Last Christmas, a friend of mine who knew I was on a journey to improve my health gifted me a copy of “How Not to Die.” The book is a widely renowned study into nutrition and – not to oversimplify the nature of the work – presents numerous studies and evidence that a vegan lifestyle can help to ward off disease.
I fully embraced the pro-vegan research, completely overhauling my refrigerator and pantry. Armed with a slew of delicious new recipes, I was able to convince my whole household (minus the dog) that we could be healthier and happier as vegans. And we were, for a time. But then some of my health problems surfaced, causing me to totally abandon my newfound vegan diet. My stomach simply revolted whenever I tried to eat a majority of the vegan food options out there. Chicken and rice continues to be my one safety meal to get back on track and stabilize my stomach.
I was – and sometimes still am – seriously conflicted by my failed veganism. While I knew that my digestive system needs a very specific diet to function properly, I couldn’t help feeling like a quitter. I felt like a fraud even browsing the vegan forums and circles I had typically frequented. Mealtimes were the worst, too. For the longest time, a voice in the back of my head would nag at me, taunting all the health benefits I was eschewing with every bite of meat. It took a while before I could eat dinner without a feeling of self doubt and guilt.
But I had forgotten one of the most important rules of health and fitness: everyone’s body works differently; each body needs different care and maintenance. What works for one person may not work for another. Everyone has a different level of healthy and different paths to get there. While a vegan lifestyle may be healthy, it just isn’t healthy for me, at this time.
So here’s to you, my fellow vegans and failed vegans alike, and our individual quests for healthiness. We may not be perfect but we’re trying – and that ultimately makes all the difference.