Since I went Vegan around 6 months ago, I’ve had to explain over and over again to friends and strangers why I made the change.
It’s surprising to me how many people are baffled or irritated by the concept itself. They’re curious and a bit disdainful. It’s easy to imagine them thinking “that’s not going to last long.” Maybe they’re right.
Things change. But right now I don’t want to eat animal products and I don’t need to for my health or happiness. I’ve never loved meat and even cheese was an easy replacement. The worst was realizing that all of the gluten free baked products I like are ‘allergen free’ except for … eggs. Great.
Such is life. I made the choice to switch to vegan for ethical reasons and I’ll deal with the challenges that poses. I’m not an intense animal lover, but the idea of eating them disgusts me. Here are some random thoughts and comments on what I’ve learned/experienced:
12 Thoughts on Going Vegan
1. It’s easier than you’d think. The only times when I’ve struggled to be vegan are when I’m traveling, don’t want to eat complete garbage, and have run out of options or didn’t plan ahead. Hanger takes control of my rational mind. When I’m home, I eat delicious mint chocolate and coconut NuGo bars, various preparations of tofu, potatoes, vegetables, vegan snacks, fruit (frozen blueberries are the best), vegan chocolate, vegan cookies, vegan lemon coconut oil pies, and random vegan-gluten free recipes I’ve tried.
2. Most people don’t understand what foods are vegan and/or don’t want to. I don’t eat green, colorful vegetables all day, at least not in raw form. Tofu makes up a large proportion of my diet. I used to eat beans until I realized they were destroying my digestive system.
3. What counts as a side of vegetables at normal restaurants varies widely. I’ve had an entire platter of flavorless broccoli, mushrooms, and asparagus presented to me and I’ve also eaten a delicious medley of well-seasoned veggies that made me want to lick the plate it was so good. I’ve come to the conclusion that quite a lot of people (including myself) don’t understand how to prepare tasty vegetables.
4. Vegan replacements can be delicious and filling. I’ve eaten pizza, almost sickeningly cheesy mac n’ cheese, quiches, pasta, french fries, cake, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, gelato, etc.
5. It’s significantly more difficult to be gluten free and vegan. There’s wonderful gluten free food that’s cheesy, meaty, eggy goodness (or completely vegan with that frustrating dash of honey) and there’s mouth-watering vegan food that’s filled with wheat, wheat, and more wheat. A lot of replacement meat sources like fake deli slices aren’t gluten free. Too bad for this vegan celiac.
6. It’s possible to get a reasonable amount of protein if you’re smart. Heck, I probably eat more protein than a lot of people who love meat but love carbs and fat more. Right now I weigh around 114-116 pounds and eat between 90 and 110 grams of protein per day. This may not be ideal for a six foot, two hundred plus pound bodybuilder, but so far it’s worked for me.
7. The jury is still out on honey. And I’ve had some confusing discussions about oysters. Some vegans would consider me plant-based (not entirely vegan), and though I definitely won’t be eating an oyster anytime soon, it’s still worth putting serious thought into what ethically defines veganism.
8. Amy’s frozen meals (the vegan/gf ones) and Daiya products are life savers. Once in a while I do get tired of preparing my main meals from scratch.
9. There’s nothing better than discovering an unexpected vegan/gluten free pastry or meal.
10. Natural flavors and random additives are the worst.
11. Always check the expiration dates of tofu packages and feel them to make sure the liquid is liquid-y and not gelatinous. You’ll be haunted forever if you cut open a seemingly innocent thing of tofu and find a gooey mess or, even worse, smell something akin to rotting diapers. When tofu expires it goes out with a bang.
12. Veganism and health do not go hand in hand. I lost about ten pounds during the time that I went vegan, but it’s because I started counting macros/calories in the myfitnesspal app and weightlifting. If I wanted to gain weight on a plant-based diet, I could do it easily and stuff myself silly with junk food.
If you’re considering going vegan, try it out for a little while. I didn’t cut every food group from my diet cold turkey (does that count as a pun?). First, I mostly stopped eating meat. Over time I removed dairy and eggs too. It happened gradually.
I think it’s important to do what’s right for you.