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Switching to a Vegan Lifestyle

Updated on April 5, 2022
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As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

Take it easy, ladies.  I've given up meat.
Take it easy, ladies. I've given up meat. | Source

How It Started

Food is a big part of everyone’s day. We think about it, spend hours preparing it, and enjoy consuming it. Making a major diet change is pretty common to anyone who has tried a crash diet or a new health kick. I know, I’ve tried many of them myself with little lasting luck. Still, I always slipped back into my old habits and ever-ballooning weight. Now that I’m in my 60’s, however, I find certain things don’t digest as well as they used to. In particular meats.

It all began when I started following a fellow artist on YouTube. Holly Exley is a charming and talented illustrator; something I want to experience success in myself. She also is a vegan. So she will often speak of her convictions along that line as a matter of fact. It isn’t that she is trying to convince anyone. She simple speaks of it and gives a little background about her choice when the subject comes up in between her painting videos, as well as sharing recipes. I’ve been intrigued for a couple of years now. She shows videos of preparing her lunch or dinner and the meal looks really delicious and inviting.


Then in December 2017 she spoke of “Veganuary” and explained it is a 30-day challenge in January for non-vegans to try it and see if they like it. Let’s face it. I was already leaning in that direction before the challenge. I have grown farther and farther away from red meat and hardly ever touched bacon. Still, I was cooking for my husband and he likes his meat. I would make meat-filled spaghetti sauce and eat it along with him, even though I didn’t really care much for it. I made a stir-fried chicken and veggie dish that was loaded with chicken and although I picked out most of the chicken for his plate, I still had some. That all changed on January 1, 2018.

My watercolor of pears.
My watercolor of pears. | Source

Vegan Vs. Vegetarian

As opposed to a vegetarian, a vegan not only eats no meat but also shuns anything with meat products like eggs or milk or cheese. I found out later that also included honey and bee’s wax because they are little animals being exploited as well. My conviction wasn’t so much against the exploitation of animals but because my body was simply craving less meat and I wanted to see it could be something I might like. My friend, Holly had to explain the thing about bees and I’m not sure I’m completely convinced. My father was a beekeeper and he was in no way exploitative. However, he wasn’t a large corporation with millions of bee boxes and colonies at his disposal. He kept a small manageable number of colonies and was devoted to them, checking for diseases and parasites regularly. He loved watching the queen and he would get angry with me if a bee stung me because he said I killed it. I figured she committed suicide and tried to take me with her.

So many things I love are 100% vegan already.
So many things I love are 100% vegan already. | Source

Have you ever thought of giving up meat?

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Lauren Toyota's Hot For Food Channel

Fun Recipes

That’s when I came across another fun You Tuber named Lauren Toyota and her channel called Hot For Food. She creates vegan recipes that are stupendous and delicious. I was introduced to vegan mayonnaise, vegan mock cheese, vegan egg salad, and many other really great recipes. Sure, I still haven’t gotten the hang of the vegan Buffalo wings made out of batter-dipped cauliflower, or the vegan cookies. After Lauren Toyota’s channel, I also found several other vegan cooks who really help make this an enjoyable and healthy journey. One is Sam Turnbull, a perky bubbly blond, with her channel called “It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken” as well as Holly Exley, my artist friend also sharing her recipes and writing a cookbook (which I can’t want to get my hands on).


I wasn’t two weeks into my challenge in January before I started really feeling a difference.

  • I was sleeping better.
  • I noticed without meat I was actually eating MORE but starting to lose weight. It wasn’t much at first but it has become significant. After years of dieting and fluctuating weight, I seem to be loosing without trying about 2 to 3 pounds a month. After 8 months I have lost a total of 24 pounds and still counting.
  • On top of this my excessively high cholesterol count has dropped significantly. I’m expecting after my annual physical this year the doctor may discontinue the medication I’ve been taking for high cholesterol. That will be nice.
  • Beyond all that, I feel great.
  • I feel full, not starved like I thought I would feel.
  • I don’t crave the cheese like I thought I would or the ice cream either. As a matter of fact, after doing without for a few weeks I found that the vegan cheese is really tasty.
  • I’ve astounded my family with such a radical life change. My sister thinks I’ve lost my mind.
  • My husband is proud and supportive of me. I thought he would object but instead, he champions me.
  • My mind seems clearer. I can think clearly after a meal instead of feeling lethargic and sleepy.
  • I thought the grocery bill would skyrocket because fresh vegetables are so expensive, right? No. With one less person eating meat, the grocery bill has gone down. Now that is an unexpected benefit.
  • My husband sees the change in me and has been backing off of the amount of meat he eats as well.

All natural.
All natural. | Source

Down Side One: Gas

One downside no one speaks of is the gas. Yes, gas. I was immediately and chronically flatulent for the first two weeks. Okay. It’s laughable but I never had such a flatulence problem before. It eventually went away and I was happier. I guess when you think about it, it makes sense. I gave up heavy, fatty meats and replaced them with more vegetables, therefore more fiber. My digestive system took a little while to get used to the change.

Feast | Source

Making It Work

Today for lunch I had a vegan cottage cheese made from tofu with fresh fruit stirred in. I think it is even better than my beloved fruit-filled yogurt I used to eat. And I am full and satisfied. My husband ate baked salmon and fruit.

I say all this not to push my choice on you but to introduce you to options. If you have been tired of the hormones and constant talk of unhealthy red meats. If you have ever thought of becoming vegan or at least trying to give up the meat, I would say give yourself a 30-day challenge and check out the recipes on the channels I mentioned. I think you’ll love it.


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