I have been thinking lately a lot about how I eat. More specifically, I am considering trying to go vegan for a few months. If nothing else, it would confirm a very strong suspicion.
I am not currently vegan, but I have gone a month or two on a vegan diet from time to time for various reasons, and this blog post is about where I stand now.
You hear people talk about the effects of a vegan diet all the time. You hear about them saying how healthy it is and how good you feel. What you don’t hear about so often is people who have gone vegan long enough to start to notice a difference, and then gone back. In some ways the term backslidden seems appropriate, but might be off putting to people who see the phrase as having a more religious connotation.
First of all, I never really used to think so much about how my body felt until I started to think about and change what I ate. I was always more in tune with my body than most people, but not quite like I was when I was focusing a bit on what I was eating.
During the times that I was living as a vegan (mostly for selfish reasons at the time), I noticed a few things.
1) Your body really does start to feel better when you live off of fruits and vegetables. A good balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and grains provides all the major dietary requirements and then some. They are full of energy and quite often are easier to digest than heavy meats.
2) When you eat healthier, you get to know your body better. You get to feel what it needs. Yes, your body will tell you what you are hungry for, and the more different things you eat the more likely it is that your brain will associate the body’s request with a specific food item.
3) I really really do like the taste of vegetables.
Now, to move on. Quite often, when I have fallen off the wagon, it has been because of something involving cheese. As I said, my reasons for going vegan were usually short term and somewhat selfish. Because of this it wasn’t so hard to pick up that burrito, or that slice of pizza, or a grilled cheese sandwich, and not look back.
Lately I have been thinking about other reasons to go vegan. One big one is the health benefits, the rest are a little less selfish. There are a lot of reasons to go vegan, and only a few real reasons that one might not. That is for another blog post though. The point here is to describe my experiences in a way that may make sense to others. If it makes sense to the people around me, then maybe they will help me stay away from cheese related products and places. 😛
As I said, when I went vegan for a while, there was a definite energy boost. My body felt healthier, more stable, cleaner. I was more in tune with my system. Most of the aches and pains associated with human life were gone.
Afterwards, when I started eating cheese and then meat again, there was a stark noticeable difference at first. After getting away from meat and dairy for a while, your body doesn’t always like the reintroduction.
After a few weeks though, my body started to get comfortable again with the situation. Something wasn’t quite right though, so I started watching my body and what it did.
Again, I needed to lose some weight, and wanted to do it safely so I went vegan again for about a month and a half. I lost the weight, and I had the energy boost that I had experienced before, and was overall more comfortable in my skin. Then came the cheese.
Looking back over the last handful of years, I have realized something. When we say we feel healthy as meat eaters, and that we are comfortable in our bodies as meat eaters (especially those who claim to be carnivores), quite often it is because we have no point of reference.
The times when I feel “comfortable” after eating meat again for a few weeks are not quite the same as actually being comfortable. It is the body adapting to the given situation. Human bodies are good at that.
I suspect that is why I feel “ok,” but not quite the same. Before my experiments with veganism, I really had no frame of reference. I had always had mild reactions to dairy (especially milk). I had always felt sleepy after eating a meal with a lot of meat. I had always felt just… Well, normal. Or at least, it was what I thought was normal.
So, to confirm this suspicion, I plan to try again soon. I have so many reasons to give it a go, and only one reason not to.
Yes, I do like cheese. I like it rather a lot, but that is not a valid reason. The only real reason is the matter of vitamin B12. It is the one vitamin that is hard to find in plant matter. It is more of a mineral really. It is a form of cobalt that the body uses for a lot of different processes.
Even that is not a valid reason at the moment though. The body requires a very minute amount of the substance, and there are many foods that are enriched with it. So, basically, modern science makes up for the one evolutionary glitch that makes meat somewhat necessary.
When I get to San Diego in a few months, I will have more control for a while over the groceries I buy. If I can stay away from Taco Bell, then I should be able to eat a vegan diet fairly effectively. I will try to post from time to time to keep people up to date on the results.
Oh, and for the record, raw grains tend to be a lot tastier to me than meat any day. 😛