Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Steve The Vegan Meat Eater! - How the heck did this happen?

"That's right, I'm a Vegan meat eater!" 
And this is a story of why this meat eater has now chosen to go Plant-based and Vegan. I hope you will enjoy it, find it motivating, and share it with others.

All my life I've loved to cook and eating all kinds of food including meat, dairy and eggs.

For friends and family that really know me the idea of me giving up Meat, Dairy and Eggs, seems unbelievable. I was the kid that got that huge mood swing, hungry look in his eyes if he didn't have his "protein." Not to say that I
was a meat and potatoes guy, I enjoyed food of all kinds, veggies included. Especially ones from the garden! But I used get physically, mentally, and maybe even emotionally agitated if I didn't have protein, which growing up, like for many of you,  the word protein was synonymous with meat.

I remember my mom and then my wife and mother in law, being able to just look at me and say, 'You need to eat don't you?' My first reply or should I say bark was, 'NO! I'M NOT HUNGRY!' Which was a lie, but my crazy, meat starved mind just couldn't admit that hunger was the reason for my mood and disagreeableness. Or that eating some protein was going to change my mood or line of reasoning. And yet it always did. 

My mom taught me most about cooking in the kitchen. Although, my dad was the one that taught me how to season for Mexican food, when he worked as a cooking in a Mexican restaurant. (which may have been a motivating factor for trying to recreate flavor combinations of other cultures) Oh and watching him at the BBQ of course helped me to know how to 'work the grill!' :-D Meals always (at least it seems always) centered around Meat, Dairy and or eggs. AND I LOVE(ED) IT!

So how did 'Steve the Meat eater' wind up a plant-base, whole  food strong, 'almost always vegan eater'?

To cut to the chase, lets fast forward to 2011. Well we can back up a bit to 1999. I got married to my wonderful wife Michelle. We loved to eat yummy food and cook together. Over the years we became quite good at usually eating 'healthy' and yet very taste food. Each year we would try to make some sort of healthy improvement to our eating lifestyle. Around 2010 we started going more Vegetarian (although I still cheated at work :-/ ) and we still at fish, dairy, eggs and sometimes chicken. We also enjoyed reading about 'healthy' and 'healthy eating' as well as, watching documentaries about food.

I even tried P90X exercise program that year and got into really great shape! Well at least for 3 months then stopped P90X and I became what you might call 'Skinny Fat.' Skinny arms and legs with a bit of a pot belly, "not bad compared to many," I thought, 'only about 15lbs over what I'd really like to be.' "I only weigh 140 lbs, that's still pretty good right?" Until I went to the doctors for a physical.

You see I'm only 5'4" on a good day so even 15lbs makes a pretty big difference. (my short friends and readers will know just what I mean.) My doctor checked my cholesterol and to my surprise it was high! 224 actually. "Not bad compared to many," I thought. But I still didn't like it. I told my doctor I was going to eat better and exercise for 3 months (thinking P90X again) and we could recheck it after. Well 3 months went by, I didn't P90X but, we did start making some 'better choices' and doing more outdoor activities, nothing major just little changes.  and guess what I hadn't really changed much, I think by August I weighed 139.5 lbs. LOL!

ENTER: Life altering documentaries!

I had seen a number of documentaries like Food Inc, The CoveFood Matters these helped us to begin eating better and make better choice on where we purchased our foods from. Then around the beginning of September 2011 we watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and the real changer Forks Over KnivesFrom that day forward my wife, 9 year old daugter and I decided to go "Plant-Based." I had no moral objection to eating animals so at the time "Vegan" wasn't really in my mind. I knew if I was going to do this I couldn't 'miss meat.' It had to taste good. I needed to learn to cook a 'whole new way.' Or so I thought.

First we did a 15 day all plant and juice 'Reboot,' following the plan at Join The Reboot. This was a great kick off. I started scouring the internet for information on Vegan Nutrition, Vegan recipes, etc. By the end of September I was at 128lbs! I was shocked! No extra exercise or anything. The weight literally just came off. I felt great! No crazy mood swings, no desperate 'I'm hungry looks' in my eyes, energy like crazy. This was amazing!

