I Went Vegan Cold Turkey: Here’s What Happened.

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I went on a vegan diet because I had systemic inflammation that was causing chronic pain. So, my motive was to ease my pain. Here’s what happened when I went plant-based.

Editor’s Note: This website is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment. Always consult a health professional before trying out new home therapies or changing your diet.

Through research, I learned that a plant based diet was one of the most effective ways of reducing the inflammation that was causing my pain and, because I believe that food is medicine, I made the decision to change from meat (and dairy)-based eating to plant based eating.

I bought a cook book and started on the diet “cold turkey.”

I do not think of vegan eating as a “diet” per se. I think of it more as a way of feeding myself that does not include meat or meat products.

When I started eating vegan I learned right away that there were other flavors and textures that were as satisfying, even more satisfying, than meat. All I had to do was learn what they were.

What Does Vegan Mean and What is a Vegan Meal?

In other words, a vegan meal isn’t just throwing a bunch of vegetables and grains on the plate and leaving the meat out. It is creating a satisfying, richly nutrient, flavorful, combination of spices, grains and vegetables in a way that eliminates the need or desire for meat as the flavoring element.

See also: A Definitive Guide to Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

This is actually the point that most restaurants miss. They see the need for vegan options on their menus and so they say something like their “home made meatloaf dinner can be made vegan.” What comes to the table if you order it vegan is a lump of flavorless mashed potatoes and overcooked string beans—only more flavorless mashed potatoes and overcooked string beans than you would have had if the meatloaf were on the plate.

This isn’t the way it works.

That very same plate cooked by a real vegan chef would be potatoes mashed with cauliflower and garlic, covered with mushroom gravy and accompanied by string beans roasted in the oven with salt, paprika and sliced almonds with perhaps fresh tomato slices sprinkled with basil on the side. This is an entirely different thing than merely leaving off the meatloaf.

In fact, a vegan plate of food stands up to the palate in its own right—it is not a plate of food that has merely had the meat eliminated from it.

Good Vegan Cuisine Is All About the Spices and Flavors

In terms of the delicious flavors and combinations of food I eat, I don’t think of the vegan diet as one in which I am eliminating something. I think of it as one in which I am gaining something: a whole world of spices and flavors that I simply did not know about before. Having been limited to using meat to flavor my dishes—and dairy and eggs to make my dishes creamy or to hold them together—it was more a case of ignorance than a case of meat and dairy being tastier than plants and grains.

How Going on a Vegan Diet Made Me Feel Better

Did I have to learn a whole new way to cook? Yes. I did. Did I have to buy a whole bunch of spices I hardly knew the names of? Yes. I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to go this far but for me, it was like an artist who had been given a new set of brushes and a clean canvas to work on. I felt like I was going to cooking school with the big bonus being that I was going to feel better.

And feel better I did.

Within three weeks, I began to notice many changes:

The foggy thinking I had been plagued with for years disappeared!

I could read and comprehend what I was reading like I used to.

I could address complicated instructions and understand them as quick as I used to.

I could follow the plot of a movie like I used to.

It was like a dusty storage box in my mind had been emptied out and was now free to hold new information again.

Who woulda’ thought that changing my diet could affect my brain?

And in turn, my intellect? But, Inflammation is inflammation. If it occurs anywhere in the body, it occurs everywhere.

See also: 5 Tips for Health Hormones on a Vegan Diet

Second of all, I noticed that the pain I had been feeling in my lower back had disappeared. For two years I had been unable to step up on the curb without aid, get into the car without aid, and get up from my office chair without aid. I couldn’t stand in the kitchen for more than 10 minutes without sitting down to relieve my back. I couldn’t turn over in bed. I mean, I had a lot of pain. It wasn’t sky-high screeching pain—but it was enough to debilitate me and to stop me from moving freely.

My ankle edema also disappeared as did my indigestion and I stopped taking all of the medications I was taking to address these issues.

After about six weeks there was a marked difference in my body tone and shape. While I only lost eight pounds on the scale, I had slimmed down one entire dress size! It was obvious that I was carrying less fat and becoming more lean. Because I had been so trained to use the scale as a measure—and because the numbers on the scale weren’t going down the way I thought they should, I just stopped getting on the scale.

Something else was happening—I could see it with my own eyes and I could see it in the way my clothes hung on me. I wanted to pay attention to that, not to what the scale said. I was losing weight and my heart was feeling good on the vegan diet.

Third, I have so enjoyed being able to eat all I want without worry about whether it was going to make me fat. I lost my “fear of food” in this sense and that alone was worth the price of admission. To sit down to a plate full of rice biryani and be able to eat and savor the whole thing without worrying about how it was going to show on the scale in the morning lifted a burden off my mind that I didn’t even know I had.

I also feel like my body is actually using the food I am eating rather than just storing it—in my case, on my thighs, the greatest storage closet known to man—er, woman! I actually feel energy rather than lethargy after eating!

What a concept: no more food comas.

