I won’t go into ethics in this post. I’ll only discuss the vegan diet and I promise I’ll try not to preach to you. Please don’t take my words for gospel as I’m not a nutritionist. However, I am just a regular person just like you who changed her diet.
Before I became a vegan, protein was a concern for me just like it is with just about every non-vegan in society. Usually as soon as you announce that you’re going to be a vegan, the first question you’ll get is: “where will you get your protein?” That’s probably because society, or I should say the food industry, has led us to believe that you can only get protein from animal products: eggs, beef, pork, and/or chicken. Another question that you’ll probably encounter is: “are you going to eat salads all the time?” I’ll go more in-depth about salads later on. But suffice it to say, you won’t be living on salads alone. There are SO many different and yummy and nutritious vegan recipes out there. Believe me. I made a believer out of my Husband who loves his bacon and anything meat.
So, lets start off with your decision to become vegan. I’ll admit that one of the main things that convinced me to go vegan was because I was trying to shed the last of my baby weight. Then I watched some documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, and Food Inc. I’ll tell you, the first and last one were eye openers but it was really Earthlings that got me. I believe I cried during some of it.
I decided to go vegan in May 2014 just before my son’s christening, and I think it threw my mother-in-law for a loop. We were traveling to Scotland for the christening and my mother-in-law was going to do all of the cooking and for A LOT of people too. So, in order to try to make things easier, I said instead of cooking three different types of meals, I told her to just cook what she would serve my sister-in-law. My sister-in-law is a long-time vegetarian. I did, however, slip A LOT while we were there. The Hubs and I like to say Scotland and the South are very similar in cooking. Both the Scots and Southerners love everything deep-fried and meat. It was kind of like a one last hoorah with the meat.
When we got back, I started with the 22 Days Nutrition diet. I read somewhere that Beyonce and Jay-Z did it, so I thought why not? The Hubs was out of town so I didn’t have to worry about pleasing him. I only did the dinners and I lost 8lbs in one week. I was amazed at how much and how quickly I lost the weight. Of course I was running with a stroller every other day as well. The dinners were pretty good and I saw the different things and different combinations I could have. So, I looked for vegan recipes online and Pintrest.
I shed the weight easily and I felt SO good. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt that good. Plus, my indoor plumbing was working like it’s never worked before! One of the things that really surprised me was that I was eating a vegan diet and I was maintaining my run. I did struggle with balancing the exercise and vegan diet at first because I was learning where my protein was coming from. Now I’m running 7 miles every other day, I’m full after each meal, and that’s all on a vegan diet.
The Hubs is an avid bicycler (is that the correct term), and he made the comment the other day that he’s shed a lot of weight and that he’s cycling a longer distance than before. All I could say was “see it is possible to be a vegan athlete.”
It’s actually kind of easy once you realize all of the great offerings there are out there. There’s a vegan substitute for just about everything. Just don’t go crazy stocking your pantry with all of the different substitutes all at once, or you’ll blow your grocery budget. Be wise with the vegan meats if you choose to eat them. Just because you eat a vegan diet doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily lose weight. It is possible to be a vegan and still have a spare tire.
Look at the nutrition label of vegan meats. They’re not all that healthy, so maybe having them once in a while is ok but not every day. I used to have a sandwich with vegan deli meat every day and I was wondering why it was so hard to shed some weight even though I was eating vegan.
When you do go vegan, make sure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs. As a vegan there are some nutrients you can’t get from a plant-based diet like vitamin B12. I take a daily supplement for vegans because I want to make sure I’m getting everything I need. Here’s an excerpt about B12 from Vegan For Her: The Woman’s Guide To Being Healthy And Fit On A Plant-Based Diet:
Low intakes of this nutrient may raise risk for depression, memory loss, and heart disease. An acute deficiency causes anemia and can do permanent damage to nerves. Plant foods don’t contain vitamin B12 so vegans need to get it from either supplements or fortified foods. While you may see claims on the internet that fermented foods and sea vegetables provide vitamin B12, what they actually contain is a compound that looks like B12 but doesn’t have any vitamin activity. A daily supplement of 25 micrograms of vitamin B12 is the fastest and easiest way to cover your needs.
When I first went vegan, I thought I would miss meats. We consumed A LOT of chicken an burgers were always a weekend thing. I was definitely going to miss my mayo. I LOVE my mayo, but thankfully there’s a vegan substitute for this! Looking back, I didn’t miss the meat too much. Every now and then when I smell bacon I’ll get whinny and nostalgic. Sometimes I get a craving for a Big Mac and I have no idea why. Or I’ll get a craving for a bucket of KFC chicken and that one really baffles me because I got sick the last time I had KFC.
If you’re wanting to go vegan but you’re a bit intimidated, how about trying vegetarian first? You won’t be eating any meat but you’ll still get to have milk and eggs. Once you’ve stabilized there maybe try slowly going vegan. You’re already half way there, so why not go all the way?
These are just a few quick suggestions off the top of my head. You don’t have to take my word/suggestions at all. If you find some other suggestions that are better for you, then follow your instinct.
If you want to be a vegan, I’d suggest doing a slow transition. It’s a HUGE change and going vegan straight away is going to be a shock to you. You need time to adjust. Here are a few suggestions:
- Maybe try going vegetarian first, as a slow transition, and then go vegan.
- Do a few days of vegan dishes and then slowly work your way up to every day.
- Switch out your cow’s milk for a nut milk. Personally I don’t like the flavored ones (not to mention all the extra sugar), if you do then by all means go ahead.
- Try a vegan butter like Earth Balance. Take it from me, a Southern girl who LOVES salt, mayonnaise, and butter. Earth Balance’s butter is the closest thing to dairy butter.
- If you like baking, use an egg replacer like flax seeds (which adds more nutrition). You can substitute one egg for 1 Tbsp of ground flaxseed and 3 Tbsp of water. Let the mix sit and you’ll see it start to gel.
- There are great vegan meat substitutes out there. There’s a GREAT sausage by Field Roast that is excellent. If you have Celiac’s or any kind of wheat allergy you probably can’t have any meat substitutes as one of the ingredients is wheat and/or gluten.
Tomorrow I’ll into how to be satiated after every meal. You’ll have salads but you won’t get hungry 15 or 30 minutes after you’ve had one, and it won’t be loaded down with bacon bits and unhealthy ranch or blue cheese dressing. You can have really belt busting, satisfying vegan meals and you won’t go hungry.
Whenever I have meat, as a compromise for the Hubs and little one, I noticed how sluggish I’ll get and my plumbing gets clogged. You’ll feel better on a plant-based/vegan diet, you won’t have to worry about draining fat off of anything in a little bitty jar and you won’t have to worry about putting it somewhere discreet and won’t have to worry about forgetting to throw it out. Plus, have you noticed lately that there’s all kinds of meat recalls because of listeria and the bird flu? If you don’t know what listeria is, it’s a bacteria that comes from feces. I won’t go into details about a slaughter house but just the though of having poop on my food doesn’t sit well with me.
Like I said, I’ll go more in-depth about food tomorrow. I’m going grab the little one since he’s not going to nap this afternoon. So, we’re going to go out and enjoy the beautiful weather.
I hope you all enjoy your Friday!