*I recently made the change from being fully vegan and wanted to inform you all as to why along with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions
For about half a year I had been fully vegan with an emphasis on raw food. I was entirely plant-based, meat-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, flour-free, gluten-free, and oil-free. I knew what foods to combine together for optimal health benefits and what time of the day to eat particular things. I felt great, loved it and for a while it worked really well for me. With a passion for eating natural whole food along with the countless research that I’ve done, it’s hard to ignore and not apply what you learn.
- Not enough hours in a day – I always feel like there isn’t enough time and the busier I got, the less time I had. The less time I had, the more stressed I got about what and when I would eat. If my schedule was slightly thrown off it would derail my planned meals for the day. A vegan diet requires proper meal planning otherwise it is very easy to become deficient in several minerals by not meeting the daily intake requirements.
- Active lifestyle – my daily routine involves about an hour and a half at the gym along with an hour of hot yoga. Safe to say, I burn quite a few calories. Refuelling properly is definitely possible seeing as may athletes have done it. In this case I’m not simply referring to working out, but rather in general having a busy day. Sometimes it’s not realistic for me to be in the kitchen everyday for an hour cooking and making meals.
- Physically I can’t eat that much – I’m someone who will be snacking throughout the day on small meals because I get full very quickly. I just don’t have where to fit it in my stomach. Being vegan requires you to eat a greater amount of food for all the necessary nutrients and I just can’t eat that much without feeling uncomfortably full
- Personality – I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of person. I either give it my all into what I do or I don’t do it. I am a perfectionist and when I don’t feel like I am doing everything the way I should be or had planned I disappoint myself. You probably get the idea as to how my strict ways end up limiting and stressing me out. Allowing myself to drop the label is my way of telling myself it’s okay to include certain food back into my diet without feeling guilty.
- Vitamin Deficiencies – The general population as a whole is at risk for not intaking the daily recommended value, but as a vegan or vegetarian your risk increases. It is true, proper meal planning can avoid most of these deficiencies except for B12. Aside from B12 fortified cereals, the only dietary sources of vitamin B12 are animal-derived. Personally, I believe in getting nutrients from the naturalist form possible rather than supplements
- Reality – the bottom line is at times it fit into my lifestyle and at other times I felt I needed something more or at least less restrictions. It was slowly becoming something that wasn’t complimenting my lifestyle, but rather making it harder.
To people who are fully vegan I certainly admire you. It’s a change and it felt very strange at first. I’m not branching out very far from my previous lifestyle, rather I am simply exploring new options and allowing myself to include a wider variety of food into my diet. If this works, great – if not, change is always around the corner.
Why did you go vegan?
Fore-most I would like to say that I began practising veganism predominantly for my own health reasons and the fact that it was was animal-cruelty free was another wonderful thing about it. Health has always been my main focus and I have become a lot more aware of the truth behind factory farming, the cruelty that occurs and the lies that the food industry works hard to mask. My views and beliefs have not changed and the meat I purchase will be locally farmed, organic, hormone-free, antibotic-free and cage-free. Basically the closest I can get to he most humane, natural version of animal protein.
What is your diet now and how strict is it?
So I can no longer call myself a full vegan because I’ve decided to reintroduce a small amount of animal protein (fish mainly) back into my diet. I’m still not eating dairy and I’m also not scarfing down meat because I’ve never liked it anyways. I hate labels, but for a while I was wondering what l fit under so at least I could call it something without having to give people a list of things I do or don’t eat. The conclusion? A whole food plant-based diet. This still means a very heavy plant-based intake (about 90%) and including some animal protein a few times a week.
What is a whole food plant-based diet?
It is based on vegetables, grains, legumes and fruit, with little or no animal products (including dairy).
How can you trust that the meat you buy is actually fresh and cruelty-free?
I am being extremely careful about where I am purchasing my meat from. I’m not eating meat from just anywhere. I don’t support factory farming and never will. I’ve done a great deal amount of research and looked into organic food industries. My health is still my first priority so I am making sure that I know exactly what I am eating.
Will there be non vegan recipes on your blog also?
Yes, I will begin incorporating some non vegan recipes which is exciting since I’ve never really experimented much with it before. The majority of my recipes will still be plant-based, but I certainly will make sure to note which dishes are non vegan.
What’s the hardest part about the vegan lifestyle?
Planning ahead. At first I had to keeping track of what I was eating, the quantity and the nutritional values till I got an idea of how much I need to eat. It was a trial and error and I’m still learning, but it has definitely gotten easier. It just takes a bit more effort, but you quickly adapt and your body is responsive letting you know what works best for it. The other hard part would be always making sure I have fresh fruit and veggies so a general idea of what I will be eating throughout the week is necessary. If the fridge isn’t stocked up, I’m left staring at an empty plate which isn’t very fun.
Do you get cravings for junk food?
I prefer the term chemical bomb rather than food because that’s exactly what it is. When I first started changing my diet I was craving everything and spent some time daydreaming about brownies and bags of chips. The good news is the cleaner I continued eating the less junk food I craved. Cravings don’t go away completely, but rather they’ve change so instead of craving candy I now crave a bowl of fruit. If I am craving something (sweet or salty) then I know my body is low in a particular nutrient which means a trip to the fridge for some healthy real food.
Do you ever “cheat” and eat unhealthy food?
Of course. It’s been a roller coaster ride and I’ve let myself go several times and had to start again from the beginning. Nothing and no one is perfect. Life is anything but predictable; we all get stressed, eat too much, too little, or spend a day eating a tub of ice cream. It happens, but eventually we get back on track. Eating healthy is a constant learning path between you and your health needs which are constantly changing as we grow.
Is exercising hard on a plant-based diet?
I definitely don’t find it hard, if anything it’s actually been easier for me. I do a lot of running and am now working towards running a 10k. Running is my natural high – I love it. A plant-based diet has helped because the majority of my workouts are cardio based so I’m able to fuel with plenty of carbs from the abundant amount of fruit I eat. I usually feel fine off of non animal based protein, but some days I feel like a need an extra boost so on those days I’ll Find something that you enjoy doing otherwise you won’t be motivated to stay active. I like switching things up otherwise I get bored so I also do spinning and recently started doing hot yoga also.
What do you do if friends and family don’t support why you’re doing this?
Changing your lifestyle isn’t easy especially at the beginning when you’re trying to make the transition. Everyone has questions and suddenly becomes an expect in nutrition. Once people start realizing that you’re actually doing this because you’re passionate and believe in it, not using it as a “fad-diet” they become supportive of your decision. They realize it is just another step in your life towards changing and becoming who you want to be. My advise is, don’t be preachy. Don’t push it onto people because nobody likes that. People are curious so when they ask questions, gladly answer them and provide information you’ve found. Mention some concerns you may have had yourself at first about the lifestyle. People like having an open discussion without feeling like their believes are being imposed upon. With patience and time people eventually come around.
What do you eat when you go out at regular restaurants? (being vegan)
Within the last couple years restaurants have really started offering vegetarian or vegan options on their menu due to the increasing population that is choosing to eat this way. From my experience I’ve found that your best bet is doing your research on the restaurant and seeing what they offer beforehand. If you don’t have that option then salads are always a safe choice (dressing on the side if you aren’t sure what the ingredients are). Restaurants now also offer quinoa burgers and you can simply ask them to use lettuce as the buns instead of bread which is one of my favourite options. There is also usually a vegetarian pad thai option on the menu or other gluten-free types of food. Restaurants are very accommodating so if you make a specific request they’re usually able to do it just make sure your request is reasonable.