• Nadia Santana

Converting to Veganism in My Sixties

Photograph by Dmytro Gilitukha ©123rf.com

For the longest time, veganism was just a word, not a concept or a way of life, but something like vegetarianism, only different. I was introduced to veganism as a way of life by my daughter, whom I was visiting in Hawaii. Her work days were long and stressful, so I offered to cook for her for a month. At 61 years of age I was about to embark upon a new food adventure. It was an exciting undertaking, yet a real eye-opener as I had never cooked vegan food before! I searched Pinterest for recipes with many requiring ingredients that I was unaware existed. Nutritional yeast? Vegan chicken stock? Textured vegetable protein?

Aside from these new and exotic names, these ingredients were not available where my daughter was living, thus I had to make a lot of substitutions. Unfortunately, my first attempt at vegan cooking was not very successful and most of the food tasted pretty bad. It seemed like I was always trying to mimic other foods and the end product never tasted like it was supposed to. I tried several different “cheese” sauces and not one of them tasted like cheese.

During that month of veganism, I didn’t miss meat that much as I ate mostly vegetarian at that time as I had stopped cooking meat at home. I’d watched What the Health, Forks over Knives and other documentaries advocating veganism. I hated how animals were treated and believed in the vegetarian philosophy and how much better for the planet vegetarianism was. Nonetheless I still wasn’t sold on the vegan way of life and left my daughter disenchanted with veganism, happy to say adios to that diet.

However, a year later my daughter and her new husband came to stay with me for several months and I tried going vegan yet again. After a couple weeks of vegan cooking, I decided to become 100% vegan because it was more convenient to eat the same food as my daughter and her husband. No more eggs, cheeses or honey. My daughter shared some websites about veganism with me which helped me with recipes and educated me on veganism. I shared these with a coworker who was extremely obese with a plethora of health problems. He had eaten quite a bit of vegan food that was delicious, and we agreed to go vegan together.

This time around I chose fewer recipes with odd ingredients and relied on my love of vegetables. The cooking became much easier as there were plenty of vegan products locally and I stopped using recipes that tried to mimic other foods. The food was much better this time! I cooked vegan for three months and I eventually noticed that I no longer had the chronic pain in my foot that had previously been diagnosed as arthritis. I also noticed that my joints were less achy. I could hop out of the car after an hour’s drive rather than unfold myself slowly and painfully.

My daughter and her husband left and I continued the vegan diet until I travelled to the British Virgin Islands on a sailing trip. I was out of my vegan element, and decided to eat a regular diet, some fish, chicken, eggs and dairy products included. Despite what I have heard, none of these foods upset my digestive system. However, after resuming a non-vegan diet I started suffering from extremely sore hip joints and an achy left foot, my arthritis having returned. I’m back again on the vegan train and happy to be so. High hopes that the aches and pains disappear once again.

I just read that old age begins at sixty-five. I don’t want to creak into it this next chapter of my life, but glide smoothly and pain free, on a vegan magic carpet.

Molly Baxter, MS Molly Baxter is a Vegantana guest writer. As a long-time teacher of the sciences, she would like to see more scientific studies on the benefits of veganism. She currently works at a small community college in North Carolina.

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