In January of 2021 I celebrated making it a full year without alcohol. In April of this year I celebrated 1 full year of being vegan. Becoming a plant-based athlete was not something that I set out to do when I gave up alcohol over two years ago it just kind of happened.
It has now been 28 months since I last had a drink of alcohol. I would like to say that the transition to vegan was just as easy, but it was not. Traveling as a vegan has been a challenge. I also don’t want friends/family to have to cater to my restrictive diet. There have also been some occasions where I was unaware of a food that contained animal products in it that I consumed. That being said I can count on one hand the number of times I did not have a plant-based meal. I have learned quite a bit over the past year and I have been able to find the foods that my body responds the best to. I am definitely not the person to sit here and try to convince everyone that they should go on a plant-based diet. I am not a registered dietician. It was not too long ago where I made fun of vegans and swore that I would never do something like that. Hopefully those words are plant-based because I have been eating them every day for the past year.
I have lost 50 pounds of body weight since I started this journey. I am not sure how many are from being plant-based, I am sure that dropping alcohol, sodas, and fast-food were big contributors to the weight loss as well. I used to take allergy medicine every night and morning. In the last year I have taken allergy medicine on four occasions, but I no longer need to take anything to function without sneezing all day long. I used to take antacids 3-4 times a day and did my best to avoid coffee or spicy foods late at night. I can now say that I have not taken any antacids in over a year and now I can eat jalapeños right before bedtime and I experience zero heartburn. I have had no heartburn in over a year! I have had eczema one and off for most of my life. I have not had eczema in over a year which may not be related to being plant-based, it could simply be just one of the longer periods that it chooses to stay away.
As a runner I have found that my recovery time after a long run has decreased significantly. I recall one Saturday not long after moving to Amarillo exploring the town with a 29 mile run around the city. I remember getting up after resting for an hour and feeling like I could knock out another long run if I wanted. This is pretty consistent with every training run I do.
The most exciting change for me since going vegan would be the return of my energy! In college (the first time) I worked 40 hours a week, coached club volleyball, played on the men’s club volleyball team, and worked another part time job. When I was diagnosed with MS I lost my energy. I pretended from time to time I was okay, but I used a steady stream of energy drinks just to make it through my day at work. I got to the point where at the end of a nine hour day at work I would go home and be dead to the world. Caffeine stopped working, I just became a zombie. In the past year fatigue has not been a problem for me. I love the fact that now I can put in a full day of work and still find the energy to run for an hour or two. I would like to say my wallet is thankful for not having to purchase tons of energy drinks, but running shoes are not cheap either.