And I still drink alcohol and coffee—two things that typically would cause me to either crash or get sleepy, depending on which it was.

How Eating a Vegan Diet Cured My Sweet Tooth

Incredibly, my sweet tooth has abated, if not entirely disappeared. I attribute it to the flavorful spiciness of the foods I am eating. (And don’t confuse “spiciness” with “hotness.” Spicy doesn’t necessarily mean hot, like a chile pepper. It can mean flavorful—like, for example, the spiciness of a pumpkin pie). I find eating spices makes my tongue dance until midnight—and it doesn’t need more excitement than that. I have actually found that an orange after dinner can be an absolutely delicious desert. And I am a woman who had no problem eating an entire box of See’s Candy in one sitting, not to mention a hot fudge Sundae whenever I could get my hands on it.

Also, I am not a “vegan perfectionist.”

That is—I eat yoghurt with my granola in the morning and I put half-and-half in my coffee. I do not however, use oil to cook with and “eat” my oils instead (avocados, olives, nuts, etc.). I have found this to be an extremely satisfying way to bring fat into my diet, one that allows me to eat more food, which is a great thing, because I am basically a person who likes to eat a lot of food.

The Emotional Component to Eating a Vegan Diet

There is however another component to making such a radical change in eating, and that is the emotional component which, having gone through this transition, is what I think is the back story to why people do not change their diets.

I had no idea how many memories and emotions about going vegan were attached to the act of eating and to the food I ate. I have been on weight loss diets before, but they basically consisted of eating the same things only less. Changing to vegan was much more than that. It had nothing to do with the amount of food I ate. It was a sea change in what I ate and it definitely opened up memories and emotions for me

It brought me back to the orphanage when I was a little girl and what it was like to eat there. It brought me back to my mother and her cooking and not how much I missed it, but how much it actually hurt not to have it. My physical body wasn’t getting the meat, blood, sinew and fats from animals that it had been getting and my emotional body noticed. I cried a lot. For no seeming reason other than I felt different. It wasn’t agonizing crying or depression crying; it was just there and in some cases it even felt cleansing. I also laughed a lot—I felt lighter, less stressed in my gut, more alert, energetic, and—well, happy. I slept better.

So—going vegan definitely has an emotional component.

I ultimately accepted this aspect as part of the ride and even found, strange as it may seem, that the vegan food I was eating was a comfort to my moods. It satisfied my emotional hunger in a way that not eating vegan ever had and that was a glorious feeling.

I guess what I am saying is that going vegan isn’t only going on a diet at all. It is also going on a spiritual journey and in that sense, it changes everything.

In my case, I went on the diet because I was in physical pain—but the truth is, we are all in pain in some way, be it in our bodies, in our hearts or in our minds. Ultimately, eating vegan helped me to heal my pain in all those levels.

Bottom line, the vegan journey is a journey to wholeness and health in every way. I heartily recommend it for anyone—by my lights, it is a journey worth taking.

Bonus:

~

Relephant: 

Decadent White Lasagna with Sweet Potatoes & Spinach. {Vegan Recipe}

Going Vegan (in Diet & in Dating).

Want to Go Vegan? A Top 10 Resource Guide. 

Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: via the author 

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Grow your own vegan food. Here’s how:

Bonus:



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Carmelene Siani

Carmelene is a 75-year-old freelance writer who has been published at Elephant Journal, Better after 50, Huffington Post, The Reader, and Broad Magazine among others. Her stories are personal narratives on grief, family, food, and late-life love. Her aim is to help others see the ways that life is constantly opening to reveal its own lessons. She lives by the dictum of Muriel Rukeyser that “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Follow her on Facebook, on her blog and at Twitter.

Comments

76 Responses to “I Went Vegan Cold Turkey: Here’s What Happened.”

  1. Jay says:

    Enjoyed hearing how a Vegan diet has changed your life.

  2. Randle says:

    Carmelene! It’s so great to read your story. Something similar happened to me in terms of the massive change that happened in my body when I started eating vegan food. I had crazy allergies that kept me in bed and/or super medicated, and I had all kinds of indigestion. Now both of those issues have all but evaporated, and like you, I felt my mind get so much clearer.

    I totally get what you mean when you say that switching to a vegan diet isn’t about getting rid of the meat, but about adding spices and flavors that never got the stage before.

    And I haven’t stopped craving sweets, but my cheese addiction just kind of ended!

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Thanks for your comments Randle. It's soooo good for me to hear your validation. I just started this vegan "thing" six months ago – and, to be honest, I almost needed a reality check to see if what I was experiencing was real. (I just got home from the market where I bought avocados and spelt flour and — keep an eye out. I am going to put up a recipe for a zucchini bread made with avocado -= of all things – that is better than any I have ever made and believe me, I've been cooking for a L-o-n-n-g time. Thanks again for your comments. You made me smile! Big smile!!!

