In the summer, I decided to become a vegan. You may recall when I became a vegetarian several years ago. I stayed a vegetarian for three years but decided to return to eating meat for health reasons. This time I jumped in veganism head first and have never felt better. Weird, huh despite all my difficulties being a vegetarian.
I know it seems confusing as to why I left being a vegetarian in the first place. When I went vegetarian, my gut health wasn’t good and I was also starting menopause. (Just so you know, I started way earlier than my friends. So don’t wish your period goes away. Menopause sucks.)
Menopause is wicked and no one really tells you that an alien takes over your body. My thyroid numbers increased, I gained weight, and I was exhausted all the time. Plus, as a vegetarian, I was starving too. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on.
However, there was one really great thing that happened while I was a vegetarian. The hot flashes stopped. None. Nada.
I still craved meat and would eat it every couple of months. I knew something wasn’t right.
So Why Did I Leave Being a Vegetarian?
So, whenever, I was hungry, I would turn to peanut butter! No wonder I packed on the pounds as a vegetarian! Plus,my whole family was carnivores. My hypoglycemia was out of control too.
I was eating too many simple carbohydrates and not enough vegetables.
So, my doctor said I needed more protein, and urged me to stop being a vegetarian. The first day I ate chicken, I couldn’t stop.
In retrospect, I was not eating enough beans or vegetables. I was literally starving. As I mentioned above, I was eating too much fat.
I also noticed I was eating cheese products and eggs, which really don’t agree with me. Cottage cheese makes me constipated. (Sorry to be so graphic.)
It was too easy to be a bad vegetarian and grab a piece of pizza or some sort of refined vegetarian meal.
So How is This Time Different?
My son, who is a Juvenile Diabetic decided to become a vegan. Both my husband and I decided to go vegan to support him. We used many of the recipes from Dr. Greger’s vegan cookbook. “The How Not To Die Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease.” to start eating whole food without any added oil. (Dr. Greger advocates no oil and no process food. Read about his philosophy HERE.)
- I learned from my prior mistakes as a vegetarian.
- My husband is also a vegan so it was easier to cook for just the two of us versus just me. I cook for us and he cooks for our children when they come home.
- I am trying to avoid anything that is refined although I have to admit it is still hard. Prepared veggie burgers are so appealing when you don’t have time to cook.
- Batch cooking has been my savior. I make 4 times the amount of veggie meatballs or veggie burgers, or double the amount of a stew so we simply need to pop them into the oven to warm up the food.
- We try and eat more vegetables.
- Eating out is hard since vegan options are limited to Mediterranean or Thai food. So, consequent, we eat out less than we normally did. This is a good thing since we are no longer eating an abundance of salt, sugar, and other ingredients which may not be good for us.
- Rice and I are not friends. It just doesn’t agree with me. However, quinoa has no negative effect on me.
- I make my own beans since I can’t canned digest beans. I need to soak them before I cook them. (You know I am no stranger to canning. I even canned in the dark when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey years ago.)
- I canned a ton of beans by soaking them and then cooking them in my Instant Pot. (This baby has been a lifesaver since I can make stews and soups so easily with it.) By the way, having 2 pressure canners allows me to cook 14 quarts of beans in one fall swoop. However, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to can beans. (Be sure to read 12 tips no one told me when canning food.)
- Avoiding cheese/milk products has been a game changer for me. I noticed I am not as hungry since I stopped eating dairy products. I was never much of an egg person since they just don’t agree with me.
- Unfortunately, I avoid avocado. This stinks. I found out that I am sensitive to avocado. When I was in Detroit years ago visiting Ford’s headquarter’s I got very nauseous when I ate an avocado. Let me tell you. It isn’t fun being double over nauseous when you are away from home. Ever since then, I have stayed away from avocados.
Here Is What I Noticed.
It has been 7 months since I became vegan and I feel much better.
- I had a lot of back pain from my garden injury years ago. The pain has disappeared. I do have occasional sciatica issues but not that often. (I still have Lyme so this may why it acts up.)
