Now that I've been eating vegan for over 6 weeks, I figured it was about time I talk about my experience thus far. Most people don't go vegan overnight. Rather they slowly transition to make it easier on their body. I, on the other hand, just had enough and I suddenly threw myself into the world of vegan! I assumed my body wouldn't experience any change since my diet was so heavily reliant on fruits and vegetables anyway. Well, I can honestly tell you there was a little discomfort at first and I had headaches by the second or third week, but I feel great now!
So why did I go vegan overnight? Well, I had been watching more and more documentaries, videos, and reading anything I could get my hands on. The more knowledge, the better! I should also admit I ate far too many cookies in the office on Valentine's Day! I felt sick and guilty for consuming something so useless and artificial. The cookies did nothing for me except make me crave sugar for the rest of the day! All I kept thinking was something Mike Adams said in the documentary Hungry for Change. Mike challenged viewers to ask themselves these questions:
1. Where does my food come from?
2. What went into the food in terms of attitude, care, love and compassion?
3. What is my intention of doing with the food?
4. Is the food to support me for a good purpose to do something productive or is it just entertainment?
While on my lunch break today, I started thinking about the questions my friends have asked me recently. Here are some of the questions and my answers:
Q: Why vegan?
A: Well, I challenge you to go educate yourself! Start with the documentaries and then start plugging in questions or topics online! A whole foods, plant-based vegan diet focuses on healthy, natural, clean, and real food! I eat organic fruits and vegetables because they taste and smell as they should and are free of pesticides. I don't eat animal products because I don't want what I consider contaminated (hormones, drugs, disease, fillers, additives, etc) meat, dairy, and eggs in my body. I want to live a long, healthy life. I also care deeply about the treatment of the animals. I've watched many videos on farms, slaughterhouses, animal practices, and SO much more!
Q: I want to eat healthier, but I don't have the time! How do you do it?
A: This is your health we're talking about. If this is something you want, then yes, you have the time! You may stumble around at first while you get the hang of things, but it gets so much easier after the first couple weeks! If I have time in between working full-time, going to school, pet-sitting, blogging, and more, then you have time! :) Here are some handy tips:
- Make tomorrow's lunch while you're making dinner (I do this every night of the week!)
- Make extra to last 2 to 3 days for lunches and dinners or freeze individual portions
- Create routines - I always eat swiss muesli or overnight oats for breakfast during the week and then cook breakfast on the weekends
- Cut and prep your veggies ahead of time
- Sign up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. Farm Fresh To You delivers to your doorstep. I always know what I'm getting and it saves me a trip to the store!
- Search for vegan recipes online and bookmark all your favorites
- Make sure you have the right kitchen tools to make cooking, chopping, and mixing easier
- Keep things handy! I have dried beans, nuts, and seeds in jars on my counter. I have more jars in my cupboards with flour, chocolate chips, oats, grains, etc. Make your life easier!
Q: But it's too expensive! Right?
A: Actually, not really! Many people would argue that buying meat is far more expensive (and far worse for the environment if I might add!). To keep costs low, I buy only what I need for each week. My CSA box keeps the costs low on organic vegetables and fruit at $25.00 per week. I also have all my seeds, nuts, beans, flour, pasta, quinoa, rice, frozen peas, frozen edamame, spices, etc already on hand. Buying from the bulk section of my local natural foods store keeps costs down. Now when I stop by the grocery store, I'm usually buying almond milk, yogurt, tofu, and just a few other items like bananas, berries, and swiss muesli. Honestly, the price is right!
Q: How do you live without X, Y, and Z?
A: Trust me, you won't even realize things like cheese and eggs are not part of your diet anymore! Your preferences and taste buds will change and you will start craving other foods. You will appreciate more and more all the different flavors and textures of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.
Q: Aren't you hungry? What can you eat?
A: The question should be what can't I eat? I have an endless list of recipes I still want to make! I'm always playing around with ingredients and making new things. If I can't think of what to make, I start looking up recipes.
Q: What do you order when you go out?
A: That's easy! Check HappyCow.net for a list of local vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants. Call or email restaurants ahead of time to ask about their vegan options. Check out the menu online. If you're already at the restaurant, just ask questions. If you're worried you'll annoy the server with all your questions, just say you have food allergies. People are more willing and happy to help if you say you have allergies than if you say you're on some kind of diet. If all else fails, bring snacks (I had so many snacks with me in the beginning!), order sides, steamed veggies without butter, or a basic dinner salad.
Q: You're doing this for life?
A: Yep! I have every intention of eating vegan for the rest of my life.