  3. Carmelene says:

    Thanks, Jay. If you've ever thought about it – there's no time like the present! 🙂 That being said – yesterday as my husband's birthday and I fixed him broiled salmon – his (used to be) favorite. One of the things I like about coming into veganism at this stage of my life, is I don't feel like I have to be a "Nazi" about it…. ! Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. xoxoxo

  4. OneYearOnTheWagon says:

    Thanks for this enlightening account of your experience. As someone who is seriously considering going vegan, at least part-time, it is really interesting and helpful for me. Thank you for sharing and well done for being so courageous.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      First of all, does that "OneYearOnTheWagon" mean what I think it means??? If so – and it has something to do with drugs or alcohol – good for you. Good for you!!!!! Second of all – if you can do THAT – you can do VEGAN with your eyes closed. There's even more good stuff coming your way with vegan! Thanks so much for commenting. I appreciate it with all my heart. I validates my writing. All the best to you.

  5. Rhea says:

    I was so surprised to just come across this! You attract things to you though! I recently just began what you have described. And everything you described is what I have been experiencing- from the clear headedness, to the fear of food and the yogurt in the morning. I feel so much better and lighter both spiritually and physically. Thank you for this post and for sharing–it has really awakened in me more of what this is about.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Oh wow, Rhea – I'm so glad I'm not the only vegan who eats yoghurt in the morning! Hahahaha! And thank you for the reality check on everything else you have experienced. It means to much to me. Here I was over here in my little house in Tucson eating vegan not really knowing if I was crazy or if all of these things were really happening — of course it got to the point there I recognized that yes, it really WAS all happening — I still think I'm a little bit crazy, however. But probably now when it comes to the vegan diet. Hahahaha!!! Thanks again for your comments. I love it that you wrote to me. xoxoxo

  6. Elisabeth says:

    But you’re not a vegan if you eat yoghurt. It’s not being a purist. It’s just the definition. You’re not a vegan, you’re a vegetarian. Unless your strict regime includes hot dogs too…

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Hahahaha. I love the hot dog line!!! Okay. Okay. Can't I be a vegan who eats yoghurt? Pul-leeze??? I don't eat anything else but that yoghurt. 1/3 cup in the morning??? How about if I eat the yoghurt to help address yeast? Does that count! Thanks Elisabeth. Of course I know you're absolutely correct in terms of definition. But, I'm pretty much a person who lives in grey – not in black and white. Even when it comes to definitions. But again – you are right. I bow to your input and thank you for it. (Dang it. I was hoping nobody would call me out on it)…. xoxoxo.

      • Elisabeth says:

        It's not shades of grey, if you eat dairy you're not a vegan. Simples. Being a vegan who eats dairy is like being a little bit pregnant. Impossible. You're just not a vegan. Nothing wrong with that! There are people who use what they eat as some kind of badge of honour- this is basically an unhealthy attitude to food. Veganism is concerned with not exploiting any animals to feed ourselves, including bees etc. Not "grey areas" where the occasional hamburger is fine. I'm glad eating veggies is working for you- not eating loads of processed food does tend to make you feel better Not exactly a news flash or something that should consume your entire life!

        • Naomi says:

          Yes, thank you for pointing this out! A vegan who eats dairy would simply be called a vegetarian. I'm also very happy for her discovery that healthy food can be healing. Let's not get caught up in conforming to a specific label. Just be aware of the definitions of those labels (vegan/vegetarian/lacto-ovo pescatarian, etc.) and if you are going to claim one, then use it properly.
          Congratulations Carmelene! I hope your journey into the word of tasty, healthy food continues!

        • Carmelene Siani says:

          Elisabeth, I'm new at having my writing read by the public (that is, I am new to being published). I am also new at responding to people I don't know. I see now that I shouldn't have made light of your comments – In fact, I wasn't hoping that "nobody would call me out on it…" as I stated in my response above. I was more or less just saying that for effect and I shouldn't have said it. The truth is, I really didn't understand that to a vegan, my saying I am a vegan when I am eating yoghurt, is a misrepresentation (albeit not conscious on my part). I understand now – having had the feedback that I've had from so many readers, that vegan versus plant based is an important distinction to many people. The fact is that I was introduced to this diet by a functional medicine doctor's food coach. She herself did not make such a distinction and referred to the diet in turn as either plant based or vegan – in other words, she inter-changed the terms. Therefore, so did I. Also, I didn't come to the diet from a philosophical paradigm. I came to it to address pain. I therefore don't share the underlying ethos of other vegans. That doesn't make anybody "wrong" – it simply is what it is. I am however a strong proponent of the diet as a healthy way of life for anyone – in fact, for everyone. And to be honest, if not being able to have yoghurt or half and half would be a deal breaker for some people – I would tell them to go ahead and have it. That is how vitally healthy and how much of an improvement over meat eating on a regular basis, I consider the diet to be. Had I not gone on this diet I would have been on pain medications – and then would have gone on medications to deal with the affect of the pain medications, etc. etc. etc. I'm sure you know the drill. In my enthusiasm for the diet I should have perhaps been more conscious of the fact that it is, as you say, not a vegan diet. It is a plant-based diet. I really didn't know the distinction was as important as it is. Once again. Thank you for your comments. You raised my consciousness. I won't make the same mistake again when writing of my experience on a "plant-based" (i.e., not vegan) diet. Thanks. xoxoxo

          • vegan4animals says:

            You can eat vegan yogurts and there are many non dairy milks/creams. Animals absolutely do not need to be tortured and enslaved just so humans can enjoy a taste.

