I’m a Vegan Now. Kinda

I am a big guy. I love food; I am the Tucson Food Guy after all. So why would I become vegan?

Being a big guy has its benefits: I am recognized wherever I go, I have a specialty store that sells clothes just for my size, people can’t take their eyes off me… OK, I guess those aren’t really benefits. In reality, it is tough being a big guy. I can’t go to a regular store and get clothes off the rack. I can’t sit comfortably in an airline seat. I can’t breathe when running down the street. What’s worse than being a big guy, is being a big guy with a neuromuscular disorder (myasthenia gravis) who loves food. That’s right: I can’t exercise to lose weight because my body doesn’t work the way it should, so the only way to lose weight is to diet. Oh no! I said the evil-bad 4-letter word! I hate diets. They are horrible. You are expected to eat enough food to basically fill about a quarter of my stomach.

So when I was looking for how to lose weight, I spoke to my friend who is a vegan and he told me, “Look, go vegan for five days a week, and eat what you want the other two. I guarantee you will lose weight.”

So I did just that and I became a flexetarian. A what? A flexetarian is someone who is a flexible vegetarian, or vegan, as in my case. So what do I do as a flexetarian? Well for me, I am keeping mostly to an anti-inflammatory diet. In this diet, well researched by Dr. Andrew Weil and talked about in his book, “Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Well-Being”, you eat basically a vegan diet – no or very little dairy, no or very little meat, no white or processed carbs. What you eat is healthy fish and seafood, tofu, vegetables and fruits. You can have a glass or 2 of wine if you like. You get to enjoy amazing food, like some of the recipes featured in “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure” which is by Dr. Weil and Sam Fox and has wonderful recipes that are featured in Weil and Fox’s restaurant chain, True Foods.

So how’s it going? How is the Italian Tucson Food Guy enjoying being a part time vegan? I have to admit, it is easier than I expected. First thing I have learned is Whole Foods is my friend. I found a wonderful almond coffee creamer that has taken the place of my half and half. It is better for me and keeps me moving towards no dairy. I even had baked ziti and kept it vegan. Yes, I traded the Ricotta cheese for an almond ricotta cheese and the mozzarella for an almond based mozzarella cheese, and they have a parmesan cheese made out of ground nuts that tastes very much like the real thing. The ziti was amazing and I didn’t even miss the real stuff.

Dairy is one of the biggest culprits in inflammation. As a myastheniac, the more dairy I can avoid, the better, but avoiding dairy is not only good for those of us with myasthenia gravis, it is good for everyone. It has been scientifically shown that when people give up dairy they have less allergic reactions and less overall health issues. And this trend has not gone unnoticed in the main stream. Pizzology, a chain of pizza restaurants based in California has recently announced that they will carry vegan mozzarella cheese. Pizzology has invited me to try their new vegan cheese pizza and I will post in a later blog my review. I hope that this first step will be followed by other restaurants, not to completely eliminate dairy for those who still want to enjoy it, but to have options for us who have given dairy up.

Am I happier without dairy and without meat? You betcha. I have never felt better. I am more energetic, more active, and feel like I did before my myasthenia gravis took control of my life. I can feel the difference on my off days or on days that I might not keep vegan.

So, becoming a vegan is a very hard thing to change all at once, but if you do it in baby steps and become a part time vegan, you can slowly work it into your lifestyle and I guarantee your body will feel the difference.

Are you a vegan or have some vegan story or recipe to share? Comment below as I would love to hear your story.

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