In 1981, before I became a vegan, I stood six-foot-four and weighed 215 pounds and I did not follow an exercise routine. Due to daily headaches, joint pain, shooting pains throughout my body and indigestion after almost every meal, I carried painkillers and anti acids on me at all times.
If I wasn’t drunk, I was in pain.
I was killing myself with my lifestyle choices and I was so ignorant that I didn’t even know I was responsible. To me, since almost everyone I knew lived the same lifestyle, my life was normal.
Prior to converting to veganism, I came down with annual common colds and flu. Then in 1981 when I was working two jobs, teaching English days in a public middle school and working weeknights and weekends at a nightclub-restaurant combination called the Red Onion in West Covina, I worked with an alien vegan.
In my thirties and single, I was a player and a party animal. In fact, among the Red Onion employees, I was known as Disco Lloyd. Alas, those frantic, dirty dancing days are behind me now.
The cute young vegan I worked with never preached about her lifestyle. In fact, I had no idea she was a vegan until the day almost every employee in the restaurant was sick with the same common cold: the cooks, the hosts, the managers, the maître d (me), the bartenders, waitresses… we were all sick except her—an injustice for sure.
I’m sure many meat eaters will crow “fowl”—that isn’t fair.
Late one night, I asked why she with the “perfect skin” was the only employee that didn’t catch “that” common cold we were sharing with all the customers, and she told me it was because she was vegan. At first I thought she was claiming to have come from Venus, but she explained and cleared up my confusion.
Next, she introduced me to her husband, who was raised as a child to be vegan by his parents. Too bad he was such a nice, likable guy. In addition, he had a fourth degree (or higher) black belt in Kung Fu—move over Jackie Chan.
It was Perfect Skin’s husband that taught me what a healthy vegan diet was and guided me through the year-long conversion. During that year, my weight plummeted to 160 pounds and then slowly returned to 180 where it stuck—give or take a pound or two fluctuation—for the next twenty-three years.
During the conversion, my skin even turned a bit green and then orange—because I was drinking lots of carrot juice.
Yes, vegetarian/vegan diets may be unhealthy if an individual does not discover what it means to eat a whole-food vegetarian/vegan diet. Iceberg lettuce salads, carrots, lima beans, ice cream, milk, cake, pie and eggs does not do it.
Colorado State University offers a fact sheet of healthy Vegetarian Diets. If you are interested in converting, I recommend starting there to educate yourself.
Continued July 3, 2012 in My Vegan Journey – Part 3 or return to Part 1
Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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