Lately I’ve received a lot of questions from family and friends about why I’ve decided to go vegan. Apart from what I’ve mentioned so far…
Some people have suggested that I have chosen to follow a vegan diet as a direct result of suffering from an eating disorder. This I don’t deny. I have most definitely been influenced by the fact but not for the reasons that most people would assume. Having eaten irregularly, starved myself, binged and abused laxatives over the years I have cause my whole digestive systems a bit of damage leaving it unable to handle certain types of foods.
No that is not my stomach!
If I eat dairy, just like wheat, it causes my stomach to blow up like a balloon and I experience spasms of pain within a couple of hours of eating which can last up to (and ruin) a whole day. The cycle of bloating, pain, becoming bed ridden and the general daily uncomfortable heavy feeling became draining. Conventional doctors had no answer other than a colostomy which at the age of 22 I was keen to avoid at all costs.
I eventually went and spoke to a herbalist who put me on a mix of herbs to replace the conventional medicine which to all extensive purposes had caused me more harm, bother and side effects than good throughout the 2 years I had been on it. She also recommended I consider replacing dairy with soy products and other alternatives as well as remove wheat from my diet. Here are a few of the immediate benefits I experienced…
- My skin almost immediately cleared up; breakouts are now far and few between.
- My stomach deflated.
- I could eat full meals without feeling like I had to curl up in a ball for an hour after-wards.
- The spasm pains disappeared.
- The side effects of the medication which included water retention in my stomach, hands, feet and ankles ceased.
- I experienced far fewer headaches.
- I sleep sounder! (I fall asleep so much quicker which I think is predominantly due to the lack of indigestion and pain.)
- I have more energy (coming home from work I use to feel so lethargic and just want to crash and now I’m eager and energised to get out for my run).
- Morning breath, we all have it…well since going vegan it’s vanished!
- I’m more relaxed. Not having to worry about feeling horrible physically is a huge weight off my shoulders and mind.
The main reason I decided to take on the vegan lifestyle, initially just in part, was sheer desperation. I had reached the point were I would try anything to make myself feel physically better. My diet had become so restricted and my lifestyle due to never knowing how bad I might feel on any given day. The whole idea of switching foods, not having the same things to eat every day, initially terrified me (the eating disordered controlled mindset had to let go more than a little!)
Here’s a few of the benefits that stood out to me…
- Cardiovascular disease. Eating nuts and whole grains, while eliminating dairy products and meat, will improve your cardiovascular health. A British study indicates that a vegan diet reduces the risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets go far in preventing heart attack and stroke.
- Cholesterol. Eliminating any food that comes from an animal and you will eliminate all dietary cholesterol from your diet. Your heart will thank you for that.
- Blood pressure. A diet rich in whole grains is beneficial to your health in many ways, including lowering high blood pressure.
- Type 2 diabetes. Not only is a vegan diet a weapon against Type 2 diabetes, it is also “easier to follow than the standard diet recommended by the American Diabetic Association.”
- Mercury. Most of the fish and shellfish consumed has mercury in it. While some fish have less than others, it is almost impossible not to be putting mercury in your body when you eat fish.Mercury, PCBs and dioxins build up and concentrate in our bodies over time. Eating contaminated fish may result in effects that are minimal to birth defects and cancer. It takes 5 years or more for women in childbearing years to rid their bodies of PCBs, 12-18 months to significantly free their body burden of mercury. Mothers who consume contaminated fish prior to becoming pregnant may have children who are slower to develop and learn.
- Cow’s milk dairy. The human body is not designed to digest cow milk and cow milk dairy products, yet the idea of milk being healthy is pushed through advertising. As many as 75% of people in the world may be lactose intolerant and many people suffer from undiagnosed milk allergies or sensitivities. By eliminating cow’s milk from your diet, you are improving your overall health.
There are however a whole lot of additional health benefits associated with a vegan lifestyle which has increased my desire to embrace it in full. The March vegan challenge couldn’t have come at a better time!
Has anyone else on the vegan challenge or anyone that decided to embrace the vegan way of life experienced any immediate health benefits?