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My Vegan Lifestyle, Extreme?!

Veganism is considered by some to be an extreme lifestyle when it comes to food choices.

I have had countless people tell me that my lifestyle choice of veganism is extreme, eccentric, unhealthy, and so forth.  My response is always, "What's so extreme (etc.) about eating fruits and vegetables?!"  I like to think that I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, granted I could exercise more ... better yet, I could actually start exercising.  Walking to and from my Keurig coffee maker is not a workout! But hey, we all have to start somewhere.

I had few tests run not too long ago and my results were good.  My total cholesterol is 117, my blood glucose is 86 and my blood pressure was 90/73.  I think overall that those are some pretty good looking numbers.  I won't divulge my weight nor height, but let's just say I am tall and svelte!  My doctor told me that my cholesterol, while below the average, was EXCELLENT.  This is one of those times in my life where I am happy to be below average!  Are those numbers a reflection of my vegan lifestyle? I'd like to think so.  High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol runs in my family, not to mention heart disease.  I refuse to take a fatalistic approach to my health by letting my family medical history dictate what aliments and diseases I will "inevitably" suffer from.

My lifestyle extreme? I don't think it is extreme.  Extreme to me would be having to take numerous prescriptions, with numerous side-effects, throughout the course my life. Or, having to have open-heart surgery — now that's extreme.  I believe that my lifestyle, though not for everyone, is a way for me to stay in as healthy a state as possible throughout my years.  And you know what, the food I eat is DELICIOUS!  I don't miss consuming animal products one iota.  You have to keep in mind, I was not raised as a vegetarian or a vegan.  It wasn't until I was 18 that I became a vegetarian.  So, I have been there, done that with the meat and dairy lifestyle and I have absolutely no intentions of ever reverting back.

I have had family and friends say to me, "Oh, you can't eat that (*referring to some meat or dairy product)?"  The best response that I have come up with is, "Oh, I can eat that! I just choose not to!"  It seems as though a lot of people are under the misconception that embracing a vegan lifestyle means having a very restrictive diet.  When in truth, embracing a vegan lifestyle opens up a world of different tastes and textures — fruits, vegetables, legumes, spices, etc. that one would have otherwise probably never tried.  Aside from being a vegan, I eat very, very little processed foods and I rarely add any oils or salt to my meals (including baked goods).

Recipe time! I would like to share with you the recipe for my favorite cookie.  The name of this recipe is, "Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles." *Check out my picture uptop* YUM!  The first time I made these cookies and took a bite out of one I was in love.  This recipe combines cocoa powder and bit of cayenne pepper, and let me tell you, the combination of those two ingredients is phenomenal.  I'll admit I was a little skeptical at first.  The thought of cocoa powder and cayenne pepper mixed together didn't sound too appealing, but I thought I'd give it a try.  I am so glad I did!  If you decide to bake up a batch of these cookies let me know what you think!

