Three years ago today, I went vegan. At the time, I meant only to do it temporarily. After all, I loved cheese. I mean, I really loved cheese! In fact, I loved most things dairy. After all, dairy products made going vegetarian so much easier. It seemed to be the natural replacement for meat. The problem was that I although I went vegetarian regularly, I usually ended up giving up on it because I often didn’t feel great after so long, which I blamed on being vegetarian (not on all the dairy I was eating as a meat replacement).
However, after reading extensively about dairy products and the harm they did, and especially after reading about the Harvard study that linked dairy products with cancer, I decided to try veganism for one week. I certainly wasn’t excited about doing it. After all, it seemed so…daunting and hardcore. But what harm would it do? My consolation in doing it was that I promised myself that at the end of that week, I would get myself a cheese pizza.
Those first few days were difficult to say the least. I went through a kind of withdrawal. I felt “off” all week. I remember one night that first week going to supper at a prospective member’s home. They graciously served me a vegan meal, but I felt so strange while I was there. The best way to describe how I felt was as being almost “tingly.” It felt as though my body were trying to get rid of something.
As the end of that first week neared, I was definitely looking forward to that cheese pizza. Then, something happened. On my very last day, on the morning of the day I was planning on giving up on veganism, I woke up and…I felt incredible! There was a weird clarity to everything. And even better: my sinuses, for the first time in years, had cleared. I thought: well, maybe I won’t take my allergy meds today. I didn’t. And I haven’t since.
These three years as vegan have been truly incredible. Before going vegan I got sick on a very regular basis with quick, severe flus or hyper-intensive colds that knocked me for a loop. Although they usually worked through my system in 24 hours or so, they came on strong and hit even stronger. I had severe sore throats that would usually incapacitate me, accompanied by searing fevers and intense headaches. My health, in general, was often very skewed. Even when I wasn’t sick, I never felt 100% great. I also had regular insomnia and was often extremely tired. My weight would fluctuate greatly between extremes. To put it bluntly, I often just felt rotten.
But in these last three years, my health has blossomed! I have never in my life felt this good. I haven’t had a single bout with the flu and only occasional, very slight colds (usually while I’m travelling). I sleep like a log every single night. In fact, I sleep so soundly that I often don’t even rumpled the sheets. My digestion is great. My weight has stabilized for the first time in my entire life. I feel like I’m in my twenties. In fact, I didn’t feel this good when I was in my twenties.
Some of the strange things that have happened as a result of going vegan are things I couldn’t have predicted. One of the biggest issues was, of course, the sudden “allergy” I developed toward alcohol. Over a year and a half after having a bad reaction to alcohol, I cannot to this day even take a sip of alcohol. I have no doubt in my mind that it has to do with the changes my vegan lifestyle has done to my body. I’m not complaining about the alcohol, mind you. My newfound teetotaling ways have only added to the general health I have been enjoying. It’s just a strange advantage.
I know this might seem obvious to some, but it wasn’t immediately obvious to me: I have also become much more empathetic to animals and their plight. It is difficult for me now to see meat on other’s plates and not see the animal behind that food. I have truly come to see that there is something karmic about the violence that goes into the process of meat that disturbs me now in a way it might not have before.
There have been other incredible pluses to this decision I’ve made, but I won’t go into it all. What I can say is this: although veganism has worked so well for me, I fully realize it might not be the best for everyone. I’m not everyone could be vegan. And I certainly don’t judge those who aren’t.
All I can say is that this is what works for me and I am thankful that I made that decision on the fateful day three years. I also excited to see what benefits await me in the years ahead as continue on this strange and wonderful vegan journey.