8/3/16

I went vegan for a month and this is what happened

I've always wanted to title a blog entry that way. So intriguing! So enticing. Oooo, what is she going to say? Click bait at it's finest.

I'll spare you the details of why switching to vegan has been something I've been wanting to do for a while and why recently I've challenged myself to go completely plant-based for one whole month -- without cheating! But I will start by saying when the month ended, I travelled to Nova Scotia with my family and decided to reward myself by going back to my old eating habits. And I am kind of shocked by the fact that I really didn't care for it. I didn't like how it made me feel and I honestly didn't like the way it tasted in the way I use to. It was surprising to me. Some other things came as a surprise to me in such a short amount of time, and I wanted to share them in case others are considering doing the same (or are just curious about this topic): [FYI these are just snippets of my thoughts. I don't want to offend anyone -- I just had some thoughts recently and hope you can be open to them!]

First of all, one preconception ok, judgment, I had about veganism which was totally flipped upside-down was the idea that all vegans are crazy. I thought this for most of my life. However, the more I've talked to them and have tried to understand their motives, the more I realized that most actual vegans (I'm talking about the ones who do it for ethical reasons) are actually not crazy at all -- they're just super nice humans who have immense amounts of compassion for animals and sentient creatures. What most people see when they look at an omnivorous meal is a plate of yummy food. What most vegans see is something completely different -- they see unnecessary harm that an animal endured. This doesn't mean they don't care about other causes, or that they don't want to be friends with people who are omnivores, or that they judge omnivores (I also thought that too) -- they just have different diet and lifestyle choices to lessen the amount of suffering in the world. This made me realize that I compartmentalize the food on my plate from the places it came from. In the past, I refused to let people tell me how my meat was once an animal, or watch horrific YouTube videos (such as this one) that showed animals being abused and raped because I wanted to enjoy my milkshakes and my eggs benny with bacon. But this experience made me realize that I should be, at the very least, willing to face the truth about where my food is coming from. And if I can't do that and still enjoy it, then maybe I shouldn't be eating it.

On the topic of compassion/education, another thing that I've noticed about myself is that my compassion has been growing. That is never a bad thing for anyone, but especially for me. I've never been the most compassionate or empathetic person (hence my note above about compartmentalization), and thinking more critically about what industries I want to support has helped me become more educated, and becoming more educated has helped me care more about others needs. This has felt like a very organic process and I am thankful I am beginning to care more about others and [hopefully] a little less about myself.

butternut squash tofu scramble, baked beans and
daiya cheese, guac, cabbage and slaw,
roasted taters, and my personal favourite, soft fluffy
corn bread with vegan "honey butter."
side note: i could not finish this meal.
Secondly, another astonishing revolution has been that, YES! It's TRUE that you can have a completely satisfying and enjoyable foodie life without eating dairy, eggs, and meat! And you can feel very full. As I've been digging into more vegan food blogs and cookbooks, I've found that there is a tremendous amount of variety and that almost anything you enjoy on a non-vegan diet can be made vegan without that much extra work. One thing that's really helped me in this transition is simply changing the way I think about food. Before starting this journey, although I had the desire to switch over, I truly had no idea what I would eat. But committing to just once month made me realize that if you just think about food a tiny bit differently, it's possible to really enjoy things you eat just as much, if not more, on a vegan diet. Also if you live in Vancouver, it is a utopia of vegan alternatives everywhere you turn. Way more than I ever thought until I actually took the time to seek them out. Take this delicious breakfast I had at Bandidas Taqueria for example!
(For more info or inspiration, visit my vegan Pinterest board)!

Finally, a big change I've noticed since making the switch is how much better I feel physically and mentally. Admittedly, this was my biggest reason for doing this whole thing (I know I said I wouldn't talk about it, but it's worth mentioning the movie Forks Over Knives which inarguably proves how a plant based diet could literally save your life). I was just so low in energy and felt sluggish all the time. Even with my "cheat week" (I'll just call it that) on vacation, I still feel way better in such a short period of time since going vegan. People often argue that you can't possibly obtain enough protein on a vegan diet but after many podcast synopsis (thanks to Lucas), online resources, and through testimonials (even of supplement-free vegan body builders and athletes), I feel fairly confident that plant protein can give you all you need in your diet. Not to mention, you end up accidentally eating way more vegetables, less fat, and, even with all the vegan "junk" at your disposal, a heck of a lot less junk.

So just to be clear and to reiterate, I'm not trying to tell you to go vegan. And I'm really and truly not trying to "shove" any ideas "down your throat." I'm not trying to prove anything at all. I just wanted to share some of my insights as I discover them (as I do on here), and some of the new ways I've been thinking about food.

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