My Tryst With Veganism

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Towards the end of April, when I was focusing a lot on my health and on being fit both physically and mentally, I decided to try going vegan for a while. No, it had nothing to do with trying to be cool or following a fad. I have terrible skin and I had heard that dairy aggravates it, so I wanted to check if not having dairy would help my skin or not. Before I got married, I was a hardcore non-vegetarian, as we always used to have some meat cooked at home on a daily basis. When I fell in love with a pure vegetarian and later married him, my consumption of meat reduced to a great extent. Did it trouble me? Honestly, no. While I couldn't cook meat at home, I used to eat it out, as and when I felt like. The thought of giving up meat never occurred to me even once. But, when I decided to give up dairy, I thought why not give up meat as well. The idea was to try this diet for the month of May and if it works out well, continue it for the next couple of months. If it helped me out, I planned to go vegan full time from my birthday in August. Here's how I fared.

For those who aren't aware of how veganism works, a vegan diet is about eliminating all animal sourced products from your diet. Yes, that means not only will you be giving up on meat, you will also have to bid goodbye to milk, curd, butter, cream, cheese, ghee and all other products that use these as ingredients. Ice-cream, mayo, salad dressings etc. The thing with me is that, once I make up my mind to do something, I actually end up doing it. I stayed away from all animal products for a whole month. While meat wasn't very tough to give up, since my frequency of eating it was drastically reduced, the challenge was to give up curd. I'm a sucker for yogurt in every form and every lunch for me ends with butter milk. This is what I found hard to give up. Still, I persisted. Since I'm battling PCOD for years now, I have no control on acne and hair loss. If you suffer from PCOD it becomes thrice as tough to lose weight. But, this vegan diet seemed to be working for me. In about two weeks, the texture of my skin improved and I was having fewer breakouts. Hair loss reduced as well and I was feeling light within myself. While I did knock off a couple of kilos, what mattered to me was that I was looking and feeling toned and fit.

Since most of the junk food incorporates animal products, like ice-cream and pizza, I stayed away from it too. I used to prepare fresh healthy meals at home and pack my lunch box with lunch and evening snacks so that I do not go hungry later in the day. I replaced milk with coconut milk or almond milk for my muesli and oats. It was so easy to make at home and I found it to be delicious as well. Safe to say, I was not missing the milk at all. It was all working like a charm. I was almost getting through May and I was convinced that I could follow this diet for a long time. Then, I got my period. I usually have a fuss free period with little or no cramps and discomfort. My schedule doesn't change while I'm on my period and I workout during them too. But this time, it was not the same. While there were no cramps and discomfort, I felt terribly drained out! By evening, I was losing all my energy and felt weak. I attributed all this to the period and not my diet. I thought, maybe after close to 20 years of menstruation, it was finally coming to bite me in the wrong place.

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May soon ended and I was thrilled with having stuck to the vegan diet. I did not crave meat or dairy anymore. I was very happy with my diet of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts! I had found a new love for prunes and pumpkin seeds and they were my go to snacks. As June began, my weakness continued. Day after day, I was feeling more and more tired. Soon, I was having mood swings. Work was at full force during this time and I couldn't afford to lose focus. My body got weaker by the day and one fine day after a long conversation with my husband, I decided that this probably could be because of the vegan diet I was following. May was over and I had succeeded in my challenge. June was looming and I wanted to continue the challenge, but my body being deprived of meat and dairy had other plans. I had no choice but to go back to my original diet. The one that was rich in meat and dairy.

Trust me it was not easy to get back to eating meat and dairy. The first time I tasted ice-cream after more than a month, I just did not like it. It felt sugary and icky! When I ate a chicken steak after a whole month of trying veganism, it ruined my body. I was having stomach problems and felt queasy. In short, anything I wanted to put in my body was now troubling me. Having had enough, I sat down and charted out a diet plan for myself. This time I did not omit the meat and the dairy, but included them in small portions. Then, my body got used to what it was always used to. Sadly, my skin continued to go bad and hair fall returned, but it was a small price to pay for good health. Hopefully, over time, with the right diet and exercise, I shall kick out PCOD for good and get rid of all the side effects associated with it.

Veganism is a good concept. It is very healthy and it sure is for a noble cause. What I learnt from my tryst with veganism, was to never shock my body by depriving it of what it was used to. I usually am not a person who decides on a form of diet, but this time I did it on an impulse and learnt my lesson. While I eat everything in moderation now, I would like to give up dairy one day. Mainly, to improve my skin. But I'll do it gradually. Veganism sure is a healthy concept when done right. There are so many recipes available online for vegan dishes and they are so simple to make and taste delicious as well. I have tried quite a few of them in terms of salads, soups and one bowl dinners and they tasted divine. You will not feel like you are missing out on something. Sadly, it did not work that way for my body.

