About eleven weeks — almost three months — ago, I became a vegan. For me, that means:
– I eat mostly vegetables.
– I avoid food containing animal products, including meat, milk, butter, cheese, and eggs.
– I limit sugar, preferring to eat no more than a slice of vegan cake once a week or so, or having vegan pancakes on Saturday mornings
– I limit fried food, preferring to eat no more than one or two servings of french fries, fried eggplant, fried okra, or other fried veggie per week.
– I prefer actual food (an ear of corn, a pile of green beans, a slice of tomato, a bowl of black beans) to processed food (say, tofu tortured by technology until it appears to be hamburger meat — though I’m not opposed to the occasional veggie burger or fake chicken stir-fry).
– I make a point to walk more. Instead of escalators or elevators, I prefer stairs. Instead of driving to dinner, we walk when we can. Instead of sitting all day, I make myself get up and move (so I’m more likely to visit a colleague’s desk than call her).
And … I’m reasonable about it. While there are no off-days — I don’t, for example, gorge on meat on Saturdays — I’m not inflexible. If I’m visiting you and you serve up a big plate of eggs for breakfast, I’ll have some. If you bring me a rotisserie chicken, I’ll eat a bit. For me, the veganism is less about not eating animals, and more about the reduced weight, lower blood pressure, and improved blood chemistry associated with keeping my intake of animal protein under five percent of my total dietary intake.
It’s not a religion. It’s a strategy.
What are the Results?
Weight Loss. When I started this odyssey, I weighed 230 pounds (140 kilos) — a lifetime high, up forty pounds from the sleek (but unhealthy) 190 pounds I hit with a low-carb regimen two years ago.
Without really trying — I still eat a lot! — I’m down to 211 pounds (95 kilos). That’s a nineteen pound loss, or about eight percent of my pre-vegan body weight. Imagine wearing a belt with four five-pound bags of sugar hanging from it … and wearing that belt for more than a year. Now, imagine how light you’d feel after taking that belt off!
It’s important to realize that loss comes without any real effort on my part. It’s also important to note how slow and sustainable my weight loss is: about 1.7 pounds per week. No drama … just results.
Fat Loss. I’m embarrassed to tell you how high my body fat percentage was when all this started. Now, it’s under 30% for the first time in a looong time.
Shifting Tastes. I recently bit into a dessert others considered a decadent treat — a slice of tiramisu from Alon’s Bakery — and found myself a little repulsed. At Mellow Mushroom, I really enjoy the vegan pizza (no cheese, all the veggies). I look forward to Clyde’s corn on the cob (steamed, no butter).
As a result of eating less sugar, I can taste the natural sweetness of fruit and vegetables again.
Clarity. I think faster, and more clearly, than I did when I was being buried in fried, fatty products. I’m more productive. I’m enjoying a personal and professional renaissance, getting more done with what feels like less effort.
I look forward to seeing my blood chemistry numbers. But instead of getting them from a local lab, I’ll just wait until my check-in with my doctor in a few weeks.
There’s no diet plan. When I reach a healthy weight — somewhere between 190 and 195, sometime around Christmas — I’ll just keep living like I’m living. I’ll eat more (good food), though, to maintain weight instead of losing it.
I’m open to exercise. Right now, I’m just getting used to moving around. Since we have a fully-furnished gym in our building, I might look into a trainer to teach me the basics.
I’m still a foodie. When all this started, I imagined giving up searching for and writing about great food. Now, I realize I’m just searching for and writing about an entirely different kind of great food.
I’m happy. My goal in all of this is to increase the odds of giving myself more healthy, mobile, active years with Clyde. Keeping that in mind has made the change easier than I’d ever imagined.