            • Andrea says:

              I understand where you are coming from vegan4animals, but might I suggest you try to educate and advocate in a more friendly manner? If you really care about animals, and are a proponent of veganism you should be educating and encouraging people that are taking steps in the right direction. I'm not sure if you meant it, but your words come off icy, and exclusionary. Carmelene is expressing how she has felt after eating almost completely vegan, cold turkey, for 6 weeks. That is not an easy thing, to go from eating meat, to a vegan diet, it takes a lot of effort and you should be supporting that. You need to understand that the idea of being vegan is very drastic, extreme, and unconceivable for a lot of people. That doesnt mean that they are right, it is only fact. If you care about the welfare of animals you have to try to change people's mindset. And that is much easier to do if you are kind, and helpful and encouraging. El veganismo es un camino!

          • Kelly says:

            My family and I went vegan about 18 months ago after I started doing research about factory farms, including dairy and egg industries. I just couldn’t willfully contribute to the enormous amount of suffering these animals experience every day of their lives. It was a difficult decision to make because I had concerns about whether it was the healthiest option for me and my family, but I had to do what I could. Within a month I noticed my 3 times a week migraines were gone and I just felt better. My husband and kids have thrived as well. There are so many things “right” about being vegan. It’s better for us. It’s better for the animals. It’s better for the planet. I do hope that people who decide to go plant-based for their health will also make the connection with how this affects the animals as well. The consequences of our actions have a staggering affect on others and I’m absolutely gutted that it took me nearly 40 years to understand this.

            But, I wanted to tell you that I really appreciate how you responded to the criticism. When the word “vegan” is used to describe a diet, the whole idea behind ending the exploitation of animals is lost. That’s gutwrenching for those of us who’ve done the research and are aware of the millions of animals who are currently locked in gestation crates unable to move or who have been forcibly impregnated for the 4th or 5th time only to have their newborn removed and slaughtered so we can have his milk… “Gutwrenching” isn’t a strong enough word. So, while we might not always respond with as much tact as we should, I appreciate you understanding where we are coming from and recognising why the distinction between being plant-based and vegan matters.

          • David Miller says:

            It is somewhat sad that a person needs to be so careful with their words when writing about themselves and their choices just because they may accidentally offend another person's sense of self identity. People tend to use the things that they choose to do in life as exclusive labels in order to define and identify themselves and others. "Vegan" is a type of meal, or a diet that excludes animal based foods. In general, a person is not a diet, and as a type of food they are definitely not vegan. Someone can choose to eat according to a particular dietary plan, but diet is always a choice of the moment and not a strict definition of a person's being. As a society we have a strong tendency to define others by what they do rather than accepting who they are. What we really are is based upon the results of our choices, and not the choices themselves. As a result people everywhere become their diets, their spirituality, their profession, hobbies, and even their sexual preferences. These choices describe what a person likes to do, not who they are.
            So the choice to eat a "vegan" diet does not make you a "Vegan". The real you is the reasons and intent of your choice. If you chose to eat vegan on every day but Saturday it would still probably fulfill the reasons that you had chosen to eat this way.
            Oh, and except for the vague part about not being a "Vegan Perfectionist". The article never actually sited anything about being a vegan, only how eating a vegan diet has improved health. The only reason people are making an issue of it is because the idea that another person is not as idealistic about the Vegan Identity label makes them feel less of a person. That is what happens when people define themselves by their choices rather than the results of their choices. Now I am going to eat breakfast, and it will contain meat products – because that is my choice.

          • Gerald B. says:

            Well said David! Congratulations Carmelene for your success. I felt this was more of a story of a positive personal experience with a drastic diet change than a crusade for animal rights. Please don’t let the negative comments by hair splitters on such a positive article discourage you or anyone else for that matter.

            • guest says:

              I personally believe plant based to be even more strict than Vegan. I define my self as a 90% plant based & 10% nutritarian, because I do eat chicken, turkey & fish occasionally. I am more concerned with the nutritional value in food than anything else. My staple meal is beans, which I have for 1 meal every day. I don't eat any bad carbs, like rices & pastas, stay away from processed high sugar, salt & fat foods. It took me about 1 year to finally get results from what was a struggle to make this lifestyle change, but it was well worth it. I did not do it for religious reasons or because I spent countless hours educating myself on the misery of animals for our consumption. However following the plant based diet has made me more sensitive not just to animals feelings but other human beings too. How many times have you seen people defending animals while being cruel to other human beings? When you read something it is much different from feeling it from lifestyle change. Carmeline comes off as an individual who is very sensitive, much more than the animal lovers that choose to attack her. I say keep up the good work Carmeline.

