0 days – “Dude, why?”

For anyone who knows me, you already know I am the most annoying person to eat out with. I have been vegetarian for five years and notoriously order the “sausage with no sausage” breakfast sandwich at Starbucks. Yup, I’m the worst. Get me in front of an actual menu with a candid audience/waiter/poor soul, and I ask a million questions. “What’s the healthiest? What tastes the best? What do you recommend?” Usually ending with, “Honestly, just surprise me.” Something tells me I’m not on any restaurant MVP lists.

Anyways, I decided to go vegan for two reasons: 

1) Mindfulness. I am fortunate to not have to watch my weight or calorie intake very much – the flip side of that is that I eat absolute garbage. And by garbage, I mean like a 12-year-old whose parents left them alone in the food court with a crisp $10. I cannot cook or prepare a meal for the life of me. As an almost 24 year old, that has what one might call “zero chill.” Especially as I get ready for a huge transition in my life as I move out of state and become a teacher – I need to know I can cook something….literally just one thing….that isn’t via microwave. By temporarily removing most of my fast food options, I will be more motivated to cook and eat clean.

2) Health. As a vegetarian, I rely heavily on dairy as a source of protein. As I started doing more research, I came to find that three things your body never needs are: meat, cheese, and junk food. I’ve never really liked meat, but cheese has always been my kryptonite (don’t worry junk food, I’ll never leave you). Upon more reflection, I realized my dairy intake was a huge source of my inconsistent energy. I never feel energized after eating dairy, yet I eat it at most meals. As I begin training for my second marathon, I wanted to make an intentional change to help energize and fuel not only my runs, but also my day to day living.

Thursday, Jan 19th, day one. Let’s do this. 

50 days – dude, how?

Today is Thursday, March 9th. Time has not flown by – for some reason this time of year always feels slower….Time is weird – but that’s another TEDTalk.

I quickly realized that my vegan diet was largely soy-based (soy milk, tofu, and…yeah pretty much a ton of tofu), so I made a decision to become mostly soy-free as well- both for ethical and health reasons. This was huge for me. I didn’t realize that an increase soy intake also increases one’s estrogen levels. Winter is usually an emotional time of year for me, and cutting out soy made me feel much more stable. For all I know, it’s the placebo effect, but I’ll take it. Less soy = better mental health.

Being vegan is not as dramatic as I imagined. That said, traveling has made me feel high maintenance (rather, more high maintenance than usual). I ordered a grilled cheese at In-N-Out Burger….without cheese. Judgement welcome; I am judging myself.

In general, I feel better, healthier, and stronger. I am not as sluggish as usual, and my energy feels more consistent and sustainable. Also, I started cooking!!!! Mainly tater tots and pot stickers…..but hey, progress. I begin my training for the Chicago marathon in a few weeks. In the meantime, I am taking it relatively easy in terms of my work outs, and I’m being generous when I call them work outs…

Fun fact:  Oreos are vegan! Who would’ve thought a cookie compromised entirely of chemicals is also dairy-free!

Alternative fact: I have decided honey is vegan…..although technically that isn’t true, honey is essentially bee vomit, and no harm is really done to the bees. Hence, my tea shall continue to have honey in it. HOWEVER, the endangerment of bees is an absurdity fueled by drilling, logging, and deforestation. I am furious, and not sure where to channel this frustration. Also, has anyone seen the Black Mirror episode about subsidized electric bees? That seemed too real.

100 days – dude, what?

April 28th and I’M DONE. Well, technically. I plan to remain mostly vegan until my marathon in October. At that point, I will have been vegan for nine months! Overall, I am SO SO glad I committed to a more mindful way of feeding my body and mind. I needed to be more mindful and I craved the change.

I have been in the midst of Marathon #2 training for the last month, and my runs have been going SO well. Running is your body’s most natural and quickest way to discover ailments – a lesson I learned the hard way last time. This round of training, I know I am nourishing my body with fuels rather than substances/chemicals that will weigh it down. I mean….no nutritionist advises to INCREASE your dairy intake to get in shape/healthier…..do they? While I’m sure my improved energy on runs is partly because my body is more equipped the second time around, I have to give some credit to my cleaner diet as well.

I have also taken time to learn about the environmental impact of not only meat, but also dairy/livestock in general. I want to call out that becoming vegan is expensive, time consuming, and in a lot of ways very privileged. That said, I think it is important to consider the process/evolution of our food, regardless of what diet we consume. In a world where our climate is constantly changing, I find it crucial to own and reduce our footsteps.

I would NOT have made it through these 100 days without the mentor and guidance of my dear friend and co-worker Deanna – if I didn’t have her as an example, counselor, and someone to ask “but is it vegan?” well, I probably would’ve “accidentally” eaten a lot more cheese. Thank you, Deanna. You rock.

Something you may be wondering is if I lost weight. If you know me, you know that’s a sensitive topic and one on which I don’t like to focus. I did not embark on this journey with the goal of losing weight; my goal was to gain health. Becoming vegan was not a diet; it was a lifestyle change.

My desire to drink has also lowered. I imagine that was largely influenced by my recent 100 days sober, but rarely did I have a strong desire to get drunk. Maybe that’s adulting – either way, my bank account and Saturday mornings are looking much happier.

These past 100 days have helped me become a more mindful and intentional eater. It brought light to my unhealthy/lazy eating habits, and inspired me to take care of my body the same way I expect my body to take care of me.

The Next 100 Day Challenge:

I have loved adding these 100 day challenges to my life. They inspire me to think creatively and push me to gain new perspectives. Back in October, I began making monthly memory reel videos to commemorate my favorite moments as I wrap up my time in Seattle and prepare to move down to San Jose. I have loved making these videos and wanted to flex this artistic muscle in a new way.
My next 100 day challenge will be “100 Days of Happiness” where I film a new person each day saying what made them happy that day – it could be as big or as small, specific or vague, as they want. My intention with this challenge is to connect with people in a meaningful way, while also learning that happiness is not as intangible as we sometimes think it to be. We’ll see how this goes – cheers to a beautiful life, friends.