At this time I am not vegan. I actually fluctuate between vegetarian and pescatarian. Pescatarian means I eat fish, but no other animals. Vegetarian means I do eat cheese and egg sometimes. It complicates family dinners sometimes because people aren't quite sure what I will or will not eat.
How it began: My youngest daughter was diagnosed with an allergy to egg and milk when she was 11 months old. There were signs from early on that she was not digesting well, such as diarrhea and vomiting, and she had eczema and dry skin all over her body. When I gave her a bit of shredded cheese or yogurt she got a rash on her mouth. Those were the only two home tests I did and then I called an allergist. G, who is now 5 years old, had rashes on occasion, but I didn't know what they were from. She never slept through the night until after the allergens were eliminated. She hated tummy time and was a late crawler. There were many signs that she was in digestive distress. Fortunately, she never had anaphylaxis or anything close. She did have severe anemia and many ear infections, though.
At 11 months old, G was still breastfed and had never been given formula. Right away I cut out dairy and egg. I went searching for substitutes for food I loved: chocolate chip cookies--check; pizza--forget it. For two months I tried my best not to consume foods with dairy or egg and G got noticeably better. She'd been a very clingy, whiny baby who didn't want other people besides me or her dad to hold her. My in-laws, who visited every other month or so, noticed a change in her personality after she'd been off allergens for a couple months. She was happier, explored more, started walking by 14 months, climbed furniture like a champ and healed!
Something was going on with me, too! I was digesting food better than ever before. Warning: TMI! I'd had chronic constipation my whole life. I remember it from a very young age. But, when I cut out dairy and egg I was better. I only did it for two months, then weened G to other nondairy beverages and made sure she had plenty of healthy fats. I went back to my old eating habits and gained weight. I'd lost all excess weight while breastfeeding, but I gained back 10 lbs when I stopped, even with regular exercise. The only thing I never went back to was drinking milk. I switched to soy, then rice, then almond.
Two years after I'd experienced brief digestive happiness, I saw Kris Carr on Opera. She talked about her documentary on cancer and her diet. I looked up her blog and devoured it. I read other blogs she had linked on her blog. I found raw food blogs. I found people who had healed themselves with food. I wanted to feel better. I exercised regularly, and had done so for two years, but I still weighed more than I should and was not as strong as I wanted to be. I ordered Natalia Rose's book Raw Food Detox Diet and read it just before going on vacation with my family to the beach. During that week when I was out of my routine and away from home I found it easy to implement some of the changes and ate raw fruits and smoothies every morning, then had nuts and raw veggies for lunch. I ate a regular dinner, other than beef or pork. See, I'd made the decision that on my birthday, which had been the previous week, I would stop eating beef or pork and embark on a journey to become mostly raw vegan.
The lifestyle had ebbs and flows. Sometimes I'm more vegan than veg and sometimes I eat lots of raw food and other times I don't. I'm proud of myself for making the journey and taking it slowly. Within my first six months I had hamburger 3 times. After one year, I cut out poultry. A year after that, I tried cutting out all seafood, but have found it difficult. I love salmon, so I eat it once a month. I keep reading and reading about healthy eating and keep my sights set on my goal. One day I may say to myself, I really don't want fish anymore. I just don't crave it at all. That's how it is for beef and pork and poultry, so one day it will be for fish. Cheese is another food I find it hard to give up. Pizza and quesadillas are two of my favorite foods. Of course I'd feel better if I never ate them, but I'm just not ready yet.
I will update as I make changes. This blog serves as motivation to keep pushing myself to make healthy changes.