What’s up with that anyway? Most folks barely grasp the concept of vegan, let alone raw vegan. So to break it down real quick like, we don’t eat meat, or any animal products like dairy or eggs or fish. Raw vegans take that a step further, and eat raw, unadulterated fresh fruits and vegetables as a bulk of their diet. Then there is the whole food, plant based approach, which is like vegan, but nothing processed. Basically you only eat the foods in the whole form, so no oils. (I don’t see you squeezing olives to get the oil…right?) Things like nut butters are cool, because you take the whole nut and grind it up and then eat it. Get how it works kinda? So I can appreciate each of these lifestyles, but felt that trying too hard to adhere to just one was….suffocating and stressful. Mealtimes were filled with anxiety, trying to come up with something quick that didn’t taste like garbage but also wasn’t crap fake food.
Speaking of fake food…some may recall that I was vegan back in 2013-2014. It started off great, I didn’t really know any of these ‘strict foodie groups’ back then and I just wanted to be healthier and save the planet/animals. I would have a massive fruit/spinach smoothie in the mornings, after my long marathon training runs, and then lunch was usually a salad, or my favorite quick snack. (Cut an avocado in half, remove the pit, score the insides in a grid pattern, give it a gentle squeeze to loosen the grid, dump hot sauce in each half, and then scoop out the spicy cubes of creamy yum with your preferred tortilla chip. Super fast and super delicious!) Dinner was a cooked vegan meal with lots of veggies. I felt amazing! I was running more than I ever had in my entire life, surfing, riding my motorcycle everywhere, my face was beautifully clear, and I had more energy than I knew what to do with.
Unfortunately, I strayed from that. I got caught up trying to count my macros (macronutrients-carbs, fats, protein) as I was no longer running and instead trying to gain lots of muscle lifting weights. Of course, my usual vegan food habits shocked me with how high in carbs they were, and ‘little’ protein. If you get a chance, I highly recommend watching Forks over Knives, or reading Colin T Campbell’s book, The China Study. He is a super old scientist who goes into great detail about America’s protein myths, and has helped cure many folks of diabetes and heart disease by just showing them how to eat differently. Specifically, the whole foods plant based approach. Anyways, I didn’t know all that at the time, and I began using a ton of fake meats and highly processed soy products to up my protein, and I cut out fruits entirely. I was unhappy and always stressed about macros, and after a few months my usual flawless skin turned into a cyst nightmare. I had never had bad acne in my life, yet here at 24 I suddenly had huge, painful eruptions that were so deep it hurt to smile. I thought it must be all the ‘vegan food’ and promptly quit eating vegan. I switched to dairy, lean meats, rice/quinoa, and veggies. Still no fruits, as I was very meticulously counting my macros. Unsurprisingly the acne did not abate. It was a miserable time in my life. The acne did not fully heal, and when I became pregnant in August of 2015, the first trimester brought a resurgence of the cystic acne so bad I became a recluse again. Luckily, by 3rd trimester my face seemed nearly healed. Sadly, 3mo into nursing our little bundle and the acne reared its ugly head again. I had contemplated going dairy free, as bub had bad reflux and dairy is a known culprit. Finally, by Oct/Nov of 2016, I was fed up. I was binge watching netflix and depressed. I came across those old ‘vegan’ documentaries I had watched back in 2013, along with some new ones that had come out. I binged. And binged some more. I gave away the last of our dairy. Our freezers are still full of uneaten meat. (Should probably do something about that…) I was stressed at first, trying to be either raw (high carb low fat, as per the book 80-10-10 Diet) or whole foods plant based, or worried about how to make things tasty…every meal was filled with anxiety.
After about a week of that, I said ENOUGH. Smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch, and cook something vegan and tasty for dinner, avoiding oils or processed foods as much as possible. But if we strayed from that, it’s ok. About once a month we have a big pot of hot steel cut oats and coconut milk for breakfast, because some mornings it’s just too chilly and a smoothie doesn’t sound right and a hot bowl of yum is cozy. Sometimes I don’t feel like a salad for lunch. I want something savory like bean burgers and potato wedges. And that’s ok too. The only hard rule I now have (aside from the no dairy/meat/eggs) is I don’t eat fruit after having consumed cooked food. I thought it was a bogus thing, despite having heard it from multiple raw vegans. They say having fruits, which are high sugar foods, after cooked food, causes gas and bloating and upsets digestion. I thought, pish posh, that’s crazy. Weeeellllll I’m here to tell you that it does happen occasionally to me. I’ll make frozen banana ice cream after a cooked meal dinner and man, I get the bubbles and sometimes even diarrhea. Not cool. The theory is that cooked food is slow to digest and break down, as the natural enzymes are often killed in cooking, whereas fruits are quick to digest. So when you eat fruits after cooked foods, the fruit gets stuck behind the slow food, and because it is sugary, it ferments as it waits, causing the gas and bloating. Who knew.
So anyway, that’s the whole story I suppose. So far Joe has lost close to 50lbs (though he cheats here and there with convenience foods while out) and I have FINALLY lost some baby weight (22lbs as of last month when I checked). My acne is cleared, except for the occasional hormonal pimple around my period, which I’m more than happy to deal with after that nearly 4yr nightmare. Bub has reversed his anemia, and his blood work looks great. I no longer require several cups of strong coffee to do life daily, and only drink it for fun about 1-2x a week because it tastes lovely sometimes 🙂 I’m so happy we decided to make the switch again, as a family! I won’t sugar coat it, Joe grumbles occasionally, and if left to his own devices, would eat meat/dairy. As long as it tastes good, however, he is content. Needless to say, I’ve gotten pretty crafty with making things tasty! Thanks for reading our story!