Vegan, Jane Austen student, Minimalist, Reader, Librarian

Thursday, October 8, 2009

It's My Vegan Anniversary!

Music: Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme, We Got Us

It has been two years today since I took the vegan plunge! Amazing and wonderful. I’m so happy that I’ve come this far and I feel confident that this lifestyle change is permanent. The benefits I get from it are the most important motivation for my dedication to it. I love feeling good.

I first kept a little journal detailing the changes I felt right before & during my first several weeks of going vegan. It was interesting to look back and see the changes. What strikes me most is how often I slept poorly and how often I took pain relievers for headaches or other ailments before I was vegan. Now that seems so bizarre and far away. And it makes me very happy that I don't do this anymore. Even Jim, who used to wake up in the middle of the night with headaches. A thing of the past!

As most readers of this blog know, the primary motivator for becoming vegan was my health. So many of my family members have chronic disease and several went on high blood pressure medication for life when they turned 40. I didn’t want that to happen to me.

I had been leaning toward veganism since 1990 when I stopped eating beef and pork after taking a health class in college. I continued to eat poultry, dairy, & eggs, however. As I’ve mentioned in this blog in my very first post, I started to feel funny preparing meat in my kitchen. My husband got horrible food poisoning (campylobacter) that landed him in the emergency room for over 24 hours, and that freaked me out. I began reading voraciously about food poisoning and I didn’t feel confident that whatever I was doing was making dairy, eggs, & poultry safe enough for me to want to eat. So I just stopped.

I began by mixing soy milk with my regular milk, because I used to love milk and felt that was one change that I’d really have to get used to. Then I read T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study and that really freaked me out, enough to say, "that’s it, I’m vegan." So here I am, exactly two years later.

I also stopped taking birth control pills the same summer I decided to go vegan. I had been on them for a long time (almost 15 years) due mostly to severe menstrual cramping but research on birth control pills is iffy at best, and my doctor couldn’t satisfy my questions regarding the safety of being on them long term. So I stopped taking them. I was worried that the bad cramps would return; they sort of did at first but gradually got better each month. Now I’m fine with just a few ibuprofen as needed on those days. But I feel better not taking daily birth control pills anymore.

All my life, I’ve felt that I’ve been different from everyone else. And I don’t just mean that in the nerdy-dork teenager way that many of us feel we’re different. I mean that I never do things the way most people do. I’ve never wanted to. Some are little things: I don’t like scented candles & soaps, I don’t like to stay up or out late, I prefer to be quiet, I have a cell phone but it’s a cheapo Tracfone from Target, I buy all my clothes used. Others are bigger: being vegan, obviously, choosing to remain child-free, not owning a television, dishwasher, central air conditioner, phone land line or microwave oven, making my own personal care products. So when people meet me, I’m sure they think I’m weird. Well, some people. There are some people who are intrigued, and that’s cool. Some people ask me questions about how I do it. But they always have a curious, “hmm” look on their face.

It used to bother me, being so different. Now I kind of embrace it.

If you’re interested in becoming vegan, I highly recommend the following books and DVD to get you started:

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. This book is very scientific but amazingly readable. Written by a food scientist who grew up on a dairy farm, he discovered after years of study that animal protein has devastating effects on the body. Informative without being in your face, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Shortcut Vegan by Lorna Sass and Vegan Express by Nava Atlas. These two cookbooks will get you started on animal-free meals in no time. Most of the dishes can be prepared from start to finish in less than 30 minutes, with plenty left over for later meals. Not to mention absolutely fresh & delicious!

Vegan-Gal DVD by Jill Ovnik. This is a fun and informative DVD produced by a resident of South Haven, Michigan. She’s absolutely gorgeous, funny, and takes you on a step-by-step journey to eating vegan, from ordering food in a restaurant to shopping in a grocery store. It’s also prefaced by a wonderful 35 minute lecture where she presents the facts about eating vegan vs. eating animals.

What I’ve noticed about my body since becoming vegan:

  • I sleep through the night, almost every night
  • I don’t have any indigestion, ever
  • I am rarely sick and when I am, it’s much less severe & shorter in duration
  • I’ve dropped fifteen pounds (& 2 clothing sizes)
  • I have more energy
  • I don’t crave food as much between meals
  • I don’t crave “bad” food, such as fast food, those made with lots of preservatives, etc.
  • I eliminate three or four times per day
  • My skin is clear and I no longer have cyst-like acne on my face (which I used to have about once per month at least)
  • I am not on any prescription drugs (not even high blood pressure medication which was routinely given to many family members when they turned 40)
  • I don’t miss any of the food I thought I’d miss (as I think my taste buds have changed) such as cheese and milk
  • I crave fresh vegetables & fruit every day
  • I find myself very reluctant to take any over-the-counter medications, preferring to find something natural instead first
  • Being vegan has carried over into other parts of my life, such as making my own personal care products (facial cleanser, shampoo, body lotion), because I want to know what I put on my body as well as in it

Okay! Let's talk about some delicious food! Yesterday, I made these potatoes from Vegan Express:

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with Black Olives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub about 2 pounds of any small potatoes & cut into quarters; I used these beautiful Farmers' Market Michigan potatoes that are purple, even on the inside!

In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 2 tbsp olive oil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & spread potatoes in a single layer.

Bake for 15 minutes, then stir & sprinkle with leaves from about 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary & add about 1/3 C black olives. I used a can of sliced black olives.

Cook for 15 minutes longer until potatoes are tender. Season with sea salt & pepper to taste & more olive oil if you wish.

I served it with some sliced firm tofu (which I sauteed in 1 tbsp each of soy sauce, olive oil, & agave nectar until the tofu was golden brown) and a side salad of arugula, avocado, onions, & cherry tomatoes with lime juice, sea salt & pepper.


  1. Congratulations! Good luck on a lifetime of living a vegan lifestyle.

  2. Wow! Congrats on sticking to the vegan lifestyle, that's incredibly hard to do.
    I'm sure you get asked this all the time, but how do you stay healthy? I'm terribly prone to anemia, even with all the red meat I eat. So how do you get enough protein?

  3. Alice: See my post about protein!

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Alice - Check out this article too:

  5. The last two years have been an awesome adventure in eating the best food I have ever eaten and feeling the best I ever have! Thanks for making the decision so I could just follow along xoxox