In January of this year, I took the plunge into veganism. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight, and I knew I would make many mistakes. I still make mistakes now, but I’m making the effort, and that’s what counts. I’m still learning. I’m not 100% vegan, but for the most part, I have convinced those around me and, most importantly, myself that I am vegan.
Now, I must warn you that many may not appreciate how lax I am about veganism. I’m not entirely strict about being vegan. If I go out to a restaurant, I won’t send back a plate of pad thai because it has eggs, and I’ll end up just eating it—I would rather not waste the food. But I do know that it is a conscious choice to go vegan, and at every opportunity that I get to make that choice, I will make it without being wasteful. I would like to say my diet is about 95% vegan. I am now greater experienced to recognize foods that are often served with non-vegan products and opt out of those foods.
Why Go Vegan in the First Place?
Since I’ve gone vegan, a common question I get asked a lot is, “Why did you go vegan in the first place?” My initial reaction was to respond, “health!” But now that I have been a vegan for a while, I believe it was a combination of my experience. I support all the many facets of veganism. I believe we vote with our dollars. The more we buy organic and support good companies, the more they succeed and beat out companies supporting bad practices, like Monsanto. We need to buy from farmer’s markets and support local growers so we can increase their reach to the world.
Research has proven the benefits of a vegan diet over and over again, so why not try it?
Obstacles and Accomplishments
My family was the first big obstacle I had to face. Many of my family members denied the idea that I had initially turned pescatarian. When I finally took the leap into veganism, you can bet my decision wasn’t met with open arms. However, after eight months of denying meat and turning away animal products, I have finally convinced them to accept that I won’t be eating animal products anymore. They’ve even started to respect appreciate the decision. When introducing me to her friends, my mom loves to tell people, “Oh, he’s vegan.” It’s a conversation piece for her. It’s a lifestyle for me.
Another challenge was finding enough calories. I often found myself short on calories at the end of the day. My resting metabolic rate is 2,100 and I tend to practice cardio intensive workouts. I found that rice and beans are staples in diets built for vegan bodybuilders because together rice and beans form a complete protein while also having good amounts of fiber.
I also use vegan-friendly protein powders practically every day I workout to maintain a good weight and consistent source of food that I know I can easily make. I use Orgain or Vega protein powder for my protein powders, blending them with a cup and a half of almond milk, three bananas, two tablespoons of chia seeds, two tablespoons of flax seeds and a dollop of all natural peanut butter. This comes out to around 1000 calories, which is excellent after a big workout where I burn somewhere between 700 to 1000 calories.
The last obstacle I found was most apparent was making sure I eat a variety of foods. While it can be easy to fall into a routine of eating the same foods over and over again, it’s essential for everyone to eat a variety of foods to ensure we are getting all the essential nutrients for optimal body and mental function. I can’t always meet all those requirements every day, so I take daily vitamins: b12, a multi-vitamin and collagen. The vitamins you take should be tailored to fit your specific needs, opting for more iron for women and such.
A Loving Relationship with Veganism
I enjoy everything about living vegan. From the food I eat to the conversations with I share others, I just can’t get enough of living the healthy, tree-hugging, plant-loving lifestyle.
Now that I am vegan, there is so much more food I am open to. Since I don’t fill my plate with animal products, I have more room to explore different foods and expand my palate. I have also been more inclined to try different foods and welcome new experiences.
The conversations that come with veganism are incredibly enjoyable. When people are genuinely interested in learning about the many aspects of veganism, I love to discuss topics like lowering carbon emissions, cooking and other issues related to health.
I also love that I am healthy because of veganism. I feel stronger. I feel faster. I don’t feel sick. I continue to lose waist (I say “waist” instead of “weight” because I’m still the same weight I was when began my journey, which ranges between 160 and 170, but my body composition continues to change). I’ve dropped two pants sizes while managing to increase my strength—the increase in strength can be attributed to working out, but that came with the entire lifestyle-change package that came with moving towards veganism.
I enjoy waking up every morning, meditating, then practicing yoga. I love to drink my warm water with lemon and eat my oatmeal. I am passionate about getting exercise by doing activities like going to the gym and practicing basketball. I feel good. I feel healthy. And healthy is happy.
Along with many, many health benefits, I appreciate the mental benefits. Transitioning to veganism creates self-awareness. While many may go vegan for one reason or another, eventually the conversation of ethics comes up, and vegans are exposed to the many facets that show how the meat industry is so ethically wrong. It is during these moments that vegans become greater convinced in their effort in changing their lifestyle.
Veganism just makes me feel good. It feels rewarding to tell people that I am vegan. I feel both physically and mentally good when I don’t eat animal products. I feel good sharing my experiences with others and having conversations about my journey. People consider me “the healthy one,” and I love it. I’ve become the resident vegan among my friends.
Veganism has taught me a lot, but most of all it has taught me to stay committed. Despite my mistakes, there is always the next meal and the next choice to make. When making a decision on whether or not to eat meat, thinking of the initial reasons why I went vegan helps me to stay inspired in my efforts towards living a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet.