Going vegan isn’t for everyone. In fact, there’s plenty of arguments that it’s not sustainable for anyone. Like any way of eating, you need to listen to your body before you listen to me, or any other noise on the internet.
Regardless of if eating vegan is the best decision for you full time or not, we can all agree that adding more fruits and vegetables into our daily diet is a great way to nourish the body from the inside out.
How to Transition to Veganism
The most important thing when you’re considering changing the way you eat in any regard, is to notice what you’re adding in, as opposed to what you’re taking away.
Restriction causes binging. This means that when we don’t allow ourselves to have something that we actually really want, we’re likely to over consume that item at some point.
Many people think of veganism as restrictive, because they focus on all the things they can’t have. I’m here to remind you that there’s a whole lot that you can add to your diet should you go vegan.
I’m also here to remind you that if you feel like you’re restricting yourself in order to achieve veganism, then this probably isn’t the best way for you to eat permanently. And that’s okay! This means that instead of committing to veganism full time, no matter what. Eating intuitively, according to your body’s needs would be better suited for you.
Small changes making a big difference
Take it slowly. For instance, you could start by eating vegan or vegetarian only a few designated days a week. Or, two out of your three daily meals could be vegan and/or vegetarian. Maybe some days will be more difficult than others.
Meet Yourself Where You’re At
No comparison includes comparing yourself to who you were the day, the week- hell, even the HOUR before, as well.
Look up Replacement Options
Personally, I’m not into meat substitutes AT ALL (as in, I don’t even eat Portobello mushrooms because it reminds me too much of meat). But that’s just me, and my preference. You might love these meat substitutes- and that’s great too. You do you. There is SO MUCH INFORMATION out there for cheap and easy veg recipes. I mean, the Internet is a blessing and curse this way, right? We can be bombarded with “inspo” to the point we feel like a failure, or completely inadequate. But, on the other hand, we have a million and one resources literally at our fingertips- so why not utilize them in a constructive way?
Notice How You Feel.
Checking in energetically. This concept might be totally foreign to you, and that’s okay. Maybe even the word meditation is enough to make you want to shutter with discomfort. Again, that’s okay. No need to label it one thing or another. Maybe just try on carving out a few minutes of your day to do that little internal inventory check.
Notice how you feel after certain foods or substances go into your body. Our bodies are so damn intelligent. I PROMISE that yours will let you know when something makes it happy, versus when something irritates it.
Know that by choosing meat and dairy free options alone, you are acting with compassion. Compassion for the Earth. Compassion for the animals who often suffer at our expense. But, let’s not forget about compassion for ourselves. Be gentle with yourself along the way.
Maybe that means not labeling your eating habits as one thing or another. Or maybe that means not berating yourself if you have a slice of pizza with cheese on it. Notice what works for YOU. Notice what helps you function as your highest self. And work on maintaining that in your own way.
And, just so you know, this is a judgment-free zone.
I’m just here to not only offer what’s worked for me, but to also share some of my favorite recipes.
Because, let’s be real, I fucking love food.
And I hope to spread that love as far as it’ll go.
What Are Different Types of Vegans?
For me, eating is the most natural, intuitive thing for my body. When I was young, I felt “forced” to eat a few bites of chicken in order to be “polite.” I would put the smallest piece in my mouth, and when I started chewing I’d be looking around the table thinking:
I feel like I’m eating the leg of the person sitting next to me. There’s flesh in my mouth. FLESH. Oh my god, I’m eating a leg right now. I can’t do this.
Then I’d try to find some sort of nonchalant way to spit it into my napkin without anyone noticing.
One of my favorite things about leaving for college was the freedom to decide what went into my body (let’s just say there were also a lot of non-related food substances going in at that time). Because it was finally in my control, I never ate meat again- not even to be polite. Still, I wouldn’t consider myself “healthy.” As you know, you can eat vegetarian (or vegan) and not get adequate nutrients.
As most of you know, while I still eat vegan (as of now, at least), I am no longer vegan due to my supplement intake of organs and bone marrow. Because I didn’t put any hard “rules” or restrictions around my shift towards veganism 10 years ago- I’ve maintained that openness throughout my vegan journey. I told myself if I felt like I wanted to have dairy, then I would. No shame nor judgment- just taking it day by day.
There are plenty of vegan people who choose to eat and live this way for ethical reasons, usually related to animal cruelty. This typically includes no consumption of animal products of any kind, including items that have leather.
