Being vegan sounds extreme to many. But being vegan and being chronically sounds like you lost it. Especially now, when following auto-immune protocol and paleo diet is hugely popular. People are almost literally gobbling down enormous amounts of (animal derived) proteins, tons of fats and zero carbs.
Then there’s me, stuffing my face with unlimited carbs, cooking with no oil and eating tons of “sugar” that comes from fruit. Oh, and everything I eat is completely plant based, of course.
So I really shouldn’t be so surprised (and annoyed) to get raised eyebrows and weird looks. The one question I hear a lot is- are plants enough? Well, to end this “mystery” I decided to answer the most common questions I get. Here we go! 🙂 But before I begin, let me point out one more thing: I’m vegan for the animals and our planet and I follow wholesome, healthy plant based diet for my health. 😉
Can you be plant-based (vegan) when you are a chronic patient, struggling with many auto-immune diseases?
The answer is very simple and straight forward. Yes. Yes, you sure can! I’ve been “proving” that for almost 4 years now.
Will it cure of your diseases?
Well, this one depends on the disease you have. But if I’m referring to auto-immune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s, then the answer is no.
While plants are the most delicious, wonderful, versatile and all around brilliant food, they are no effing superhero and if your immune system is a bit bizarre and “enjoys” attacking itself, it’ll continue to do so.
However- eating balanced, wholesome plant based diet can put certain diseases and conditions in remission and make your immune system stronger! And that matters, trust me!
But why eat healthy, if you’re still sick?
How about, because it makes me feel great and because I love it? I don’t see it as a struggle or deprivation. In fact, I’ve never eaten better than I do now!
But to be honest, it was puzzling at the beginning, especially because people are quick to judge and point their fingers, like- what’s the point then? You eat healthy, but you still feel (and look) like shit.
Hmm, if I play this “but-you-don’t-look-sick” card, then what people can’t see and even less feel, they cannot understand. But I know. I know how I used to feel. I was unable to leave the house. Unable to stand up straight and socialise. I was in constant pain and lived with a huge stigma.
So yeah- plants won’t cure me per se, but they made my life tolerable again. In comparison to before, I now thrive. Yes, I still have flare ups and stuff, but so do the people who follow AIP. I’ve talked to enough of them to know this for certain.
If you’re a chronic patient with a immune system on the loose, you’re bound to collapse every now and then. But eating healthy pays off, because it makes that time in between bearable.
What’s up with clean eating? Ain’t that just another eating disorder in disguise?
I can’t speak for others, but for me, it definitely isn’t. In fact, with my (ruined) guts it is the only option… and I actually love it. Some may think I am a fussy eater, but I see it as a perfectly normal lifestyle I enjoy very much.
My “diet” (not a fan of this word) involves lots of fresh fruit and veggies, lots of unprocessed carbs and a little amount of good fats. All prepared from scratch if only possible.
Besides, I firmly believe there’s nothing wrong if you want to eat healthy and skip on things that are full of ingredients one can’t even pronounce.
Does it have to be organic?
I do prefer to buy organic whenever possible, but I’m not obsessing over it. I will much rather buy produce from a local farmer than buy something in a store, brought from afar, just for the sake of its organic label. What’s more important to me is that the food is local, seasonal and preferably not packed in plastics.
It also depends on my budget. I have no intention to go broke by vigorously buying only organic. I became quite a savvy over those years, when it comes to shopping, can proof read ingredients like a real pro and know where to buy and how to buy all the good stuff. Practice makes perfect or something, aye?
What about super foods?
Ha, I remember when I first started reading and investigating all about food, its combinations, macros and micros, nutrients and all that jazz. Damn, with so much information out there, no wonder people are confused.
All these super foods are also super expensive. But do they do their job? Maybe some do, I don’t know. My budget and patience aren’t big enough to try them all out, but my common sense is quite down on Earth, so I figured that if humanity survived this long without taking million supplements and obsessing over super foods, then they are not so necessary. I guess they can make a great addition in one’s diet- I’m not going to lie, I’m a huge chia pudding fan, but do I really need all those pricey powders shipped from other parts of the world to be healthy? Nah, not really.
Acai powder vs local wild blueberries? Quinoa over buckwheat? Well, I will much rather have buckwheat porridge with blueberries. These are the real super foods- homegrown, local and seasonal.
Besides, no amount of super foods can erase all the “wrong” food one eats.
But…what about the taste?
With all this artificial food out there, it is no surprise that people gag when they try unprocessed food for the first time. But guess what- you get used to it. And once you do, once you get back the real taste of food, there’s NO way you can go back to eating crap. Real food, like dunno- fresh tomato from the garden- tastes phenomenal and it doesn’t even need any seasoning.
But can you get everything from plants?
Yes. Wholesome, delicious, preferably homegrown plants give you everything and they nourish you from the inside and outside. They are full of fibers, vitamins, minerals, they are packed with nutrients, and yes- you get more than enough protein from them!
Isn’t eating vegan boring?
This one always makes me giggle. With so many different kinds of plants, how could eating this way be boring? Since I don’t get stranded on desert island on daily basis, my food’s definitely not boring. In fact, I’ve never been more creative or eaten more versatile.
What exactly do you eat then?
Here’s the thing- I’m a pretty hardcore ethical vegan but the health aspect plays a huge role in my veganism, therefore I try my best to eat healthy. I find that eating enormous amounts of carbs, very little fat and lots of fruits works best for me. I could say I’m one of those high carbs low fat vegans who follow raw till 4. Only that I’m not. I could never be completely raw and I also don’t enjoy labels.
Lemme just say that my favourite things to eat are: fresh, seasonal and perfectly ripe fruits, sweet potato, pumpkin, pasta, homemade pizza and almost all the veggies.
But why do you take supplements?
I only take B12 and vitamin D. Ask any other chronic patient what they take and the answer will be pretty similar, them being vegan or not. In fact, did you know that vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining a good health and that most people are insufficient? So much more if you struggle with chronic illness(es).
What are the benefits of eating this way?
For starters- long gone are the days of me struggling with IBS and leaky gut.
My allergies improved and I almost don’t need to take medicine anymore. My skin improved and so did my energy levels.
And I love what it did to my mind- it’s so much clear and sharp now. I very rarely get cold, and even if I do, I get better in a couple of days. So yeah. I’m sticking to eating plants.
Let’s talk booze!
There were times when I had my fair share of booze, but now it’s best for me to stay away from it. That’s all I’m saying. Alcohol no longer likes me, ha-ha.
Hmm, I think this pretty much covers it. 🙂 If anyone has any other, new question- shoot it. I’m curious to hear and will gladly answer. 🙂