I wanted to start of by giving an account of my journey so far. In terms of the Vegan world, I am still a newbie. I've been following a 100% plant based diet for about four months. I decided to give up meat on my birthday. It was a decision that I had been thinking about for a long time. Several years ago I tested the waters a little and became a vegetarian. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I just went with it for several months. I tried out new foods and got a taste of how hard...or easy it would be to do that type of thing for the rest of my life. At that time, I really hadn't researched the subject. I knew very little about nutrition overall really. And ironically as this sounds, the summer before I went vegetarian, I was on a variation of a low carb, all meat and cheese diet. It was the worst summer, in terms of pain, that my body had experienced in a long while. I found out later that I have a painful arthritic condition called gout and that eating high volumes of protein and fats can cause very painful flare ups.

The three months I spent as a vegetarian, I felt great. I still had one gout attack, though It did not last as long and was not nearly as painful. The reason I stopped the vegetarian diet was mostly because I was not really at that point in my life where I was ready to make any major decisions. It ended as suddenly as it began. I was out with some friends and decided to just grab a sandwich that had meat on it. I must say, it was delicious. I savored every morsel of that sandwich as if it were a glass of ice water in the hottest desert. And then I was back on the meat train...an animal eatin machine. I loved my burgers and steaks cooked medium, and had to have everything wrapped in bacon of course. Yum! Gooey, melty cheese was a staple, not a mere option. I was living the good life. Eating a typical Western diet, what's wrong with that? All my friends and family eat that way, everyone I know does. There really isn't an alternative that is as easy to follow I thought. I figured I can eat whatever I want as long as I keep things in check, keep things in moderation. I knew one thing for sure, eating food made me feel good. Especially the foods that are supposed to be the worst for you. Candy, pizza, burgers, creamy pastas, cakes...I ate these things and each bite would transport me to worlds of paradise.

At first, the moderation thing seemed to work. I would eat mostly "healthy" foods during the week, maybe cheat here and there, and on one or two days I'd let myself have whatever I wanted to eat. Truthfully I ended up gorging myself on my off days because I was severely restricting my caloric intake on my healthy days. By the week's end I was so hungry I wanted to eat anything and everything I could find. That in turn made me feel so sick and bloated and I just felt horrible. The crazy part was that I was losing weight! I thought this was crazy, but it worked..so keep going. Unfortunately it is impossible to keep a plan like this going for very long. My cheat days soon started growing and my healthy days started to become the meals in moderation. The weight that came off, suddenly hopped right back on and brought a few dozen of its friends with it. This depressed me. Food depressed me... I was at a dark place in my life, I hid this away from my family and friends. I hid it because people had always looked to me as their helping hand, their shoulder to cry on. I did not want to burden anyone with my problems. I acted as if things were great, but I was not happy. I watched all my friends find careers, get married, have kids...meanwhile I dealt with losing my mother, my career and my health. At times I did try to make some effort to reach out, but they were simply too busy with their lives to notice. I don't fault anyone for that. I certainly hold no disregard for them. We all have moments when we are focused on our lives so intently that we tend to forget about others. In all honesty, my close friends I've had all through high school 'til now are some of the best friends one could ask for. This dark period lasted until around 2010, I had some great moments in '08 and '09, but the cloud was always close behind.

I decided to start that year fresh and new. I was no longer going to leap into any crazy diet without fully researching the nutritional benefits and weaknesses of the plan. I also decided that I was going to look at my life and completely re evaluate it. I was no longer feeling sorry for myself and I had recognized many of the triggers that were leading to my over eating issues. I had tried working out in the past, but I would go for a week, a month and that would be it. I needed motivation. I needed something more that "going to the gym". My job situation at this time allowed me the freedom to set my own hours and I worked from home, so I decided to start walking at nearby parks. I've always loved nature and the outdoors so this suited me fine. Upon my evaluation I decided to weigh myself. I was shocked to see 380lbs on the scale. I'm embarrassed to say that I had to actually buy several different scales before I could find one that would weigh me correctly. I felt the cold hand of depression grip around my neck when I saw that number, but i was determined to not let it take hold of me anymore. It wasn't until summer that the "click" happened. I was out in LA visiting some friends and while I was out there I decided, my life is going to change from that point on. Originally I had made the decision to move to LA in the beginning of 2011. Little did I know what the universe had in store for me towards the end of '10. My summer was incredible, I spent the beginning in LA and the end in FL. I got to go to a star wars convention, Disney World, and Universal Studios. Because of my size, I was unable to partake in many of the cool roller coasters...but I did not let that affect me too much. I had a plan that when I got home I was going to get myself in shape.

That's just what I did, as soon as I got home from FL I started running, yes 380lbs and running. That quickly dropped to 360lbs or so and I was luckily given a great opportunity to work with a personal trainer. Her name was Jai and she kicked my ass! Oh how I loved it! :-) We trained hard and I made a goal to run a 5k by October. I hit that goal and went beyond. All in all I lost about 70lbs in 2010. Unfortunately the end of 2010 brought some of the greatest moments in my life as well as some of the worst. I had finally met someone that made me feel what the true meaning of love is, she is every bit of everything I have been looking for my entire life. That's awesome! Then the bad came...I blew out my knee slipping on some ice and soon after my dad had a fall that left him paralyzed from the shoulders down. Talk about polar extremes...this was as good and bad as it can get..and it all happened at once. My main goal at this point was just to try and keep myself from falling apart and not turing back to food. I knew that it would be some time before I could get back to working out and live somewhat of a normal life, but I was determined to keep the weight going down. It was not easy, not by any means. My life has been hit hard with trails this year. I am proud to say that I took each and every challenge head on and most of which I have come out better on the other side. My weight loss was a lot smaller in 2011, but it still was a loss.

Over the summer my girlfriend Stephanie, and I had many discussions about nutrition and the way we eat. She had picked up a book by Kathy Freston called Veganist and talked to me about it. My interest soon peaked and I found myself reading the book as well. I then began doing more research on veganism and what it meant to be one. I loved reading as much material as I could find. I found many reports about how bad vegans are, how controversial the subject is, and surprisingly many more articles that showed the benefits of living a 100% plant based diet. Stephanie then surprised me one day and said she had been on a vegetarian diet for several weeks. I was shocked that I hadn't noticed and I was proud that she had come to the decision on her own. I was already thinking about giving up meat again and was wondering how that would work in a relationship. So my switch happened on my birthday. I had a big plate of Bangers 'N Mash. It was delicious! That was the last bit of animal I have and will ever eat. I first took the easier path of becoming a vegetarian, but I still felt bad about how many of the animals are treated in the dairy and egg. Truthfully I have always thought drinking milk was disgusting. I never thought it was natural to drink something that came out of another animal like that. It wasn't until I watched some videos and watched several lectures about how the animals are truly treated and slaughtered that I decided that I am hence forth Dude, Vegan...

Posted by Tim Cleary on Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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1 Responses to

  1. Brinda Says:
  2. I love reading your story, I am so sorry the bad things happened but so proud of you for sticking through. Most significantly I am so happy you found Stephanie. I would love to see you add your fave recipes!


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