Tomorrow I’ll hit the one-third mark of the GVE. I plopped my laptop down on the dining room table to post an update and my Research Assistant asserted herself by plopping herself down upon it. Guess she thought I needed to give today’s post more thought. Or maybe she just wanted a selfie.
I showed her this photo. She blinked and walked away to stalk a ladybug wandering along the windowsill. Now then, I can get on with posting the latest developments.
Calorie-related headaches have eased off. I went back to tracking calorie input for a few days to ensure I was getting enough fuel. I’m told that the single biggest mistake rookie vegans make is not eating enough in the beginning. Oddly enough this is because you stop feeling hungry. Exactly the opposite of what you’d expect, right? It’s true though. I haven’t felt hungry as much as before. Instead of hunger pangs I get a low-grade headache to alert me that I need something. I temporarily went back to tracking all my noms to correlate calorie/nutrient intake with headaches. Somewhere around Day 7 or 8 I got the hang of it and didn’t feel the need to log every sunflower seed. The headaches have resolved and bonus, I still don’t feel hungry all the time. So the learning curve on this aspect was about a week.
One of the smaller irritations I’ve been tolerating for the past few months (preceding the GVE) has been really gooey ears every morning. Not your typical post-shower ear goo; really gooey. As in, a cotton swab ain’t gonna cut it gooey. Not your garden variety earwax. Let’s go ahead and call it discharge. Mystery discharge — it’s an oft Googled topic and no one knows why it happens if there isn’t some kind of infection, trauma, or tumor (I’ve had none of those). I haven’t written about it because it’s gross. It went away a few days ago so it’s not gross anymore. Anecdotal reports seem to indicate this is also related to a reduction in dairy, or in this case, the cessation of dairy. Maybe so; maybe not. Either way, I’m happy.
The heat index has reached 109F here in Mercyburg. I have to get out early in the mornings to water the acreage or everything will scorch and die by noon. I’m pouring sweat even before the coffee brews. Do I feel like eating oatmeal in this heat? Nope, but a girl’s gotta have breakfast if she doesn’t want a headache. Previous to the GVE I would describe my attitude toward smoothies/shakes as M’eh. Not anymore. I’ve discovered the joy of smoothies. I’ve also discovered that there is no need to overwhelm oneself with a bajillion smoothie recipes. If you’ve got one good one you can just make infinite variations of the one. I’ve spent the last week mastering a smoothie that tastes like banana pudding. I ran out of bananas this morning. I’ve now mastered a smoothie that tastes like pumpkin bread. On the kitchen counter where my toaster used to sit, a blender now lives.
I waste a lot less food than before the GVE. Aside from the obvious fruity shakes I can throw just about any vegetable into a green smoothie or into a tortilla with salsa verde and stretch those produce dollars even further. I’m not kidding. For lunch I just gobbled a burrito made of leftover grilled zucchini from dinner last night. The secret to my pumpkin bread smoothie? Overripe cantaloupe, believe it or not.
At the Day 8 mark animal meat stopped smelling good to me. Fast food stinks now — that happened at Day 7. Home-cooked meat doesn’t smell bad but it doesn’t smell appetizing anymore. It doesn’t make me salivate or stimulate my appetite. The Chef’s steak and chicken isn’t tempting me at all, even when we share a meal together.
Dragging myself out of bed at 4:45 in the morning is requiring much less dragging. The grunty groany grumpy zombie morning funk has weakened substantially and I believe I’m sleeping more deeply. Might just be perceptions, I know. These are not things I’m ever going to be able to prove. I certainly can’t prove they are results of veganism. My attitude is driving my experience, so as long I want this to work well for me I’m going to notice all the circumstantial ways it works well. I get that. It doesn’t mean none of this true or real but I do understand that the way I feel does not constitute hard scientific evidence of anything. But let the record show that I do feel good. I feel more cheerful, less stressed, more aligned with my core values, more content, and less grouchy and complainy than usual.
So have I encountered any negatives? Have I found a downside yet? Yes. I’ve lost the convenience of eating something pre-made when I’m tired or in a hurry or just because it’s readily available (still in the pantry). I have to be diligent about ingredients and labels. If I’m not careful I will eat animal products by accident. For instance, monoglycerides can come from vegetables or from pigs but there’s no way to know which I’ve got in my baked goods because manufacturers aren’t required to specify. And then there’s just plain old forgetting to check. Last night I ate half a sleeve of saltines without realizing they contain whey. Whey comes from cow’s milk. (Sigh) The Chef brought home sub rolls for my vegan meatball subs and they have non-fat milk in them. Luckily I caught that one and ate my non-meat balls in a tortilla, but you see my point. I have to check everything that isn’t a whole food. This could technically qualify as a pain in the ass but again — if I WANT to do it, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
The only other downside I’ve encountered thus far is that there are vegan issues, and when you become vegan you become aware of those issues and are expected to care about and/or choose a side of the given issue. For instance, it’s an issue for vegans to own pets because domestic dogs and cats can’t live on plants. Dogs and cats need meat. Vegans have to provide animal products to their pets, which contradicts their values. It’s an issue for vegans to consume honey because bees are not plants. It’s an issue for vegans to use cosmetics and beauty products that are tested on animals and/or contain animal byproducts. It’s not just about the food. The definition of Vegan extends to a culture of not harming animals, even indirectly as a consumer; it isn’t as simple as not eating animals. Choosing a vegan lifestyle includes choosing to tackle these issues as well.
At nine days in I have not decided what I should do about these issues. By the time I get to day thirty I might be further along in my development but it is too big a bite right now.
More to come.