Everyones first question to ask is “why?”. In my head, I finish their thought because I know its coming- “who, what, when, where, how I went vegan?”. So here it is, the reason and how I went vegan…
When: July 2017, almost 1 year ago. I was a vegetarian for a year and a half in my early 20’s. If I remember correctly, I stopped because I started to crave junk food really bad. Like mozzarella sticks, everyday! This probably had something to do with the amount of nights I was going out and drinking though. Fast forward to my 30’s and my late nights have slowed down a bit and so have those cravings.
Why: I have always had a sensitive stomach. Anyone that knows me really well knows I get nausea more often than normal. This has been going on since I was a kid so nothing I wasn’t used to. So around Christmas 2016, Shannon and I decided to do the Whole 30 starting in January 2017. Since we both struggled with stomach pains and just overall bloated feeling we jumped on the bandwagon. After completing my 30 days I felt ok, not great but I lost some weight so it was a win in my mind. WRONG!
Fast forward to April 2017, my stomach pains and nausea continued. I tried the Whole 30 again but this time only lasting 3 weeks before giving up, I felt worse. I knew something was going on but didn’t want to “deal” with it. This sounds so bad but I’m sure everyone has been there at some point or another.
Finally!!! July 2017, I heard of a movie called “What the Health“. I sat down and watched it over and over, literally 3-4 times within a couple days. A lightbulb went off (the one I was ignoring), I knew the greasy meats, cheeses, milk, eggs were the reason I was getting nausea and had stomach pains. I was having flashbacks of eating chicken sandwiches as a kid and getting the worst stomach pains. Ugh, 30 years old and didn’t realize this before?! I wanted to scream what I just watched from the mountain tops and within my family, I did! Mass production of animal meat in this country is disgusting and it is killing our health! Long story short, my dad, mom and sister all jumped on board and became vegans too after watching this movie and doing lots of research.
How: Research, research! I researched a lot about what to eat, how to get my nutrients daily, what vitamins to take (B12 is a must, consult your doctor), lots of different recipes. Being prepared helped me not only get through those first few hard weeks but also to stay a vegan.
Read the labels! When I first started, I couldn’t believe how many foods have milk or egg (and lots of others unnecessary ingredients) added to their products. Breads, seasonings, granola, guacamole, “veggie” meat substitutes, rices, pastas etc. etc. This was my biggest surprise. When reading the labels you are more limited on what you can eat. Therefore you are cutting out those expensive junk foods, meats, and dairy products that you were used to buying. My grocery bill has cut down significantly (almost half).
Having people around me be supportive has helped a lot! Following up from a previous post (Easy Vegan Fajitas), my fiancé is a Chef who travels a lot for work. He is extremely supportive of cooking and eating vegan when he is home. For family functions, my family is very accommodating. Even my Grandma, who is the best cook, now cooks vegan dishes for family dinners! It definitely helps that my mom, dad and sister are all vegan too. My friends have been a great support and always make sure I can eat at whichever restaurant we go to.
Where: You would think eating out would be hard, it’s not that bad! I live in a small town in Michigan and the restaurants in our area are slowly putting “plant based” or “vegan-friendly” dishes on their menus. Even the local Root Beer Stand recently added a vegan burger & fries, who knew?! I rotate between 7 restaurant within a 20 minute radius.
What: I’m thankful! The #1 reason I’m convinced anyone dealing with any health issues should turn to plant-based or vegan eating is because of my dad! My dad was pre diabetic, overweight, has been on two blood pressure medicines my whole life and also had stomach pains after eating. My mom was determined that the way she cooked and the way he ate was going to cure him. Six months of being vegan, he lost 25 pounds, is no longer pre diabetic and was taken off one of his blood pressure medicines along with other blood test improvements. My mom and dad and sister will be vegan 1 year in August. I’ll update you on his current stats after the 1 year mark ; )
Now, all of that being said- I do have some exceptions to my vegan lifestyle. Part of my problem with meat in the United States is the mass production of the meat so chicken, beef and pork I will not make an exception for. But if I’m traveling to somewhere that has fresh, just caught, seafood, like Cape Cod, I will eat it. If I am traveling to a different country or a different area with really great food, I will eat vegetarian. I don’t want to take away from experiences in my life because I refuse to eat that cultures food. If I’m craving something specific, for more than a few days, I don’t deprive myself. It is all about balance. 95% of the last year has been vegan with some exceptions. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself!
Over the past 11 months my health has improved a ton. I’ve lost weight which is always a plus. My nausea went from multiple times a week to maybe a few times over the 11 months. This lifestyle change has been much easier than I originally thought. Watching a few documentaries and reading a lot about it has changed my outlook on food and why and how I went vegan.
HAVE YOU TRIED A PLANT-BASED/VEGAN LIFESTYLE? IF SO, I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT IT!