(No, this isn't the end of the blog. Just an ending.)
I talked a lot about my problems, especially around digestion, in my previous post. I talked about FODMAPs, and my flip-flopping between paleo and vegan, and everything in between.
I had planned out this long blog post leading up to why I came to the conclusion that I did, but at this point it seems trivial. So, whatever. The whole point behind this post is:
I'm an ethical vegan.
When I look back, I've been one since I first committed to it in August of last year.
I've just been a really, really, awful one.
I started getting bad digestive and breathing problems in November of last year, and I thought maybe it was due to my diet. I tried some tweaks, but nothing worked. So, eventually, out of frustration and self-loathing, I tried to reintroduce meat and other non-vegan foods. The issues continued to plague me. I tried paleo, several times, and my digestion did improve, but I could never keep it up for long. The digestive issues were replaced by weird stomach pangs while eating paleo; the best way I can describe it is that my stomach felt hollow, and not in the way that means I'm hungry. Furthermore, eating fully paleo would ramp up my meat repulsion to an 11 after a short period of time, AND it usually triggered binge eating.
I tried a middle ground, of vegetarianism or flexitarian, and that worked, more or less, but I couldn't keep it up indefinitely. I know where dairy and eggs come from, and I know what goes in to modern production. Furthermore, eating eggs or cheese more than once every few days causes some nasty itching and dry skin, and more than likely is one of the triggers for my eczema.
I've been living in this limbo for months now. As I mentioned in the previous post, eating fully vegan caused an immediate IBS flair-up after about two days. Consistently.
The FODMAPs clue gave me what I needed; it wasn't 100% correct, but it helped me see what was actually happening. While I don't have it completely nailed down, certain legumes and certain grains both seem to trigger the IBS. When I introduced digestive enzymes, I got some relief from the worst of the IBS symptoms, but I started to become aware that the legumes that were giving me problems were also hurting my stomach within a few minutes of eating them. There's no way that the beans could have made it from my stomach down to my large intestine in a few minutes in sufficient quantities to cause pain.
FODMAPs are sugars and simple starches that our small intestine and stomach can't break down, or can't break down enough. When they get to the large intestine, the bacteria (and presumably yeast) consume anything they're able to. In people with FODMAP-sensitivity, this leads to a number of physiological side-effects. For instance, as far as we know, humans don't produce the enzymes needed to break down several oligosaccharides that are prevalent in gluten-containing grains and most legumes. When these oligosaccharides get to the large intestine, they're eaten by the bacteria, some of which emit methane as a waste product, which is why we have the short ditty about beans and their magic.
Back to the subject at hand. Figuring out that my digestive issues could be pinned somewhat reliably on a few foods gave me a ton of confidence. I knew I could track down exactly which foods were causing the problem, and finally get control of my life again. This all happened shortly before the election, and when the dust from that circus cleared, I realized I had to stop sitting on the fence and take a stand on the issues that matter to me. So,
Je répète, je suis un végétalien éthique.
I'm still experimenting to see where my boundaries are. Adzuki beans seem to be in the same boat as black beans, and pea protein or mesquite might be there, too. I need to keep experimenting. Tonight I cooked up tempeh for the first time in months; we'll see how that goes. It tasted delicious, regardless... sautéed in coconut oil with some garlic, salt and pepper. Simple and awesome.
A few other thoughts: I saw several doctors with regards to the breathing issues. We concluded that it was not actually a breathing issue. My cardiologist thought it might be low blood pressure, even my though I'm consistently in the healthy range. My primary care doctor and I think it's reflux, and reflux meds do seem to help, but not always. I'm still looking for a definite trigger or lack thereof.
I recently watched Dr. Melanie Joy's videos on her research, and I found them both fascinating and highly relevant. It's also nice to have a term other than omnivore to describe the act of eating meat, because we are all technically omnivores.
Anyway, as I said, it's time to get serious. I'm committing myself to getting back in shape, dropping the extra 2 stone I've got around my midsection, and more importantly, rebuilding my muscle strength. I'm also resuming volunteer work after a very long hiatus. Let's do this.