Living a Vegan lifestyle is not something that I ever thought I would ever do. And for the last 27 years, animal products have always been a huge part of my diet. I’m someone who absolutely LOVES foods like burgers and pizza, chicken alfredo, you know, the works 😉 Yet, I still found myself recently making the decision to say goodbye to all animal products in my diet.
So how does a girl go from asking for extra cheese on her burger to cutting it all out completely?
Well, here’s how this all came about.
I have had gastrointestinal issues from as early as I can remember. I was always in and out of hospitals and doctors offices as a kid and going through so many tests. But they could never find anything physically wrong with me. Over the years, my GI issues have been on and off.
Over the years, my GI issues have continued to be on and off.
However, within the last 2 years, they have started to flare up again. And earlier this year, I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis that not only affects your joints, but also other areas of the body as it progresses including your intestines. Chances are that I have had this disease all along. But it can be easily overlooked because the onset of the traditional marker symptoms might not always be apparent right away.
Over the last few months specifically, my GI issues had progressed to the point where I was in the hospital having a colonoscopy and contrast MRI performed to make sure there wasn’t anything else going on in my body besides the AS that was causing that much discomfort.
But while all of these issues were being tested, I started doing some research and detective work of my own to find out what else might be causing my discomfort. And so, I started the process of elimination:
- Tried cutting out gluten: Kind of felt better, but still had pain in my stomach after eating certain things that didn’t have gluten in them.
- Tried cutting out legumes: Didn’t feel a difference.
- Tried cutting out dairy: Felt a little bit better, but was still experiencing the abdominal discomfort.
I tried cutting out so many other things that my research told me was causing me additional pain and inflammation. And with AS, the more inflammation in the body, the worse the symptoms present themselves. But nothing really seemed to do the trick. That is until I came across some articles that suggested cutting ALL animal products out of my diet to reduce inflammation.
I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I can realistically do that.” But regardless of how unsure I was of my ability to transition into a Vegan lifestyle, I decided to keep learning about it to see if perhaps it would be a good fit for me and the issues I was having.
So I read, and read and read. And I followed my friend Haley’s Plant-Based/Vegan lifestyle on Instagram to learn as much as I could about what my diet would look like and what the benefits were. She even wrote an amazing guest blog post for all of us that you can find here to help beginners understand the basics of transitioning into a plant based diet with a ton of yummy recipes to try!
And finally, one day while I was in excruciating pain after eating meat and dairy at dinner, I finally said enough is enough. And I told myself that it was time to officially give a Vegan lifestyle a try.
The first 2 days were definitely interesting as I navigated my way through the grocery store, ignoring many of the aisles I used to spend a ton of time in. But I was determined to find out if committing to a Vegan diet would finally be the answer to healing my stomach and my body. So I stuck to my list and focused on taking it one day and one meal at a time. And within 2 days, I already felt a difference in my body.
- No more stomach pain during or after eating
- The inflammation in my joints was starting to go down.
- My stomach bloat disappeared.
- The aches and pains that I had that were associated with the AS were minimized a ton! And that was even during my withdrawal period from my AS medication that I had to stop taking because I was having a negative reaction to it.
And as the days went on, I started sleeping better and feeling less fatigued. I was absolutely amazed.
After seeing what positive effects just a few days of eating Vegan was having on my body, I knew that there wasn’t any going back to my old ways. I haven’t felt this good or this alert in YEARS. And it feels so good to be filling my body with foods that are plant-based and so good for your health.
And honestly, I have to say there are very few things about eating animal products that I miss! Although my first pizza experience was a little weird when I ordered it without cheese and just vegetables, but that’s a story for another time lol!
I’m starting to find different recipes and some substitute foods that I really really enjoy. Some of them even more than the original! But my ultimate goal is to be able to eventually cut out the substitutions as well and stay away from the processed Vegan foods as much as possible.
But for now, baby steps!
And here’s the other interesting thing: I had my follow up with my GI to go over my results from the procedures and they literally found nothing wrong with my intestines. No Celiac or Chron’s Disease. Not even IBS. And when I told my doctor that I had started the transition into a Vegan diet and was starting to feel so much better, he smiled and said: “I’m not surprised.”
Which lead me to do some more research about why animal products cause inflammation in the body. And what I found was REALLY interesting, to say the least. So I definitely plan on doing another blog post soon to share more about what I’ve learned about that as well!
I’m really excited to be on this journey and would love to know if anyone else is following a Vegan diet or thinking about it! Let me know in the comments section 🙂