Today marks my 2 Year Veganversary. Two years ago today was my first day living an entirely plant-based life. I don’t particularly like to celebrate my birthday (or Christmas or really anything) but this is the day I take time to acknowledge and celebrate every year. It means a lot to me.
For the last two years no animals have been harmed to keep me alive. All veggies, kids. That’s right, it can be done. Two years ago I was a typical American overeater with an intense bacon fetish and now I can wax poetic on pressing tofu and the taste nuances of different kinds of kale. My receipts have all changed from Chick-Fil-A to Whole Foods and I sorta kinda got into yoga as well. I would say that over that last two years 80-percent of my life has done a complete 180.
I never planned for this to happen yet here I am. My wife and I often laugh at how insanely different things are now. We joke that the guy she met in college would have despised everything about the guy she’s married to now.
Though my two years as a vegan have been overwhelmingly positive, these last two years have absolutely been the worst of my life. It’s miraculous that I even made it out alive. Yet my vegan lifestyle has been a shining moment in this otherwise bleak period.
My depression and anxiety ramped up well before going vegan and they’ve all been trying to coexist ever since. These last two years have been absolute hell for me but I still remain proud of who I have become. Even as a depressed mess I like this iteration of myself the best so far. That realization gives me hope that an even better me is on the horizon. Someday I’ll be able to combine this healthier body with a repaired mind – that’s the version I work hard for.
Every year I want to take time and reflect. It is important to remember some of the lessons you learn in life and celebrate some of the wins as well. This is even more important when things are tough and your world looks grim.
In that spirit, below are just a few highlights from the last two years running on plants.
1. I am 100 pounds lighter
This is obviously a big deal. No pun intended. My wife likes to say I lost an ‘entire her.’ Two years ago my depression lead me to eat my way into the E.R. with trouble breathing. It was clear the path I was on. Now I’m much healthier. The needle is finally moving the other direction, away from the heart disease and diabetes that my family deals with.
I lost my twenties!
The amount of weight I lost has also been very symbolic to me. I now weigh what I did when I was 20. I hated my twenties so it was a victory to get rid of the 100-pound evidence that it ever occurred.
I feel a bit reborn. Not just in ‘losing my twenties’ but it is nice to finally look healthier. It felt weird telling people I was vegan to then have them look up and down my 314-pound frame.
2. Being vegan saved my life
My wife and I firmly believe that I would be dead now. Diabetes and heart disease were too big picture for me. I wouldn’t have even made it to those diagnosis. My history with food, compulsion, and severe depression is a recipe for disaster. She had a front row seat as I was daily slipping away. Though my new lifestyle adds a level of complication to her life, we both thank God that I’m now vegan. I wouldn’t be here.
3. My running recovery is pretty awesome
I’m sure carrying less weight is a big part of this but even when I was heavier eating plant-based cut my recovery time at least by half. I am not the only one who has remarked on how eating plant-based cuts recovery time.
Regardless of your sport the equation is simple. The more you train the better you get. The faster you recover the sooner you can get back out there and train. Recovery is a major part of success as an athlete. Running on plants has absolutely crushed my old recovery time.
4. Being vegan has brought me closer to God
This one seems weird but hear me out. Many have remarked that going vegan brought them ‘closer to nature’ or more ‘one with the earth.’ My theory is that whatever you held true in your heart before, being vegan just enhances that. This is probably not the case for people who go vegan purely for health reasons. I went vegan for ethical reasons. My belief is that God’s creation shouldn’t be abused and mistreated. It should be respected.
I don’t believe I have to be vegan to be a ‘good Christian’ but I will tell you that my Christianity is what lead me to become vegan in the first place. When your beliefs lead you to make a major life change it makes sense that your passion will grow. As a result my faith and relationship with God has strengthened.
Like other vegans I absolutely feel closer to nature because of my lifestyle. When I now spend time with the animals I used to eat there is something between us I can’t describe. Like there is a barrier missing. Other vegans feel the same way but for me, because of my beliefs, that feeling carries beyond nature and I find myself more at peace with the creator not just the creation.
That strengthened relationship with God has proven invaluable to me during this recent battle with depression. I wouldn’t be surviving without it. If choosing to not eat animals even indirectly enables that then this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
5. Eating plant-based fights my depression
I’ve spent the last two years experimenting with food. I’ve learned what aggravates my depression and what helps pin it back. Leafy greens win every time. All the B vitamins and fiber make a huge difference. When I’m down for multiple days and it looks like I’m kind of stuck, my wife will always ask how I’m doing on my greens. More often than not I’ve slacked and haven’t gotten in enough dark green veggies.
At minimum I try to eat 10 ounces of raw spinach a day. That’s the baseline. From there it’s kale and romaine and whatever else I can get my hands on. Bottom line, the more plants I eat the less my depression sidelines me.
A closing thank you
I can’t think about the last two years without having an immeasurable sense of gratitude. My incredibly supportive wife never asked for this. One day I moved to Boise to take care of my father. Six weeks later I came back to California a fired-up vegan. She didn’t get mad when I started swapping out all our household products for cruelty free ones. She was bummed but didn’t complain when we stopped going to some of our usual restaurants. For many reasons beyond these that woman is a rock star but in a society that seems to be hostile when you simply say ‘no thank you’ to cheese or meat – living with her is a blessing.
We are also proof that it can be done. In my fridge there is bacon sitting next to my tofu. It bums me out sure but if having her in my life means bacon in my fridge then that’s just how it has to be. Besides, she’s gonna have to suck it up when I swap her cheap candles out for pricier soy ones. The answer is not tolerance, it’s humility. You don’t need to compromise your beliefs to get along. You just have to be humble enough to know that it’s not about you. I don’t throw red paint on her leather shoes and she doesn’t go on and on about the tasty bacon cheeseburger she’s eating. We love each other more than we love ourselves and we know for a fact that we are better together than apart. That’s not to say we both don’t have to deal with strongly opposing feelings at times but it’s the commitment to the big picture that keeps things going.
Looking back over the last two years I am most proud of that.
Thank you Kristen. Here’s to our next 365 days.
Enjoy this article? Please tell a friend.
If you liked this or any articles on the site, recommending Sad Runner to your friends is one of the highest compliments you can give.
The more people know about Sad Runner, the more we can share our message that a depression diagnosis does not have to be the end of the story.