I have a major lifestyle change I wish to announce here- I’m going vegan. I have been vegetarian almost all my life, and I decided to take it a step further.
Veganism is a philosophy and a way of living, rejecting animal by-products in food, clothing and other means. This means cutting out dairy, eggs, honey, meat, leather, fur and many other animal derived ingredients. Just to be clear, I am not going to police anyone here or in my life because they aren’t vegan. But I do want to talk about my change to veganism and what inspired it.
My backstory and reasons for going vegan aren’t very emotional, but they did give me the right fodder for thought to change. I grew up vegetarian in an Indian household, eating dairy everyday and eggs ever so often.
My Indian culture is kind to animals, and doesn’t kill cows for meat because they are considered sacred. But there is a lot of blanks that gape and are yet to filled, regarding whether perusing cows for dairy is a humane process.
A FLASHBACK: I remember distinctly how a college friend went vegan back in 2012, and tried to talk to me about why veganism is a better way of living. One day during a free class when the professor was absent, I sat next to her to watch ‘Earthlings’. She was very tuned in and emotional, but I chickened out because I couldn’t stomach what the documentary was telling us. “Dairy was cruelty?!?! Wouldn’t I starve without it and become weak? I’m not sure,” I thought to myself.
I stopped watching the documentary a few minutes in, and told her I wasn’t a fan of gore and violence. She was upset, but didn’t push me any further. For her sake, I gave veganism a shot for a few days then. But I caved out, telling her that my stomach was upset and my health was suffering. This is something that I recall every time I think of ‘Earthlings’, and how the Universe tried to introduce me to the concept of veganism.
THE BEGINNING: Flash forward to January 2018, when I started questioning my food choices. I was living a vegetarian lifestyle, eating eggs and greek yogurt everyday. I was afraid of carbs, because “OMG it makes you, like, fat”. I would throw in cheese on top of all my vegetables, thinking that I was getting healthy fat and protein in. “And ghee/clarified butter makes you burn fat?! Sign me up,” I thought.
But in January, I wasn’t liking eating dairy products that much. Yogurt made me feel queasy, and butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth. I had given up cheese, because it just didn’t feel good eating it whatsoever. I started cutting back on my dairy intake drastically, and soon felt good not eating it at all. As for eggs, the yolk that I used to enjoy eating made me feel nauseous. My body was falling out with food I thought was essential to optimal health.
In the beginning of February, I gave myself a week to decide if I was going to continue on this path of excluding dairy and eggs altogether. I watched a lot of YouTube videos and did a lot of research on Google about plant-based eating. I was happy to notice that I was going to get to eat a lot of fruits, colorful vegetables, rice and potatoes that I shunned because I thought they would make me gain fat, my favorite protein source-beans and lots of almond milk. But would I survive without dairy?
BABY STEPS AT A TIME:
On February 10, I officially became a plant-based eater. I was feeling excellent without eating eggs and dairy, but the fear for carbs still hung around. I was eating a lot of vegetables like spinach, onions, tomatoes, cauliflowers, broccoli, zucchini and bell peppers which are low-calorie. But since I was eating little rice and potatoes, I felt low on energy. I had to remedy this low-energy train, and went on to research if high-carb food everyday would make me bigger.
Turns out, carbohydrates and I are a match made in heaven. (Sorry, husbandman) I loved how nourished and satisfied I felt when I started eating brown rice, oven-baked potatoes, beans with my vegetable-filled meals. I also started eating tofu once a day for my protein, and still don’t see myself stopping anytime.
I substituted my cheese-filled omelette and tea for breakfast with apples, bread and almond milk tea. I snacked on fruits and vegan baked chips instead of cheese strings. I discovered that plant-based protein powder tastes 10,000 times better than whey/casein protein powder. I was eating plant-fueled food and eating 85% healthier than I used to.
As for eating out and junk food (which I love), I have found quite some vegan options and ways to veganize a meal! I’ll be writing more about those pretty soon, but let me just say that I don’t feel a single bit deprived. Take a look at these super easy homemade vegan cookies I made below, from this awesome recipe!
Physical changes were what I feared the most, but I found proper energy for my workouts after making this switch. All the good carbs were making me feel stronger and I am able to push myself better. I am seeing some baby muscle development, and I am getting leaner too! I did have some bloating issues when I made the switch in the first week, but it completely subsided later. Also this is TMI, but my bowel movements are pretty great from all that fiber. 😛
Another positive change that I experience is the end of my restrictive eating patterns. I have spoken before about why I think food labels are toxic, and I feel that veganism greatly helps me reset my food attitude. I don’t count calories or worry about carb counting anymore, and I eat to satiety. I feel full but good, considering I eat plenty of nature-grown food.
SO, WHY DID I MAKE THE CHANGE?:
I am in the process of going vegan, and have been living this plant-loving life for two months and 13 days as of today. The reason I made the switch to living my best possible vegan lifestyle was primarily motivated by my food habits. It was only after watching more documentaries and videos about the benefits of plant-based lifestyle did I get to know the ethical side of it.
I learnt that there is a difference between plant-based lifestyle and veganism, with ethical choices outside food being the biggest divergence. Veganism shuns using animal products from food to clothing and other parts of a lifestyle. Plant-based living, on the other hand, is primarily contained within food choices alone.
The animals greatly suffer when we treat them as a hapless commodity, and they aren’t ours to treat so. I don’t want to be pushy or police anyone, so I don’t talk too much about the moral side. But personally, I am loving eating vegan food and making a switch to more vegan, cruelty-free products. Currently, I would say I am in between plant-based and vegan lifestyles, but I’m trying to consciously make a switch to veganism fully.
I am just an average woman who wants to help myself, the animals and the planet. And if things get better by adopting a vegan life, I’m in.
I’m coming out of the closet as a plant-based vegan, and it’s here for all of the world to see.
Have you explored plant-based eating, or are you following a plant-based or vegan lifestyle?
Would you like to see a post on easy vegan food options and meals?
Let’s talk in the comments section below!