By Stephanie K.
I’ll admit, it took me a long time to write this post. It would be presumptuous of me to think people care or should care about my lifestyle/diet choices. Also, people can be judgmental and critical – especially online. With all that said, I decided to share my story for two reasons.
1. Every blogger has a story, and sharing the story transforms a simple blog into an enduring narrative. The blog becomes a platform to engage and connect with others in a meaningful way. Openness with an audience promotes readers to share and engage. Reading a post’s comments, both as a blogger and fellow reader, is a great way to learn and build community. Community is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place.
2. Sharing my story is a way for readers to connect with Steph in Thyme’s content. I want to put the blog’s focus into context so visitors understand why they are only reading gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan recipes…and the challenges, struggles, and victories that come along with it. At the end of the day, I want this little corner of the interwebs to be a meaningful space and experience for anyone who happens across it. Sharing is a start.
So, here it goes:
I’ve struggled with eating meat since college, finding it difficult to rationalize a soft spot for animals, then consuming one at almost every meal. So, I quit my senior year, cold turkey…and shortly before a term abroad in Ireland. For the first time in my life, I didn’t do my homework. I thought, “Don’t eat meat…what more is to it?” Turns out, a lot. And deciding to make a major diet change on a term abroad was a terrible decision. Consuming healthy and balanced meals at restaurants with limited menus or homestays where I couldn’t cook for myself was a challenge. I would just ignore the meat on the table and focus on the vegetable sides and bread, which were never filling enough, so I would take another piece of bread. A few months of this, and 25 pounds later, I gave up. Back to meat.
Flash forward four years. I made another lifestyle change; however, this change was for health reasons…and the change stuck. Gluten was identified as the root cause of a myriad of health issues plaguing me for a over a decade. Digestive issues, anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, acid reflux, and skin rashes. I consulted with a doctor, and after eliminating gluten from my diet for a few weeks, I felt better by leaps and bounds. I’ve been gluten-free for four years, and it’s incredible how my symptoms have cleared up. In many ways, I feel like a different person.
My issues with gluten made me realize how much food can impact our mental and physical health, especially the food we don’t think twice about. Saturated fat, cholesterol, and processed sugar are no brainers, but wheat, barley, and rye? Since eliminating gluten from my diet, I’ve been keenly aware of how the food I eat affects how I feel. Dairy and I have never gotten along particularly well. While I’ve never been a milk drinker, I would consume Greek yogurt and cheese in moderation. Although, I’ll admit, there were times I took liberty with the meaning of “moderation” (the burrata made me do it). I sure paid for it later.
I eventually found that eating meat did not make me feel the best, either. Beef, while consumed once in a blue moon, always felt heavy. There’s no other word to describe it. Eventually, poultry began to feel the same way. Heavy, like lead in my gut. I began to consume smaller and smaller portions of meat, until eventually I stopped buying it altogether and rarely ordered it in restaurants. White fish, salmon, and shellfish made guest appearances, but the main protein source came from legumes, tofu, and gluten-free tempeh. Without even knowing it, I was on the road to plant-based diet.
Everything came together three months ago when my husband and I moved to Boston. We were at the grocery store stocking up for our new place, and a light bulb clicked on at the check-out line. Aside from eggs, there were no animal products in our cart. It was all fresh produce, soy products, and beans. Health-wise, there was something to a vegan, gluten-free lifestyle that worked for my body. I also had peace of mind knowing I wasn’t enabling the pain and suffering of animals. A plant-based diet and lifestyle deserved more investigating and education.
While I have a destination in mind, I am focusing first on the journey. Unlike my college experience, I want to avoid diving in head first without knowing the depth of the pool. I want long-term success, not a short burst, then burn out. I want to make an effective change, and I want to do it right.
So, I began to read, and I’m continuing to read. Vegan for Her is particularly helpful, and the Oh She Glows blog and cookbook opened my eyes to delicious, healthy vegan recipes that don’t include nearly impossible to find ingredients (ahem, The Kind Diet). I’m following amazing vegan bloggers on Twitter and Instagram. Learning about the unethical treatment of animals in the meat, dairy, and egg industries only planted (pun alert) me more firmly on the path to a plant-based life. Currently, I’m researching valuable vegan resources specifically for athletes so I can feel like a warrior in the gym and on the road.
For the past few months, I’ve been eating vegan about 75% of the time. What’s the remaining 25% holding me back? Well, that’s a whole other story for a whole other post. I’ll write soon about the challenges I’ve experienced as well as fun tips picked up on my journey thus far.
The adventure continues.
Are you on a journey? Please feel free to share in the comments, by email, or on social media.