Yep, Matthew and I started our vegan journey on January 1st, 2012. Although we cheated a little (no more than 2-3 times – HONEST!), I can say we have done good.
What I’m most proud of:
- I lost 17 pounds. I was sitting at 119 lbs last winter (and fluctuating between 113 lbs and 119 lbs all the time), and I’m now at 102 lbs. My weight seems to be stable now.
- I eat less junk food and candy, which contributed to all that lost weight. I actually feel sick if I only have a couple of fries from McDonald’s. No kidding. Most candy has gelatin… I was an avid candy eater. It was very bad.
- I’ve become a great cook. Going vegan means you often have to cook your own sauces and other stuff since you have to find replacements. This has also probably contributed to my losing weight. It’s also very rewarding when you have people over and they want another serving of your curry lentils.
- No more full-body rash. My chiropractor had told me many years ago that I was allergic to dairy, and I didn’t believe him. Cutting off all dairy in my diet not only got me rid of that rash that would occur every day (since I loved dairy!), but I also feel less bloated and incidentally, my belly is almost all gone.
- My mom claims my skin has gotten ever clearer. I haven’t really noticed, but I do get less pimples once a month.
- I’ve upped my consumption of veggies and fruit. I try to make smoothies as much as possible. Recently, my favourite mix was half a banana, 2 cups (at least) of spinach, 1 cup of orange juice, and many blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries (probably 3-4 cups, not sure, I never count these things!). You can’t even taste the spinach, and it still provides you lots of calcium, iron, and vitamins A & C.
It would be hard to go back to being an omnivore, or even an ovo-lacto vegetarian. I’m used to being vegan now, and it feels great!
Since us vegans eat more fruit and veggies, incidentally we consume more phytochemicals. Here is a list:
- Allicin is found in onions and garlic. Allicin blocks or eliminates certain toxins from bacteria and viruses.
- Anthocyanins are found in red and blue fruits (such as raspberries and blueberries) and vegetables. They help to slow the aging process, protect against heart disease and tumors, prevent blood clots, and fight inflammation and allergies.
- Biflavonoids are found in citrus fruits.
- Carotenoids are found in dark yellow, orange, and deep green fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, parsley, oranges, pink grapefruit, and spinach.
- Flavonoids are found in fruits, vegetables, wine, green tea, onions, apples, kale, and beans.
- Indoles are found in broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, kale, Brussel sprouts, and turnips (also known as “cruciferous” vegetables). They contain sulfur and activate agents that destroy cancer-causing chemicals.
- Isoflavones are found in soybeans and soybean products.
- Lignins are found in flaxseed and whole grain products.
- Lutein is found in leafy green vegetables. It may prevent macular degeneration and cataracts as well as reduce the risk of heart disease and breast cancer.
- Lycopene is found primarily in tomato products. When cooked, it appears to reduce the risk for cancer and heart attacks.
- Phenolics are found in citrus fruits, fruit juices, cereals, legumes, and oilseeds. It is thought to be extremely powerful, and is studied for a variety of health benefits including slowing the aging process, protecting against heart disease and tumors, and fighting inflammation, allergies, and blood clots.
It is important to note that these phytochemicals cannot be found in supplements, so they can only be found in food. Food with high contents of phytochemicals include:
- Soy nuts
- Soy beans
- Green tea
- Brussel sprouts
- Bok choy
- Red wine
Antioxidants are also nice little guys that prevent oxidation from happening too much in your body. Oxidation causes accelerated ageing, cancer, and heart disease, to name a few. Oxidation creates free radicals, which attack the DNA of healthy cells. This causes mutations, and therefore, allows tumors to grow. Antioxidants include:
- Ascorbic acid, aka good ole vitamin C. It is present in citrus fruit, green peppers, red peppers, strawberries, and most green veggies.
- Beta carotene. Good sources are carrots, squash, collards, spinach and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin E, which can be found in sunflower oil and seeds, most nuts, bran, and whole wheat to name a few.
Finally. omega-3 fatty acids. It is important to get them in our diet because the body cannot make them. Not only is it good for brain health, but right now researchers are studying the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on reducing or delaying the growth of certain tumors.
Like you probably already know, these fatty acids are found mostly in fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel (amongst many others). However, if you are vegan, you don’t consume fish (also I don’t like the thought of putting doses of mercury in my body, but that’s another story!), so getting your omega-3 dose can be a little trickier. Your best bet is flaxseed oil. You can find it in capsules in most natural health stores. Also, some beans like kidney, great northern, navy and soy beans contain omega-3 fatty acids as well.
Happy healthy eating! 🙂