Our first month of following a whole foods, plant based vegan lifestyle was nothing short of amazing!
We’ve now been eating/living this way for 6 1/2 weeks and can honestly say we are never going back. There are so many reasons behind that statement but the number one has got to be because we have never felt better.
Our Health Before Going Vegan
So, let’s do a quick backstory before I get too far into the present so that you can understand where we’re coming from.
Eric just turned 51 and I turned 43 in November. Although I’ve given birth 5 times, had my gallbladder removed, and had a total hysterectomy (including the removal of one ovary), I’ve always been the much healthier one.
For nearly all of his adult life, Eric has struggled with digestive issues, inflammation, fatigue, joint pain, chronic sinus infections and a host of other issues. He ate entirely gluten free for 3 years in an effort to help alleviate some of his problems, but there was little difference.
We’ve both yo-yoed with our weight as well. In 2012, I lost 50 pounds and he lost 25. For several years we were both at our healthiest weights and at our peak of physical fitness.
In 2016, after battling with eating a gluten free diet with little results, Eric began incorporating gluten back into his diet. We both started gaining weight.
By the end of 2019, I was up 40 pounds from my lowest weight and Eric was up 70 pounds.
We were both miserable – physically and mentally.
After months of research, we decided that switching to a whole foods, plant based vegan lifestyle was our path forward. We were doing it for our health!
(You can read more about the start of our vegan journey here.)
Things that have happened (so far!) since going vegan
As I mentioned, it’s now been 6 1/2 weeks since we went vegan. We are both absolutely floored by the changes we’ve experienced in such a short time.
In fact, it seemed like there was something new to marvel about every day during our first month as vegans.
Here are the top 17 things that have happened since that fateful day.
- Weight loss. Without even trying, we’ve both lost weight. I (Kate) am down 12 pounds and Eric is down 20 pounds. The “without even trying” definitely has to do with a number of the other things on this list, specifically #3 (changing palate), #11(inflammation gone) and #16 (eating less). When we sit down to a meal, neither of us are paying too much attention to our portion sizes. We aren’t counting calories. We aren’t even exercising right now, although we are both excited to start doing that again next month.
- Increased energy. We both find it easier to get up in the morning and to blast through our to-do lists each day. Neither of us hit an afternoon slump anymore and Eric is rarely falling asleep while watching T.V. at night.
- Changing palate. Our tastebuds have changed dramatically. Fruit tastes sweeter. Mushrooms taste meatier. Beans taste heartier. Eric had a cup of Coke as a “cheat” a few weekends ago and it tasted way too sweet for him. I attribute this to the whole foods, plant based component of our diet more so than strictly the vegan piece though. We are not eating refined sugars or flours, or any processed foods.
- Blood pressure down. Eric’s blood pressure had dropped from the “high blood pressure” category down to the “ideal blood pressure” category. His resting heart rate has also dropped nearly 20 bpm.
- Cholesterol down. High cholesterol has been an ongoing battle for Eric since his mid-twenties. He is now at the very bottom of “borderline” cholesterol levels and quickly approaching “good” levels.
- Sleep apnea gone. Although this one impacts Eric directly, it’s been a HUGE win for both of us. Not only is his sleep apnea gone but his overall snoring has dramatically lessened. I’m sure this is partially related to his weight loss, but he used to snore much more frequently and loudly even when he weighed less than he does now. It’s likely a compound result of weight loss, decreased inflammation and the clearing up of his lifelong sinus issues.
- Digestive issues cleared up. This is another win for Eric! His battles with digestive issues have dictated a lot of his life. He was first diagnosed with IBS about 25 years ago just because doctor’s couldn’t find any other reason. It’s why he tried going gluten free for 3 years. Up until a month ago, he had been taking a daily dose of Metamucil for over 20 years. He has not touched it since we hit the 2-week mark of our new whole food, plant based lifestyle. His intestinal pains, bloating and other issues have cleared up completely.
- Joint pain gone. Yet another Eric win. He has suffered from such horrible joint pain for years and it had been quickly getting progressively worse. We were start to worry about his mobility as a whole. There were times when he’d skip out on events that would require a lot of walking or too much up-and-down because he just didn’t think he could do it. Now, he shows off when he gets down on the floor to play with the dogs, is planning long hikes for our camping trips this summer, and tackling all kinds of household projects that he’d put off because he just physically couldn’t do them.
- Skin cleared up. This is a big win for me! I developed melasma when our was pregnant with our fifth child in 2010 and it has gotten progressively worse over the years. I had a huge patch on my forehead that honestly looked so much like I hadn’t washed my face in years. When you looked along the hairline of my face it looked like I had a mask on. I had no idea changing our diet would even touch my skin. But one day, about 3 weeks ago, I looked in the mirror and had to turn on additional lights and lean in closer to make sure what I was seeing was for real. Then I had to call Eric and the kids in the room so that they could look as well. It is not gone completely (yet), but this vegan diet has dramatically reduced my melasma and cleared up my skin.