- I sleep better and am not as tired as I was.
- My skin is softer than it was before I was a vegan.
- I lost about 10 pounds but some of it came back.
- I eat less sugar since vegan baked good aren’t easily accessible near me. I was never a big sweets eater although I do like my vegan ice cream.
Issues I Am Still Working On:
I am a meal skipper and like to eat my energy bars in lieu of food. Honestly, I get so busy during the day that I forget to eat. This is terrible if you are hypoglycemic.
On my to do list is making more soups full of vegetables and mushrooms and eating more salad. I am going to have to force myself to sit down and eat. (You can’t imagine how hard that is for me.)
I like to grab a bowl of high fiber cereal with banana and almond milk for lunch. Not ideal but better than eating energy bars.
Lastly, despite soaking and cooking my beans in kombu, I still can’t digest them. For me, beans are really hard to digest. Soaking and adding kombu to the final cooking process is suppose to help. I even soak my lentils too. But I still have the benefits of beans if you get my drift. If anyone has any ideas how to digest beans better, leave a comment below. I need the help.
I am hoping that this lifestyle is here to stay. I don’t really miss meat but do miss my beloved tuna fish salad. Vegan mock tuna salad is good but not the same. (Share if you have a great recipe. I am all ears.)
Join the Conversation
Are you vegan? If so, share some tips on how to be a better vegan. I am still a work in process.
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Beane helps digest beans. It is a digestive enzyme.
Mimi, sometimes it works for me and other times it doesn’t. Thanks for the suggestion. Anna
Hi, I have been a vegan for many many years. It’s really great you are too! When it comes to beans, soaking them and cooking with kombu is helpful. (Which you are doing), I would focus on starting with lentils and chickpeas in small and then increasing amounts. They are more easily digested. I would also try eating them in the traditional Indian ways with spices -espoecially with a pinch of Hing (asofaetida) -the spices have digestive properties. The body develops a tolerance for beans overtime. Since you mention eating a lot of peanut butter, which is a cooked legume paste, introducing more hummus into your diet might help too. I think it’s because it’s in paste form and perhaps more easily processed by the stomach. The above is what worked for me.
Marion, I heard about hing. I am going to buy some. You would think I would adapt since I have been eating beans for such a long time. Even hummus can be an issue. Anna
Cindy P Yates says
Hi Anna, So happy to learn that you’ve (and the rest of your family!) gone vegan. I’ve been veggie for about 21 years and vegan 9 years. I must say it was much more difficult at the beginning, but one of the best decisions of my life. Honestly I feel great mentally, physically, and spiritually. I believe that once you stop contributing to the horrendous animal ag industry, you have stopped ingesting the pain and suffering of all who died because of you.
My best advice is to go easy on yourself. Please don’t feel that you must be so strict and hardcore right away. This way it won’t feel that you’re giving up anything because really you are gaining so much.
So many fantastic recipe sites online – Oh She Glows, The MInimalist Baker, PETA website, thousands. It amazes me that you can find a vegan version of anything you’d like to cook.
My next goal is to stop the sugar. I’ve tried to cut it out several times and always return. But eventually I’ll get there.
Best of luck to you and your family.
Joshua howard says
Hi, Anna! I have been a raw vegan since 2015. Unfortunately, beans are really hard to digest. Sometimes spices like ginger or turmeric can hepl but not always. Try to eat more vegetables with your beans. About 70% of meal should be vegetables. At first, it’s really hard to eat only plant-based food. There are a lot of vegan food rich in protein like seitan, tofu, tempeh. Did you try to cook it?
You might try bean pastas. Also worth trying is Santa Fe Bean Company’s Culinary Refried Beans. It’s made from ground up dried pinto beans and you just mix it with boiling water and in five minutes you have refried beans. Another idea: eat the smallest pulses you can find. Try the tiny red split lentils are the little black beluga lentils. And lastly, try sprouting your beans before you cook them.
Ron, I soak all my beans before cooking but they still give me some issues. I do eat alot of lentils too. Do you think soaking enough to sprout helps? Anna