Vegan for Health

by on March 7th, 2015
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Even though I had already been almost completely vegetarian for several years, the idea of becoming a “vegan” was a strange concept to me. I’d heard that it was unhealthy and that people can’t get enough protein from eating plants alone. I remember thinking to myself that veganism was just a passing trend. I personally felt that as long as I wasn’t eating meat, my diet was healthy and compassionate enough.

Things changed when my husband returned home one day from a trip to his doctor’s office. He told me that his blood pressure was high, his cholesterol was through the roof, and his triglycerides were so high they couldn’t even give him an accurate number. I immediately started doing some research into dietary changes that might help him.

I read about cases where patients had seen significant improvements by adopting a plant based diet. The more I read, the more it made sense to me. It seemed that by eating a “no cholesterol” diet instead of a regular or low cholesterol diet, it was possible to not only lower cholesterol and triglycerides, but to maybe even repair some of the damage caused to the body by years of eating an unhealthy diet.

We decided to give a vegan diet a try. We started by giving ourselves a 30 day challenge to eat only foods that came from plant sources. Thirty days became 60, and then after 90 days, my husband returned to his doctor to have his numbers rechecked. To our amazement, everything was within normal limits. His cholesterol had dropped by hundreds of points, as did his triglycerides. His blood pressure was the lowest it had been in years, and he had even shaved off a few pounds.

As for myself, I have suffered from debilitating panic attacks for years. After just a few weeks on our new diet, I started seeing an improvement in my anxiety symptoms. My panic attacks had nearly ceased, and I felt generally calmer and less anxious. I had lost 8 pounds, and my IBS symptoms also improved.

Perhaps it was the absence of meat, eggs and dairy in our diets that improved our overall health, or maybe it was the addition of more fresh fruits and vegetables and the reduction of processed foods. I believe it was a combination of all these factors that provided us with a healthier overall diet.

If you are thinking about making the transition to a plant based diet, you might find the following tips helpful:

Educate yourself. Learn about the different dietary needs of a vegan diet. Find a dietician that is knowledgeable on the subject. Buy some books. Talk to your doctor, and utilize the vast array of resources available online.

Plan. Plan. Plan. Take the time to make meal plans for each week. Prepare or buy snacks to carry with you at all times. Keep something to eat in your purse, glove-box, or desk at work. Find out what vegan options are available at restaurants near you, although you may find it easier to avoid eating out at first.

Make it fun! Try new and exotic foods. If you choose to go out to eat, try some new ethnic cuisines. Thai, Indian, Japanese and Sushi restaurants all usually offer a variety of vegan dishes. Also, find fun new fruits and vegetables in the produce isle or visit farmer’s markets for locally grown produce.

If you decide to try a vegan diet, whether your reasons are related to health or compassion for animals, I wish you a fun and healthy journey.

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