Vegan-ish: My Journey to a Plant-Powered Lifestyle

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Lao-Tzu

Not everything in 2020 has been awful.  This year has meant more time with family and more time for self-reflection.  I've spent time examining a lot in my life this year and making myself and my health a priority.  Probably the biggest change in my life this year has been when it comes to my physical health - specifically where diet is concerned.  As you can tell from the title of this post, I've switched up my diet and am living a Vegan-ish lifestyle.  So what is Vegan-ish and how did I get here?  Well, let me tell you.

The Trigger

I didn't start 2020 with any grand intentions to make a major lifestyle change.  In fact, I started it on a pretty amazing vacation - one week away including 2 days at SeaWorld, 5 days on the Disney Dream cruise ship, and then a final day at Kennedy Space Center.  Coming back from that vacation, I was excited to write about our experiences and share pictures. . .until I saw them.  I found myself drafting posts that hid me from many of the images because (once again) I was unhappy with where I was.  It wasn't the first time I've been in this situation, but I was determined to make it my last.  Right around President's Day I signed up for Weight Watchers and made a commitment to myself and my health that I wasn't going to sign up to lose 20 lbs.  No - I needed to do better this time.  The year was fresh and exciting and with so much promise ahead in 2020, what could stand in my way??

Enter Pandemic Life

Oh yeah, COVID.  When COVID first hit and lockdowns became the norm, I knew things could go one of two ways.  I could throw in the towel, eat my feelings, and snuggle on the couch in my PJs with my kids all day. . .or I could stick to what I started.  With a lot of extra time. . .and I mean A LOT. . .we committed to cooking healthy and I began working out 2-3 times a day, because what else was I going to do?  Before I knew it, weight was quite literally falling off in leaps and bounds and not even my usual birthday weekend, Easter weekend, and Memorial Day weekend could deter me.  Weight watchers was working well with my exercise regimen and healthy eating lifestyle - lean meats, veggies, and low carbs.  As pandemic living continued and weeks became months, the success I was having continued to motivate me.  20 lbs lost.  30 lbs lost.  40 lbs lost.  I was back to feeling good while running and was excited to be selected as Bib Rave Pro ambassador.  Things were going great!

Yay!  Bib Rave Pro Ambassador 2020

The Year of the Documentary

I don't know if it's just old age setting in or the pandemic, or maybe a combination of both, but the hubs and I started watching more documentaries.  We started with Zac Efron's "Down to Earth" on Netflix.  More of a docuseries that follows Troy Bolton. . .I mean Zac Efron. . .around the world in search of healthy living and healthy lifestyles the show is equal parts entertaining and educational.  The episode on water was fascinating to me (did you know there is such a thing as a water sommelier?) and my second favorite episode was on the lifestyle of Blue Zones - areas of the world where people live long, healthy lives.  This docuseries sparked are interest into watching more about healthy lifestyles.  Both of us had been losing weight and one evening we turned into the documentary "What the Health?" on Netflix.  

Now before I go down the documentary rabbit hole, I'll just say that I acknowledge pretty much every documentary has an agenda.  I'm aware of that and I don't want these next few sentences to sound preachy. . .you do you.  Back to the documentary.

"What the Health?" takes a look at health problems plaguing America - diabetes, heart disease, cancer - and why they may be happening.  The documentary takes a hard look at diet and asserts through studies they found and medical experts interviewed that there is a big link between diet and disease.  There is a bit of government conspiracy arc that the film takes as it goes as far as to assert that the big business of the beef, dairy, and other animal industries is so powerful and influential, that it is using it's lobbying power to influence what the USDA and other health / dietary oversight agencies recommend.  Basically, the takeaway was that a plant based lifestyle will lead to a cleaner lifestyle.  It got me thinking about reducing the meat we eat - after all, red meat is a lot of weight watchers points!  Next, we found The Game Changers - also available on Netflix.  This documentary again shared the benefits of a plant based lifestyle but focused on busting the myth that you can't be strong on a vegan diet.  The documentary shared stories from Olympians, professional athletes, bodybuilders, and more who all not only embraced a vegan diet, but noticed huge gains in their performance.  

Vegan eating isn't boring! A yummy vegan entree from Sequoia in Washington, D.C.

I was sold to give it a try, but my husband was a bit more skeptical.  I did some of my own research and we decided we would phase into a more vegetarian and then maybe a completely vegan lifestyle.  We cut out red meat first, then white meat.  What I thought would take weeks to transition really only took days.  We found so many recipes on Pinterest that eating meat-free became easy very quickly.  One of our favorite resources we got as a recommendation from our neighbors - Forks Over Knives.  They publish quarterly magazines you can find in grocery stores complete with dozens of whole-foods plant-based recipes.  They even have an app that for $4.99 gives you access to their recipes and, yes, they have a documentary too.  Forks Over Knives takes vegetarian and veganism to the next level by promoting only whole-foods plant-based living.  The means no "fake" meat like Beyond Meat or other processed snacks that may still pass the vegan test.  All of this brought us to August.


So where am I now?  Somewhere on the way to veganism.  I have been completely vegetarian since the first part of August and mostly vegan - the only exceptions being ice cream, eggs, and cheese because I had to keep some nice things in 2020.  Will I go full vegan?  I don't know!  One of the mantras I've embraced in recent years is that life is a journey, not a destination.  I'm not going to rush into a vegan lifestyle when I'm not ready to just to say I did it.  I'm OK not conforming to an official mold right now.  I'm happy to share that my weight loss settled in around 50 lbs and I've been able to maintain that without effort for the past few months.  My blood work was never a major concern, but when I had my annual physical this year (telehealth - 2020 style), my cholesterol  and sugar numbers were even better than before.  I feel good and look forward to years ahead living meat free.

January 2020 - November 2020. . .50lbs later and living a healthier lifestyle

And what about my carnivore husband?  Well, even he says living vegan-ish isn't bad!  He cheats every once in a while for the important things like the occasional Chick-Fil-A sandwich or a piece of holiday ham.  He has also lost weight this year and maintained that weight loss with our new lifestyle.   Both of us are excited about the progress we made and look forward to continuing to move to a more plant-based lifestyle in 2021!


1 comment:

  1. I first heard about Forks Over Knives from our gastroenterologist. He’s a huge proponent of the diet. I’m intrigued and want to learn more - especially learn how to incorporate more plant based dishes in our diet and still satisfy my meat-eater husband. You’ve inspired me!