What, Valentine's Day? Nah, not that! Today is my Veganniversary! Yes, kids, as of today I have been vegan for one year! Everyone's experience with a major life change such as becoming vegan is different, so I can only speak for mine. In case you are interested, here are some notes I would make about my experience turning vegan.
1. The decision was not difficult. I "sat" on it to make certain I was sure, only for the amount of time it took for Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life to arrive from Amazon.
2. I did not announce my decision to my family for a while, and I have never demanded they share my lifestyle change, but they do happen to like many of the vegan meals I prepare. If they don't, it's okay, more vegan leftovers for me!
3. Detox wasn't fun, it took a good three months for me to cease craving dairy, but the rapid, easy weight loss during that time was enough for me to avoid second-guessing the decision.
4. During detox I really disliked vegan "meats" and "cheeses" so I built my vegan foundation on real, whole foods like grains, veggies, beans, nuts and other legumes. This is all for the best. Now that I do actually enjoy the vegan "meats" and "cheeses" I only have them occasionally, still mostly craving the unadulterated foods.
5. The first three months (detox) I lost 1-3 lbs. per week. Once I shed all the non-essential goop that was in my system, the weight loss stopped, and I am left at what I suppose must be the ideal weight for me, at around 15 pounds lighter than pre-vegan. This goes up and down about 3 lbs. according to what types of vegan foods and alcoholic beverages I am consuming, but always effortlessly balances out again after one or two meals of greens and grains.
6. Medications hit me hard and immediately now. I avoid them most of the time, and when they are needed I take half a dose or less. My Integrative Medicine M.D. explains that this is because, after being vegan so long, my liver is more clean that it has been in my adult life.
7. I have more energy than I have had since my M.S. diagnosis in January 1996. This is the first time since then that I don't need a daily afternoon nap.
8. Most of my life I have succumbed to seasonal allergies that invariably resulted in at least four sinus infections a year, necessitating antibiotic intervention. This year I did not get any sinus infections until the Christmas tree came into our home (this Christmas tree allergy happens every year, and I suspect it has more to do with pesticides and other greenery-prolonging chemicals than with the tree itself. Evergreens in nature don't do me that way.) The Christmas-tree infection was cured after 4 days of antibiotics. Yes, I know, we are supposed to take the whole 10 days-worth, but I didn't, because intuitively I knew I didn't need to.
9. Last Spring, when I got a "little ole' lady" injury walking on the beach (sprained sacral ligament from speed-walking barefoot on hard wet sand -- yeah, don't do this -- wear shoes if you are walking for cardio benefits) I got an x-ray. The technician had to do a double-take at my age on the chart. "These are not the bones of a 44-year old" (I'm now 45) she said. Do you take calcium? "No, I take kale and collard greens!" I answered. The technician went on to say my bones were more dense than most 30 year-olds!
10. I have always loved animals, but now I REALLY love animals! I realize when I look into the eyes of livestock, they are not so very different from the eyes of my sweet chowish-labbish Emma. Seriously I can get a glimpse of their personalities which are so individual and different. I believe that those of us who eat animals have blinders on about the lives and personalities of the animals who will become our food. We just don't let ourselves "go there". I believe being vegan opens one's heart and soul to comfortably SEE the animals. I can see the curiosity in the eyes of a cow. I can see the playful, cuddly nature in the eyes of a pig. What a gift!
The vegan journey isn't over. Though the rapidity of the changes has slowed, I can see my health continually evolving, and I suspect my whole animal awareness will continue to sharpen as well.
To celebrate my veganniversary I have been indulging in something I ordinarily wouldn't. I've learned my system doesn't like sugar so I truly usually avoid it. However, my daughter's vegan friend at school was turning 13 and so I had to make her "My Favorite Cupcakes" from The Kind Diet. I sent 6 of the cupcakes to school for my daughter's friend, and kept 6 for myself. I have already met Wynne's friend's mother, who asked me, "What should I cook for her?" at the time, so I knew it would be okay to send the cupcakes along with a little birthday card explaining where I got the recipe.
Here's Wynne's friend's little boxful of vegan birthday yum! I had to use some pretty tissue paper to divide the cakes so they wouldn't be a vegan fudgy mess as Wynne schlepped them to school.
So I have been indulging in a cupcake per day since I made the cupcakes, and I do note the slightly tired edge to my day, and the slight craving afterward where before there was none. I've only got one vegan cupcake left for tomorrow, and I'm glad I will only have a week or so until the sugar craving abates, not the three months that dairy would take. It's all good.
As I mark this Veganniversary, I want to thank all those creative, wonderful vegan souls, cookbook authors and bloggers alike, who have inspired and informed me. The blogging community, in particular, feels like a warm, fuzzy bunch of good friends to me. This was a vegan benefit I never expected -- Thanks beautiful vegans!