- Increased mental focus. This is another win for me. As a freelancer, I regularly work 12+ hour days. I had been going through periods of mental fog that I chalked up to age and early menopause (which I’ve been going through for years thanks to my total hysterectomy plus unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at 37). As a result, I struggled with being as productive as I knew I could be. I noticed a major improvement here within a week of going vegan though!
- Inflammation gone. We both suffered with inflammation to some degree and we both have seen our individual inflammation issues go away. No more bloating for either of us. And for Eric, you can just see the reduced puffiness in his face as well as the huge impact it had on his joint issues.
- Enhanced sense of smell. Everything smells different now. We both love the smells when I’m cooking dinner. Candles smell more candle-y. But, just like when Patrick had a nose surgically implanted on Sponge Bob, it comes with some downsides as well. The dogs! Ugh…such stinky boys. And meat? Oh my gosh, it’s horrible. Our kids have not made the full switch with us. They are eating 90% whole food, plant based vegan when at home with us, so I will occasionally need to cook them some ground beef as a side for their dinner or breakfast sausages for their grab-and-go breakfast sandwiches. There is no other way to describe the smell now than to say that it’s vile. Eric thought I was joking the first time I cooked ground beef for them since we’d gone vegan. It had been about 3 weeks since I’d cooked any meat by that point. He leaned down to the pan where it was cooking to humor me, but then ended up agreeing me with 100%. Vile!
- Headaches and sinus issues reduced. I used to be a daily, or even twice daily, Tylenol or Advil taker due to stress/tension headaches. Since we went vegan, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had a headache, let alone needed to take something to make it better. As for Eric, his sinuses have always given him trouble. He’s literally had a recurrent sinus infection for over 5 years that never fully cleared up. He was a prime subject for sinus cauterization. Yet now that he’s eating a whole food, plant based vegan diet, his sinuses have cleared up completely. It’s been crazy to watch as he used to have facial swelling from his sinus inflammation – primarily above his eyes and his head as a whole. His glasses fit perfectly, but would leave indentations on the sides of his head by the end of the day. And his eyes themselves look so much bigger and more open now that the swelling above them is gone.
- Expansion of reasons. We initially decided to go vegan for health reasons. But the more we read and research, and the more documentaries we watch, the more we have expanded our “reasons for being vegan” to include the ethical and environmental reasons as well. Trust me…that’s not something I ever thought we’d say. But I also never realized just how little we really knew about how our food ended up on our plates. It’s been an eye-opening journey for sure.
- Grocery bill down. I was fully expecting our grocery bill to be ridiculously high. And with 6 of us in this house, plus 2 dogs, that’s really saying something since it was already pretty high to begin with. We used to average right around $250 per week for groceries. We are now averaging right around $218 per week. Yes, fresh produce is expensive. And yes, raw nuts, spices and whole grains are expensive. But, it turns out that they’re not nearly as expensive as a grocery cart filled with meat, cheese and processed snacks.
- Eating less. We are filling up on fiber, so we are naturally less hungry and get full more quickly. We are also drinking more water. Additionally, without refined sugars or processed foods, we no longer crave foods that aren’t good for us. And since we have more healthy foods in the house, the kids are opting for those choices as well. So not only are they no longer loading up on bowls full of empty calories, they’re also eating less overall thanks to the impact of fiber and nutrient-dense foods. We are all absolutely getting more than enough calories, fat, and protein everyday, it’s just taking less food to get us there! (And yes, Eric and I are supplementing B12.)
- More time planning meals and in the kitchen. Even though I love cooking and have been blogging about food in one form or another since 2004, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the amount of time I spent planning our weekly meals, meal prepping on the weekends, and cooking our nightly dinners. The time expenditure has decreased since our early vegan days and everything continues to get easier and less time consuming as time goes on. I am loving the research and science that I put into planning and prepping our food now, and the extra time in the kitchen has resulted in some awesome quality time with the kids. Yes, there are days when I miss opening a few boxes and having dinner of the table in 10 minutes, but overall, I am really loving my kitchen time lately.
I can not wait to see what the upcoming weeks, months and years have in store for us!
I would absolutely LOVE to hear about your experiences with switching to a whole food, plant based diet and/or a vegan diet. Please share in the comments!
And if you’ve been on the fence about whether or not this way of eating would be beneficial for you, I hope this post serves as some inspiration.
If you have any questions, want some extra support or would just like to connect with others in similar situations, we’d love to welcome you inside the Over 40 Vegans Facebook group.