Listening to your body can really help to understand what type of eating is best for you. This is important because everyone is different, what works for one person may not work for another. This has been very true for me and why I have changed my eating habits over the years. If you’re thinking about changing your eating habits, or maybe have questions, I wanted to share my experience of why I transitioned from vegan to vegetarian…it’s all about listening to my body.
Prior to me switching over to a vegan lifestyle I didn’t know much about veganism.
For me, it began when I was having quite a few health problems. I talk a little bit about this in my Yoga post which you can read here.
A Little Background
I struggled with adrenal fatigue and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in 2014. This article explains the condition more in depth, but short version is that it really has an effect on hormones.
Over the next couple of years I began to struggle with my weight, mostly due to the hormones. My body and metabolism went through a drastic change, plus it didn’t help that my eating habits weren’t the best.
I would go through phases of eating healthy then fall back into my bad habits. I just couldn’t find a diet or way of eating that I really enjoyed. That’s why I believe I always went back to what I was comfortable with, but it wasn’t healthy.
I tried the Paleo diet, food prepping, even meal plans. But nothing stuck. I would feel bored and tired of eating the same thing.
Before Eric and I moved to Chandler, AZ in 2015 my eating habits were at their worst. We ate out almost everyday of the week, I lacked motivation, and wasn’t doing any exercise. I would have to say at this point I kind of felt defeated in trying to heal my body.
When we moved to Chandler it only got worse. I had a job as a medical assistant at a pediatricians office and it was extremely stressful.
I started the job with trying to eat healthier meals, taking my lunch everyday and even a little bit of food prep. But by the time I left the job, which was only 6 months later, I was addicted to soda.
I needed the caffeine to help keep me going throughout the day. I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home at least twice a week because I was stress eating and felt too tired to cook dinner.
It was then, that I knew I needed a change. I felt it deep in my heart that I could be doing better than I was, and that I needed to change my circumstances.
So in the middle of transitioning careers, is also when I began to do my own research in healthier eating.
Eric was the one who actually approached me with the idea of going vegan. He said he had looked into it a little bit and the benefits sounded like they could be helpful for me.
Honestly, at first this was a hard NO for me. You see I was a meat and potatoes kinda girl. A steak with a baked potato was one of my favorite dishes. One of my Tatas used to cook it for me all the time.
So me transitioning into a vegan lifestyle didn’t happen over night at all! I can be slow to change sometimes, hey I’m a create of habit what can I say.
Eric suggested the idea to me in the fall and over the next 5-6 months I started looking into the vegan diet. I felt frustrated that I just couldn’t maintain a healthy weight no matter what I tried and I always felt that I had no energy.
I was at my wits end, so I decided, “Hey maybe I need to try something different and that’s the problem, I’m too scared to step outside of my bubble.”
The more research I did about veganism, the more motivated I began to feel about trying something new. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, and read tons of articles and blog posts.
I felt that if I was going to make a change, I wanted to do it with all the knowledge I could and in the healthiest way possible. Early on, I understood that it was important for me to get all of the necessary nutrients.
This is why I think it’s important, if you are considering a diet or lifestyle change do your own research. It’s not enough to rely on other people’s experiences. Not only do you gain so much knowledge but, that’s also how I learned to listen to my body more.
I also read about how some people would go vegan, but wouldn’t eat enough and how damaging it can be for your body.
After all the research, things really clicked for me when Eric and I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix.
The documentaries Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives really had an impact on me. If you haven’t seen these documentaries I highly recommend them, they are so eye-opening.
But I wouldn’t recommend watching them unless you’re prepared to learn the truth about our food system. I didn’t watch these until I felt ready and I wouldn’t want to push anyone to watch unless you feel prepared too.
I do things in my own time, and I believe that everyone has the right to do the same. There’s no judgement if you aren’t ready to know certain things. That’s life and we all evolve at different times. Just know the information is there if or when you are ready.
Watching these documentaries is when I learned the truth about factory farming, the impact it has on our environment, and the poor treatment of animals.
It broke my heart seeing chickens in cages all piled on top of one another in a dark warehouse. And cows standing between metals bars with only enough room to eat or drink.
I cried, it was hard to see, but the truth hurts sometimes.
After those documentaries something in me just clicked. I was ready to not only switch to a vegan diet but to change my whole lifestyle.
I first decided to try eating vegan for 2 weeks. I wanted to test out the waters and see how my body responded.
Some people go from vegetarian to vegan, but I decided to go vegan because at this point I was rarely eating any dairy. I stopped drinking regular milk a while back, cut back on cheese, and was mostly just eating eggs.
Once I started eating vegan, those 2 weeks turned into 2 years. I felt like a whole new person! My body responded so well at first. I had a little more energy and I was actually enjoying all the things I was eating.
I looked into quite a few recipes before I transitioned as well. Can you tell I like to be prepared? Haha.
Now, eating vegan didn’t “cure” my bad eating habits. I never ate perfectly and still don’t, I’m human. There are still things that are “accidentally” vegan, like Oreos. But it helped me to get more fruits and vegetables into my diet, as well as healthy fats and proteins. I’m pretty sure it was the most veggies I’d ever eaten in my life!
While eating vegan, at first I was in heaven. The food and new energy, I was soaking up like the sun.
The First Year
The more energy I felt, the more I wanted to start working out again and get my body moving. Over a 6 month period I slowly saw my weight go down. When I started eating vegan I was at my heaviest, 160 lbs and little by little I lost about 20 lbs.
And after that I lost another 10 lbs and was able to maintain a healthy weight of 130 lbs. I know numbers aren’t important, or they shouldn’t be the number one topic, but I want to give a realistic picture of my experience.
Weight was not my main reason for transitioning into a vegan lifestyle. And these numbers may not seem like a lot for some people, but having been thin most of my life this was a big deal for me. Weight wasn’t really an issue for me until I was diagnosed with PCOS.
Eating vegan is also when I fell in love with cooking all over again. I had so much fun experimenting with different foods, dishes, and spices. It motivated me to get out of my comfort zone.
Once I was comfortable with cooking vegan dishes, I began to challenge myself to recreate some of my favorite dishes that I used to eat before I was vegan, like enchiladas.
My love for smoothies and juicing also came with my vegan lifestyle. Trying different smoothies is so much fun! The colors and flavors. Juicing does take a bit more work, but it’s good for you so it’s worth it.
Things were going well…or so I thought.
You may be thinking “This all sounds great, so why are you vegetarian?” Click here for Part 2 and all will be revealed!