This fall marks 4 years I’ve lived a plant based lifestyle. It’s been four years of learning about myself, my body and how to make the best choices that nourish me. But not all of it has been easy. There were days when I ate poorly because I didn’t prepare. There were even days I didn’t eat on plan because I didn’t ask enough questions before ordering and I learned the hard way later. Over all, it’s been a learning process. So today, I wanted to share some of it with you. Whether you’re newly “vegan” or looking to make a change, here are a few of the things I’ve learned and think you should know.
You’re going to offend people
There’s a certain reaction you get when you tell someone you’re vegan. Personally, I stick with saying plant based but if I need to be quick about it vegan is a good way to go. I’ve lost count of the times people have told me they just love meat or they couldn’t live without cheese. And I get it. You don’t need to prove how creamy and lovely cheese can be. I ate it once and I loved it until it didn’t quite love me.
Working in film let me meet more people than most jobs normally would over the years. Some of them were local to Atlanta but many came from all over. Over that time, I met many people who identified as being vegan. But not all of our reasons were the same.
Most of the time, when I tell people I’m plant based, I get the question why? If they know anything about it, they normally ask if it’s for health reasons or person ones. For me, it’s health reasons. And for many of my friends, it’s personal. Whatever made you choose to go vegan, the first bit of wisdom I can give you is that you need to be prepared to defend it.
People can balk at the things they don’t understand. And if you’re choosing not to eat animal products, you’ll find may who will be offended. But here’s the things: they aren’t offended that you don’t eat it. They are afraid you’re judging them because they do.
Learn to accommodate yourself
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to make both them and you to feel comfortable is to bring a dish you can eat to meals. If you’re always prepared to feed yourself, you keep the resentment to a minimum. Yes, you’ll find people who are gracious enough to accommodate your lifestyle. I’m blessed with many friends who do. But learning to be prepared and offering to share bridges the gap. You are no longer the person who can’t eat anything. But you’re the friend who came for dinner and brought a dish.
A diet filled with fake meat isn’t healthier
One of the first decisions I made when I went plant based was that I didn’t want to substitute all of my meats for fake ones. I’ve never been big on having a heavily processed diet. And I didn’t want start now.
Even if you’re doing this to lower your cholesterol or other health reasons, there is a lot of sodium of others additives in the processed fake meats. The best thing you can do for yourself is to watch your intake. Eating tofurky sandwiches for every meal sounds great but isn’t going to give you the balanced diet you need.
You’ll eat more of things you’ve never eaten
I’m sure that sounds simplistic but here me out. I’d never really eaten tofu before becoming vegan. I didn’t know much about it and I avoided it for a while. But I did eat a lot of other foods that were heavy in soy when I changed my diet. Honestly, I’d probably never eaten so much soy in my life. And popcorn, I ate a lot of boom chicka pop in the beginning days.
For many people, including myself, soy tends to effect your hormones. And large quantities of that can be affecting your body in ways you’ve never known. Be sure to keep an eye on what you’re eating. A balanced diet, no matter what that looks like for you, is important in a healthy lifestyle.
You might need to up your supplement game
There are certain things that a vegan diet can lack if you aren’t careful. Getting the amount of vitamin B you need in your diet is one of them. I’ve never been overly vocal about my diet. So when my friend who is a nutritionist found out, I was immediately questioned. Her questions came from a place of love and concern that I got the proper nutrients in my diet I needed.
Our conversation was a reminder I needed to be conscious of my diet and what it potentially lacked. For me, I make sure to have a protein shake daily as well as taking my daily vitamins. Finding a plant based protein that also packs in the vitamins and minerals is important. If you’re looking for recommendations, head over to my resources page to see what I take.
Be patient with yourself
I own a lot of vegan cookbooks and read a lot of blogs. And it’s always interesting to hear the stories of how people went vegan. Some took it in small bits over time and others just went cold turkey diving in. Whatever that looks like for you, be patient with yourself.
If you’re jumping in head first, it’s going to take time to finds your go-to foods again. And you may eat a lot of the same things while you’re doing it. Seriously, I ate an insane amount of edamame in the beginning. But over time, you’ll get there.
It’s not for everyone
I love being plant based. Cleary, no one does this for almost four years if they don’t like it. And if they do, I applaud their self-control. But you might find that being vegan doesn’t work for you. And that’s perfectly okay.
It might be that it doesn’t work for medical reasons. Or maybe it’s just making you miserable. Whatever the reason, you have to decide why you’re doing this. No one else.
To be honest, I could probably go on. And if you want a part 2, let me know. But for now, I’ll leave you with this. I love being plant based. I love how I feel and I’m so much more in tune with my body. But what that looks like for me and what that looks like for you are probably different. And that’s okay. We are individuals for a reason. However, I hope that wherever you are and whatever your journey looks like that you find joy in it. Life’s too short to hate every meal you eat.
Note – all of today’s pictures are of meal I’ve recently made. if you’re looking for more food inspo or what to see what being vegan look like for me, be sure to follow me on instagram.