For now, the idea is to eat everything in moderation, work out regularly and stay healthy. Everything else can take a backseat.

16 comments:

  1. I completely agree, Soumya. Moderation and discipline is key to achieving lasting change. That being said, I have heard many great things about the vegan as well as the keto diet. To each his own, I guess.

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    1. Oh yes, I learnt it the hard way. Absolutely, veganism and keto is really good if done right. You just need to get into it gradually than all at once.

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  2. After our conversation,I realized I missed asking you about your vegan diet. I am glad you put this up here. I know acne troubles and the damages that come along with it. Though acne has reduced a great deal now but the scars are deep for me. During pregnancy my skin felt so good and I miss that. I just want to cut meat for now from my food. For almost a year, I cut out meat from my diet and felt good. I am not a fan of milk anyway. It is the curd and Ice cream that I will miss a lot. Veganism is tough for me too. I am glad you survived the challenge. Above all, I am happy you are now consuming it all in moderation. From this, I also learnt that a slow and gradual change will help me cut meat soon.

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    1. Survival was important, but the lessons what I got out of it are what will stay with me. I might go back to being vegan someday, but I'll do it gradually. Most importantly, I need to keep my body happy.

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  3. You got it right. The key is moderation. Finally what suits you and your body is what is to be followed.

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  4. I also agree that one must go for what works for one's body and also be mindful of what effect any of these diets may have in the longer term on our bodies. I am happy that you tried something that you thought might be helpful and then gave it up when it did not work out for you. Milk is such an integral part of our lives. I have thought of giving it up many times but then I really enjoy curd and paneer and can't think of any daily substitutes for them. Did you know that I was a vegetarian for many years? And even now though I enjoy seafood and chicken, I perhaps have them twice a week so my diet is mostly vegetarian and I like it that way. I love legumes and beans and all other forms of veg protein. Wish you good health and lots of energy.

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    1. You were? Wow!

      Since I got married, about more than 5 years now, my consumption of meat has gone down a lot. While I do incorporate a lot of legumes and greens in my diet, I would never give up curd. But a modified diet with everything in moderation sure does help.

      Thank you, Rachna. Wishing you the same.

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  5. I agree Soumya. You know being a Bengali I'm a non vegetarian too. Growing up there was a non veg dish cooked every day at home. But after marrying S what happened was I stopped cooking non veg too much at home because even though he eats he doesn't like it that much. Growing up on a steady diet of fish every single day now I hardly have fish unless mom or my sis are visiting. Why cook just for myself I thought. And do you know what, for the past few months or so I have been feeling so weak and a persisting pain in my back. The doctor says it is because of the change in diet which I had been used to and the fact that now I work doubly hard and don't replenish the body accordingly. My Vitamin B levels have gone so low that I have been prescribe injections. So, you are right we need to do everything in moderation and considering how our body has been built and used to for years.

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    1. That is sad to hear, Naba. Please do take care of yourself.

      Do not abstain from what your body is used to. This was the lesson I learnt from my vegan experience. You body get used to a lot of things and it is important to keep providing it what it is used to. I prepare a meal plan and try to incorporate everything in proportion now. While I can't cook meat at home, I still order it in if it is on the plan.

      Take care, Naba.

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  6. Oh that was an eye opener. I was thinking of going vegan too especially since I've heard that the milk and milk products we have are not exactly healthy but your article has forewarned me about the perils of changing diets drastically. I think as you said, it is better to eat what we are used to in moderation.

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    1. Whatever you do, make sure you do it gradually giving your body enough time to get used to it.

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  7. This was an insightful read. Giving up milk and milk products would be challenging for me for I love to have milk, curd, tea and coffee everyday! But yes as you mentioned, if you decide to do something then you can find alternatives and will to achieve it too. I gave up sugar in tea / coffee and cut down on desserts, 2 years back and it has benefited me. When traveling, where it isnt possible to get sugarless tea/coffee, I do have it. But I cant have very sweet tea/coffee now. Last month, I had to dump my coffee worth Rs 160 (LOL) at the airport for this very reason.
    Good that you tried something new and figured out what's best for you!

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    1. Sweet beverages are definitely not for me too. For as long as I can remember, I have always had my coffee and tea without sugar. I hate milky beverages too. I can never have coffee and tea with milk. It always has to be black, sugarless and strong for me.

      I'm glad I tried. It helped me realize what works the best for me.

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  8. My husband is following a keto diet, and I am losing weight and charm because of stress and pressure of a project. I have lost a lot of hair as well. Once the project goes live I will concentrate on my health better thanks to this article. It is very inspiring.

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    1. I've heard a lot of benefits of the Keto diet, but I'm too scared to try it now. Hahaha, IT life does that to you, doesn't it?

      But, please do take care of yourself. While you are in great shape already, make sure your health is too.

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