I can’t say for sure, but that seems to be the thought on everyone’s mind as soon as they find out I’m vegan. That’s the image that people have of vegetarians and vegans. Skinny hippy types that are very earthy-crunchy and love to tell everyone about their lifestyle. Stereotypes and all that.
To say that’s not me is an understatement, but there are reasons that I can extrapolate. Would I like to be the skinny guy? Sure. I haven’t been the skinny guy since college and even then I wasn’t very thin, just not as big as now. Will I get there? Well, if you remember, that’s why I started this part on the TimGirton.com blog. To see if I can.
To say I haven’t dropped any weight is not being truthful. I’m down about 15 pounds, however, it isn’t from any noticeable area. If you looked at my midsection, you’d have to say it looks about the same. My face is slightly thinner. My swollen joints have lost their puffiness so that’s a plus, but aesthetically, you be hard pressed to sincerely ask the age-old question, “have you lost weight?”
What are possible reasons why my weight didn’t decline very fast from the time I made the vegetarian switch? One answer could be that I didn’t go vegan right away. As a vegetarian, you can still have milk, cheese, and eggs. You know, everything you can find in the dairy aisle at your store. So chocolate milk and ice cream stayed with me, and so did their empty calories. I thought of it as a “treat.”
Another possibility is a fascination about vegan convenience food. In essence, to make a vegan smile, remind them that Oreos are considered vegan food. I can say that it made me grin because I could participate in sweet dessert time and not feel left out. So I ate a bunch. It didn’t dawn on me until too late that, while Oreos are vegan, they are junk food. Filled with preservatives and artificial ingredients of a type that makes people like me look like I look. That’s not healthy. Will they make my gout flare? Probably not. But the belly fat isn’t doing anything positive for me and what Oreos give you? Not nutrition, that’s for sure.
As I write this, you can see the common denominator and probably the real reason I hit weight loss plateaus as a plant consumer: added sugar. Most processed sugar has this silent, slow killing substance. Oh, and it’s fatter cousin high fructose corn syrup.
My anecdotal evidence is a 5-pound weight gain over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. While I maintained my vegan diet, I did partake of the sweets and junk food that’s all over the place. Even making sure there was no dairy or eggs in the junky foods I was consuming. The variable was sugar. So it’s got to go.
And that’s the hardest part. The only way to get rid of table sugar, or any of the other -ose names the food companies hide behind, is to get rid of processed food. If it ends in -ose, it’s sugar. And it’s everywhere. Why do salty chips have sugar in them? Ever read the ingredients list on your breakfast cereal? Even the blandest tasting of them have sugar. The food companies didn’t add sugar to them to sweeten them. They’re keeping you hooked on their white, crystallized drug. And when you need your fix, you reach for the next box.
And sugar is in processed vegan “health” food, too. Yeah, my jaw dropped, too. Natural energy bars, kombucha, meatless sausage…the list is too long to mention here. Oh sure, it’s usually “pure cane sugar” rather than high fructose corn syrup, but it’s still the bad stuff.
Making sure that everything that goes in my body come from whole food plants is the next step in this. And it’s going to be another interesting part of the journey. Stay tuned.