This January, my husband and I decided to give the vegan diet a test-run. I had been noticing my system did not seem to love dairy so much anymore. I would eat cheese-heavy things and not feel so awesome afterwards. In addition, I'd started to think that I was eating food that contained dairy out of laziness and not from any kind of conscious choice. So I decided to take the month of January to cut it out completely to get me thinking about my food choices and see how my body reacted.
Honestly, I haven't noticed much change! I did lose two pounds, which is somewhat significant because I'm generally within 8 ounces of my normal weight on any given day. My body doesn't seem any more or less energized, and otherwise I feel pretty much exactly the same as I did in December. Then again, I had been on a pretty low-dairy diet for a long time so it was a pretty subtle change. I can't say I really miss cheese, yogurt, ice cream, or eggs (which I haven't eaten in a long time anyway), although I did have some pretty fierce fatty food cravings early on.
What I did learn is that dairy sneaks its way into so many processed foods. SO MANY. Why?! Whey protein, calcium carbonate, all sorts of possibly dairy-derived chemicals are in all sorts of packaged foods. I did a lot of label reading, which was enlightening. I also learned that Confectioner's Glaze is made out of beetles. Now I stay away from shiny chocolates. I wish that the US had better labeling practices so that it was more obvious what foods contain what. While vegetarianism and veganism is much more common these days, so are allergies and sensitivities to other foods like soy, corn, and wheat. So many people would benefit if ingredient lists weren't such a mystery. Then again, maybe we should all be eating more whole foods that don't have an indiscernible list of ingredients.
In short, while I didn't notice any drastic change in myself, I'm still glad I took the time to examine my diet so that I could ensure for myself that I was making mindful choices. At this time, I don't think I'll be sticking to a strictly vegan diet. I'm perfectly happy with all the vegan choices out there, and I'll probably continue to be low-dairy, but I'm not going to sweat trace amounts of dairy getting into my system. I'm happy to know that when I choose to eat animal-derived products (no meat, still, of course!) I will be doing so because I've thought about it, and I'm OK with it, and grateful to the animals and their keepers for making their honey or milk-products available to me.