I Actually Tried a Mostly Vegan Diet and This is What Happened to Me
If you'd asked me ten years ago if I would've imagined so many people would be interested in a plant-based diet in Longview or Tyler, Texas, I would've laughed out loud--literally.
However, the perspective has dramatically changed for a significant minority of people in East Texas. Perhaps not regarding an ENTIRELY vegan diet, but there's been interest in at least a partially-vegan diet.
Several years ago, Brian May of Queen decided to embrace 'Veganuary." And as talk about the potential benefits of a vegan or mostly vegan diet, has been discussed all over the media, more and more people have decided to at least give it a try.
What the heck is 'Veganuary?"
It's a movement encouraging people, including celebrities, to give a vegan diet a try during the month of January. And of course, now that January is almost over perhaps we'd have to rename it... uh, Febreganary? Huh. That doesn't really work, does it?
Regardless of the name, as much as some may be interested in at least trying it, they can become overwhelmed with how to do it properly and give up before they begin. Not to mention any concerns we may have over giving up or even just cutting back on meat and dairy. I mean, this is Texas, after all.
First things first. How about a quick review of what a vegan diet is:
Let's start with a WAY oversimplified definition of a vegan diet, which is one that doesn't include animal products of any kind--including honey. Some who embrace a vegan diet also don't wear or use any animal products of any kind. That's a different angle outside our scope. Let's chat only about the diet itself and not the ethical discussions that surround it. Cool.
Am I vegan? No, I'm not. But when I gave it a go a couple of years ago, I would aim for around 85-90% vegan.
Well, I prefer the term whole food, plant-based (WFPB.) Being vegan is not the answer, because you could subsist on potato chips and be technically "vegan," but it wouldn't provide the nutrients your body needs.
From around September 2019 through most of 2020, I consumed a *mostly* WFPB vegan diet, but a more accurate term could be Flexi-Vegan. Why did I do this? After delving into all kinds of diet debacles, this seemed to be the thing my body likes.
So, what happened? Did I feel better or worse? Was it a nightmare to give up some of my favorite foods? Yes and no.
Over the course of my mostly-vegan diet experiment, I went and had bloodwork done so I could get some hardline data during the process--ya know, outside of the scale. Here's what happened:
It resulted in a significant drop in my triglycerides, LDL, and blood pressure numbers. In the future, I also dropped quite a bit of weight--close to 40 pounds. Sadly, during the quarantine, I gained some of it back after succumbing to the standard American diet. I find myself now at a juncture as to whether I will go back to what I was doing before or, make a few tweaks here and there, and so on.
So what the heck did I eat on a 'mostly vegan' diet?
The majority of the time my whole foods plant-based diet means a diet focused on whole grains, legumes, berries, nuts, seeds, and of course, lots of green and colorful veggies. Occasionally, I would enjoy some wild salmon or organic poultry, etc. Oh, and I definitely would try to take it easy on the oil.
On special occasions, holidays, and when I really need a bit of honey in my tea, I indulge in other foods I love--like beef, cheese, etc. It worked for me. I also found I was actually surprised by the variety of food and I didn't really ever feel hungry.
So, eating that way wasn't boring AF?
Some people wonder if eating becomes boring when you're not eating high-fat animal products at every single meal. As someone who came out of the womb cleaning her plate, I assure you that is NOT the case. It's amazing how many different flavors you didn't realize you were missing when you're including such a wide range of foods you've never had before.
I also found many restaurants more than gracious about creating something amazing that works. Some people enjoy having more animal protein in their diets. That's the thing about a "flexible" approach--it is more of a spectrum than a law book.
A while back, I read this article from The Daily Mail website reporting a study and subsequent recommendations to take a look at this Flexi-Vegan diet and thought "hey, this is similar to what I'm doing, give-or-take a bit."
The article reports that "scientists say you don't have to go vegan to be green as you can have the occasional steak or piece of blue cheese and still do your bit. Just a moderate shift away from red meat, diary and high calorie foods all goes to helping save the planet and our health."
So, even just cutting back on the high-fat, cream-filled, and overly decadent animal foods can be an important first step for your health.
That's encouraging news--and we could all use a bit more of that. If you read it, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Meanwhile, I'll be trying to decide what to have for dinner. ;)
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