going vegan… the vegan hangover…

Let me start this post by saying, I am in no way a ‘perfect’ vegan. As I’ve spoken about in the past I find the label ‘vegan’ itself problematic. I eat a mainly plant based diet, and I want to protect animals, and save a little bit of the world while I do it. However, sometimes I slip, sometimes I presume something is vegan friendly only to check the ingredients afterwards and find some unnecessary animal product included, and sometimes there is cake.

I see my relationship to food a little bit like I see my relationship to alcohol. I know some thing’s, like gin, aren’t good for me but every now and then I still indulge.

One thing I don’t indulge in anymore is cheese.

And I know this is where a lot of none vegans out there will have let out a gasp of pain and horror. Cheese is delicious, I know this. I never gave up cheese because I didn’t like it. I gave it up because I did some reading, and could no longer separate the cheese from where it came from. Don’t worry I’m not about to go into that.

However, I also read into meat, and where the ingredients in my beloved cake, and fish come from and yet I can still eat those, so why is cheese my one no go area?

Because physically, cheese, makes me feel dreadful.

One weekend a couple of months back I was caught out in a coffee shop. I had the shakes and needed to eat something solid pronto. It was late in the day and the only option they had that didn’t involve meat was a cheese toastie. I couldn’t get home so I ordered the toastie, and guiltily ate (and admittedly enjoyed) my first cheese binge in nearly 6 months. Later that day I was back home, in bed with crippling tummy pains. I told myself I’d been ill all day and this must be part of that. A week later I was out celebrating my dads birthday, and the veggie option I’d ordered arrived with a cheese topping. Not wanting to kick up a fuss, or have to explain again to my family why I’d changed my diet, so drastically, I again ate (and still enjoyed) my meal. Later that night. Crippling tummy pains again. I couldn’t deny it. It was the cheese.

When I first told people I was thinking about going vegan, they warned me this would happen that I would make myself intolerant to things, that just to be safe, I should eat cheese or drink milk every now and then. Something that originally made a little bit of sense to me. I didn’t want to go to a restaurant and find that I absolutely could not eat anything, not out of choice, but because my body would buckle over in pain. But the more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

I haven’t made myself intolerant to cheese, over 24 years, I’d MADE myself tolerant to it, now my body has had a break it no longer what’s to put up with that, regardless of how delicious it is. And this is where I come back to my alcohol analogy.

You’re body isn’t meant to process alcohol, but it can, until you drink too much and you end up with a dreadful hangover. This is what happens to me and cheese. I can eat one slice and feel fine the next day, if I eat a whole toasties worth, well lets just say it isn’t pretty. I’ve never told somebody ‘oh I’ve got a hangover’ to be met with the response ‘you should drink more often, so that your tolerance is built up’  but with cheese or dairy it’s a different story.

I’m not trying to tell you, don’t eat cheese. And I’m not telling you to stop drinking. I still drink, often more than I should, and the only reason I don’t get the same vegan hangover from a cake as I do from cheese, is because I’m guilty of having kept up my ‘tolerance’ to it. What I’m trying to say, is that with all food, we should question it’s effects on us more, because we’re all clued up on the dangers of alcohol, and a bottle of wine comes with a health warning, but food doesn’t. Those little traffic light labels, are still gobbledygook to most of us, and to be honest the idea that one size fits all, doesn’t really work for me.

Like with you’re favourite beverage, you have to work out where your limit is, whilst also being aware, that just because one gin and tonic doesn’t give you a hangover that doesn’t make it ‘good for you.’

I never wanted to be the ‘fussy vegan’ visiting friends and saying point blank I don’t eat cheese, but that is what my body tells me to, and do you know what, once I explain actually I’m not being fussy, it makes me ill, nobody bats an eye lid. Much like when I tell people ‘I don’t do tequila.’

Live life & please drink/eat responsibly x


8 thoughts on “going vegan… the vegan hangover…

  1. Loved this post! I really think it’s important to listen to your body, and I’m definitely guilty of not doing this. I’m a coeliac and so have a gluten-free diet and I’m a vegetarian, hoping to become increasingly more vegan, but every now and again I indulge and regret it after. It doesn’t make me feel good, and it definitely wasn’t worth how nice it tasted!

    Lizzy from Nomad Notebook

    • I completely get where you are coming from, every now and then I will think oh sod it, I want a caramel slice, and guess what? Unless they are home made. Not worth it, and I used to be the girl who couldn’t get a train without a coffee shop muffin xx

  2. This was really interesting! It’s interesting how our culture has such an impact on what we think is “normal” to tolerate. In Sweden, milk is often considered to be a sort of health drink, but that’s actually mostly propaganda from the dairy farmers. Sure, it’s beneficial in some ways, but it’s also problematic in many other ways, and it’s definitely not for everyone. I haven’t seen as much of that in the UK, but perhaps I just haven’t been paying attention. I eat dairy often enough to keep up my tolerance, but I do feel weird when I have too much of it. I’m fine with cheese, but having a latte on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Sadly, I don’t handle soy milk well either, hah.

    xx Mimmi, Muted Mornings

    • I think in schools it is still definitely happening, because I have friends that are actors that are paid by the dairy industry to go into schools and perform plays about how ‘good’ milk is, and how ‘happy’ the cows are!

      I’ve heard that about soya for a lot of people, and I have started looking into the science of what soya actually is, and how good or bad it is, but truth be told, right now I’m a bit like where I used to be with cheese, ignorance is bliss! And right now Soy doesn’t upset my stomach and I don’t actually like the taste of almond milk, which tends to be the more popular alternative!

  3. At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you. I’m not CRAZY about the consumption of animal products (mainly meat… I DO love cheese), but I also have coeliac disease and I find one extreme dietary restriction to be quite enough, thank you! I know some people do it, but I just could not. In some ways I think it’s easier to just eat what you eat and not even put a label on it. Or, that’s how it would work, ideally. Unfortunately I can’t do that because I have a stupid autoimmune disease so I need to convey the seriousness behind that. Like how you have to explain the cheese thing. Sigh. It could be an interesting experiment, in your case, if you tried to live without the label of “vegan” and see how people react. Because I think people have preconceived notions and there’s a connotation, etc.

    Aisling | aisybee.

    • Exactly it is really about fine tuning your ear to listen to what it is YOUR body is trying to tell you. That’s why I don’t like the labels, or the belief that one size fits all!

      I’m torn when it comes to using the vegan label, because I hate the connotations, but I think the only way we can get people to really pay attention to the fact that those connotations and stereotypes aren’t real, is by wearing the label proudly and showing them we aren’t what they expected! xx

  4. Pingback: morning monday… summer report card… | tea in your twenties

  5. This is such an interesting post, I really enjoyed reading your take on it. For the last few years I’ve suffered with gallstones (although only just been added to the waiting list for an op, finally). When I found out, I decided to keep to a low fat diet – which I’ve found people just don’t understand, and call me ‘boring’ for opting for low fat choices. Although I eat meat and allsorts, I’ve actually eaten a lot more vegetarian and vegan food, and it’s really helped calm down my attacks – both the regularity and severity of them. Over the past year, I’ve definitely thought a lot more about what I put in my body and the effect it has on me. (But I still can’t say no to an ice-filled glass of gin…)

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