I went to get a blood test last week with LabCorp, and I finally got the results back. My cholesterol is now 189. I can’t even begin to tell you how relieved I was when I saw that number. Although it’s still a tiny bit higher than I would like it to be, it’s finally a number appropriate for a young female. Coincidentally, this test came back just as the school semester was wrapping up. And sadly, this means that I am finished writing for this blog.
I said I was only vegan for the purpose of lowering my cholesterol, and I really meant that. I am no longer going to be (attempting to be) vegan, so I will no longer be posting about it. It’s bittersweet because I will definitely miss my followers but I definitely WON’T be missing the high cholesterol. I haven’t really posted that much about my personal information, but since this is the last post, HERE! Here are my latest test results!
Here is a post written by the articulate DMSpotlight, imitating a vegan post. He is not vegan, so it should be interesting to see what he thinks about my blog and vegan blogging as a whole.
I am the boss of me, so it is in my power to spring up surprises on myself. To pass the quiz, I must show you the contents of my pantry and closet. Then, I shall discuss – at short length – how it fits with who I have become this semester.
1) The Greens
I love me some vegetables. Unless they are steamed. Sometimes I’ll have sweet peas right out of the can – they’re so good! Green beans are a nice snack for when I’m switching gears from one homework assignment to the next.
2) Super Healthy Juice
With each glass containing 16% of my daily potassium, 400% of Vitamin A, 70% of Vitamin C, 30% of Vitamin K and a broad range of Bs, this Lakewood juice is not as gross as it may look. It’s actually my second time buying it! It’s very refreshing, but I am keeping it on my shelf until I open it. It doesn’t spoil before you “uncork” it.
3) The Breakfast Staples
Behind these seemingly random foodstuffs is a conventional oven where I sometimes heat up guilty pleasures (frozen pizzas, burritos, etc). I think it’s a lot healthier than nuking your food in the microwave. Up front: this is what I indulge in for breakfast (Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes). To the right: a lemon for my tea, tomato paste for my soon-to-be-pizza, and bananas for snack.
I have featured “oil pulling” before… well, it turned out to be not a bad idea! This brand, “Nature’s Way,” makes unprocessed, non-GMO, organic products, and this coconut oil makes for an excellent substitute to Listerine or Crest mouthwash.
5) What’s In The Fridge?
Like any good episode of Cribs, I am going to show you what I’ve got. This isn’t my fridge. Y’all just ain’t ready yet. So this is my mini-fridge.
– Tart cherry juice
– Cucumber for pizza
– Mushrooms for pizza
– Shredded cheddar style cheese
– Fat-free organic milk
– Fat-free organic yogurt
– String cheese for snack
Pencils down! Quiz time’s over. How’d I do? Let’s look at the score card.
Although I got points off on cheese, milk and yogurt (but at least the milk and the yogurt are fat free, but it’s still got lactose). Beer is vegan but it’s heavy on calories. It’s why I only indulge on occasion. The rest of the fridge contents are fine. The shelf items are either super healthy or organic. I think I got an A-!
So guys, how did he do? Does he sound vegan yet?
Due to the presence of mandatory long essays and inevitable finals, I have turned to YouTube to escape the dreaded responsibilities. Well actually, I was first on Tumblr, and then I ended up on YouTube. For 2 hours. After midnight. on a Sunday.
I saw a gif of a cute girl saying that she bought flowers for her boyfriend. Meh. It was ok content. Then I saw the comment.
“She got flowers for Pewds <3”
Me in my head: I think I know who that is. My sister watches video game funny things on YouTube. There was this one guy in particular that she loved. It was something derpy. What was it?… Right! it was PewDiePie! Is that his girlfriend? Wow she’s so cute. They both have Youtube channels? How popular are they?…PewDiePie is the most subscribed account on Youtube?!?! CutiePieMarzia (his girlfriend) has over 2 million subscribers? Jesus!
Long story short, I spent the next 2 hours watching both of their videos, learning about their love story and their particular interests, getting more and more jealous. Pewdiepie curses and fucks around with glitches on video games while cutiepiamarzia tells people what she wears in a thick Italian accent. Was it like watching Steve Jobs give a graduation speech at Stanford? No. It was watching two young people be silly on the internet. But they cracked some code, won some lottery, bet on some lucky dice, whatever. They are not only famous for their videos, but they make enough money from them to support themselves without having a second job. I want to be that.
