RE: Vegan - How Long & How Much?
Posted Monday, November 4, 2013 at 6:52 PM
I've been back and forth for many years, in terms of what I eat. I was vegetarian for about 4 years in the late '90s. Then I started eating fish again when I moved to South Korea, because fish is in pretty much everything. Even kimchi, which I love to eat, is traditionally made with anchovy paste(for those who don't know, the most widely-known variety of kimchi is a kind of spicy pickled cabbage).
But I still didn't eat red meat or poultry. When I eventually moved back to Canada, I started eating poultry again, but just at special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc). I called myself a semi-vegetarian for many years. For about 98% of the year, I was vegetarian, but was very unhealthy in my approach to food; almost my entire diet could be summed up by pasta, pasta sauce, and heaping amounts of cheese. No wonder I've had really low energy levels for so long!
More recently (in the last couple of months), I've gone back to being vegetarian. No more meat for me - not even for special occasions. In fact, Canadian Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago, and I didn't have any turkey. I did, however, enjoy a great dinner with family - and that's the best part about the holiday anyway
Since around August or September, I've been making the philosophical shift towards veganism. The more I read up on it, the more it just resonates with me. It feels like the right choice for me.
I'm still not 100% vegan, but I'm working really hard on breaking away from my cheese addiction. I started the Kickstart a day late, so I'm now on day 3 of being vegan. It might not seem like much, but 3 days in a row is a good start for me, and it's enough for me to want to do a little happy dance
A couple of years ago, I was training for a 10k race, and was having all sorts of issues with hip and knee pain. At the end of that that race, and just before I started training for my first half-marathon, I did a 'detox' of sorts for several weeks (avoiding gluten, dairy, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, etc, and adding in lots of fresh veggies and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fish a couple of times a week). Because of the tiny amount of fish I was eating, it wasn't a vegan diet, but apart from one or two meals a week, all of my other meals happened to be vegan. I tried this 'detox' because I wanted to get more energy - I was tired of feeling tired and sluggish all the time. The first week I felt even more tired, but I stuck with it, and by the end of the first week, I started to feel amazing. My energy levels just kept going higher, and I had better concentration and focus. But I also found other benefits that I wasn't expecting. I've had issues with my sleep patterns my whole life, but I found that I started being able to naturally go to bed earlier and I was able to fall asleep more easily. Also, when I went on training runs, I actually felt MORE energy the longer I ran. While other people were starting to get tired, I felt like I was just getting warmed up. When I started training for my first half-marathon, I was worried about having the same joint problems I had when I was training for shorter distances. But what surprised me was how good I felt the whole time I was training. In fact, I really, honestly loved my weekend long runs (yes, even the 20-kilometre runs), and I had no issues at all with my hip or knee. Of course, I was still smart with my training and with stretching, etc.
But then I fell off the healthy-eating wagon and my old running issues surfaced again. Which was not only discouraging - because I love running, and it sucked when I was sometimes sidetracked by joint pain or soft-tissue injury - but it also got expensive, since it meant trips to a physio to try to my muscles and joints working better.
It's funny - before this, I had never made much of a connection to diet and inflammation within the body. I had thought of foods and body composition, but not of foods and wellness vs injury/pain
So anyway, that's a really long explanation for the following answer to what I'm hoping to get out of going vegan: I'm hoping to have a lot more energy, to feel healthier, and to be able to get back into running because I really miss it. Oh yeah, and it'll feel good to know that I'm helping animals and the environment in my own, small way.
Congrats to anyone who's gotten to the end of my very long post (and sorry for being so wordy!)