I’m so glad you are here to experience starting this blog with me! My husband and I started our journey as vegetarians almost 3 years ago to the date. He had really high cholesterol but was in pretty good shape. He absolutely did not want to take medication for it, so he told his doc to give him a year.
Over one weekend we watched a few Netflix documentaries including Forks over Knives, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Vegucated. Then we attended “VegFest” in Seattle, went to Whole Foods (spent waaaaayyyy too much money), I ordered a few cookbooks from Amazon, and we were on our way.
The first couple of months he lost 20lbs just by the change in our diets. I lost about 5lbs. We both excised pretty regularly already, on average 3-4 times a week of mainly cardio. It was easy for me to make the change, but harder for him. He works as a Professional Fire Fighter and when the guys at work found out he was a “Vegetarian” they definitely gave him a hard time. The culture of the F.D. is largely based around family style meals consisting of meat and comfort foods, and some of those guys really like to cook! There were several nights when he just ate what the guys were eating because he didn’t want to be difficult. I’d say it really took him a year to be comfortable saying “No” and passing on whatever meat was being served.
At home I was experimenting with lots of different “fake” meats. We had pretty much every Morningstar Farm product you could buy. I would just substitute fake meat in whatever dish I had made before. Technically I wasn’t really cooking differently, it was just figuring out how to not miss the meat.
About 6 months into our journey we decided to cut the dairy and become vegan. This was a lot more difficult. We both LOVE cheese and couldn’t believe we were doing this. I was a bagel with cream cheese, iced coffee with cream everyday kinda gal. That was quick and easy breakfast that I could get at Starbucks on my way to work every morning for less than $5 bucks! I had read a few articles on how dairy and arthritis had so much to do with one another and my husband had been experiencing some pretty uncomfortable pain in his hips. His doctor told him that it was definitely arthritis and to take ibuprofen as needed.
Within just a week of eliminating dairy from our diets he had such a significant amount of relief that he no longer needed to take any ibuprofen. He went from taking 8 per day to none at all. At this point we realized that this change in our diets was going to be for good.
Fast forward about 6 months. Being that no one is perfect, I had started eating dairy again. Our toddler son was never restricted dairy. His pediatrician at the time made it clear to me that being a vegetarian was fine, but he needed milk. I wish that I knew then what I know now. We would have found a new pediatrician immediately. I would eat his string cheese and yogurt, and started slowly using small amounts of cheese in recipes that I was making at home (lasagna, enchiladas, etc.) My husband didn’t really put it together until later on that even the smallest amount of dairy, less than ounce, would cause him excruciating inflammation within just a couple of hours of consumption. We went on like this for probably a year and within that year I had also started eating fish again.
What I found the most challenging was eating out, eating at other people’s homes, and finding ways to eat at home without so much processed fake meat. How do you tell someone that you’d like to come for dinner but you’ll bring your own food. Or traveling and finding nothing on the menu that suits your dietary needs and being afraid to “make a big deal” and get the waitstaff and chef annoyed with you. These challenges were real for me and prevented me from being able to really adapt to the lifestyle that I truly wanted to have.
Over the first 2 years my husband did have a significant decline in his overall cholesterol. The doctor was impressed and basically said to keep doing what he was doing and we’ll continue to monitor things and make sure they stay on track. We both were feeling pretty well and looking pretty good I’d say. Both of us were at healthy weights and still getting exercise a few times a week.
Then, just a couple of months ago he had his cholesterol checked again. Everything was great except for his triglycerides. They were off the chart. This was so confusing to both of us. I hadn’t had any blood work done in forever, since our son was born probably. I had no idea what my actual health looked like. I just knew I felt fine. I decided that I should go and get some labs to see what was going on with me as well.
This is what catapulted us to make the changes that we needed to for good. My blood work came back pretty darn good. Extremely low cholesterol, no deficiencies, average blood sugar, etc. My husband however, was really concerned. I made us both appointments with a Naturopath, re-watched Forks over Knives, dusted off some of my cookbooks and recommitted to doing this right.
The best way for me to recommit to this journey is have some accountability and a place for people who had the same struggles as me to come for some help and guidance. We have started eating a Whole Foods Plant Based diet (Not vegan! There is a ton of vegan food that is completely unhealthy!). Nothing processed, no added oils, no dairy or eggs, and no meat of any kind is what we are doing. People want to know what we do actually eat and that is where I hope this blog can really help. I started photographing my food on Instagram and posting it to Facebook. I created a Facebook page as well. I want people to know how easy it is to eat healthy and delicious food that is good for you, the environment and our wallets. There are so many myths wrapped around eating a diet not compromised of meat and dairy. Some are downright hilarious! I want to share with you my recipes, photos, other blogs that I follow and my journey as we recommit to getting healthy and back to the basics of eating real food, the way nature intended, not big corporations.
Please follow me on Instagram…PNWVEGGIEMAMA and Facebook too!
Check back for more to come!!