What is The Vegan(ish) Experiment?

Our family (me, my husband D, and our four-year-old Molly) started 2009 with a mostly-vegan, macrobiotic-inspired diet (although I have to admit, the strict macro rules have pretty much gone out the window). I have seen a marked improvement in my chronic migraines, and I'm enjoying proving that we can make amazing, mouth-watering, memorable food without animal products. For a more in-depth intro, click here.

I stopped updating this blog quite awhile back, when life got in the way. I'm still keeping a mostly vegan kitchen, though, and loving it. Have fun browsing my recipes!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day 16: The Health Effects, So Far

Our vegan(ish) experiment officially began two weeks ago last night. One of my main purposes for starting this experiment, aside from just being more generally healthy, was to decrease my migraines.

I've been getting 5 migraines a week for several weeks now. It's hard to describe how physically and emotionally difficult it's been to have pain more days than not. And I've been concerned that the prescription pain medication I've been taking nearly every day would lead to rebound headaches. Eventually, the brain starts depending upon the analgesic effect of pain pills.

So where am I now?
  • I did not have a migraine Monday, January 12.
  • I did not have a migraine Tuesday the 13th. I checked my migraine log that my neuro makes me keep: the last time I'd gone two full days without a migraine was December 16-17.
  • I did not have a migraine Wednesday the 14th. The last time I'd gone three full days without a migraine was Thanksgiving weekend.
  • The migraine I had on Thursday the 15th was mild; I caught it early and the meds worked fast.
  • I did not have a migraine today, Friday the 16th.
So something is working. And it's not just the headaches; I feel like new. I have more energy. I have less of that general feeling of malaise that I think many of us start to have semi-regularly in our late 20s or early 30s. After I eat, I feel rejeuvenated instead of weighed down.

Something is working.

And now, a jerk back to reality: I have not been doing this experiment in a controlled, scientific way. To really test the vegan(ish) diet on myself, I should try to change just my diet, and nothing else. And, of course, a double-blind or even triple-blind trial is what a real researcher would do.

But this is not a university research department, this is my life. And I am sick of pain. So I have made other changes besides my diet.

I haven't had coffee since New Year's. I still drink tea, but I find that the lower levels of caffeine in tea make it produce much less of a "crash" than coffee does.

And my neurologist has helped me make some changes, including preventing and better treating neck tension (a big trigger for me). She also put me on a new migraine prevention/reduction drug. (It's one I've never taken before, but is actually not a "new" drug.)

The drug she put me on is supposed to take 3 weeks to take full effect. The doc said that sometimes people start to feel an effect after the first full week.

I started it last Saturday, 6 days ago, and Monday is when my three day no-migraine run started. I can't imagine that such a long-acting drug would have taken effect within 2 days. I really think that I have the positive lifestyle changes to thank, more than the drugs.

Something is working. And I have been breathing the world's biggest sigh of relief for the last five days.


  1. I'm SO glad IT's working for you - whatever IT is - maybe a combo of the above. I just hate thinking of you having all those headaches! I'm sure hoping it continues!Is your neuro have positive feelings about your diet? -mom

  2. Mom - I haven't told her about the diet! I know lots of docs are skeptical about vegan diets, I think mostly because it's easy to do them wrong and not get the necessary nutrients.

    I figured I'd tell her about it if it WORKS. :) My primary care doctor will definitely know, though, the next time I go in. I think it's something that should be on my chart.

  3. So pleased for you. I know that altering your lifestyle cannot have been easy (though you've made it sound fun) but if it works it will have been so worthwhile. Keeping fingers firmly crossed for you.

  4. I'm so glad to hear that something you've changed is producing positive results!

  5. I am glad to hear you are feeling better! I think changing your diet makes a big difference. Keep up the good work!

  6. Scriptor Senex, Jasmine, Call Me Cate, and Jenny - thanks for the support! None of it has been as hard as you might think - it still has a sheen of newness on it.

  7. I am so happy for this report. My strong, passionate, positive and sometimes stubborn (like her mom) daughter is starting to feel more like the old normal instead of the more recent normal. Yaaaay!


  8. So glad to hear 'something' is working for you, whichever thing it may be :)

  9. Dad and Rachel - Thanks for the cheerleading. All the support I'm getting in the blogosphere really helps!

    My ultimate goal is to be able to wean off of all preventative medication. We will see what happens - this is the long-term plan.

  10. Wow, such great results! Our friend A.A. is also having fewer migraines last time I heard from her... it's a good thing.

    Here is my latest almost-vegan snack: a banana, peeled on a plate, with a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon and then a line of nutella (which contains skim milk and whey; there is probably a vegan hazelnut-and-chocolate spread out there somewhere). It's really tasty.


I love it when people come back and tell me how the recipes turned out - please consider doing so! Thanks!


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