Going Vegan In A Fish Fry Culture
Let me first say this: I AM NOT A VEGAN!
A vegan is a person who, for conscious and moral reasons, does not consume, use, or wear animal and animal byproducts. Therefore, a person who identifies as a vegan, does not wear leather Christian Louboutins. I’m just saying!
In January 2019, what started as a Daniel Fast for the Lenten Season, with our church, ended up being the best food decision I’d ever made in my life. And in 4 months, my husband and I have lost a total of 70 pounds between us. My husband has gone down 4 suit sizes, and I have gone down a dress size. Side Note: We all know that men and women lose weight differently, so I can work out for 4 hours a day and lose 3lbs., while my husband can work out for 30 minutes a day and lose 15lbs in a week! *Rolling Eyes).
I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried every “diet” to arrive on the market. No…I’m serious.
Herbalife (The Old and New System)
Cabbage Soup Diet
Vitamin B Shots
The Cube of Cheese Diet (Ok, this is a joke from one of my favorite movies, The Devil Wears Prada)
Back to the story…
Don’t get me wrong, all of those methods actually worked. However, the only weight loss that was ever sustained was eating healthy and working out consistently. Before I got married, I successfully lost over 50lbs, and had kept it off for several years before I met my husband.
But, after marriage and Fish Fry’s and Chicken Dinners and the Women’s Day Dinner and the Men’s Day Bar-B-Que, I’d gained those 50lbs back…and then some.
By December 2018, after a suffering a miscarriage, loosing my job, and grieving the loss of a close college friend, I was fighting an uphill battle with anxiety and depression, and I weighed more than I ever had.
When the Daniel Fast started, I’d made up in my mind that I was NOT going to participate. I liked coffee, bacon, and cheese too much to give them up for any small amount of time. However, because I do the cooking for my family, it did not make sense to cook multiple meals for my husband and for my self.
I reluctantly decided to fast. The first night I made a Crockpot full of beans. By the second day, I was literally SICK of beans. I craved tacos and coffee. I was HANGRY; a very dangerous combination of hunger and ANGER.
But, my husband and I were so focused on deepening our relationship with Christ, that the food was not the primary focus.
The Turning Point
By the 3rd week, the cravings had subsided. We were sleeping for shorter periods of time, but able to complete all of our tasks throughout the day with minimal fatigue. For a person who has been described as a hibernating bear, I was in complete shock that I could sleep for 6-7 hours per night and not be exhausted throughout the day.
Hubby and I had previously ordered a 3-day juice cleanse from Jus By Julie (click my referral link to save 40% off your purchase). God knows that the thought of doing a juice cleanse in the midst of a fast was…just down right horrifying. But, we did it.
On the 3rd day of the juice cleanse, I was so happy and grateful to return to my oatmeal for breakfast on the following day. And that next morning, my prayer/grace changed. I was truly thankful for a bowl of oatmeal. Nothing fancy either. A pack of instant oatmeal made with almond milk, agave, and cinnamon. I probably spent an extra 2 minutes thanking God for that breakfast. And in that moment, I became a mindful eater.
In the past, I was literally eating because it tasted good. Bacon tastes good. Cheese tastes good. Fried chicken tastes good. But for the first time, I was eating to sustain my body’s need for fuel, not simply because it tasted good.
From that point forward, the fast breezed by. I began to look on Pinterest for Vegan Recipes. I began to clean out the cabinets. I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives and was blown away by the ways in which the US government has historically forced us to eat meat (I’m already a conspiracy theorist, so this was right up my alley). I began to look at the ingredients of the food I was eating, and I was growing closer to God in a way that was mind-blowing.
Making It A Habit
Now, whoever said “it takes 21 days to form a habit”, outright LIED! I think 21 days is enough to show willpower and determination, but to delete decades of bad eating in 21 days is simply impossible.
While I wasn’t weighing myself at the time (let’s face it, the scale is the LAST thing I wanted to step on), when I weighed myself near the end of the 21 day fast, I had lost 15 pounds. FIFTEEN. That was crazy to me. I had convinced myself, like most women over 30, that losing weight was going to be a slow and difficult process. But here I was, face to face with the scale, proving otherwise.
On the last night of the fast, as my husband and I settled in to unwind and pray, we started the list of the things we were going to eat on Day 22. And best believe, the list was extensive.
I was DEFINITELY having a cup of coffee. Hubby requested bacon and eggs. We agreed that we would break our fast in a grand style. But then, after our prayers, my husband asked a simple but profound question; “Do we really NEED to eat those things”?
The truth was, we really didn’t NEED anything other than what we had been eating, because we didn’t feel deprived. We have found the key to being content with what we were eating, and we simply didn’t desire to eat certain foods. Oranges were our new candy, and mushrooms became our new “meat”. We had found so many creative ways to enjoy plant-based whole foods, and we felt so amazing eating those foods, we wanted to continue.
If We Aren’t Vegans, Then What Do We Eat?
I’m so glad you asked. Currently, we consider ourselves pesctarians. We eat fish and seafood occasionally. Occasionally might be a few times a month. We do not eat dairy, chicken, turkey, pork or beef. We do not eat sweets and we do not add sugar. If we need to sweeten things, we use agave nectar. We drink water.
Of course, we occasionally treat ourselves to vegan sweets, and because of our travel schedule and the lack of vegan options, we’ve found ourselves having to eat something cooked in butter or a salad dressing made with a milk base. But when we do, we go right back to eating a plant-based, whole food diet.
We lost the majority of the weight simply by adjusting our diet. However, we enjoy working out at the gym a few times a week.
We feel GREAT! I can’t stress that enough. I no longer feel sleep deprived, even after a night with only 5 hours of sleep. Eliminating the dairy has removed the bloating. Our energy levels are through the roof and even after a full day of working, running errands, cleaning, cooking, studying, etc., I still have energy.
My anxiety and depression are subsiding, I attribute that partly to my dietary changes. The rest is prayer and therapy!
I’m excited to continue this journey, but I need yall to pray for me as Bar-B-Que season approaches because I’ve been known to tear up a pork rib or 4 in the past.
Check out my blog post, Going Vegan: The Basics for a list of must have foods to start your whole food, plant based diet.