Vegan is one of those words to cause many different reactions and, when I decided to go back to a strictly plant-based diet about a year ago, I was met with a lot of different opinions. I decided it was time to get rid of one of my life long painful problems, psoriasis, and eating vegan helps combat it. For as long as I can remember I have been suffering from psoriasis and migraine headaches that are only completely gone was when I was on a plant based diet which includes no animal products of any kind nor ingredients derived from any animal products.
Eating vegan was a difficult transition: being of Italian heritage I grew up with the most delicious choices of cheese and cured meats one could imagine. In my region, Veneto, it is our tradition to eat horse meat, which is mostly imported from Alberta, Canada. Horse meat is also one of the cheapest and healthiest meats offered in Italy as no hormones are given to the animals. I have never been into meat, but funny enough, was very addicted to cured meats and, until my family and I moved to Vancouver and we could no longer find horse meat, I ate it raw, with herbs, olive oil, and a little salt. We slowly found some decent cured meats and cheeses but never the same great quality and realm of choices available in the “old world”.
My propensity was always to go back to eating a macrobiotic diet, which had healed my family and grandmother after undergoing three major open surgeries at the age of 73. I was only seven years of age when I had to be excused from school almost every day due to heavy migraine headaches. Nobody could help me. All the big, Western doctors in Verona had no clue and would often tell my mom there was nothing wrong with me physically and they couldn’t help and yet, I was in serious pain.
As it turns out, I was allergic to dairy and, pretty much, all processed food. A month after starting our new plant-based diet my family started getting rid of our physical issues: severe pollen allergies, extreme nervousness and irritability, external warts on hands, migraines, psoriasis, and bruises.
Even with such great results, even after healing from such severe pain as a child, and even with my strong convictions and knowledge about the power of eating a truly plant-based diet I could not bring myself to stop eating cheese when, at the age of 33, I developed severe psoriasis on the back of my hands. Cheese was my “go to” problem solver for everything. There was nothing cheese couldn’t solve for me, nothing! Giving it up seemed like an impossible task until I found out the truth behind the cheese story. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own: I don’t have an addictive personality, but I recognize we all get addicted to certain legal substances. Cheese is one of them. The other? Sugar. They are both really, really bad for our health— no doubts about it in this consumer’s mind.
When you have skin issues, dairy and meat are the worst things you could eat. Skin conditions such as psoriasis occur in individuals whose systems are already tasked and unable to get rid of their own toxins through usual excretory channels. The skin pores are so clogged with guck that everything starts to get inflamed and then it’s downhill from there.
No, I am not a naturopath but having lived through the process all my life and having tried many different cures I can say that the only thing that has worked each time on me and others has been eliminating dairy, meat, eggs, and all processed foods.
I decided I needed to take action and thought that joining various vegan groups would give me sure inspiration on the many whys for giving up animal products and sure enough I was not disappointed. I have since become a convinced vegan and, while I still make mistakes and occasionally buy non vegan products because I missed one of the ingredients or while in a rush get fooled by ads not paying attention to the ingredients, I do keep a fully vegan diet and am getting great results from doing this.
I know most people are concerned with their weight and my answer to this is yes, you get to lose all the weight you need to or gain the weight you need to in order to become the healthiest you. The body is always trying to heal itself and be at its best so if you feed your body good fuel and give it enough rest and relaxation you will see how wonderfully it will heal itself. Any good doctor will tell you that it’s not the medicine to heal your body; it’s your body to heal itself.
In my months following these vegan groups I have learned that the dairy industry is actually crueler that the meat industry: animals in the dairy industry are consistently treated badly, until they can no longer produce milk and are butchered for meat; their lives are way shorter than average, and; similar to a concentration camp, there is nothing natural around them and their lives are spent working or been mistreated.
Knowing this is one the greatest triggers I have to check ingredients and more than it, is the feeling I get after eating certain foods. The best way I can describe it to a non-vegan is that I can feel the pain of the animal. When I eat wholesome foods I never feel cranky, unsettled, and sad all of a sudden. When one is in tune with nature, one feels at her/his best. No pain, no discomfort, just balance.
Here I am, a year after starting my vegan journey and I have lost 20 pounds while eating lots of great and tasty foods and I still know very little in terms of recipes. Now, if I do catch myself slipping up and eating non-vegan food, I can’t say that I enjoy it. Even dairy-based cheese, my old favourite, makes me feel nauseated.
I started my vegan journey for my own personal reasons and was reminded that it goes well beyond one, as we are all connected and until we take into considerations all earthlings we will not achieve true health. So, one step at a time; go look for your own support groups, evolve, and join the Vegan R-e-volution. I will be sharing some of my findings with you from a consumer’s prospective and someone who has invested a great amount of time and effort to achieve great health after senselessly suffering for years.