A few weeks ago, I found myself seated in my doctor’s office, nervously awaiting some test results. You see I have been a Type I diabetic for about 16 years and, for the past two years, my blood sugar (A1c) test results have been too high.
In past efforts to curb my diabetes, I have purchased a treadmill, tried to diminish the portions of my food, and increased my vegetable intake – at least a little – to no avail. My A1c reading was 8.7%, which means that my average blood sugar reading has been a little over 200 for the past three months. My blood sugar should run between 80 and 120–200 is obviously not good.
My doctor is someone I know pretty well and has been treating my diabetes for almost all of these past 16 years. He explained that, when I lost over 100 pounds on a low carb diet (Sugar Busters) a few years ago, that he had mostly attributed my weight loss to exercise rather than my diet. At that time in my life I was riding my bicycle extremely long distances – as much as 160 miles in a single day – and, when someone is exercising that much, you can pretty much lose weight eating only Twinkies.
He suggested that I watch a movie called Forks Over Knives, which is one of those scary food documentaries that shows clogged arteries, obese people walking around (shot only from the neck down to protect their chubby identities), and lots of charts and graphs that forecast doom and gloom for the American people and our eating habits. The movie promoted a “whole food, plant-based diet” – that’s scary food movie talk for “VEGAN.” No meat. No eggs. No dairy. No way!
As the movie played on, my wife and I watched with curiosity and a bit of skepticism, we learned about a Chinese study in which all kinds of disease was staved off when people ate mostly plants. We also watched as hipsters from all walks of life proclaimed their vegan diet as “easy,” and “natural,” and “the way it was meant to be.” We hesitantly agreed to try it and to make it a family project.
Today, as I sit and write this story, I’m eating vegan biscuits and gravy using Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) as a meat substitute. I made it last weekend and it was not only good then, but isn’t half bad warmed over. A few days ago we invited my sister and her family over for a pasta bar with several kinds of sauce – including a “meat style” sauce and a no-dairy Alfredo. It was actually quite good. We have fallen in love with Thai food and the wide variety of spicy, ethnic dishes that are easily prepared without meat, eggs or dairy. Best of all, I have lost some weight (measured by a full belt notch) and I feel MUCH better than I did three weeks ago. I know it sounds cliché, but I have much more energy, fewer aches and pains and I feel more like the guy who was diagnosed with diabetes 16 years ago than the 41-year-old with out-of-control blood sugar levels.
Verdict: Veganism is here to stay for the foreseeable future. My family (with some kicking and screaming from my 16-year-old daughter) are all on board. We’re all feeling better. We’re not suffering the absence of meat, eggs or dairy in our diet. We’ve taken this on as a project and, so far, it’s going much better than expected.
In some upcoming posts, I’ll give you all some updates on my health, our progress and even some vegan recipes for you try. Who knows, maybe some of you will be inspired to try some meat-less food!
Do you have any good vegan recipes? Post them in the comments below. I’d love to try them!
Image: Rakratchada Torsap