Evoking change… adopting a vegan diet

Mar 8, 2012   //   by Yoga Lisa DC   //   Blog, food, self-care  //  3 Comments

In the last four to five months, I’ve been slowly implementing changes in my life. These changes include recommitting to and redefining a daily yoga and meditation practice and eating my veggies. My latest change was about making a sacrifice. I decided to try adopting a vegan diet.

I grew up Catholic and spent all of elementary and high school in parochial school. Although I am not actively practicing now, there are still elements of what I learned that have stuck with me. One of those was either making a sacrifice or doing some service for your community throughout the Lenten season. You may or may not know that Lent began on February 22 this year. And while I may not have gone to receive ashes, I did decide that I would make a sacrifice. I would give up all animal products. I’ve been eating mostly vegetarian for about the last two years now, but hadn’t committed to cutting fish or dairy out of my diet. I love sushi and really, what’s a homemade pizza without a blend of four cheeses. I decided that in 2012 I would cut out the fish, but wasn’t so sure about committing to cutting out the dairy.

In January, I actually signed up for the 28-Day Vegan Kickstart, however I wasn’t ready to commit. So I just kept eating vegetarian (no fish at all). When a friend asked what others were “doing for Lent”, I decided that this sacrifice would be worth it. I would try eating vegan through Easter and depending on how my body feels determine if I will keep it up or keep it up 95% of the time and allow for trace amounts of diary in some of my favorite holiday baked goods, breads, crackers, etc.

I am already feeling better. I slipped up and tried to enjoy my regular pizza lunch two tuesdays ago, I felt awful afterwards (and I mean my stomach, not guilt). I hadn’t realized until I was about 10 days into eating vegan (I started before Ash Wednesday) that my body really doesn’t like cheese as much as my tastebuds do. Completely eliminating it and then reintroducing it taught me this valuable lesson. And eating this way has been an encouragement for me to cook (check out my recent Adventures in Cooking). I’m living on lots of vegetables, quinoa, green smoothies, and other whole unprocessed foods. Although it is slightly processed, I do like to slip some vegan protein powder into my smoothies, just to ensure I’m getting enough.

I wasn’t sure how i would manage eating this way – being vegan – but I am managing quite well. I haven’t gone as far as to stop using leather goods, but I am trying to be mindful about what i buy. Oddly, I’ve been using vegan nail polish for the last four years. My favorite brands – Zoya and Spa Ritual – are vegan. They are made without formaldehyde, camphor, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate.

I feel I’m working to embody one of the yogic values – ahimsa – non violence or non harming behavior – through eating vegan. It’s actually the first of the yamas in the eight-limbed path. Making this sacrifice is helping me to embody this yama, as I stop harming myself by no longer eating the things that my body doesn’t react well to.

We’ll see how things progress over the next five weeks and I’ll make a decision as to how I want to go forward, so deciding if this will be a permanent change. If I continue feeling better and healthy, I think this is a change that I may want to stick with (or at least stick with 95% of the time).

Did you make any sacrifices or decide to give back to the community this Lenten season? Why did you decide what you did? How is it changing your life?

3 Comments

  • Hey, it is interesting to read about your vegan experience. I actually had similar plans for this year. On Jan 1 I committed to giving a vegan diet a try for the month of January and then re-evaluate my eating habits after that month. I wanted to see what I can easily do without, what is hard for me to give up and how my body feels on such a “clean” diet. And unfortunately, I have to say, my body didn’t like vegan at all. My skin started breaking out like crazy, I got a never-ending case of bad herpes, my energy levels were in line with the temperatures (aka, below zero) and I got a cold that I couldn’t seem to get over. Maybe it was just a bad time of the year and I would have gotten all of these things anyways, but it didn’t exactly motivate me to stick to it.
    I have a book recommendation for you though: the 21-day weight loss kick start diet by Dr. Neal Barnard. I really didn’t do it primarily for the weight loss (even though I wouldn’t have minded dropping a few pounds) and he is a cardiologist anyways. For me the point of a vegan diet was really more a combination of health benefits and disgust with the disrespect towards the animals we “produce” to eat.
    I think I want to try going vegan again in the spring or summer, but so far the experience hasn’t been convincing.
    Good luck though with the changes you are making! The fact that it’s working out better for you than it did for me makes me believe that my experience was just due to bad timing.

    • Thanks Susanne! and thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll have to look into that. I am changing to vegan for health, but I know it wouldn’t have felt as easy if I hadn’t taken it in stages. I would try eating 1 vegan meal a day and slowly ease yourself into it. It might change how your body reacts to it. Also, I’ve been really particular about making sure I have enough protein and omega fatty acids from all sorts of plant sources. My energy hasn’t plummeted, which is good, but I also start each day with a protein packed green smoothie. I have a handful of pounds that I am trying to get back off, but for now, eating this way is more about seeing if there is an overall change in health. Eliminating cheese and dairy has been my biggest impact. Although the scale hasn’t changed, the bloating that I used to experience all the time (especially since i would eat foods with some level of dairy almost every day) has gone away. This change alone will likely encourage me to maintain the food style.

  • Totally agree on the experience re eliminating cheese and dairy. I am lactose intolerant and did away with those quite a while ago. Makes such a difference to me — not having stomach cramps and feeling bloated all the time. I like the idea of eating one vegan meal a day — might give that a try. Shouldn’t be too hard with spring and summer around the corner and all the fresh fruit and veggies.
    Btw: Another book i read recently is “The kind diet” by Alicia Silverstone. I am having trouble finding some of the ingredients she uses in her recipes, but I liked the book nonetheless.

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Auntie to two adorable little boys and a beautiful little girl. Sister. Friend. Yogini. Yoga teacher. Accountant. Knitter. Amateur photographer. Very amateur golfer.

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