy. I hope you all continue with me on this journey. I always enjoy hearing from readers, so keep the questions and comments coming.

Cheers to change! May consistency, discipline and commitment take root.
(Said with resistance nipping at my heels.)


Thrive book giveaway!

So what do you think? Where are you with your diet? What changes do you want to make this year and how are you going to do it? Comment or ask a question about this post by March 31, 2010 and be entered to when a copy of the aptly named book, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. I will contact the winner via email the first week of April. Good luck!