I’m very introverted. I prefer my room and a closed door to any kind of social function. But for the past couple of years, I’ve seen so many people get famous on the internet, whether it’s their blog, twitter, vine, or youtube, and I wish I could have that. I have never felt that sense of being important and interesting enough to hold someone’s high regard. I have a tumblr, instagram, and Facebook, but I’m essentially nobody on all 3 of those outlets. Is it shallow of me to want people to follow me? To leave comments on my content, praising my whatever? To say that they love reading/watching my content and can’t wait for the next post?
I have a Youtube account, but only to prove to some videos that I’m over 18. I have never posted a video on Youtube, and I think I can count the amount of videos I have posted on Facebook on my one hand. I want to post videos of me doing things and I want people to like them. I don’t even know what kinds of things I want to post! I like clothes, makeup, food, and occasionally being silly, but I don’t think I’m good enough at any of those things to become popular from them.
Every “famous” person on the internet will tell you that they never expected to become famous; they just consistently posted stuff and for some reason, people followed like a horde. Why do I feel so hopeless in that regard? How would I even start this feat? What if I don’t have anything valuable to add to the quadrillion pieces of content out there?
I watch the first videos that pewdiepie and cutiepiemarzia put out. What did I learn? You start from the bottom, then you’re there. Drake, you philosophical ol’ fuck, you.
So I was browsing Tumblr yesterday and I came across a discussion that one of the people I am following was having with an anonymous commenter. The person whom I follow, let’s call her Oblivious, was making very unapologetic, mean-spirited, and overarching statements against veganism while the anonymous follower, let’s call them Trying, was supporting veganism. Oblivious was claiming that humans have been eating meat for a long time and therefore, a diet without meat is unnatural, restrictive, and doesn’t provide the body with all of the necessary nutrients to function. Trying was making attempts at providing Oblivious with links to articles describing natural plant sources of protein, anthropological history of hunter-gatherers and how they actually rarely ate meat, but to no avail. Oblivious had her opinions and she stuck to them, calling Trying stupid, saying a lot of “duhs”, and generally being a brat.
Why was I getting infuriated with the immature ramblings of a 16 year old uneducated girl? Why am I going so far as to write a whole post based on her? BECAUSE SOMEONE WAS WRONG ON THE INTERNET AND I HAVE TO FIX IT.
But seriously. I think I’ll use this lingering rage to start a debate in response to an article that claims a vegan diet is a terrible idea. I’ll provide arguments for each point he makes.
1. Vegans are deficient in many important nutrients
- Maybe the dumb ones are, but there are definitely ways to get vitamin B12 and DHA. B12 is in a lot of fortified cereals and fortified nutritional yeast, as well as veggie burgers and fortified soy products. DHA can be found in super foods like chia seeds and flaxseeds. Are chia seeds as yummy as meat? No. Do they have more protein, DHA, and fibre per gram than meat? Hell yeah.
- Most bodybuilders would agree that creatine supplements are really the way to go, instead of eating meat. Regardless, creatine is needed in such small amounts that it really seems like the author of the article was struggling to find something.
2. There Are No Studies Showing That They’re Better Than Other Diets
- What is “better?” Is there a Better police? Has the Better committee come out with their newest edition of “What is Better?”
- This article seems to define “better” as “results in more weight loss,” and that is contrary to the whole concept of “better” and veganism
- People should strive to be healthier, not just skinnier. Eating healthily, sleeping the appropriate amount, and exercising regularly will guide you to the weight/figure that is best for you because skinnier DOES NOT always equal healthier and therefore DOES NOT always equal better
- Veganism isn’t a “diet” developed for people to lose weight, it’s a lifestyle that people live to be healthier. Therefore it should not be equated to any other “diet”
- “The vegetarians are probably healthier because they are more health conscious overall, eat more vegetables, are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, etc. It has nothing to do with avoiding animal foods.” Good guess. Way to make the second sentence a fact based on your first guess. It’s not supported by any research. But hey, neither is my guess that Youtube purposefully buffers right before the best part of the song. Don’t we both sound presumptuous?
3. Proponents of Vegan Diets Use Lies and Fear Mongering to Promote Their Cause
- Yeah, some of them do. I agree with you on that one; some vegans are downright terrible when they try to promote their cause. I wish it wasn’t like that.
- There’s no evidence that cholesterol is harmful? Please tell that to my arteries, they are freaking out about being closed off by animal fat, and they really need to take the chill pill you are offering.
- He critiques the China study. I only know of the China study from the documentary Forks over Knives. The documentary summarizes the findings of a nation-wide health survey in China, which ended up being animal protein = bad for health. I don’t know enough about this study to support or refute it with confidence (it’s over 1000 pages long, I’m not about to undertake that project), so I’ll let you have this one. The documentary was convincing, but to be fair, I’m easily convinced of things I already believe in.
