I have a strong desire to start by saying that just because I am going vegan doesn’t mean it’s the healthy thing to do. If you’re reading this, you probably know what I’m all about. I support every which way of eating as long as that person is in good health and thriving. I don’t push any type of diet on anyone, even after getting to know them well. No two people are the same, so even if you think we’re twins, please don’t jump on the vegan boat without talking to a nutrition specialist first. Phew, okay, I feel better, moving right along..
I have terrible circulation in my fingers and toes (photos at the veryyy bottom of this post for anyone curious). This has been going on for years, but getting worse by the winter. This year, something new happened. I was eating dinner and all of the sudden I felt my ring finger swell up. I ran to show my friends, we were all dumbfounded. What did I eat? Did I get bit by something? What’s happening here? Was it the porcini hummus? Must of been the porcini hummus. “HEY! WHO MADE THE PORCINI HUMMUS!”
Ever since that night in January, different fingers joined the inflammation party. My fingers take turns with which one is going to be the fattest that week, and my thumbs seem to be the only ones uninterested in this terribly uncomfortable party. At its worst, there’s been joint pain, but I haven’t had that in a couple of months. Actually, the swelling has gone down a lot over the past week, which is kind of a bummer because I’m just starting my vegan experiment TODAY. Anyways, for the past 6 months I’ve had chronic discoloration, with the moods changing by the hour. The latest concern is Beau lines (horizontal indentations) in my nails and blue/purple beneath the nails. I know weather and stress play the biggest role in these reactions, but the swelling has really thrown me for a loop. I just had a lot of labs drawn, and nothing came back out of the ordinary. Either it’s really severe Raynauds/Chilblains, or it’s something different, something that has been so sneaky that specialists of all areas haven’t been able to find it. My visual for this mystery is a tiny little ninja monster bouncing around from place to place in my body, causing a ton of unrest, and having the best time not getting caught. Acceptance looks different for everyone.
I’m stepping up my game and making a huge change in my nutrition. Food is information for our bodies, and eating is something we do multiple times a day — our eating patterns cannot be left the same if something is clearly wrong. I’ve suspected and eliminated eggs before. I’ve suspected and eliminated nightshades. I’ve suspected and eliminated chocolate. I’ve suspected and eliminated almonds and peanuts. Aside from the eggs (which seemed to work but could have been coincidental) none of these provided any change. The one thing I haven’t changed is my consumption of animal protein. A typical week for me includes eggs, red meat, fish, collagen powder, bone broth, beef liver, chicken, minimal pork, butter, nuts, seeds, a tonnnn of veggies, fruits, potatoes, and oats. The focus of each meal and snack is always a quality protein source surrounded by colors. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t eat much meat or fish because I didn’t know how to source or cook it. I was super low in iron, B12, zinc, omega-3 and absolutely deficient in protein. It wasn’t a healthy time for me, so ever since learning about how important and nutrient dense these animal proteins are, I put a huge focus on them. And guess what? They brought me back to life. Especially liver, I will always have a special place in my heart for beef liver. Gag all you want, but in my opinion, it is the most therapeutic food on the planet.
So here I am, with the help of my practitioner, connecting the dots to 3 years back when I recruited animal proteins to be part of my team. My fingers and toes have gotten worse since then. Although many other variables, I feel it’s something to take note of. If you have a chronic health condition, and can’t figure it out, I urge you to reflect back on when you last felt well. What did life look like? What was the change that may have been the catalyst? It’s a mandatory reflection, you must go back in time.
Do I think animal proteins are causing my blood vessels to constrict so severely? Honestly, I’m hesitant, but I’m working on convincing myself that it could be. The power of belief is not to be understated, and if I go into these 30 days skeptical, I’m not going to get anywhere. I’ll be doing myself and my community a huge disservice. So give me like 3 more hours and 2 more pep talks and I will totally be all in. Going largely plant-based has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve health markers, so I’m excited to see if I will be a recipient of that as well.
