Through out the years, the vegan diet went from a relatively unknown hippy ideal to a trend and lifestyle followed by millions around the world. It has been for a while the fastest growing health trend which explains why tempeh, tofu and almond milk have made their way into your grocery store.
Here are a few truths about veganism and lessons I’ve learnt in my time as a vegan.
THE POWER OF CHALLENGE
If you set your mind to it – you can do it
Truth is, we often limit ourselves. Change, progress, emancipation is all a mental game.
It’s tough, but not as hard as you imagine it is. It’s a mental game, like any big change. Whether you stick with it or not is completely up to you. Whether you hate every minute of it is up to you. The facts are that you will go through a “cleanse” and start to crave everything imaginable as you say bye-bye to comfort food you never thought you’d break up with. It will be hard the first week; but then like any new habit, you will get used to it and kick ass. If you do vegan right, you’ll even feel a helluva lot better than you did going into it. Say hello to newfound energy and a happy belly.
There are many reasons to go vegan and there are many reasons not to do it.
Be realistic about your situation – how busy are you? Do you have a support system? Do you actually care?
Never say never – you might want to eat animal products again someday. You may never be the poster-person for veganism, and that’s okay!
Be realistic and down to earth about what veganism is about: mindfulness and balance when it comes to the choices we make daily! Veganism is in part a diet/lifestyle. It is also a willingness to go through life with an open heart and an open mind. It’s about learning why it’s not sustainable to eat bacon every day. And why eating local and organic are important considerations.
How you go vegan and if you go vegan will impact your health – so be honest with yourself and seek the help of a nutritionist if need extra support. Whether it’s a positive change or a negative one is up to you.
EVERYONE’S GUT HEALTH, DIET AND LIFE ARE THEIR OWN
While it is true that there are many, many benefits going from a “North American” to vegan diet, everyone is made differently. Yes, your gut will thank you for laying off the animal products for a while, but that’s not just because the products are inherently bad and we shouldn’t be eating them and blablabla.
Your gut will thank you because a vegan transition usually means incorporating more whole foods to your everyday, and most of the time in a North American diet, those elements inherently are lacking out of bad habit.
At the end of the day, research as well as trial and error are the ultimate tools for you to find what works best for you.
WITH RESISTANCE COMES GROWTH
One thing about adopting a vegan diet is that it’s as much of a lifestyle change as it is a form of resistance, whether it’s internal or external resistance.
Some people will feel threatened by your diet. Others will be blatantly annoyed. Some will diss you and your food choices, making it personal and cruel (even though they’re most likely ignorant on the subject).
Your environment will become a source of resistance, your cravings will be another, your friends and family, and YOU are the greatest source of resistance. You might feel like you’re missing out, or that you’re a sore thumb, or that it’ll be super awkward to go to family dinners now. But at the end of the day, all of these things are just resistance and what you do with that resistance is up to you.
Only you can change your life, no matter what. Most people will prefer that you stay the same, where you were yesterday, for their own comfort. Just keep going, you gat dis.
WITH CHALLENGE COMES CREATIVITY
Okay, true story. About 8 years ago when I first learnt about veganism, I was one of those people with the “BUT WHAT IS THERE LEFT TO EAT?!” mindsets. Then I picked up a book, and then another. I followed new blogs dedicated to vegan how-to’s and recipes. Then I learnt that “veganizing” meals is fun and simple once you get a few substitutions down.
Challenge is not something to be feared, but fear we do. So in general, recognize your fear as a fear and then bust a move. You can do it, and if you need help, ASK!
PLANNING & PREPARING GOES A LONG WAY
A poorly planned vegan diet is poor in nutrients and, to put it plainly, bad for you.
Just because you decide not to eat animals doesn’t mean you are going to get healthier. Fast food vegan is a thing. Sure it’s easy to boil pasta and make marinara, but this won’t go a long way in ensuring you have a balanced diet, vegan or not.
While vegans are generally healthier that the typical western omnivore, a lot of them still choose to eat vegan fast food or heavily processed vegan items. Yes, fries fried in canola oil are vegan. No, you shouldn’t eat them every day. Duh.
Whole foods are what the largest portion of a balanced vegan diet looks like. Which means that you need to eat minimally processed foods, minimize your sugar intake and you might want to look into taking some vitamin B12 supplements.
(There’s a great trick though for hitting two vegan challenges: B12 and missing the cheese. Nutritional yeast is cheesy in flavour and packed with B12.)
For recipes head over to Broke Foodies
Additional vegan resources to get you going
Skinny Bitch, by Kim Barnouin & Rory Freedman – a book that calls bullshit on everything that’s not super healthy for you. Spoken in a real-talk manner from two women to others.
Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer – a philosophical stance on whether we should be eating animals
Project Animal Farm, by Sonia Faruqi – a journalistic journey into several animal farms across the world; explaining what modern farming practices look like and what options there may be to improve along the way.
Oh She Glows Cookbook, by Angela Liddon – excellent vegan recipes by renowned blogger of Oh She Glows
30-day Vegan Challenge, by Colleen Patrick Goudreau – a quick and non-invasive guide to starting out slowly but surely into the world of veganism. (Note: there is a new version, however I linked the one that I bought all those years ago 🙂 )
Thank you for reading!