4. Vegan Diets May Work in the Short Term, But For Other Reasons
- Work? Is there a Work police that scours the streets and calls out things that don’t “work?” Does this police department work closely with the Better department?
- The author starts every sentence with “I think, “personally,” and “you will find.” Even in middle school science classes do they not let you get away with equating “think” with “know and have evidence to support that.”
- “Vegan diets don’t just recommend that people avoid animal foods. They also recommend that people avoid added sugars, refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils and trans fats.” No. That is not the definition of vegan. Vegan is avoiding all animal products. Maybe lots of vegans also avoid processed sugar and trans fats, but that doesn’t mean those are within the definition of “vegan.”
5. There is NO Health Reason to Completely Avoid Animal Foods
- Humans have been eating meat for millions of years is such a poor argument. I took one archeology class and even I know that until 11,000 years ago, the main source of animal proteins for humans was crickets and field mice.
- But Margaret, humans can now live to be 80 years old, doesn’t that support the idea that the introduction of big meat like beef helps us live longer? We live longer now because we have shelter, medicine, readily available food, heat, and have separated ourselves from all predators. Humans millions of years ago were dying of dehydration, hypothermia, infections, and being eaten by something else. Since the introduction of a “big” meat diet, the rates of cancer and autoimmune disease have skyrocketed.
- I’ve seen a lot of studies that say saturated fat and high cholesterol is bad for your heart. What studies are you looking at?
I’m trying not to sound mad. Why do I get so mad at these people? I don’t even follow a strict vegan diet, so why do I have all of this emotional turmoil toward anyone who opposes it? I seriously need to work on that, I can’t just assume I’m right. Nutrition is such a debatable topic and we find out new things every day that contradict at least something that already exists.
I’m not sure if it’s habit or just the structure of my tastebuds, but I don’t like cooked vegetables, without exclusion. Their lukewarm, soft, and mushy texture can make me gag with more force than a roller coaster. I wish it wasn’t like this; I wish I could enjoy vegetables in soups, steamed, or even fried. I think that I would be able to get in so much more vegetables if I didn’t think they were disgusting when cooked.
But alas, that is life. So, not only do I have a vegan diet that restricts animal products, fried foods, and unnatural foods, but I have to also exclude cooked vegetables. I try to rationalize it, “uncooked vegetables have so much more nutrients!” This can be true, depending on who you talk to (packaged food companies may tell you something else). But I honestly have to come to the conclusion that although raw vegetables may have more nutrients, I could be eating a whole lot more vegetables if i included “less nutrient-dense” vegetables.
Now let’s be honest, even some raw vegetables are disgusting. Have you ever tried eating kale raw? It makes me feel like a caterpillar grazing on tree leaves. Don’t venture to smell kale, you will instantly regret it. I have a couple of methods that I use to mask the taste of some vegetables.
Fruit! Lots o’ fruit!
I can’t eat kale raw, cooked, or in any way that looks and tastes like kale. I use sour fruit juices like the orange juice and the passionfruit juice (not shown) and berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to cover up that gnarly smell and taste. I’d like to think that I have an equation: for every one disgusting thing I put into the smoothie, I have to put one delicious thing. For every kale, add berries. For every maca, add fruit juice. I interchange kale with spinach; both blend well and lose their taste among the citrusy fruit.
Spices! Especially Indian spices!
Communal Spice Rack in My Apartment. Organic Indian Spices.
Spices are good for really any meal, but pungent and complex spices like those found in the Indian cuisine are really good for covering up that bleh smell from cooked vegetables. Am I really the only person that thinks they smell that bad?
I’ve gotten so obsessed with garlic salt that I don’t even use real salt anymore. Garlic salt is salty and has a savory aspect to it (doesn’t really taste like garlic though), so you can use half the amount for double the flavor. I haven’t fully converted to organic spices just yet, but I’ll get around to it.
I’m not 100% sure that this hot sauce is vegan (it has “natural buttery flavor” as one of the ingredients), but it’s so good on cauliflower and in sauces. This particular brand has a very small list of ingredients and most of them are ones that I recognize, so I feel relatively confident about using it. Before I started to become vegan, I absolutely hated spicy things and avoided them like the plague. But something odd happens to your tastebuds when you cut out the awesome savoriness of meat and cheese: you crave strong flavor elsewhere.
I got all of these items, except for the hot sauce, from Mom’s Organic Market.
