Lots of people ask me why I’m vegan. Sometimes I say it’s for health reasons; sometimes I say it’s for the animals. Sometimes I shrug and change the subject, hoping that the lack of meat in my life doesn’t make people start saying things like “BUT BACON!?#@@!??” Truthfully though, before I cared even a little bit about the animals I stopped eating many animal products for health reasons. It turns out that I am allergic to eggs and dairy, and consistently have digestive pyrotechnics that can make my life miserable. I’m not saying this so that you feel sorry for me; please don’t. My body is just doing at 24 what everyone else’s body does during middle age – rebelling against a lifetime of crappy treatment.
I bring this up only because I think people have a tendency to latch on the vegetarianism/veganism as a “Cure-All.” If I’m vegan, I’ll be skinny. If I’m vegan, I’ll be healthy. If I’m vegan, I’ll never get sick. This mindset does nothing but harm fledgling vegans. It’s true, most people who follow a nutritionally responsible plant-based diet free from processed foods, unhealthy oils, and animal products become ill much less often than the average American. But it still happens! Vegans still get colds, flu bugs, and fevers. Some still contract terminal illnesses that cannot be cured by diet alone.
Every time I have a bad day, I immediately want to throw my hands in the air and say “This isn’t working!” Every time my stomach twists up with pain, I get disappointed and want to quit. After all, if I’m not 100% better, 100% of the time, then it clearly isn’t worth it. It’s so easy to forget that for every bad day, I’ve had 10 good ones. And that the bad days aren’t quite so bad as they used to be, because my body isn’t exhausted from constantly fighting itself.
A vegan diet is not a cure-all. But it’s a cure-some (maybe even a cure-most) and that’s more than I can say for the medicinal options.