      • Sean Lunny says:

        Great article Carmelene and congrats on making those big changes and healing yourself with the change of diet. It’s amazing how much more enjoyable food is once you make the change and how much more different types of food you begin to eat. About the being vegan comments that everyone is making, you’d be considered mostly plant based or vegetarian. You would do much better mentally, physically,emotionally etc if you totally cut out the dairy. You can get Probiotics other places than yogurt and coconut creamer taste better anyway. Plant Based is a diet and veganism is a way of life who eats plant based diet. I’ve been vegan 10 years and I’m still always finding new beans, veggies, grains etc. The one other thing you gain from being vegan is compassion grows! Everyone is born with it but it diminishes because of how we are taught and what is normal to eat and that pets are different than animals you eat. Good luck on your journey and enjoy your new way of life!

  7. Mary Beth says:

    Carmelene, love your article! Can you please share some vegan cookbooks that you have enjoyed using? Thanks so much!

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      My "bible" is the Forks Over Knives" cookbook. That's the one I used to get me started. I cooked out of it for 30 days straight. Thanks for asking!

  8. Lisanne says:

    Wow people can be cruel, great story. Thank you for sharing you have inspired me to get back on the plant based eating too. I'd love to hear some cook book names and Pinterest board if you have one.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      My "Bible" is the Forks over Knives Cookbook. I cooked out of it 30 days straight to get myself started. Great recipes and great use of spices. Also – no oils and no gluten. Great book. Thanks for your comments, Lisanne.

  9. Alexandra says:

    Fantastic story and mirrors my own experience in health and revaluation post eating vegan. To make matters more complicated I went gluten free too. The two combinations set people who want to dine with me in tail spins trying to figure out what I eat. I have had to change my relationships with girlfriends who just could not imagine why it was taking so long for me to give up this "diet kick". I feel great and that is what matters. I am mostly vegan. That means 99.99% of the time I eat vegan. There is a rare occasion that there is no option aside from not eating or my body says, I need to eat a piece of fish. Very rarely, but I honor my body. I know I will not croak of I do but choose not to. Dairy is a beast and attributable to so much inflammation. I even made my own yogurt that I do miss. But that thought of it makes me ill and I kicked that habit. I enjoy some nice friendly bacteria in vegan pill form and life is lovely. Congrats and thank you for the lovely article.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      I do not eat vegan either Alexandra! I am going to post a recipe for zucchini bread made with spelt flour soon – it is DELICIOUS!!! Better than any zucchini bread recipe I've ever made and I've been cooking for a LONG time! Thanks for your comments. And yes — eating out especially can be difficult can't it???

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Alexandra, I mean to say, "I do not eat GLUTEN either…." Ooops…. Sorry.

  10. Athonwy says:

    I’m very happy to hear of your transformational health journey. The benefits of a plant-based diet cannot be overstated. Just to be clear though, it IS a plant-based diet, not a Vegan diet. Veganism is not a diet, but a practiced philosophy that seeks to eliminate, to whatever extent possible, explain of animals. This is an important distinction. You can eat a plant-based diet and still hunt, wear leather and fur, ride horses, etc, but a Vegan would never do any of those things. There are many unhealthy vegans, who are still committed to ending animal exploitation. There are also many healthy Vegans, but the two, healthy diet and philosophy, do not necessarily have anything to do with each other. I encourage you to continue along your health journey, and perhaps look into the reasons why Vegans choose to stand against exploitation. A great place to start is watching the documentary Earthlings.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Athonwy – please take a moment to ready my final reply to Elisabeth above. I get it. You are right. I now know I am not technically on a vegan diet because of the yoghurt and the half-and-half and that I am really on a plant based diet. Thank you for the recommendation to Earthlings also. And finally, thank you for the kindness with which you explained veganism. I appreciate it. You have raised my awareness. Kindness raises awareness higher than a sword. Thank you again.

  11. Katy says:

    I love this!! I decided to go vegan a few years ago but it didn't last more than around 3 months (I blame a new relationship

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Thank heaven my husband went on this program with me – I couldn't have done it otherwise. So, "blaming" your relationship is probably not so much blame as it was an obstacle that was virtually impossible to overcome under the circumstances. Plant-based eating is more than just changing the way you eat. It is a lifestyle change. Hope the relationship (and whatever diet you are eating now) are both very satisfying to you!

  12. Athonwy says:

    Autocorrect strikes again. That "explain" in my first comment should say exploitation.

  13. sallyearthsky says:

    thank you for this very inspiring,
    and beautifully written contribution :~)

    I am persuaded !

  14. carmelene says:

    Wow! I was just sharing my experience and so many people have responded the way you have Sally. Wonderful! Thank you for dropping by to let me know your thoughts. Xoxox.

