My experience trying vegan food has been a bit of an interesting journey. My parents are from the Dominican Republic, and the traditional dishes from our culture are mainly comprised of a lot of carbs and meat, but hardly any vegetables. So imagine growing up with the mindset that every meal must contain meat and a ton of carbs (such as rice), and then to try eating a meal that has no meat products whatsoever, less carbs, and a large portion of vegetables. Let’s just say it took me a while to wrap my head around the idea of eating vegan, and it took a few tries before my mentality changed about it.
When I was younger, my meal portions were extremely large and if my parents ever made salad, I would not eat it and they never forced me to. I hated salad growing because it alone never fulfilled my hunger. I always felt like it was just too light on my stomach and didn’t have enough seasoning, and therefore I needed more of the food that would not only satisfy me, but fill me up until my stomach was popping buttons off my shirt. I liked the feeling of being “stuffed” for some weird reason. Now that I think about it, it may be a part of my Dominican culture. During every meal, my parents always made sure I would finish every grain of rice on my plate, and if I went back for seconds, it always made my mom happy (and I like seeing my mom happy). Of course, I suffered the consequences by maintaining a body-build of a football player, minus the muscles and 6-pack. Nonetheless, this was how I grew up when it came to food – huge and unbalanced portions.
Cutting out meat
Things changed when I developed IBS and moved out of my parent’s home to live with my wife. As I have mentioned in a previous article, my wife is my main support system, and thanks to her willingness to keep me on top of my health game, we have tried tons of different diets over the years together. In fact, if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have ever expanded my palette from the meat and carbs that I was so used to growing up. When I first learned I had IBS, the low FODMAP diet was one of the first diets I tried with my wife, and we still incorporate into our daily meals to this day. However, lately we have been considering cutting out meat from our meals little by little, which is obviously why going vegan is interesting to us.
Sometimes when I eat certain meat (mainly red meat), I notice my symptoms are triggered more often. I could blame it on the ingredients that were used to season it with, or I could blame the chemicals and hormones being pumped into certain livestock and then butchered for processed meat. Either way, I want to develop the discipline and new psychology that I don’t need meat in every-single meal. Therefore, you will notice that some of my recent IBS friendly recipes on the site are starting to contain little-to-no meat at all. In fact, one of my favorite recipes that I’ve made so far was the IBS Friendly Quinoa Vegetable Salad. Not only is it vegan-friendly, but also low FODMAP-friendly as well.
The best of both worlds
Recently, I have tried different vegan meals from restaurants, cookbooks, and through my own experimentation in the kitchen, and I must say that it is starting to grow on me. However, if I expected that going completely vegan would help me manage my IBS symptoms forever, then I would sadly be mistaken. Before my first vegan meal, I always assumed that no matter what it was, it was safe to eat because it mainly consisted of vegetables. What I later realized is that there are certain vegetables that also trigger my symptoms, such as garlic and onion. I have tried vegan meals that contain these triggering ingredients (unknowingly) and it wasn’t a pleasant experience after the fact. It seems that no matter what diet I try, I still have to be cautious and aware of every ingredient I put into my body.
This is why I have taken it upon myself to experiment with combining recipes from both the low FODMAP and vegan, which so far has been working great. I truly feel minimal to no symptoms when I combine these diets with no triggering ingredients, which makes coping with them easier. If you ask me, I think I might be on to something!
What are your thoughts on veganism? Please share your thoughts below and thanks for taking the time to read my article.