Becoming Vegan

You may have already gotten the hint that something was up with my diet from my very special Q&A post last week. Late last month, as I was trying to come up with Lifestyle blog posts for March, it occurred to me that trying a vegan diet was something that had been on my mind for awhile and something that would fit into this Lifestyle category. So I decided to hit up some contacts and ask them what their experiences were like following a vegan diet.

A former co-worker and friend of mine decided to go vegan after watching videos online and realizing what a vegan diet could do not only for her health but also for the planet. Of course we’re speaking about in terms of reducing your carbon footprint and animal cruelty. The process of raising livestock, going from farm to market to table, is extremely extensive and not the cleanest—for lack of better phrasing. I think many people decide to go vegan because of this. It’s definitely one of the bigger reasons I decided to try it.

My friend told me that she “definitely started noticing some of the health benefits [of becoming vegan]” shortly after trying it for the first time. She said, “My allergies weren’t as bad and my energy levels were really high.” But she also said that, in hindsight, she wasn’t actually very good at following the diet and being healthy at the same time. And I think this is important to note because I think this is the other big reason people decide to go vegan—a vegan diet and a healthy diet are not synonymous.

“I pretty much ate fruit, French fries, and oatmeal,” my friend said. “I don’t think I was eating very healthy. I just claimed I was because I was a ‘vegan.'” Another person I had consulted emphasized the importance of planning out meals and really doing your research before diving into something like this—to avoid this fallacy that simply taking meat and dairy out of your diet is “vegan” or “healthy.”

Despite this knowledge, I did not do as much research or preparation for this experiment as I should have. I looked up recipes and went grocery shopping all on the day before I was supposed to start. Not to mention my lack of thought in any other health changes I had to make in my lifestyle—such as fitness or supplements.

The first day of my experiment was simultaneously the easiest and the hardest day. Here’s why: I was so conscious the entire day. There wasn’t a moment where I forgot I was vegan because I was trying so hard to make sure I was reading every single menu and ingredients label I came across. I also couldn’t stop thinking about eating eggs for breakfast or a chicken sandwich for lunch. It had only been one day, but already I felt like I was standing in front of Mount Everest, staring up at the concealed peak. I didn’t think I could make it.

The next few days kind of followed this same pattern. And I’m not going to sit here, writing this, and say that there weren’t days where I completely fell off the wagon. I would slip up and forget to ask for milk substitutes in my coffee—which my lactose intolerance tells me I should be doing anyway—or I would eat snacks that I thought were vegan but had traces of milk or eggs in them. There were also days when I would give into temptation and have butter with my toast or a slice of cheese pizza. Being conscious literally every time I put something in my mouth was the hardest part of this whole diet.

But I did notice that after just a week or a week and half, it got easier. I stopped thinking about chicken or chocolate. I started finding meals I actually wanted to eat and re-discovered my love of snacks that were vegan before I even decided to go vegan. I can’t say much on the health benefits of the diet, since I didn’t exactly get myself tested or compare the results. I would like to say I feel more energized, but to be honest with you, I can’t super tell the difference. I have only been doing this for two weeks, so it’s very possible that in a month’s time I will have noticed a change in my behavior or energy levels. I was also supposed to go on a trip while trying this diet, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to postpone. Traveling is definitely an obstacle that I think would have added some difficulty.

This was not a walk in the park. There were compromises that had to be made and extra care that had to be put into place. But if this is something that you want to try and have been putting it off because you’re worried it’s too difficult or that you can’t do it, please do yourself a favor and just try it. Because even though it’s daunting to start—like most big projects are—it’s much easier than you think it’s going to be. Moving forward, I think there are definitely some things I’m going to keep from this project, like recipes I’ll continue to make. I don’t think I’ll cut meat completely out of my diet, but I don’t think I’m as reliant on it anymore after experiencing a short life without it.

* * *

How well do you think I did on my vegan diet? Should I continue to follow this plan? Let me know all your thoughts about my little experiment—what you think I could’ve done better, what you found interesting, and more—in the comments section down below! Also let me know if you think I should try traveling with this diet—I spent most of this diet making meals as opposed to buying them, and I think that gives you a lot more freedom. I’d be so down to try and see if I can succeed in another state or even in another country living this way.

This is obviously a trying time for our country and our communities right now. It’s difficult to figure out what to believe with so many “facts” and opinions circulating. And maybe our response is an over-reaction and maybe this will blow over in a month’s time—but maybe it’s not and maybe it won’t. So do what you can to stay safe and keep the people around you safe as well. Next week’s post was supposed to be a travel-centric post from a recent-but-now-postponed trip of mine. So instead I’m going to be sharing with you some activities you can indulge in in your own homes, or if you’re a restless soul such as myself, maybe some activities that will be open and available to you in your hometown. As always, thanks for reading, and remember to stay safe.

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