  15. marriana says:

    I stumbled upon your story. My husband was diagnosed with significant heart blockage. Since he is only 53, he read 2 books about reversing it. He began to eat vegan, with no oils whatsoever. I decided to join along to eat healthy. He cooks fabulous meals and I have lost 15 pounds without starving. I have been eating this way for almost 3 months and I feel great too. We eat homemade chili, lasagna, meatless spaghetti sauce, mashed potatoes with rice milk. The recipes go on and on! My husband's cholesterol went from the 280's down to 167! I will have a little oil here and there since I do not have a heart condition, but I am careful it! I admit that I do occasionally miss some cheese, but I am much better off without it.

    • carmelene says:

      Mariana, this diet probably saved your husband's life. May I have your permission to share your comments on my personal FB page? Email me at [email protected] to let me know. You have an awesome story to tell and I would like to share it
      … Xoxox

    • Lisa says:

      Healthy oils such as coconut and cold pressed virgin olive oil reduce cholesterol. Your brain needs fats. Cutting oils and fats out entirely is extremely detrimental. I would revisit that one for your husband's sake.

  16. Jen says:

    Unfortunately your editor failed and there is a now instead of a how. I did enjoy reading the article though. I hope to have the same enjoyment from the flavors you describe. Now to look for recipes for my children and i to try. 🙂

  17. Kristen says:

    This is really a wonderful story! I agree that it’s much more than a diet or what we eat. The change in our lives and mind is tremendous. I wish you’d cover the animal exploitation and ethics as well. Our family has been vegan for three and half years and we couldnt be happier. Thanks for sharing!

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Thank you Kristen. I don't have enough facts to write (yet) about the animal exploitation and ethics — but that is coming – especially the part about the impact of a meat based diet on our environment. Thanks again!

  18. Gabrielle says:

    I enjoyed this article as well. It is great to hear that you are focusing on eating a plant-based life-style. However, I do also have to join in on the bandwagon that the article title should be changed. By consuming dairy you can't really say you are "vegan" or that you went "cold turkey". But you can embrace that you went cold-turkey vegetarian! And reducing your dairy consumption too. Good job!

  19. Jenya Polozova says:

    I loved this article! But you really should not claim that you eat a vegan diet if you are eating yogurt, instead say that you eat plant based foods. It’s misleading; if you ‘cheat’ veganism, then you’re not a vegan.

  20. Sharon says:

    In your article you said you didn’t cook with oils, does that mean you never sauteed anything? Or if you did, what did you use? I mean obviously butter has dairy and so isn’t vegan, same with ghee, I don’t understand how cooking with oil isn’t vegan, but anyway…I was just wondering what you DO cook with then (when sauteeing). Thanks!

    Also I’m glad you found success in eating less meat & dairy, it makes me want to try it. I always knew it was a good idea, but I’m not good with sticking to “plans”.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      I brown the staring veggies (onions, garlic, etc.) in a dry frying pan and add tablespoons of water as needed. The directions for this kind of cooking are in the "Forks Over Knives" cookbook. Thanks for asking, Sharon.

  21. Alicia says:

    Congrats on making the health move that you did! Good work!

    However – please DO NOT CALL YOURSELF VEGAN. Vegans don't eat yogurt or half and half.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      I am now fully aware that to call myself vegan is a misnomer — I am definitely not vegan. I am plant based. It was a mistake in terms that I didn't become aware of until I wrote the article and got the responses that I did. Thank you for bringing it to my attention so kindly! And for the congtratulations!

  22. Kaiel says:

    Good for you Carmelene and ignore the haters that love to sit on their high horses. When I lived in San Francisco one of the biggest turnoff's for me about the so called "mindful people" was their complete arrogance and holier than thou attitudes. It does nothing to further their cause. Why the need for labels if you want to consider yourself vegan than so be it, you are more a vegan than a vegetarian anyway. What you call yourself has no effect on them so their anger is uncalled for.

  23. John says:

    Thanks for your article, it is a great step towards healing and living a cleaner life. Prepare yourself, when you begin to look at how animals are treated and the horrific torture and abuse they live in, it will put a new meaning to vegan. I was vegetarian until I got more information, now it’s vegan all the way for me, I do want to be a part of the suffering anymore.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      It's funny you should mention it, John because it's absolutely true. Now that I don't eat animal flesh – it seems abhorrent to me to do so — not to mention that the meat industry is just a habit. That's all it is. A dietary habit born out of the days when we were mostly farmers and raised our own food. The slaughter? The waste of resources? I just don't get it any more. It's not like I had some kind of big "spiritual awakening…" It's more like I stepped out of the forest and saw the trees and realized what I was doing by eating meat. Thanks so much for your comments!

  24. Deb says:

    Great article, encouraging! Is Vegan some new religion or something? Why all the comments asking you not to call yourself Vegan?

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      To be honest Deb, I think it's just black and white thinking. It's the trend these days. Lol!

      • B. says:

        Thank you for asking, Deb. Veganism is not a religion but an ethical stance that opposes animal exploitation. Since it is a consistent ethical stance, ethical vegans attempt to avoid all products that come from animal exploitation. That is why for ethical vegans it makes a difference whether someone eats 1/3 of non-vegan yoghurt a day or not. Veganism also entails not buying clothes such as leather or wool or silk etc. It is a total shift in how you relate to the world, a philosophy in itself that goes so much further than mere changes in diet and it can be very rewarding.

