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Switching to a Vegan Lifestyle

Updated on August 23, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

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.

"Veganuary"

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).

Benefits

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
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.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      It's been a year an a half now for my vegan journey and I still have times when I have to compromise about the milk or eggs (mostly when I'm visiting family) but when I am fixing my own meals I find it no trouble to keep those things out of my diet and I feel great.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      Wow, Linda. Thanks. That's a great idea. However, my husband isn't vegan (yet) so I would have to save those places for when I'm alone or with my girlfriends. Good idea. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, I just looked on Yelp for "best vegan restaurants in Fresno" and found quite a few.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dianna,

      I haven't found any vegan restaurants here in the Central Valley of California yet... which seems fairly strange to me. This is the place were about half of the stone fruit and raisins, tomatoes and fresh vegetables are grown for the country. One would think vegan restaurants would flourish here. Maybe I haven't looked hard enough. My dear husband is conscious of my preferences and makes sure we go out to places that offer plenty of vegetables and salads for me. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      2 years ago

      We have a few vegan restaurants in our town and they do serve delicious food items. Glad this lifestyle is proving good for you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Bede,

      You sweetie. You didn't take the wind out of my sails in the least. I appreciate the tips and reminders. This is all new to me after all. And I was wondering what was good with the tahini. I found a falafel recipe with kale and was hoping to try it out soon. Glad to hear the tahini in my cupboard will go with that well. Can't wait to try it now. Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Bede le Venerable profile image

      Bede 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Denise, it’s me again. I just wanted to apologize for being a “devil’s advocate” the other day. I hope I didn’t take any wind out of your sails. It’s great that you have taken this challenge on and I pray that you succeed. I see that you’ve discovered tahini. That goes well with falafel and a dollop of hummus on the side. All of those are Middle Eastern foods and vegan, as far as I know.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Dr Pran Rangan,

      Thank you very much. I'm going to keep it up as best I can. I do love how I feel and finding new ways to cook is intriguing. Thanks for the encouragement.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Brit and Cass,

      Thanks so much. I'm glad you like my art. I love sharing it whenever I can. Enjoy your journey! Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Linda Lum,

      Wow, I'm getting some really great helps here. Thank you. I'm mostly stumbling around in the dark. As I wrote above I only found these YouTube channels recently and they are introducing me to some products I never even heard of before. I didn't even realize my grocery store had a vegan isle until I purposefully went looking for it. Even then I don't know what half the products are for and when to use them. But I'm learning. Keep the tips coming. I can use all the help I can get. Thanks.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Bede,

      Thank you so much. I can use all the helpful tips I find. I will look into Morning Star and see. Also, I haven't owned real leather anything for a very long time although my husband does have some real leather belts in his drawers. I think it is more about cost than love of animals but it makes me smile that I'm helping the planet and animals but being cheap. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      2 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Denise for sharing such an informative article. You have enumerated various benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

      I have been a vegetarian all along. I include milk and cheese in my diet but I don't eat eggs though they are now considered super-food by the medical fraternity.

      Thumps-up for taking up a vegan lifestyle; you continue following it to have some of its great benefits.

    • Powered By Plants profile image

      Britney Bernard and Cassie Midura 

      2 years ago from New Hampshire

      Hi Denise, we have been vegan since this past January as well. We love to see more and more people taking this path in life. It is so worth it! Being able to explore an entirely different world of food has been extremely eye-opening. There are so many good and healthy options out there that go unnoticed. Also, love your art work :)

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      2 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Denise, my daughter has been vegetarian since 2000, and in the year 2002 attempted vegan. All was fine until she left home to go to college and discovered (at that time) that shopping for vegan foods was a big challenge. Today it would be a different story. As Bede said, Morningstar crumbles are quite food. If you want faux chicken, look for Quorn products. Thanks for an informative hub.

    • Bede le Venerable profile image

      Bede 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Denise, I’ve been a vegetarian for over twenty years. I’ve only broken this twice because I didn’t want to cause problems for my hosts. I respect your choice of working towards a vegan diet, etc. However, you should know that this has a number of challenges beyond food. In other words, will you never own a leather or wool product? These also come from animals.

      Have you discovered Morning Star products? You may try making spaghetti with their "crumbles." See if your husband notices.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      Hi Mary,

      I know it can be a challenge but not unreasonable especially when the husband is okay with it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We have several family members who have been vegan for years and I support it but I suppose preparing separate meals for my husband and myself especially because I am not the cook (He is) can be a challenge. More so, because we have company almost all of the time. However, it still can be done. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      2 years ago from Fresno CA

      McKenna Meyers,

      Thanks so much. I felt sure I wasn't the only one living in a meat filled home but it does help to hear others are going through it too. I can't really afford a service like that but if I could I surely would do it. It would make things so much simpler for me. As it is I check out all the new things my friends on YouTube are serving up and try some of their recipes. They make it look easy and fun and for the most part it is. (That Cauliflower Hot Wings recipe still eludes me.) Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 

      2 years ago

      First, Denise, this article was worth the read just to enjoy your stunning art. You're so talented. Second, I recently became a vegetarian with the eventual goal of becoming a vegan. Giving up fish, milk, honey, etc. will be a challenge for me, but I know that I can do it.

      Right now, however, I'm focused on being meatless as well as sugarless. Like you, I feel much better. I'm proud of myself for making the change. My 18-year-old son is vegetarian, too, so that makes it easier. I thought my husband and younger son would feel deprived, but they're fine with it. I subscribed to a delivery food kit service that offers vegetarian meals. They're fun and easy to make and quite delicious. I feel more empowered and connected to animals and nature. I don't feel tired and weak like I have on other diet plans.

      Thanks for sharing your story and congratulations!

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