On January 3, 2020, we officially started our vegan journey. At 50 (Eric) and 43 (Kate), we both knew it was time to focus on our health. In fact, we decided to make our health our midlife crisis. Specifically, we’ve adopted the tag line that…
Going Vegan is the New Midlife Crisis
While that’s great and all, you may be wondering WHY exactly we felt the need to focus on our health. Well, the short answer is because we want to enjoy life for as long as possible. We have 5 kids ranging in age from 20 to 9 and we want to be around (and active!) for all of the grandkids that are in our future.
The long answer is that we both had a laundry list of issues that we wanted to improve.
Eric’s health issues included:
- Chronic inflammation and joint pain
- Chronic digestive issues
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Irritability (as a result of all of the physical symptoms)
- Sleep apnea
Kate’s health issues included:
- Chronic headaches
- Hot flashes plus other hormonal issues following a total hysterectomy plus unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of one ovary + fallopian tube) at 37
As you can see, we were kind of a mess. And we both wanted to start feeling better ASAP. Eric felt especially defeated as it seemed like he just felt worse and worse, and his mobility began to suffer more and more, with each passing day.
We decided to take matters into our own hands and finally DO SOMETHING that would make us feel better. Kate is kind of an obsessive researcher so she began doing some serious homework.
Initially, we decided to start eating vegetarian. It was kind of a no-brainer because we’d both been having issues with meat. We were suddenly finding ourselves bothered by the taste and smell with increasing frequency. So, we figured it was an easy start to cut meat out and start increasing our intake of fruits and veggies.
And then the holiday season rolled around and we kind of fell off track. We work from home, so overdoing on baked goods (we love to bake hundreds of cookies and sweets as a family every year) and snack foods was all too easy.
Starting the New Year as Vegans
Instead of beating ourselves up about our over-indulgence, we decided to just lean into it while fully committing to some massive change once the New Year hit.
Kate decided to use that interim phase to continue her research. One of Eric’s health issues that seemed to be causing the most problems overall was his inflammation. So that was the focal point of the research – how should you eat to reduce inflammation.
Initially we’d decided on the Mediterranean Diet and its whole food, plant based methodology.
However, there were components of the Mediterranean Diet that we wanted. Namely, we wanted to fully cut out meat. We were initially okay with keeping some minimal amounts of dairy and eggs in our diet.
But the more Kate researched, the more she learned about the negatives of dairy and eggs, both on our health and from an environmental, agricultural and welfare perspective. Those negatives were just too much to rationalize keeping them in our diet, even in minimal quantities.
So, when January 3rd rolled around, we were ALL IN on a whole food, plant based vegan diet.
Our Whole Food Plant Based Vegan Formula
Our research led us to adopting a whole food plant based vegan lifestyle. This means we do not eat:
- Meat or meat by-products
- Dairy or dairy by-products
- White flour
- Refined sugars
- Processed foods
But we truly prefer to focus on what we do eat instead of what we do not. It’s much easier to keep any lingering feelings of deprivation at bay that way.
We do eat:
- Whole grain breads and pastas
- Grains (quinoa, farro, brown rice, etc.)
- Seeds (chia, flax, sunflower, etc.)
- Olive oil
- Herbs and spices
- And anything that can be made from those foods.
The variety of what we eat is immense and we honestly never feel deprived. Check out our Vegan Recipes to see what we mean!
Our Vegan Journey and Our Kids
As you can imagine, making such a drastic change when you have 5 kids isn’t the easiest thing. Our kids are 20 (in college full time), 15, 14, 12 and 9. They’ve spent their entire lives eating (and loving) meat, cheese, ice cream, yogurt and eggs. While they all tend to have pretty adventurous tastebuds, we decided to take a fairly moderate approach with the 4 still at home. (Our oldest has always been a very healthy eater who’d choose a power bowl over a hamburger any day. She’s continuing that at school.)
This means that we do still have some meat and dairy products in the house for them. They might have an egg for breakfast, a chicken sandwich for lunch, or pizza rolls as a snack. The healthy options are always front and center though, and they are choosing those more and more as time goes on.
When it comes to dinnertime, we cook just one meal – a whole food, plant based vegan meal. The rule is that they all have to try at least a few bites. If they really do not like it, they can make themselves a grilled cheese or find some leftovers in the fridge that they do like.
Overall, they’ve done remarkably well. The 9 year old is the only one that opts for a grilled cheese on a regular basis. Everyone else is finding their own new favorites.
Our 15 year old loves the combination of quinoa and lentils. He’s even told us that if he had to choose between that or ground beef, he’d pick the quinoa and lentils every time. He’s never been a huge fan of beans, but he’s been starting to enjoy them now, especially black beans and chickpeas.
Our 14 year old has fallen in love with sweet potatoes and falafel. Her favorite of all time (according to her) is now a raw date, peanut butter and oat flour cookie. She loves to cook and helps Kate make nearly every meal. Although she has a tendency of not embracing new things, her involvement in meal prep has made her much more open.
Our 12 year old is the one that is most on board. In fact, she has made the decision to go vegan 90% of the time. (The non-vegan 10% comes into play when she’s at a friend’s house or traveling for cheer competitions.) She loves just about everything and takes great pride in packing herself a vegan lunch every day.
As we mentioned, our 9 year old is the most resistant. We make it as easy as possible for her to try new things without making her feel pressured. We also make sure to keep plenty of other options on hand for her. But, she’s a naturally healthy eater who would choose an apple or cucumber over any other snack so it’s pretty easy to honor her request for a grilled cheese at the dinner table.
Our Results After 5 Weeks Of A Vegan Lifestyle
We have already had some incredibly amazing results as vegans!
Just look at the changes in Eric’s face after just 5 weeks…
And the internal changes have been even greater than the external changes! He has:
- lost 19 pounds
- dramatically reduced inflammation
- gotten rid of joint pain
- lowered his blood pressure
- lowered his cholesterol
- lowered his resting heart rate
- reduced bloating
- reduced snoring
- eliminated sleep apnea
- been able to stop taking his daily dose of Metamucil (which he’d been doing for 15+ years)
- found increased energy
- improved his mood
Kate’s results are a bit less dramatic, but still as life changing! She has:
- lost 11 pounds
- dramatically improved her skin
- reduced melasma patches
- reduced headaches
- eliminated hot flashes
- found increased energy
- improved mental clarity
And that is all after JUST. FIVE. WEEKS!!
We can’t wait to experience what the next several weeks, months and years hold for us.
We never realized the impact our food was having us or how easy it would be to take back our health. Neither of us have felt this good in years, maybe even decades.
Now, we are excited to continue to share our journeys, learnings, tips and tricks, favorite recipes, and so much more.
Thanks for joining us as we embrace the motto that “going vegan is the new midlife crisis!”