        That being said, I am very, very happy that Carmelene and other people get great results from an almost exclusively plant-based diet. It's wonderful for them and it's also helpful in reducing animal exploitation.

    • EBONY says:

      I really enjoyed reading your article. My lil sister is Vegan. I don’t know how she does it but she looks fantastic. My sister eats yogurt as well but thats the only animal base food she eats and its made from goat milk (I believe). Keep doing your thing and don’t sweat the black and white thinkers lol good luck on your journey.

  25. Kat says:

    Hi there what cook book did you start with? Would you recommend it?

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      I started with "Forks over Knives," Kat. It was my bible for months. Then I moved to "Oh She Glows," and now, I simply go to the grocery store, buy what is on sale, come home and google a "vegan recipe" for whatever I bought. It was a happy adventure, learning a whole new way to cook.

  26. Margarita says:

    Wonderful article. Is it possible to get the title of the Vegan cookbook you purchased? I’ve been on the fence, and reading your article has helped me make my decision. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  27. New Vegetarian says:

    Hi Carmelene!

    Thank you for writing this article! I also switched to a vegetarian diet for about a month now and I am astonished! I've had ankle edema since I was 16 years old…I am 38 now, and it finally vanished, just like that in a few days of eating vegetarian food. I still do yogurt too, and I hope I can quit that soon, but until then I am enjoying this new feeling. And thank you writing about the emotional changes…I've been quite emotional this past month, and I was wondering if it was the stars or something, but now I realize it might just be the change in diet. I also feel so light especially my stomach even after eating…it does not feel heavy as it did before, and yes, I too have lost a dress size, have no clue about the actual weight, I don't own a weighing scale and don't really care about that anyway! I've thought for years that I wanted to try becoming a vegetarian, but always thought it would be too hard….it's actually quite easy! One more change, I could not eat bananas and other sweet fruit or even salads before without feeling super hungry in about 15 minutes …maybe I was pre-diabetic? But now I can stay full with salad and fruit mixed for an hour or more now, which is how I start my mornings. Whoever wants to try becoming vegan or vegetarian (yes, they are different), I totally hope you try it…it will be the BEST change you ever make! Thanks for this awesome article again Carmelene! xoxoxoxo

  28. Allie says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the article. It’s a good read and a good reminder about how important diet is. I’ve been a vegetarian for practically my whole life, but sometimes I get lazy with the quality of food I eat. Recently I feel I’ve been eating far too much gluten- something that increases inflammation in my system, and disrupts my digestion.

    A line stuck out in your article. You no longer cook with oil (you eat your oils). If you don’t mind sharing, how do you typically cook your food? When you roast veggies, do you roast them dry? With a stir fry, what do you use? I’m curious. I would love to learn more about cooking for myself. I live in Thailand and India with a lot of veg restaurants around, so I haven’t had to extend myself so much in terms of cooking. I feel inspired now.

    Any advice would be appreciated! xo

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Sorry for the late response Allie — I don't know if you will even see this. When I sautee veggies or spices I use a dry frying pan and add a tablespoon of water as needed to keep them from sticking to the pan. When I roast veggies in the oven (which is very seldom, I mean very seldom) I use about a teaspoon of olive oil. But I can't remember the last time I roasted veggies in the oven. I follow the cooking method in the "Forks over Knives" cookbook, you may want to look into it if you are interested in no oil eating. Hope this helps. And by the way, check out my article "Gluten: Maybe it's not the Devil.." I address the gluten/inflammation issue in that article. I personally have finally learned that it was not gluten that made me sick – it was the way the poisons in the land when the wheat was grown and the way the flour was milled and stored…. again, thank you for your comments. Hope you see this!

  29. Trinity says:

    Carlene thank you for sharing your story! I have just stumbled across this article, I’ve been trying to transition into a completely vegan lifestyle for the past 7 months. The food part has been the most enjoyable aspect for me, I’ve always struggled with diet and body issues and now eat more than ever and have such a healthy relationship with food and feel energised and alive. However, it’s all the nitty gritty aspects of leading a cruelty-free lifestyle that has been difficult and it’s a struggle to be labeled by others. If I make the choice to buy non-leather boots but don’t research if the glue contains animal products, am I still a vegan? It’s hard to not get caught up in it..shouldn’t we just be celebrating every small achievement towards a kinder world?

    Also, thank you for sharing the emotional aspect of your journey – for the first 2-3 months of changing my diet I was a complete emotional wreck and would cry at the drop of a hat! I didn’t know if it was from everything I was learning about the meat and dairy industries etc, or if I was going crazy! Luckily for me (and my incredibly patient partner) that phase is over now but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Thanks again, and well done on your healthy change 🙂

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Trinity — and my apologies for the delayed response. It never occurred to me that people would still be reading this article so I haven't checked for comments. As for what you said about leather shoes, glue, etc. Yes. I with you that not eating meat is a HUGE thing — one step at a time, you can move on to not wearing leather shoes later… (oops. I think there's a pun in there. LOL)!

