This month marked a big anniversary for me, one year living a vegan lifestyle.
Why did I go vegan? Well… I was annoyed with my dad. True story. He changed his eating habits about 5 months earlier for health reasons and wouldn’t stop talking about it. I mean, wouldn’t stop talking about it. So I decided to do a 30 day challenge to see just how difficult it would be. After 30 days, I was hooked.
I’ve done some reflecting and here are five things I learned after a year of vegan-ism.
Matthew always makes the joke “If a vegan cross-fitter walks into a bar, which will they tell you about first.” Yes, its true, talking about being vegan tends to come up in conversation often. It’s so easy for it to happen organically: “let’s grab ice cream” or “want to split this appetizer?” … “I can’t, sorry, I’m vegan.” In the beginning I tried not to bring it up too much. When you bring up the fact that you’re vegan, you can’t just leave it at that. You often have to explain yourself. Moral reasons? Health reasons? Personally, I went vegan out of annoyance but then realized that not having dairy made life so much better for me. No more of that throat-closing-up-non-stop-coughing-trouble-breathing nonsense. Woo! Such a win! After doing it for a while I started to gain more of a moral reason as well. Sustainability wise it makes such a positive impact. Once you tell someone you’re vegan, it very rarely ends there. Better have your story prepped and ready to go.
Also, I use the term vegan as it’s more accessible. People seem to understand it better than if I were to say I’m plant-based, whole foods focused… with a dash of junk food here and there.
You can be a healthy vegan, a junk food vegan, a mixture of the two or whatever you choose. (imo identities are best when fluid yo) Making the switch to a vegan lifestyle meant a much healthier lifestyle for me. No more “it’s been a long day and I really don’t feel like cooking” fast food stops. I focused more on having whole foods and cooking my own foods. Of course I enjoyed some vices (french fries, chips) but not as much as before as my cravings changed. As I said, I start this journey out of annoyance didn’t go into this to loose weight, and I don’t really notice it that much, but I will say, it was a little added perk for me. Over the first little while I lost around 20-25 pounds as I ate healthier with light exercise. Not to shabby.
Cravings and Changing Taste-buds
I didn’t know it was possible but your taste-buds can change! With that my cravings quickly changed to match. Seriously. One of the questions I get asked a lot is “what do you miss?” or “what do you crave?” well… not much. I will say being around people eating wings or ribs makes my taste-buds light up but really, just for the sauce. There are ways around that though like this “pulled pork” recipe. On a regular day, I crave fresh veggies, hummus or something crispy and refreshing. Yumm! Food is fun.
Struggles at Restaurants
While Toronto has it’s fare share of vegan/veg/mixed diet restaurants, one of the biggest struggles has been restaurants. Going out for meals and finding an option, even if it was only fries or the house salad didn’t bother me at first… but over the past couple months it’s caused me some more frustration. I think the tipping point was a trip to a steakhouse. I thought I’d be ok with it but when I was there it all hit me and I realized I’d rather just not go out. It can be a bit of a struggle coming to terms with the socializing aspect of going out for meals and not wanting to come across as this difficult person but feeling slightly uncomfortable socially is better than feeling uncomfortable physically. Lessons I’ve learned from other vegans? Pre-eat, bring your own food or stand your ground and only go to locations with vegan options. The easiest option for me when going out with other people? Pre-eat.
The year before I went vegan I was starting to really enjoy cooking but when I changed my diet I started loving it even more. I thought it was going to be a challenge, but there are a lot of great recipes out there. It feels great to try a new dish and love how it turns out! Meal planning isn’t easy no matter how you’re eating. There are days when you don’t feel like cooking anything and others when you want to cook every recipe in the book. I tend to cook up a dish that I can eat over a couple of days. My fave places to get recipes? Oh She Glows, Minimalist Baker, Thrive Energy Cookbook and Pinterest are my go-tos.
It’s been a great year. I think I’m on this train for life.