Posted by: gargupie | February 1, 2013

A Vegan Life Hiatus

SalmonFor the readers who are not aware of my diet lifestyle, I have been a vegan for the last three years and going back five years more as a vegetarian (preceding that was a pescetarian, but do not want to bombard you with my life history).  I have been proud of my choice as I follow this diet out of ethical and health reasons.  As a Buddhist, I am against killing and harming of any living things and for health purposes, I do not behind that meat is necessary to sustain a human being’s life.  All that being said, you might be curious why then I have decided to take a vegan hiatus.  After struggling night and life, through a number of sleepless nights and contemplation, I have decided to experiment with my eating habit to maximize health benefits.  Personal health benefits.

I believe that everyone’s body is built differently.  Some people could tolerance grains better than others, whereas some might find them a culprit to their allergies and weight issues.  Recently, I have been experiencing a drop in energy.  I read lots of articles and posts about being gaining tons of energy after following a vegan diet.  How their acne problem got resolved; insomnia disappeared; or dispelling all types of sugar or caffeine cravings.  Then how come it is not working for me? I think one thing is that I consume a high carb vegan diet.  I depend on a lot of breads (healthy kinds though), but also consume soy, beans, and lots of vegetables and fruits. Yet, sometimes I still feel hungry even after a ‘big’ meal.  Is it being the bread is not satiating me? Perhaps I need to increase my protein intake.  Yet I do have a lot of beans, such as hummus, plain beans, and soy/tempeh, but they did not work as ‘effectively’ as when I had my first bite of salmon last weekend.  I admit that I had more than I needed, but ultimately, the oily, omega-3 fulfilling fish gave me such fullness that I did not even have dinner that night.  Although that fish meal did not sit too well with me that day and I felt ‘guilty’ for abandoning my vegan life, at that moment, I felt that was the ‘right’ decision for my health.

Today, I had another craving for salmon. Again.  So before heading home, I stopped by my local supermarket and got some salmon.  This afternoon, I took care NOT to overdo the portion.  While I do not appreciate the ‘fishy’ flavor relinquishing in my mouth, I felt ‘alright’ afterward.  So you might ask, “So? Did you have a BURST of energy afterward?” I cannot answer that question that, but my goal is to hope that having more ‘meat’ protein would control my carb cravings.  Fish is the further extent I would go (no red meats for me) and I think I can justify one fish meal per week.  Right now, there are still some salmon leftover neatly packed in the freezer for next week’s meal.  Whether I would cook it or not, it all depends on what my body is telling me.  I am learning to listen to my body’s voice.  If you stay still and quietly, your body, your temple of life is engaging in a conversation with you every single second.  We must honor her voice and communicate with her.  Today, she said she is tired of having too much bread in life and wanted something different.  I have been denying her presence for the past few months, hence my lack of energy and listlessness.  I did not need a lot of salmon to appease her today.  While I am not ‘proud’ of the death of this body of fish to make me ‘feel’ healthier, I just want to justify that its sacrifice was not in vain.  I have been succumbed in a continuous battler over this hiatus for a very time; so, my final decision is to make a truce – only one fish meal per week and ONLY if my body is telling that I need it.  And of course, vegetables and fruits will always be my main stables.

Sometimes we have to learn to be flexible and be ready to take on challenges, whether it is trying out or even leaving a particular eating habit.  Being too restrictive might have a negative, polarized effect and that is not a well-balanced life should be.

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Responses

  1. you do what makes sense for you, that’s always the right decision.

    • Thanks for your support, Howard. 🙂

  2. Oh Kim, that must have been such a difficult decision! I can’t look back at longer periods of vegan eating, like you do, but you know I’ve had (and still have) a lot of ethical concerns with the animal foods I still eat and tried veganism for a short time, just to learn that it doesn’t work for me. I felt my energy and health vanish very quickly and was constantly hungry after the thr first two or three days of completely vegan eating, and after a week, I almost wasn’t able to work anymore because of lack of concentration. After two weeks, my stomach was so bloated and hurt so badly that I couldn’t eat solid food anymore. So I made chicken soup. 😦

    My body isn’t able to adept to veganism well, but I have a very clear memory of the inner peace I felt when I was eating completely vegan for two weeks. In the time afterwards, it happened that I started crying in the supermarket when putting chicken breast fillets into my shopping basket. This experience that animal protein has a potential to satisfy in a way plant protein has not (as I’m allergic to soy, I had to rely on legumes and seeds / nuts, and I drank two rice protein shakes every day to account for the missing protein) I have made as well.

    Personally, I find fish to be the most acceptable kind of animal protein. I don’t know why, but I find it easier to eat than meat. So I eat fish preferably. If I’m physically weak and exhausted (which I currently am, for stress reasons), I feel my body wants meat, so I eat chicken. I eat almost no red meat anymore never was too fond of it anyway), probably once every couple of months. It’s mostly fish for me, and chicken on occasion. I also eat legumes regularly, and it helps me to cut down animal protein to the minimum amount I need to feel well. Some days I eat completely vegan, on most days I eat one small serving (about 100 g) of fish or chicken a day which I have with one meal or split across meals and then add legumes or brown rice. These are the only animal products I consume now.

    I’m sending you kind thoughts across the ocean! It’s great and courageous that you were able to make your health a priotrity in this. I’ve done the same and I think it was the right decision. At least you can’t be good for others if you aren’t there anymore.

    Love and hugs!

    • Oh my…your words totally resonate within me and it’s like you’re spoken what I was unable to! I tried having salmon this week and felt stuffed and had indigestion. My take is that salmon is too oily and ‘fatty’ for my transition, so I was advised to start with a white fish (like tilapia) instead. You’re right that sometimes I feel my body isn’t made for a vegan diet. I am still struggling to face the music and the fact that I ‘need’ animal meat to have energy. Now I am back on the vegan wagon and sense an ’empty stomach’ a lot. The worst is that I rely too much on carb as fillers, which of course, isn’t a substantial protein provider. I am trying to incorporate coconut milk and avocado to up my fat intake. Beans don’t do much for me anymore. I do ‘crave’ chicken, but I know deep down, fish is the further I could go. Thank you so much for your support, Kath. I will be on a vegan diet for awhile now, until I’m ‘brave’ enough to make another small transition again. Trying different experiment is exhausting, but still gotta do it.

      • Thank you so much, Kim! I very much hope your experiments will continue well and won’t be too exhausting, although I also find that food experiments can be quite stressful.

        Tilapia is one of my favorite fish. I almost never eat salmon because it lies so heavily in my stomach. 🙂

  3. I used to loooove salmon, I mean, it’s one of more flavorful fish out there! But you really have to get the organic kind. The ‘farmed’ salmon I had was so fishy, it left a distasteful afterthought in my mouth 😦

    I used to be able to down an entire steak, but like my mom said, that was before, this is now.


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