At the end of November 2022, I decided, after about 22 years of being vegetarian, that I was going to go vegan. Why? I was mostly looking for the health benefits.

I’m quite lactose intolerant. If I ate cheese it was a pretty good bet that in exactly 4 hours I was going to be having massive abdominal pain and be camping out in the bathroom. But I kept eating it? Why? I don’t know. It seemed like a lot of work to avoid it. It was yummy.

I also wanted to lose weight. My weight kept going up and up and nothing seemed to be working. I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure too.

People talk about veganism as if it is going to this magical thing that solves all your problems. So what really happened in a year of being vegan?

First let’s define terms. I’m mostly what is considered a whole-food plant based eater. Vegan just means avoiding animal products. Dr. Pepper and oreos are vegan. It is absolutely possible to be a junk food vegan. I focus most on food made out of fruits and vegetables. I’m not perfect but I’m at least 90% whole foods.

Weight – I immediately lost 15 lbs in the first 2 weeks of eliminating dairy. I was like, “Yep, this is it. This is what they meant by the weight just falling off.” Then it stopped. I’ve stayed between 15-20 lbs down from my top weight. That’s good but I’m still overweight. I could lose another 60 lbs and still be considered a bit overweight. That’s frustrating.

IBS – My GI tract is thrilled. I’ve had a few IBS-type episodes in the past year. A few I can trace back to probably getting milk in food at restaurants by accident. This is totally worth giving up dairy to not have weekly episodes of lots of pain.

Blood pressure – It went up. I’m not happy about this. I lost weight. I’m eating better. I was actually running a little low on my blood pressure prior to going vegan and was going to ask my doctor at my next appointment about weaning off meds. Now I’m normal with medication which is fine but it is higher in the morning before I take my pill. No good explanation for that.

Cholesterol – Now this one makes me furious. Cholesterol is solely from animal products. I don’t eat any. My cholesterol went up. Now I was high anyway so I may just be very efficient at making my own. But it is just insulting to have it go up. I started meds for this and it is down now.

Liver – On the bloodwork where the cholesterol went up, one of my liver enzymes was up too. That could have been the beginnings of fatty liver. That is back to normal.

Menopause – I sailed through this. I didn’t have a single symptom. No hot flashes. No fatigue. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed anything was happening. 10/10 would totally recommend!

So overall I’m happy. I like it for ethical reasons. I don’t miss cheese at all. I feel better.