May 29th means it’s now been a whole year since I turned Vegan. For me, it was something I had thought about for a while but always considered out of my reach. But, then I did it overnight and realized how easy it was. The biggest push to get me to do it was seeing the cruelty in the industries so I became an ethical Vegan.
Since then I’ve had plenty of ups and downs but it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made concerning my health and lifestyle. So, here’s 10 things I’ve learned in my first year as a Vegan. I hope it’s a helpful tool for you.
You can get everything you need on a Vegan diet
Yep, that’s right guys. Vegans get plenty of protein, fiber, and B12. If anything the majority of vegans, myself included, are so much more aware of the nutrients our bodies need to thrive. Everything from avocados for fat, bananas for potassium or greens for Iron. Everything you need you can get from a Vegan Diet so there really is no need to hurt animals, the environment or your own health.
David Keane over on his website said it well “How many people do you know with a protein deficiency? Go ahead, count them up… I’ll wait. Nobody, right? Now, how many people do you know who are struggling with their weight, diabetes, heart disease or cancer?”.
So next time you think about asking a Vegan where they get their protein from, maybe instead ask yourself how likely you’re to get Heart Disease or Diabetes on the diet you have. Or even Cancer, processed meat is a level 1 Carsonagenic which is on the same level as Smoking. This is in no way me making out that every Vegan is healthy, heck no, we have junk food, this is me pointing out that we’re really not that different to non-vegans, we just tend to be healthier in the majority.
The world is full of terrible secrets
Once you see the cruelty in the world it’s difficult to forget and ignore it. Calves taken from there mothers and killed, leaving the mothers crying for their babies that won’t return. Chicks only a few days old thrown into a grinder while still alive. These methods are marked as ‘Humane’ ways to deal with the animals because people don’t want to admit the truth. That it’s cruel and unnecessary. People only allow it for there own greed. All because the food tastes good. It’s hard to move past that when you first turn Vegan which is why you sink into the aggressive vegan stage. You hate that people can allow such things to happen and most of all you hate the suppliers and the people who cause the pain.
For more information on the cruelty in the industry, I have several posts you may find of interest:
- Speak for the animals
- Reasons why I’m Vegan: In their shoes
- Reasons why I’m Vegan: Dairy is Cruel
- Reasons why I’m Vegan: Everyone deserves to experience life
It’s not just the cruelty either, it’s the damage to our environment and our health. Cows are the biggest problem to our environment, both the cost and damage from making their food to the methane gas they produce.
This is a big part of being Vegan for many people. You can never ignore the cruelty again which is why you stay Vegan and eventually you learn to move past the hateful Vegan stage. Many people are just naive and society protects us from knowing the truth. When some people are educated they do eventually make the change. Besides, there are somethings you can do to help, such as petitions and protests.
People are naive on topics and are uneducated. That is the positive word that most vegans like to spread. We like to educate people on the truth.
Through all of this knowledge, it has allowed me to change my mindset. I went from being an angry Vegan to being a very positive person. I focus on being happy and doing what I can to help the animals because getting angry about the cruelty won’t change it. Whereas if I show positivity and spread those Vegan vibes to people I meet then that is what makes a difference.
People have plenty of opinions
One of the first things you will learn when you turn Vegan is that all of a sudden people will have plenty of opinions on what you eat. When I turned Vegan I got a lot of funny looks from family and friends. I got a lot of disapproving remarks about the food I’m eating and I got a lot of negative criticism from people I didn’t even know. A lot of the time this made me feel like I had to apologize for my choices. Saying sorry to people when we went out for a meal because it was more difficult for me and took a lot more planning. These remarks, plus the cruelty I knew about in the world made me an angry Vegan. I was angry at people for being so naive and making me seem like the bad guy and I was angry at the industries and the government for being ok with the cruelty and damage to our environment.
But, then I realized something. Who cares what people think? I made the choice for myself. No one else. I don’t regret the decision and I am happy. So, I learned to ignore the remarks. It’s not always easy but most of the time people attack because they’re either uneducated and naive on the subjects they make remarks about OR deep down they know what they’re doing is wrong and feel the need to make themselves feel better in there decisions by being nasty to others.