  30. Amy says:

    Excellent article on the perspectives people should be taking towards dieting, as a nutritionist it's always good to see people getting that food is medicine and what we eat should be a lifestyle not a fad diet.

    However as others are saying, you shouldn't be calling it a vegan diet as you are still consuming dairy. The reason we are saying this is not to sit on a moral high horse but because there is a lot of confusion out there about what a vegan diet actually is, and articles such as this add to that. Therefore when a vegan goes out to eat somewhere and specifies for vegan food we often end up being presented with food that still contains animal products as people don't understand. Hope that clears it up for everybody.

  31. Courtney Bee says:

    Thank you so much Carmeline, you have definitely persuaded me!! My health is in a bad way. Trying to do this just sounds so.. Hard!! I commend you.

  32. Madi says:

    Nah it's not a religion, it's s lifestyle choice. What some people are slightly irked about is that the writer didn't quite get the definition of vegan down. She lives on a plant based diet, but she's not necessarily vegan. Veganism is s mindset that includes the humanitarian and sustainability aspect along with the health in declining to consume animal products. An example to further explain is you can't call yourself a feminist if you only teach your daughter how to cook but not your son (due to gender roles crap). Even though this mother in the example may aid in female empowerment in areas where they are or have been oppressed. So this mother had improved her empowerment of females but she's not s feminist because her actions don't fully encapsulate the word. And when someone identified as something but then contradicts it, it makes it confusing for the public to know what the word even means. Likewise it makes it a hard time for people who do fully identify with the word as questions like "so do you eat seafood? How about chocolate?" Because no, that's not vegan, and vegans spend a fair amount of time having to explain themselves and their lifestyle choices to others due to misrepresentation of incorrect education. Does this explain it okay?
    And for the one person who insulted vegans to have a 'holier than thou' attitude, that hurts, and I understand that you're trying to comfort the author, but it was rude and also incorrect. Apart of identifying as vegan is that we don't believe we are superior to anything or anyone, that animals and the earth simple aren't ours to take advantage of negatively in the first place.
    Lastly, those who say if she wants to identify as vegan let her even though she still consumes animal products … Sure I mean like she has free will etc but or example, someone that might identify as gay might get angry at someone who also identifies as gay but is in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender. Like it's just misrepresenting the whole identification process. So please forgive any vegan who take flight offense at your comments.

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      I totally agree with you Madi. I am in fact, one of those people who wasn't all that "informed" when I wrote this article. Suffice to say that my food coach calls herself a "vegan coach" and so — I went with that. Were I to do it over I would have called myself plant-based, not vegan. Thanks for taking the time to make such a well thought out explanation. My apologies for a delayed response. It never occurred to me to check my inbox since it's been so long since I published the article. In any case, once again, I appreciate your kind remarks.

  33. yogawithlorilucas says:

    Love it!! Good for you! I am having some inflammation issues these days as well, so it’s going around! Glad you are feeling so well too. You are a strict vegetarian but not a vegan. I'm not vegan either but I can promise you that vegans will take issue with using the word when you eat dairy (no matter how little you eat each day). There are many vegan coffee whiteners and yogurts around too (rice, soy, almond, coconut) that you can explore. I haven’t eaten meat for 30+ years now but I still love eggs and cream in my coffee etc.
    All the best to you with continued good health and joy!

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words yogawithlorilucas. All the best to you! Do you realize how much WATER you have saved the planet by not eating meat for so long. Thank heavens for people like you! xoxoxo

  34. kkoschalk says:

    Great article. I'm a vegan as of 3 months ago. I'd be interested to hear what your staple vegan foods/meals are, or a sample of what you might eat in a day, as it seems whatever you're doing is greatly diminishing the inflammation in your body. I'm just curious as there are so many different versions of vegan diets (i.e. high fat/low carb, high carb/low fat, raw, etc.). Thanks!

    • Carmelene Siani says:

      kkoschalk — I don't think I could respond to you here — that's a lot to type! LOL. I can tell you that my bible is "Forks over Knives" and that I have tried about 90% of the recipes in there. Also, remember, I eat yoghurt – so a lot of my meals would not satisfy your vegan lifestyle. Thanks for your comments and questions. I hope the referral to the cookbook helps.

  35. Elena G. says:

    The comments from people who are upset about you saying you’re vegan but eat yogurt are a little over the top. Please.. No one is truly vegan. Think car tires, fireworks, glue in musical instruments and furniture.. the list goes on and on. So for heaven’s sake people need to stop badgering you about a little cup of yogurt. Also… as for the ethics of veganism (which was not addressed by the author but instead commenters)… Tell me more about how ethical it is to use modern day slaves to harvest your holy crops. lol. Anyways.. Glad you found a diet that has been helping you out.

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