Two months ago I made the decision to stop consuming animal products. I wrote an article about the initial transition, which can be found here.
Since then I have learned a lot more about how to live sustainably and ethically; I have experimented with all sorts of foods (some more successfully than others!); and I have been involved in interesting and developmental conversations about health and nutrition.
A LIGHTER CONSCIENCE
Almost without realizing, I had become conscious of the ethical and environmental impact of animal products several months (perhaps longer) before I took the step to veganism. When I addressed these feelings and begun educating myself about the treatment of animals and the environmental impact of animal production, I soon realised that I couldn’t eat animal products again.
Making the step to cut them out has been a weight off my mind (as well as my waist!). I am living in a way that suits me. It may be a little different to most people; it may seem like a fad to some; it may even offend some people. But that’s ok because it is working for me. And I have had the realisation that what I put in my body is my decision. Now that I am refusing to listen to big brand advertising and nutrition advice sponsored by the dairy industry, I have more control over my diet and more say in how I make my nutrition work for me.
DEBUNKING VEGAN MYTHS
While I was keen not to let my diet dictate my life, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about food recently. This is mainly because I am super keen and wanted to learn loads of new stuff! But it is also because I was very conscious of ensuring I get all the nutrition I need. As someone who trains 6 days a week, it was important to me that my change in diet did not affect my workouts. By educating myself about nutrition, I debunked my first myth: that ‘vegans have to work harder to get the nutrition that they need’.
Actually, this could not be further from the truth. When you know more about what your body needs, it’s easier to make sure you feed it properly. Pretty simple, really!
As part of my education, I decided that I needed to try as many vegan ‘alternative’ products as possible. Almond milk and soya yoghurt were already staples of my diet so I set out on a mission to discover replacements for all those foods that non-vegans assume must be missing from the vegan diet: puddings, pizza, cakes etc. In the process, I quickly debunked myth number 2: that ‘a vegan diet is restrictive’.
I first learned this when I tried vegan pizza. It was delicious! It was fresh, packed with vegetables and felt less stodgy than normal pizza. Yum. I have also formed a strong addiction to Lazy Day Foods Free From Belgian Chocolate Tiffins – They are delicious! My non-vegan friends agree.
Actually, over the past 2 months, I have several stories about discovering just how unrestrictive veganism is.
The other week, I went for dinner with friends; we let the restaurant know before hand that one of us was vegan and when we arrived, there were specially designed vegan menus for my friend and I: we all enjoyed delicious three course meals thanks to the flexibility and ingenuity of the restaurant.
I have also perfected the art of ordering ‘off menu’ and subbing out certain ingredients to make sure I still enjoy a delicious meal. For instance, I get extra baked beans instead of an egg with my fry up. Easy!
One egg contains 2g saturated fat (not the good type) than half a can of baked beans and the amount of protein in these meals is also pretty equal despite that common myth that vegan food has less protein. Additionally in eating eggs you are consuming a high level of cholesterol, compared to zilch in the bean (or any other plant food for that matter). Long Live the Bean!
Ultimately, the biggest lesson I have learned so far is that being vegan is easy. There are so many products, so many replacements and so much goodness to be found in plants that it needn’t take over your life pursuing health. That, plus vegan food is bloody delicious!