Consider this, if you suddenly realized you were deathly allergic to dairy. Would people treat and judge you the same way? Would they worry about your vitamins and nutrients and tell you the plant milk you’re drinking is disgusting? No, they wouldn’t because generally speaking, people aren’t nasty. People are just naive and don’t seem to realize that Vegan becomes a necessity to the person who has chosen it. Just like a dairy allergy.
Still, as I said. No matter what you say on the topic. You will always have those people that will belittle your decisions. You just learn to get over it quicker each time. It’s surprising how many people will worry about you!
If all else fails and you worry too much about causing issues. Then just tell people that you have a dairy allergy and you’re a vegetarian…. there are ways around it.
You will have cravings
Just because you decide to not eat meat, dairy etc. Doesn’t mean you will stop craving it. You have spent X amount of years eating those foods and your body remembers them, so, sometimes you will crave that steak or those eggs and it’s completely normal.
When I turned Vegan it was for ethical reasons. I still loved the taste of chicken but didn’t like where it came from. This is where meat substitutes work great. Being able to have something that tastes like chicken to curb your cravings whilst also still following your beliefs.
This is something that Vegans are attacked about, but again, it’s because people are naive and uneducated. If they think about it they will realize how much more sense it makes to eat a meat substitute. You get a lot of the same nutrients without any of the cruelty, damage to the environment and less damage to your health – I say less because it’s still processed food but compared to meat it’s so much healthier.
So, cravings. you will have them. Just don’t give into them. Remember why you went Vegan in the first place.
It’s not black and white
This is something I find myself saying to everyone, including Vegans. There is no possible way to be 100% vegan in our world. It’s about being as vegan and cruelty-free as you can possibly be. This means choosing vegan products over others but it also means that it’s ok when you make mistakes and its ok to use up your leftover items or for everyone in your house not to be vegan. So, why when people ask for advice do others ridicule and belittle them? Everyone is on a different journey and at different stages and Veganism is about compassion, not perfection.
Just remember that it’s ok to make mistakes. It’s just a part of being human and all you can do is learn from them and move on. My biggest mistake was in my first few months of being Vegan when I picked up a bag of marshmallows and for some reason assumed they were Vegan. I felt so guilty but that feeling of guilt achieved nothing so I moved on. I’ve had several other occasions where I’ve consumed foods with beeswax or honey. You never stop learning.
Don’t forget you don’t have to give up any of your favorite foods either. That seems to stop some people from going Vegan but like I said before, it’s not all black and white. It’s not like you go Vegan and then stop yourself from being able to have your favorite mac and cheese or spaghetti bolognese. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING can be made Vegan.
Your taste buds change
For me, this was one of the most pleasant changes I noticed. When I turned Vegan I hated Avocado, Mushrooms and hardly ever ate fruit. Over the past year though, I have fallen in love with so many new foods. Experimented (and failed) with recipes and found new loves…..as well as a couple of new hates. I have an obsession with my recipes for Zesty Lemon Cakes, delicious Peanut Caramel Cookie Dough bites and my recent recipe for Baked Banana Blueberry Oatmeal.
We now go through two packs of mushrooms in a week, avocados are growing out my ears and I eat an abundance of fruit. I feel great! There’s still no room in my life for Cherries or Marzipan though I’m afraid. Some things will never change.
Eating out has its challenges
If you are thinking of going Vegan or have recently gone Vegan you have picked a good time because it’s only getting easier. The options we have for takeaways, restaurants and at supermarkets has greatly improved over recent years. Despite this, it can still have its challenges. Especially if you live in rural areas. Lincoln isn’t too bad but isn’t that great either. Eating out is ok if you stick to the chain restaurants but that limits you to a few options and then minimal choice on the menus. This isn’t a huge issue for us as I like to cook at home so I know what’s in my food and it also limits me to healthy foods and keeps costs down.
If you do want to eat out. You will more likely succeed if you do plenty of research. Google, trip advisor, and facebook groups are all great search options. There’s also a growing amount of Takeaway options and plenty of choice at supermarkets if all else fails.
