Another interview with a vegan friend…
Sheri is a friend of mine from university. She recently became vegan for health reasons, as opposed to my previous interviewee, Amy‘s, ethical choice (although Sheri’s is an ethical choice as well). Here is what she had to say:
1. When did you become vegan and why?
I started eating vegan about 5 months ago. I had a few health concerns this year. At the beginning of the year, they found a 10cm mass on one of my ovaries. When they removed it in March, they found that there was cancer in it. So they wanted to go back in an remove that ovary and my appendix (because it’s related to that kind of tumour). So at the end of June I had my second surgery. I am lucky that the cancer was completely contained, and after the second surgery, everything was okay, so I did not require any more or any treatments. But surgery sucks, and a six week recovery period after each one sucks even more.
So after my first surgery, I started really thinking about eating vegan. I was a vegetarian for two years before, and always had it in the back of mind, but did not think I could give up ice cream and cheese. But when I found out that I had a form of cancer and would require more surgeries, I decided that I want to keep my body as healthy as possible. I did a lot of research and reading to understand plant-based diets and how I can get my calcium without having milk etc. And after learning about the environmental concerns and the animal cruelty (those pictures and stories would turn anyone off animal products), I was convinced.
So I started out slowly.
I decided to be really strict when I was in charge of my own food and then a little more lenient when I was at other people’s homes. But I’ve been educating my family about it and they are all into it. We have so many dietary issues in my family that we’re used to making more than one ‘kind’ of food, so that makes it easier. Even my 78 year old Italian grandmother is making her delicious lasagna, ravioli and manicotti vegan for me.
And the thing is, I did not miss ice cream this summer and I don’t miss the cheese. I think it’s because I set my mind to it and knew this is something I wanted to do for my own health, so it made the transition much easier for me.
2. What is the hardest thing about being vegan?
The hardest thing about eating vegan (I’m not a vegan, I just eat vegan, I couldn’t give up leather shoes…..not yet at least) for me is pretty much the same thing that was hard as a vegetarian, eating at restaurants. That’s really the biggest challenge. That or when you’re at someone’s house, or there is a staff lunch at work etc. Now I always bring a ‘just in case’ meal when I go to a meeting or workshop where lunch is included, just in case I can’t eat what’s provided. But most times I have been okay.
3. Do you ever feel like you’re missing out (and do you ever cheat)?
I don’t ever feel like I’m missing out. I feel like I missed out before, because now that I am so much more concerned about what I eat, I try so many new things and no longer get stuck in the same routine that I used to before, eating the same things I’ve been eating since I was a kid.
And yes I ‘cheat’. But I don’t consider it ‘cheating’ because they’re my own rules. Usually ‘cheating’ happens when I’m at someone’s house and I need to eat and don’t want to be a huge pain, particularly if it’s someone I don’t see often and therefore does not really know about my diet. But the ‘cheating’ is very minimal now. But the one thing I will allow myself to ‘cheat’ on are those Chocolate Mint Girl Guide cookies they sell in the fall. I love those things, and I figure that since they only come out once a year, I can do that.
4. How does it make you feel health wise?
I feel great. I did not notice much of a difference going from vegetarian to vegan, just like I didn’t notice much of a difference becoming vegetarian. I think my body was meant for this kind of diet. I barely ever feel bloated or sick after eating any more, which was always a common occurrence with my semi-sensitive stomach. And I have lost about 10 pounds, purely from the change in diet. I know this because the weight loss came during the six weeks of recovery from my second surgery, when I couldn’t be physically active but still had a good appetite. And I’ve managed to keep it off, so dropping those few pounds also helps on the ‘healthy’ aspect.
5. Do you cook a lot or eat out at restaurants? What’s your fav recipe and/or restaurant?
I’ve cooked more in the past five months than I ever have in my life. I love my sweets and I love rich foods, so I bought a few vegan cookbooks and started cooking. I wanted to make sure I did not miss out on anything. I’ve always cooked, I hardly ever ate pre-made/processed foods. But now cooking/baking is much more exciting for me. That may make me sound kind of nerdy. I’ve even been making breads. I love trying out a new vegan recipe and seeing how delicious it is. And most of the ones I have tried have been absolutely delicious.
It’s harder to eat at restaurants, plus eating out all the time is expensive, I don’t understand how people can afford to do it. But eating at Asian restaurants (Thai, Japanese are two of my favs) is much easier than other restaurants, such as Italian (also my fav). But I make it work.
Three of my favourite recipes so far are Pumpkin Pecan Banana Bread, Yam and Black Bean Tacos and Double Chocolate Chip cookies (which I add a hint of mint to).
Thanks Sheri! The recipes are from Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook and I will be trying them out soon. They look delicious.