She's happy trust me :-) LOL
I wasn't the only one whose benefited. My wife also had similar weight loss. My daughter on the other hand actually gained weight! Which we were so happy for because, she is a very slim girl and could stand to gain a few ;-) She continues to thrive and is even starting to out grow her shoes and clothes a little faster. She also used to suffer from dark circles under her eyes, even though she was getting 10+ hours of sleep a night. Now her eyes shine, she wakes up in a better mood (usually ;-) ), and just looks all around more healthy.

The Reboot also got me too start thinking of how I cooked differently. I began to think of how to create meatlessly mouthwatering versions of my old meaty favorite recipes. So, I started blogging my recipes at "Meatlessly Mouthwatering" as a way to keep track of things I was learning and to store my recipes for future use. And soon found my coworkers at the Hospital Lab interested in what I was doing. So I set up a Meatless Mondays program at work for 3 months where I cooked vegan meals for 5-6$ donations. It was a hit! So much so that I couldn't keep up with it in my tiny, no dishwasher kitchen, little apartment. They still ask me question and ask for advice now and then, and I'm happy to share.

One of my lab mates John, asked me about my Cholesterol. I told him I was afraid to check it because, Thanksgiving had just happened and I 'cheated' a little. (well maybe more than a little) He said, 'come on lets just do it and see.' So I went for it, a 'full blood work up' non-fasting. To my surprise. All my numbers were right on target. John told me 'these are good enough to qualify as fasting numbers.' That was all the prof I needed to know I had made the right decision and be motivated to continue!

Becoming Vegan, a natural progression.

There's a lot that goes into 'begin a Vegan' and as a natural course of progression Animal treatment, factory farming, dragnet fishing, and the like have come to my attention. As this happens, it becomes obvious that adopting a plant strong diet will at least to some degree, raise your awareness to Vegan points of view   One documentary called "Earthlings" (you can watch it for free here), was particularly disturbing and yet very informative. After seeing Earthlings, it did cause me to move more toward becoming Vegan vs just 'plant-based' eating. Seeing that even milk is obtained in a way that kills a cow in only 4 years, does make you question even drinking cow milk or eating cheese. I can't imagine this is what The Creator had in mind when He gave the green light on eating animals or when He spoke of giving the Hebrew nation 'a land flowing with milk and honey.' Also, He gave direct instructions on the kind treatment of animals in our care (whatever their final use) and that is just not the case with what's happening today. I'm sure He's even sadden to a greater degree then we are.

Additionally, there is the HUGE environmental aspect that I just can't ignore. To me saying, 'well I can't fix these issues so I'll just eat animals anyway,' is like saying 'I'm going to Smoke because it's legal and I can't stop the Tobacco companies from producing the cigarettes anyway.' Really!?! Animal products for food are the major user of water and plant-based foods such as grains. There was a great, short video I watched called A Life Connected which is a short video with a great message! It's like a short "G" rated version of Earthlings, I highly suggest taking 12mins, clicking this link and watching it.

I also see how living a Vegan, or at the very least a strong Plant-based lifestyle, is in harmony with the future I see for all human kind. My whole life I've been looking forward to a time when there will be peace among all Humans and among Humans and Animals. Living in an Earth free of violence and destruction. Living in a world full of life and variety of all kinds. Wonderful tasting foods that look and smell mouthwatering, that are truly healthy and good for you at the same time! Clean air, clean water, clean minds, clean bodies, in perfect health. And while I know ultimately it will take an intervention of the Creator to fully accomplish this, right now living closer to this way helps me to keep that ultimate goal more clearly in mind. It brings my words and beliefs more inline with my actions.

I now continue to blog my recipes, research, write and tweet about Vegan and plant-based lifestyle. 

Oh and I reached my weight goal of 125lbs and maintaining that is effortless. People that haven't seen me in a while ask what I'm doing differently, saying things like, 'you look younger', 'you've lost weight', and one of my favorites, 'you have more hair, are you doing something to grow it?' My wife and daughter are having similar results.

It's fun meeting all kinds of people (including many other men) that are living Vegan. Sharing information, exchanging stories and teaching others has become something I really enjoy. This happens primarily in person but also, via my two blogs; Meatlessly Mouthwatering & Eat Plants Diet, my Facebook pages (Meatlessly: here and Eat Plants here) and a new way for me, via twitter (you can follow me here). I'd love to learn from you and hear your stories. So, please take a second, contact me using one of the links and introduce yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. I can't wait to hear yours.