If you’re eating at someone else’s or heading to a BBQ the easiest thing I have found is too just take your own food. Even when people provide for you a lot of the time they will miss some ingredients that aren’t Vegan or they won’t worry about using the same utensils for meat as they do for your food. So, if in doubt, take your own.
Sustainable living is contagious
Going Vegan isn’t just about what you consume. It’s also about how you live and it’s contagious. You’re always learning and once you realize how bad something can be it becomes a necessity to find a more sustainable method. Whether it’s using Soap Nuts instead of washing powder, using a bamboo toothbrush, or using canvas bags instead of plastic ones.
Once you start reading labels and becoming aware of what you’re using and putting on your skin, or even your furniture. You will be surprised how many products you will turn down for better alternatives. I’m always finding ways now to be more sustainable. I have a new found respect for the world we live in and I’m doing my best in life. It’s nice to feel so much more in touch with nature and just more appreciate to be alive.
The biggest and most obvious change I have noticed since going Vegan is definitely my health and it’s one of the reasons some people go Vegan. Evidence suggests it’s the healthiest way to live. Even more so if you are a Raw Vegan. It’s helped improve my skin, I have regular bowel movements which has always been a problem with IBS in the past. My anxiety is better under control and is less of an issue, as is my stress.
This is just a small glimpse of how a Vegan diet can help your health though. A vegan diet has been shown to “lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer according to” The Vegan society” as well as Obesity if you eat a more whole plant based Vegan Diet rather than processed food which brings me to my next point.
Avoid the junk food trap. Just because food is marked as Vegan doesn’t make it healthy. I often hear about people putting on weight since going Vegan. That’s because they’re eating too much processed foods. No matter whether you’re Vegan or not, processed foods aren’t good for you and will make you put weight on. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat them. Just do it in moderation. Don’t make them a part of your daily food intake. Eating processed ready-made foods is the easiest way to transition to vegan. However, it’s also the most unhealthy and unfortunately a trap that most of us fall into. So limit the processed foods.
Furthermore, a Vegan diet is not a weight loss plan. Diets don’t work for starters. Only a small percentage, we’re talking like 5% of people that do diets will keep the weight off after 5 years. Why is that? Because you’re doing a diet. Diets don’t work. It’s about making a choice to be healthy and to be the best version of yourself. All you do by dieting is limit the foods you can eat so then when you can eat them again you go overboard and put the weight back on. You shouldn’t limit yourself. You should enjoy eating healthy.
Just like a sustainable living is contagious, so is healthy eating. Most of the time I don’t want bad food or junk food because it makes me feel like crap. The more you do it the easier it becomes.
It’s easier than you think
Now that Vegan food is becoming more mainstream Vegan food is popping up in the most unlikely of places. In general, going Vegan is so much easier than you think. Before I turned Vegan I always avoided it because I assumed it would be so limiting and I wouldn’t enjoy it. I was so wrong! I have never felt that on a Vegan diet. There are alternatives to everything. Plant milk instead of dairy milk. Tempeh, Tofu or Soy instead of meat. Tofu scramble for eggs and Agave syrup or golden syrup instead of honey. These are just the substitutes I know about.
What about the expense?
That’s another reason people choose to avoid going Vegan but it’s only expensive if you buy the processed foods which you shouldn’t be buying a lot of in the first place. Tinned items, frozen Veg, pasta, rice are all super cheap. The biggest expense will be your fruit and veg but just look out for deals. Head to the shops when they reduce items down for example.
We don’t spend any more money then we did before I went Vegan and a lot of the time we’re saving money where we used to spend it. For example, we now use Soap Nuts instead of usual washing liquid which saves so much money.
Are you a new Vegan or considering going Vegan?
Check out the links in the post above. There is also an article here on ingredients to look out for which you should avoid and a link here for a post about all the helpful sites which is a great starting point on your journey.
There are also plenty of wonderful Youtubers out there such as Naturally Stephanie, Earthling Ed, James Aspey or Cheap Lazy Vegan, as well as books, articles. Pretty much anything you can think of. If you would like more info on people to follow and what to read then just let me know and I’ll compile a list.