I go to a pretty big university in Maryland. I live in an apartment-style dorm and I am not on any meal plan. I hypothesize that the structure of a university considerably affects the kinds of food and exercise that are available and used by students. I have here two programs/apps that record what I eat and what I burn daily.
So this is a somewhat typical day, leaning more towards vegan than usual. All of these products are bought from my local organic market, not my university. My university offers a very very limited variety of organic food, and even less vegan food. Organic and vegan seem to be more expensive and less popular than typical diner food such as fried chicken, wraps, and frozen dinners. I’m fortunate enough to have the funds to afford the more expensive organic vegan options in the organic market, and I really respect those who find ways to be vegan and organic on a limited budget. This app is called MyFitnessPal.
This is what a typical day, assuming I’m on a weekly gym routine, in terms of calorie expenditure looks like. The great thing about living at a large university is that walking is a requirement to get to class, and so you get cardio without even really trying. My university also has an amazing gym that has literally every machine you could think of. I also have respect for college students who do not have access to a good gym. This program is called BodyMedia. What I have to do is wear a band with a small plastic tracker on my arm called a BodyBugg for the whole day; this tracker uses my temperature and heart rate to estimate how many calories I burn. You’ll notice that the data on this program is different from the data from MyFitnessPal. Oddly enough, MyFitnessPal is very good with tracking food but very bad at estimating calories burned, while BodyMedia is the opposite. The BodyBugg was relatively expensive, but I really suggest giving MyFitnessPal a try if you need structure like I do.
What does your university offer? What do you do to keep track? Do you keep track at all?
I don’t like using the word “diet.” Although I know that this is the technical term for what you eat, society has made my default reading of the word “diet” to be “restriction of food for the purpose of losing weight.” I wish I knew another short-and-sweet word that means “what you eat” without it being too technical or associating with restriction of food. Know of any good alternatives?
I also don’t believe in diets. I don’t believe that the Atkins, Celebrity, South Beach, No Carb, no eating after 6 pm, jalapeño and honey, or baby food diet is sustainable and successful over the long term (I can list only about 1 million more). That’s my opinion. There’s research to support my opinion and research to deny it. I’ll play devil’s advocate, and maybe you can decide which side you stand on.
Why diets don’t work
- Eating behavior cannot be permanently changed in a short period of time
- There is almost no incentive to continue the diet after you have lost weight
- Diets are often not sustainable because they lack in major vitamins and nutrients
- Some diets prompt feelings of starvation, which may cause overeating
- Metabolisms function at their best when the stomach is constantly processing some food. The body goes into “starvation mode” when it isn’t getting enough food. This survival mode makes the body hold on to fat to survive longer. This was a major benefit to cavemen who went through periods of starvation and drought, but not for modern humans who have extra weight because of their diet
- Eating less makes you burn less calories. If you lost weight and are now 150 lbs, you would burn less calories by existing than a person who was naturally 150 lbs (didn’t even know that before)
- Weight loss results in increased insulin sensitivity. Without getting too technical, when a person loses weight, their cells become more receptive to insulin. Insulin allows the glucose to be turned into energy. Cells use glucose instead of fat reserves for energy. You are left with the unused fat. I didn’t know this at all, wow. This isn’t just associated with diets, this is just weight loss. Insulin sensitivity won’t cause weight gain alone, but when it is compounded with fatigue, slow metabolism, and overeating, it makes it worse.
- Hormone changes during weight loss can result in increased hunger
- Restricting your favorite foods may make you stressed or anxious, resulting in your body holding on to fat
Why diets work:
- low carb diets lower the risk of heart disease if coupled with behavioral therapy
- Adhering to a diet for a long period of time even after the weight loss is achieved keeps the weight off
- Changing diets revs up your metabolism and keeps you excited about new foods
- People with illnesses such as diabetes need at least some sort of organized restriction as to what they should eat
- Some people need strict rules to accomplish something
Am I biased? I think that’s obvious. Do I disagree with every part of diets? Most certainly not. I need some strict rules, or I wouldn’t get anywhere. I work towards being vegan, but I set rules on how much fried food I can have, how much sugar I can have and when, and when it’s too late in the night to eat anything. I don’t do these to lose weight, I do these because fried foods are bad, non-natural sugar is bad, and if I eat right before going to bed, I wake up with a stomach ache. It’s not like if I’m hungry at 11 pm I starve myself to follow the rule, I’ll just plan my day so that I don’t eat too late. I like guidelines, not restrictions.
Do you know of any diets that were successful? Do you have any diet horror stories? Are you beginning to believe that cupcakes have mind-control powers?