For the 12 years it took for my vegetarian transition to fully take place, not once did it cross my mind that vegetarianism was going to change my health. I thought I was already fairly healthy. I jogged once a week and I loved being outdoors with friends. My motivation was purely ethics, so this article is the last thing I would have expected to be writing!
Living out a plant-based lifestyle these past 6 years has proven to me first-hand the link between diet and disease prevention. Skeptics used to claim that that my physical self feeling generally better was all in my head (which still would not have been a bad thing, considering the power of the mind over the body). But after watching my partner permanently ditch meat and share with me the health benefits he was starting to feel, it cemented my belief that going plant-based was the best decision not just for compassion and the environment, but also for an improved quality of life.
In hopes of inspiring others, I’ve decided to list down what happened to me when I went vegan. As the list grew, I realized that there’s way too much stuff to put down for reading at one go, so I’ve split it down halfway. Part 2 is here!
12. I stopped getting sick
I thought it was normal to get a cold or flu at least every 3 months. It was almost a given for it to happen so frequently. When I stopped eating meat, I noticed that I only got sick twice in the first year. And when I did get sick, I would get better in half the time, i.e. one week of flu instead of two. This was UNHEARD OF. I couldn’t believe that I my immune system was actually benefitting from my diet, but it did, and it still does to this day.
11. I got more energy
I was falling asleep at work, without fail, after every lunchtime. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom, pretending to take a dump, when all I did was close the toilet lid, sit on it backwards, laid my head on the water tank and snoozed for 10 minutes. And flushed before leaving for convincing effect. This embarrassing stunt stopped a few months after going vegetarian. I also wasn’t just feeling more energized at the office. I now had enough juice to wake up earlier and fit in a 30-40 minute jog around the neighborhood, before taking the bus to work. My everyday sluggishness disappeared and in its place, my first taste of plant-based power.
10. I was constantly hungry (but not for long)
One of the first things friends have asked me, when they first try a plant-based diet, is if it is normal to feel hungry all the time. Trust me, YES. In my first few months, I couldn’t stop eating every 2 hours. I had to constantly keep snacks on hand, which is where my baking skills have originated from! My stomach was previously used to heavy meat-based meals, which would take hours and hours to digest. It’s not a pretty picture – flesh decomposing in your stomach – but that’s what’s basically happening when you eat meat. Giving my stomach fresh fruits and veggies, that are much easier and faster to digest, wasn’t something my stomach was used to, so it kept asking for things to stay full with. In time, my stomach figured out what kind of foods to expect, and learned to chill TF out. I’ve realized that the voracious appetite was a phase my body went through to adapt to the diet, and it also gave me a chance to see which carbs worked best to sustain me. Now the three main meals a day are enough, and unless I’m in rigorous training mode, I rarely snack if at all.
9. My complexion improved
In my teens and early adulthood, I suffered from a mental disorder called Dermatillomania. I don’t want to go into detail because it’s a whole different story in itself. But what I can say is that my poor skin health aggravated the problem. I had extremely congested skin, and my skin was always rough and bumpy with blemishes. In 2012, I was also diagnosed with Eczema of the Ear. My right ear canal itched like crazy all the darn time, alternating from flaky to weeping, and it was getting constantly infected from me trying to scratch it. On a plant-based diet, my eczema has now become controlled and much more manageable. As for the skin on my face, I can confidently say that it is now the most beautiful I’ve had in my grownup life. Bright and smooth like a baby’s bottom. A baby bottom face. In this context, not a bad thing.
Circa 2005, after an episode of dermatillomania
8. My periods became more regular
I never knew when to expect my period before going plant-based. Sometimes it would arrive after three weeks, other times after 1.5 months. Now on a plant-based diet, my menses happens on the very day that I expect it. And in a beautiful, fresh red hue. No more weird, thick, goopy old brown stuff. This might seem like too much info for some, but this is was one of the most prominent changes I noticed. It was only a few months ago that my friend Marissa pointed out, during an outtake of this interview, that all the hormones found in mass-produced meat and dairy might have been the culprit behind my irregular periods. Totally didn’t occur to me beforehand, but it makes a lot of sense.
Read Part 2 here! Thanks for reading so far!