i recently saw this video about what happens when you go vegan. It was super short and listed a few pros and cons but it got me thinking. Why go vegan? What does it mean to be vegan? So today, I thought I’d share my journey and maybe answer a few questions about what being vegan means to me.
What does being vegan mean? I’ve always said that there is a range for vegan. If you’re vegetarian, it’s pretty simple. You don’t eat meat. However, if you’re vegan, you don’t deal with anything animal or animal byproduct wise. This means no meat, no dairy, no butter, no eggs, no honey and so on. Some of it can be tricky because there are things that hide like milk byproducts: whey and lactose items. But it’s a bigger commitment that vegetarian.
But there is a scale. Some vegans are what I consider more plant-based. We stick to the no animal or animal byproduct rule. Honey is a bit of a grey territory for some. The other side of the scale is more lifestyle. What we wear, where we shop, what we buy can all be the products of animals. Not everyone makes the same choices but being vegan means different things to different people.
I decided to go for a more plant based life style 3 years ago. I’d been gradually introducing “healthier” products into my life. I was learning about non-dairy milk. Eventually, I really began to move away from milk in general when I noticed that I would get these deep stomach pains after eating. I tried to keep a journal to determine what caused it but I found that most often it occurred after I ate something with cheese.
In the more recent years, I’d made friends with people who were vegetarian. The more I talked with them about their diet, the more I started to notice just how difficult that diet can be to maintain in the south. A good majority of our cooking is either flavored with meat or is a meat. And the items that aren’t meat have diary or cheese.
Regardless, I had a friend who was experimenting more with vegetarian life. It got me thinking about what I was eating. I slowly stopped eating red meat because I wasn’t too big on it. And then eventually, I realized that I wasn’t a big fan of other meats. I lost my taste for it. I would buy quality meat from the store but when I would cook it I found I had little taste for it.
With my meat and milk transitions, I finally started to notice the stomach pains and decided it was time for a change. Personally, I do better with strict guidelines when it comes to making these choices. I knew that I needed to cut the dairy out and since I wasn’t a big meat fan, I decided to go full force with it. However, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t just switch over to the processed forms of everything. And that’s what I did. I went to a friend’s wedding on a Saturday and come Sunday, I went “vegan”.
At first, it was a challenge. I won’t say it was difficult but it was an adjustment. I started to read everything I was eating more. Eventually, I found my staples so that saved on time. And for a while, my diet was very basic. I ate way too much popcorn and cereal. But my friends were supportive and bought cookbooks, tried new restaurants and helped me make sure I could eat when we went out. It’s been 3 years and I don’t regret a day of it.
So what happened to me when I went vegan? Well, firstly, a more plant based diet means that you poop more regularly. I have a steady intake of fiber so that’s not a problem for me. I also have more energy. I find that often people eat things because they are there and not because they nourish their bodies. When you take out the stuff your body doesn’t like, you allow it to heal. I also found I am just generally more aware of what I eat. It’s super important to make sure that I’m getting the necessary vitamins in my diet daily. Protein can be a challenge for vegans. I use Arbonne’s Vanilla Protein Powder and it’s by far my favorite.
What are the cons of being vegan? Fast food is really not much of an option. I’ve never been one for fast food really. But now, I really can’t pop through a drive thru and grab something. In smaller towns, this can be difficult. But I’ve learned that I can normally make it work at mexican restaurants.
Another con, people love to question you. One of my friends went vegan for the PETA reasons and this is a discussion we have all the time. If people ask, I can easily say health reasons. But if you are an animal activist, people immediately jump on the defensive because they think you are judging them. We aren’t. Promise. I’ve had people apologize for eating a burger in front of me when they find out my lifestyle. Honestly? It doesn’t bug me. Yeah, your burger smells good but now it wouldn’t taste good. It would probably make me sick. And that is reason enough for me to pass.
But for every con, I find quite a few more pros. I didn’t choose a plant based lifestyle because of animals. Granted, it’s a big part of why I’m glad I do it now. However, it wasn’t the initial motivator. Now, I’m super grateful to know that my lifestyle choice positively impacts the environment in many ways.
More pros, my skin is a lot better. Over the years, I’ve learned to read my face to tell me what’s going on with my body. When I eat crap, it shows. But now I don’t have the awful bumps I used to on my forehead. My skin is typically clear other than the occasionally hormonal breakout.
Lastly, I’ve learned so much! Being vegan has forced me to look outside my bubble. I’ve explored so many more cuisines than ever before. I’m always learning new things about foods and such that I’ve never heard about. It’s fun to test the waters and learn about other cultures. Plus, it’s never boring.
So why go vegan? I’m not particularly preachy on this matter. If you struggle with cholesterol issues, you may benefit from a vegan diet. If you want to help the planet, why not start with meatless mondays and test the waters. Maybe, you just need to clean up your diet. What harm is going vegan for a week going to do to you? I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made because I’ve seen how much my life has been impacted. And I don’t regret a second of it.
Are you thinking about going vegan or vegetarian? Do you have questions about what that lifestyle looks like? Drop a note below and let me know. I’d love to hear what you think.
But for now, I’m off to make some tea with almond milk. It’s the best way to start the day.