While environmental vegans are certainly still in it for ethical reasons, their passion is skewed much more towards the environment, as opposed to animals. Of course this doesn’t mean they don’t care about animals. The same way it doesn’t mean that ethical vegans don’t care about the environment. It’s just their driving force for veganism, while other factors are more secondary.
Veganish or Plant Based
I would fall in this category now. Super devout vegans would also claim that anyone who continues to use animal products at all (like leather), isn’t a true vegan. There’s also a big debate in the vegan world about bee products like honey. So people who are a bit more flexible, like myself, would likely be considered veganish or plant based, instead.
Look, you can eat bread all day long and be vegan, right? There’s probably no animal products in it! As many people transition to veganism, they often struggle to maintain the adequate nutrients in order to feel good within the lifestyle. Typically, this kind of veganism doesn’t last- simply because it doesn’t feel good to eat mostly processed foods all of the time.
What Happens to Your Body When You Go Vegan?
I get SO many questions about my diet on a daily basis. But guess what? I’m not a nutritionist. I have zero credentials or qualifications when it comes to diet. I know what works for me, what makes me feel best, and what makes me feel like shit.
I’m happy to share my experiences with you, but I’d like to do so with one emphasis in mind:
Your body’s response might be similar to mine, or it might be totally different. Neither one is more “right” nor “wrong” than another. It just is.
The point is to see what’s out there- to hear about other people’s health journeys in an effort to get to know yourself a little better on your own.
I personally didn’t have a change in my weight when I went vegan, but I know many people (like my dad) who do. Typically, people lose weight, although I want to emphasize this isn’t a lifestyle to take up in order to lose weight.
This one might take a little while, but eventually your cravings and palate will change as you introduce more plants, fruits, veggies, and herbs into your diet. Plant based meals are typically abundant with color, and variety- which might take some getting used to at first. But will eventually bring a lot of joy.
Vegan meals are typically high in fiber, which is really helpful in regular digestion. That being said, many foods on a plant based diet can also be irritating to the gut and cause bloating if you’re not used to them yet. If you notice intense bloating, make sure you’re eating your veggies cooked, instead of raw. And stay away from cruciferous vegetables in excess to start in order for your stomach to get used to it.
Fruits and vegetables are the only things that can cause bloating, so do many plant based proteins like beans, lentils, and legumes. Just start slowly if you notice stomach irritation. This is the best way to ease in.
Many people eating vegan food typically report an increase in energy levels at the start of their vegan journey, which is kind of what hooks them in. This can slowly fade into the opposite, with decreased energy and lethargy. If this happens to you, I highly suggest checking your micronutrient levels, and always supplementing vitamin B12. Knowing your vitamin and mineral levels is imperative for feeling good, strong, and energetic.
What Is Typically A Characteristic of Vegetarian Diet?
While many people find the vegan diet to be too restrictive, they lean more into vegetarianism, instead. While vegans eat primarily plants, beans, legumes, and herbs. Vegetarians eat all of these things, plus some animal based products like eggs and dairy.
Don’t worry, most grocery stores nowadays have tons of options for both vegans and vegetarians. I mean, you can always shop the produce and dried food aisles, and be pretty complete. But if you want the fun stuff, like vegan ice cream, or vegetarian pre-made options- you can also check out meal prep delivery services. Or, scour the internet for blog recipes 🙂
While many vegetarians enjoy animal based foods like dairy and eggs, they often still enjoy plant based alternatives like almond or oat milk. The truth is, sometimes the vegan option simply tastes better. And even the most meaty meat eater in the world will agree with that.
This point circles back to the idea of NO COMPARISON.
I’d like to share with you my philosophy on veganism:
I believe veganism was born from compassion.
Whether it’s compassion for yourself and your own health, your compassion for the environment, or compassion for animals (or maybe a little bit of all three)- the underlying theme is the same.
To be honest, I find it to be similar to religion in a way.
You’re a part of a community, you feel great, and you want to preach this lifestyle to the masses. Unfortunately (again, similar to religion), oftentimes the more extreme people get about it- the more they lose sight of the core value itself. Compassion is replaced with judgment, shame, criticism, and even violence.
Because of this- I’d say vegans get a pretty bad wrap.
And I get it, I really do. But, this is also why I’m here- attempting to redirect the focus back to compassion, instead of dogmatic beliefs.
So, let’s practice compassion first with ourselves, shall we?