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Robin Anderson February 27, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Ah, Rachel, a "lifestyle" choice that is not studied or even discussed nearly enough in most of our schools, eh? While some of it's statistical data could probably be updated, a book entitled "Diet for a Small Planet", by Frances Moore Lappe, presents much food for thought that the students in any economics or biology class might benefit from.
James Thomas February 27, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Did I miss an edit here?
Debbie S. February 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I was glad to see the author admitting that this lifestyle choice is not for everyone. There is researching showing that not everyone's body can be healthy on such a diet. And remember, humans have historically been omnivores. Our bodies were made to ingest and digest both meat and vegetation. I do raise an eyebrow at the implication that people taking many pills are unhealthy. The author looks young and may not realize the extent to which even healthy bodies change as they age. I, too, am wary of excessive pill taking as a substitute for healthy eating and living, but there's a growing body of research that some essential nutrients and vitamins simply cannot be attained at optimal levels through food alone. There is a reason our life expectancies and relative quality of life keep rising decade over decade and supplementation certainly plays a role.
Christina Weyrick-Cooper February 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Love seeing a vegan blogger on Patch! This book has terrific information about staying healthy with a whole foods, plant based, well-planned diet. http://www.amazon.com/Vegan-Life-Everything-Healthy-Plant-Based/dp/0738214930
Missy Toms February 28, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I have been a vegan for 2.5 years. I made the choice to eliminate animal products from my diet for two reasons: the environment and cancer prevention. (Watch FORKS OVER KNIVES.) I have so much more energy now than I ever did as a meat eater. No more mid-afternoon slump! And as for those people who think vegans are pasty and weak, I have to tell you that you can be strong and fit and still be a vegan. I'm in my forties and devoted to CrossFit, running, yoga, and strength training. Last week at my annual exam, my board-certified doctor opened the door, and the first thing she said to me is, "Guess who went vegan? Me! I've never felt better!" Rachel, can't wait to try your recipe. My hubby loves Snickerdoodles.
joe ponikarovsky February 28, 2012 at 08:13 PM
wait a sec. in your previous post, you said "I have been a vegetarian for 16 years and a vegan for 2 months." so your low cholesterol would be more from the vegetarian diet and not from the vegan one then, right? not trying to "call you out" or anything; and i know you're not stressing the vegan part of vegetarianism so much in this post. i'm just saying that what you ate leading up to that test is more of a factor than the last two months is. and i'd be curious to see the results in a year. my guess is that cutting out meat alone did way more than cutting out dairy. you'll likely still see improved results next year, but probably just not as drastic. depends what type of (ovo-lacto) vegetarian you were though and what foods you frequently ate then, versus now. anyway, just some thoughts...
* February 29, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Ah yes, the PPK. I love to doctor up her recipe for snobby joes. That being said, I'm an omnivore through and through. I was lucky enough to grow up on what I suppose would be considered an old fashioned farmstead in rural Ohio where our lives depended, entirely, on the land and the crops/animals we raised on it.
* February 29, 2012 at 11:01 PM
The American fast food diet and the meat eating habits of the wealthy around the world support a world food system that diverts food resources from the hungry. A diet higher in whole grains and legumes and lower in beef and other meat is not just healthier for ourselves but also contributes to changing the world system that feeds some people and leaves others hungry. -- Dr.Walden Bello
Kristina Bunnell March 01, 2012 at 06:32 PM
OMG I cannot wait to try those cookies. I once saw something on food network about combining chocolate and cayenne (i think it was actually an ice cream flavor they featured) and have been on the lookout for a recipe that did that ever since.
* March 06, 2012 at 03:17 PM
It takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce 1 calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for 1 calorie of pork; 22 calories for 1 of poultry; but just 1 calorie of fossil fuel for 1 calorie of soybeans. By eating plant foods instead of animal foods, I help conserve our non-renewable sources of energy. On the contrary, by eating a well-balanced and omnivorous diet one can rely on local foods to a greater degree thereby reducing the use of fossil fuel to transport food to your plate. Moreover, a local steak is more economically and environmentally sustainable than consuming soy-based meat substitutes trucked in from long distances. Animal foods are higher in fat than most plant foods, particularly saturated fats. Plants do not contain cholesterol. Count this as one of the benefits of animal foods. Saturated fats and cholesterol are both important nutrients that nourished our ancestors and nourish us as well. Fat and cholesterol are particularly important for young children. In the last thirty years, overall fat consumption has decreased and carbohydrate consumption has increased; however along with a decrease in fat consumption, developed nations have seen an increase in obesity and other diseases.
Rachel Jewell March 06, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Let me know what you think of the cookies (when you get around to baking a batch)! I loved them, my fiance not so much. I took a batch of these cookies to one of Meetup groups (for vegetarians/vegans) I belong and the response was favorable!
Rachel Jewell March 06, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Snobby Joes?! I'll have to check out that recipe! PPK has a lot of delicious and pretty easy recipes listed on their website.
Rachel Jewell March 06, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Thanks Christina! I'll have to add that book to my list of "Veg-Books" to read. I should get the book for my Dad. He has been doing some research on his own about the consumption of animal products and well, let's just say he is trying to cut back on his animal-meat intake. He tells me, "I could never be a vegetarian/vegan 100%." I just chuckle to myself when he says this because I used to say the same thing. Never say never! Have you by chance read "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell? I have heard from several people that it's an interesting read. I haven't read it yet - on my list!
tom m March 06, 2012 at 07:43 PM
thats why I always eat fast food (I do not think the hamburgers contain any meat)
Wilburforce March 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
It's very clear that red meat, processed meats: animal fat and sugar are shortening North American lives. I'm still on the chicken, fish, turkey, no fat yogurt band wagon .....My numbers are near Rachel's
Joseph Rafidi May 14, 2013 at 08:32 PM
vegan here. cheers rachel

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