Why I’m Not Currently Vegan

Why I'm Not Currently Vegan

Like many, over the years I have made the attempt to go vegan for the sake of the planet and the animals.  Many of my vegan readers have asked me why I personally did not stick with it.  Unfortunately, these are the 4 biggest reasons that a vegan diet has never been sustainable for me:

Skin

Eliminating animal protein majorly aggravates my skin.  I have genetic predispositions for acne, and already have to work quite hard to keep my skin clear, so anything that causes additional flare ups is an added stressor and a big no thank you for me 🙂

Digestion

There are many vegans out there who swear that cutting animal products is a cure-all for digestive issues. However, when I adopted a vegan diet, I experienced nothing but negative digestive side effects (that never affected me previously). Reintroducing animal products brought back my normal problem-free digestion.

Supplement Intolerances

When you go vegan, there are a number of supplements that are recommended. These can include B12, which can only be found in animal foods, and oftentimes Vitamin D and Calcium (depending on your specific deficiencies or diet shortcomings). I’m very sensitive when it comes to supplements. 99.9% of the time they lead to either severe nausea, stomach cramps, or intense headaches. I’ve also experienced side effects such as loss of appetite, rashes, and insomnia. Therefore, I personally need to rely on getting my vitamins from food sources alone.

Food Allergies & Sensitivities

I’ve had food allergies for all of my life. Many of these foods are unfortunately big vegan staples. A couple of main examples:
-Soy
-Tree Nuts (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans, Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Etc.)

Therefore, if I am in a position where the only options are packaged or takeout vegan food, 9 times out of 10 it includes one of those ingredients.

I’ll admit, I often feel guilty that I am not a vegan. With the environment in need of our assistance and the inhumane ways that so many animals are treated, I have tried to do my part in this way. Needless to say I still try my best to only purchase the most humane animal products such as eggs from the pasture, etc.

I do feel that my own health takes precedence. Every human body is incredibly different. Only you know what works for you, and I urge you to follow your own health journey outside of the influence of others.

I think it’s wonderful that veganism works for so many, because it can have great impacts on this planet and for certain people’s health. I know that there are many vegans who follow me, and to all of you I say: amazing. I hope you can understand the other side of the coin.

My Top 10 Tips for Better Sleep

Hormones and Sleep Disturbance

I’ve always been a finicky sleeper.  All the stars have to align just right for me to get a proper night of shut-eye.  I’ve never been able to sleep on a friend’s couch, on an airplane, or in a car.  Ironically, I’m one of those people who really needs a full 7-8 hours.

For those with similar struggles, I’d like to share my top 10 tips and tricks for getting the best possible sleep you can when outside circumstances are battling against you:

1) Cut Back on Alcohol 

Whether you’re a regular drinker or are like me and just enjoy a couple of drinks once in a while, alcohol is harmful to restful sleep.  Though people commonly report that drinking makes them feel sleepy or fall asleep faster, it actually reduces your REM sleep (rapid eye movement).  Not only that, but it can suppress melatonin, which helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycles.

For me, drinking alcohol actually produces an effect similar to caffeine where I feel wired.  Even 1 drink is enough to prevent a restful night.

You don’t need to ditch alcohol completely, but cutting back will absolutely make a difference.

2) Try Melatonin

I’ve found that taking it as a supplement on occasions when I’m foreseeing a restless night can be really helpful.  I take 1.5 milligrams right before bedtime. 

3) Listen to Your Food Cravings

If you’re feeling hungry right before bed, it really can be worth it to have a small snack.  Lying in bed with a grumbling stomach will keep you mentally alert and make it more difficult to rest.  Fun fact – Eating carbs specifically can boost serotonin and tryptophan.  These brain chemicals are involved in the quality of your sleep, and having enough of them should help you fall asleep faster.

4) No Blue Light Before Bed

Blue light throws off your circadian rhythm and suppresses your production of melatonin.  Luckily, this one is an easy fix! If you must be looking at a screen in the evening, turn your device to night mode, or get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses.  They’re inexpensive and I guarantee they will help you sleep more restfully.  

5) Avoid Late Night Work if Possible

While making your own work hours can be great, if you’re a night owl like me, you might find yourself working into the wee hours.  The biggest downside to this is that you’re all fired up when you get into bed, likely still thinking about the work you were just doing.  If you’re able to conclude your work earlier in the evening, it allows you to choose an activity like reading a book before bed that will help your mind to quiet down.

6) Cut Back on Late Night Water

Too much water right before bed will have you getting up for bathroom breaks all night.  If it’s possible to cut back on your intake before bedtime, it can keep you asleep for longer stretches.

7) Keep it Cool

If you have control over your room temperature, keeping it cooler can actually help induce sleep more easily.  You should be able to fall asleep quicker and have better quality sleep overall.

8) Exercise!

On the days when I’m sitting at a desk all day, I notice a major difference in my ability to fall asleep.  I’m fidgety and restless.  On days when I exercise, even if it’s something as simple as going for a walk, my nights are so much more restful.

9) No Caffeine Late in the Day

Did you know that caffeine can stay in your system for up to 12 hours?  I don’t consume much caffeine, but if you do, keep this in mind when you’re craving that afternoon coffee.  I’ve even seen that, in myself and others, even eating a moderate amount of chocolate in the evening can cause poor sleep.  So consider your desserts too!

10) Find Solutions to Quiet Your Mind

I am a classic over-thinker.  Worrying, planning, and dwelling in bed at night is NOT good for sleep!  If this rings a bell with you, try to focus on your breathing while falling asleep.  It can help distract from whatever you’re preoccupied with.

These changes have made such a huge difference for me.  Our bodies do so much important work while we’re asleep, so poor sleep is not something to be overlooked!

Soy Story

Soy Story_2

You may or may not have noticed that none of my recipes include soy.  It’s an ongoing debate; How does it affect hormones if at all?  The research is mixed, but from my personal experience, I can safely say it is incredibly unique to the individual!  

Hormones aside, I am actually allergic to soy.  Food allergies have been a big part of my life ever since I was a kid.  The weekly allergy shots at the doctor’s office, emergency trips to the hospital, rashes, hives, you name it.  I have a wide variety of reactions depending on the allergen, but with soy it’s nausea and vomiting. 

However, the times that I have managed to ingest a slight bit of soy and kept it down, I have absolutely noticed that it affects my hormones.  The giveaway? Cystic acne. There is a very particular type of acne that is hormonal versus comedonal. You acne sufferers out there know what I’m talking about!  They’re deep, and they linger for months on the lower half of your face. 

Soy Story

If you have no reaction to soy then great! I’m jealous.  From both the studies I’ve read alongside personal discussions, some people simply get along with soy while others don’t.

Like many foods, it comes down to your particular genetic makeup, hormone levels, and allergies.  One of my biggest mottos when it comes to eating “healthy” is eating what is right for you and you alone.  The only way to know is through your own trial and error.