What I do know for sure is how this WILL benefit me in myriad ways. It will force me outside my box — learning new recipes, trying new foods, getting back into the soaking and sprouting game, and taking more care with the preparation of food. It will slow me down, and reconnect me with the fulfilling process of extracting the most nutritional value I can from food. Because here’s the thing, if I’m going vegan, I’m going to really go vegan. I am going to do it as well as possible. I plan to have vegan donuts every so often, I am human. But back in my early 20’s I did a 2-week Vegan Challenge and I remember my days being filled with every type of potato and tortilla chip imaginable, tofurkey, and “Smart” dogs on white bread with ketchup. I am 10 years removed from that person who thought those were healthy choices, and am so excited to test my knowledge (and learn more!), keep an open mind, and follow my curiousity.
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- Diet Dogma
- I get agitated when I see people pushing their diets on their loved ones and strangers. I get EXTRA irritated when it’s a vegan pusher. On the other end of diet extremism, we have the Carnivores, and yes, I get irritated with them but to be honest, not AS irritated. Not sure how fair that is. So by going vegan myself I hope to cultivate more patience and peace for all diet pushers. This may or may not happen.
- Personal Resistance/Growth/Challenge/Because I Don’t Want To
- I was talking with my practitioner about my diet, and she mentioned maybe animal proteins are connected to the inflammation in my digits. While she was talking about it I had a moment of stillness where I was able to watch and think about my thoughts while thinking them. Read that again. Here’s what they looked and sounded like: defensive, resistant, and nonverbally screaming “FAT CHANCE! NO WAY THAT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT!” Very telling. So telling, in fact, that I have decided to give that protest the attention it’s demanding, and going against everything I know and believe about a well-rounded diet. I feel like I’m in this playful battle with my beliefs and biases. It’s really wild. I love a good challenge.
- Along with the resistance, I have the ever present “is this really necessary?” and the “why am I doing this if I don’t know for certain if it will work?” demons on my shoulder. I think we all do when we begin a major shift in lifestyle. Because here’s the kicker, I feel absolutely fantastic apart from my red white and blue swollen extremities. I just ate a pound of liver over the weekend and loved every bite and how it made me feel. How could food that makes me feel so energized and nourished be the problem? Well, maybe it’s not the problem. But it’s important to experiment, because right now I feel stuck. And the only way to get unstuck is to do something unreasonable, at least for the short-term. Seth Godin said this in an email a while ago, if you don’t subscribe to his daily newsletter I highly recommend it.
- It’s Not Done This Way Often
- A lot of the immediate benefits people get from going vegan come from the absence of factory-farmed meats, fried meats, processed meats, and antibiotic and hormone-rich low quality dairy products. I rarely eat dairy, so that’ll be a thoughtless thing to now have to avoid. My point is, I am going from a high-quality omnivore diet, to a high-quality vegan diet. Whole food to whole food. Just different foods that nature has provided. And I don’t plan on eating much GMO corn and soy, I stand behind Regenerative Agriculture as the means to environmental health, and since I won’t be supporting my local ranchers for a little while, I don’t want to give my dollars to the large and in charge mono-croppers either. It won’t be perfect, but my intention is strongly there.
- To Learn, To Further Open My Mind
- Trying new things and establishing more skills will only produce benefits. Making this shift will without a doubt provide me with more tools for my toolbox. And, as with anything that I seemingly do for myself, it’s with the intention and hope that I can be a better person for others. To share what I’ve learned with my community and better support my clients, whatever their dietary style. I announced this yesterday on Instagram and have gotten amazing feedback with how interested people are, it’s going to be a good time for all!
Welp, I think that’s all my ramblings for now. I plan to put some videos of more ramblings on my Instagram (@_wildandwell) and I’ll link it to my Wild and Well Facebook page so the stories pop up over there too. I haven’t been on social media much these past few months, I’ve been enjoying a closer community of people and spending my time on other things, so bear with me as I ramp it back up. In order to do so and remain consistent, I’ll be making it super casual. I am also making this completely real, if I feel like I’m doing something just for social media, I’m not going to post it. I have plenty of practice with self check-ins, and that is on my list of intentions for the month. Hopefully we can all learn together on how to be a kick-ass vegan, how to optimize digestion and extract as many nutrients from plants as possible, learn how this could benefit health markers of all sorts, and the biggest one, learn how to be supportive of all different nutritional choices and support each other without judgement. Oh, what a world that would be.
Let me know what YOU want to know, and I’ll do my best to address it!
Gross pictures start here: