Archive | February, 2019

One Step Forward…Two Steps Back

18 Feb

My original plan when I first started reducing my animal product intake in July:

February**: I will follow a full (lacto-ovo) vegetarian diet. No fish or bug allowance.

March: a (mostly) vegan diet with a lacto/ovo allowance of 4 servings for the entire month

April: a (mostly) vegan diet with a lacto/ovo allowance of 2 servings for the entire month

May: a (mostly) vegan diet with a lacto/ovo allowance of 1 serving for the entire month

June: I will follow a full vegan diet

**We are here, but I’m not there.


Whenever my health goes to (extra) shit, there’s generally a trifecta of events that bring it on. For example, when I was diagnosed with IBS in high school, it followed a bout of food poisoning (bad bug invasion), going on “the pill” (hormonal fluctuations), and a stressful period of my life (nurturing an unhealthy relationship instead of myself).

What could have brought on my recent health woes? I recently had the stomach flu (bad bug invasion), I stopped breastfeeding shortly before starting this experiment (hormonal fluctuations), and dietary changes (including a massive carb binge over the holidays not too long after recovering from the stomach flu. Way to kick my gut while it was down, eh?)

A few days ago, I received the results from a breath test which showed an overgrowth of bacteria in my small intestine (SIBO). You know how you’re always hearing about gut bacteria and how probiotics are amazing, because they feed the good guys? Well, that’s all fine and good unless those bacteria are growing in the small intestine instead of the colon where they belong. As a result, traditionally healthy foods create symptoms as the bacteria have a feeding frenzy at the wrong lunch table. Bonus: you might end up with nutrient deficiencies if they’re greedy enough.

I’ve found it necessary to be stricter with my FODMAP intake recently, and I suspected feral gut critters to be the guilty culprit. SIBO is strongly correlated with both IBS and fibromyalgia, and since I won the jackpot and have both (ha!), it just makes sense. I will be seeing a naturopathic doctor in a week who can hopefully help me address this through anti-microbial supplements, such as garlic extract and oregano, in lieu of antibiotics. The antibiotics used to treat SIBO are crazy expensive, have some scarier side effects, and don’t have a stellar success rate.

Vegan diets don’t cause SIBO, but they can highlight an overgrowth that already exists. Since bacteria love to munch away on carbohydrates, and vegan diets tends to be high in carbs, I’ve been holding on to a few sources of animal protein until I can get my gut out of this rut. A low-FODMAP vegan diet is possible. However, I’m currently taking a break from soy and peanuts as they are difficult to digest, and I’ve been suffering from relentless reflux. Without these items, a low-FODAMP vegan diet becomes very restrictive, very fast.

Cue Jud Crandall from Pet Sematary: “You don’t want to go down that road!”

And so, things are not going as planned. The good news is I’m not that bummed about it, because I am still making progress, even if that progress is slower than I hoped.

You’ve got to ac-centuate the positive…

I’ve successfully cut out beef, chicken, and pork.

…E-liminate the negative…

I haven’t had any dairy for a month and plan to keep it that way. This change has been made possible by: various coconut and almond substitutes, but mostly… Miyoko’s.

Miyoko’s vegan butter is amazing. Miyoko’s mozzarella cheese makes vegan pizza feel like an indulgence rather than a punishment. Seriously, store-bought vegan “dairy” products have come a long way over the past decade. But I digress…

I went back to eating fish on a semi-regular basis (2 or 3 times/ week) but am making a conscious effort to reduce my egg intake. I usually eat at least one egg per day, so there’s plenty of wiggle room for improvement.

What’s so special about fish? I guess if I’m being honest, I feel less sad about eating fish than I do eating mammals or supporting the suffering inherent to the dairy industry. However, let’s not kid ourselves. It still makes me sad, and seafood comes with its own set of environmental ramifications.

I am in no hurry to make insects a non-option. No, eating insects is not vegan. But as I explained in my previous post, I’m just not that sentimental about bugs at this time.

A new plan*: (*Subject to change after consulting my doctor about my endlessly angry belly)

February**: I will follow a (mostly) pescatarian diet that includes crickets but excludes dairy (I will eat eggs and fish with abandon. That sounds dramatic, but I swear I’m not chomping away on endless seafood. I couldn’t afford that even if I wanted to.)

March: a (mostly) pescatarian diet with an egg allowance of 4 per week

April: a (mostly) pescatarian diet with an egg allowance of 2 per week

May: a (mostly) pescatarian diet (also including crickets, but excluding dairy and eggs)

June: I will follow a full vegan diet – During this time, I plan to eliminate oysters and insects just for the full experience. Depending on how it goes, I may add them back in (especially oysters, since they are not sentient). I hope to eliminate fish from my diet long-term, but…we shall see what my body has to say on the matter.

What can YOU do today? Swap your beef for beans. If every American did this, the U.S. could almost meet its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals created by President Obama in 2009.