Since I went Vegan around 6 months ago [update: 4 years ago, with about half that vegan, now vegetarian], 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 [update: currently vegetarian, but still want to mostly eat vegan when able].
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.
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 is unpleasant. Here are some random thoughts and comments on what I’ve learned/experienced:
11 Thoughts on Going Vegan
1. It’s easier and harder than you’d think. The only times when I’ve struggled to be vegan are when I’m traveling or eating out. Hanger takes control of my rational mind. When I’m home, I eat delicious 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. The best approach is to not be too strict. If you are always extremely careful, especially at a restaurant or abroad, you will make yourself and your companions miserable, which makes it a lot harder to remain vegan/vegetarian for the long term. Flexibility and open-mindedness are the odd-eater’s assets.
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.
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 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 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 has worked for me.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. There’s nothing better than discovering an unexpected vegan pastry or meal.
9. Natural flavors and random additives are the worst. I don’t like how they taste, but they abound in specialty items.
10. 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.
11. 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.