How To: Vegan
Foreword: When writing about these different diets and lifestyles, I want to give you the best information possible. I find that the best information comes from first hand experience and research. Although I am familiar with the vegan lifestyle, I am not a vegan. Therefore, I got my favorite vegan to write this blog for you all! I think it depicts the reasons why many people choose this "diet". Not only does it make them feel good physically, but it is a cause that they believe strongly in and something they would be happy to talk to you about. I urge you to read this with an open mind and remember that our differences are what make us wonderful! I love Cami and her dietary preferences, and I love to cook her vegan desserts and I am so glad you my readers get the opportunity to get inside her head a little! Happy reading and enjoy a meatless Monday every now and then!
I've been vegan for a little over a year now and absolutely love it. If you don't know, in simplest terms, being vegan means you don't eat or use animal products. Vegetarian means that you don't eat any meat (beef, chicken, pork, fish, etc.) - a vegan abides by this while also excluding eggs, milk, butter, any other dairy or product that comes from an animal from their diet. Vegans also try to steer clear from using beauty products, cleaning products, clothes, etc. that use animal products or test their products on animals.
I used to think that vegans were extremists and animal freaks, while really I didn't even know what it was or why someone would ever choose that lifestyle. I didn't grow up being an avid animal lover or anything like that; I ate meat for 22 years without thinking twice about it. That was just the problem... I never thought twice about it. I never made a real connection between the animals I saw and the food that was on my plate. After watching several documentaries and presentations on veganism, I decided immediately that I had to be vegan for the environment, my health, and the animals. (If you're interested, some great documentaries are Earthlings, Cowspiracy, and 101 Reasons to go Vegan[on YouTube]).
The first month or two was a little awkward and hard to navigate this new lifestyle that I adopted overnight, but as I learned more and experimented what worked for me it began to feel like I had been vegan all along. At the time of my transition to veganism I was a competitive Crossfit athlete training everyday, sometimes for several hours at a time. I never felt a lack of energy or malnourished from what I was eating. In the last six months or so I feel like I have really figured out what works best for my body and what makes me feel the best. My diet is heavy in fruits and vegetables and accompanied by rice, beans and bread mostly; it is a high carb, low fat diet. Because I am in school and working I haven't had as much time (or drive) to be as active as I should be, but my weight is still maintained and I feel good about how I look. My skin is smooth and relatively pimple free (except during that time of the month... I mean nothing can stop that from happening). I have always been someone that had a very weak immune system and if there was something going around I would without a doubt catch it; in college I would get sick at least once a month. I have gone a little over a year being vegan and have only gotten sick twice... that is unheard of for me. I feel great using more natural beauty and cleaning products (that are cruelty free) and truly think that having less harsh chemicals around you and in your body play a part in your overall health.
When people find out I'm vegan they often look at me like I'm crazy or say that they would never be able to go without chicken or cheese... but I always tell them that they could do it too if they wanted to and put their mind to it. There is such a plethora of options of food that you can eat and enjoy! Veganism is a lifestyle that is growing around the world and I can only hope that it keeps expanding so it will keep becoming easier and more accessible. Is it sometimes frustrating to travel and feel like i don't have any options or like I have to pack bags of food for myself just so i can eat? - yes. But that frustration is so drastically outweighed by the passion I have for veganism and that will never change. Having something that I am so faithfully committed to and proud of invigorates my soul and gives me all the warm fuzzies.
Although it is without a doubt a lifestyle that requires great discipline, it does not require great sacrifice. It is not limiting, but fulfilling. It is not restricting, but freeing. It is not cruelty, but kindness... for your body, for the earth, and for all the creatures among it.
Here is an example of what I eat on a (good) day, its nothing weird or out of the ordinary and most of these foods are in your own grocery basket!
Breakfast: shredded hashbrowns, veggie sausage, kale and a bit of vegan cheese with strawberries, grapes/pineapple (whatever fruit I have) and coffee
Lunch: broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, corn and kale all cooked together in teriyaki sauce with white rice
Dinner: Alfredo pasta (sauce made with cashews and nutritional yeast) with a large romaine salad dressed with berry vinaigrette, almonds or chia seeds
Snack: fresh fruit (lets be real, whatever is one sale that week!)