It’s hard to get away from sounding self-righteous when one talks about being vegan, but I am being 100% honest when I say: For me, I see it as a personal choice.
Being vegan is about what I eat, not what anyone else eats. Eating is about the consumer and the food.
So why even bother to write about it?
I figure I should explain why Sam and I decided to go vegan, and what tips we have learned and what we enjoy about it, since those that are reading along here are probably going to start to wonder “hey, are these guys vegan?”. I am certainly not trying to “convert” anyone or get anyone else to drink our sugar-free, non-GMO, locally sourced, all natural Kool-Aid.
The great thing about plant-based diets is that pretty much everyone can enjoy them—omnivores and locavores, and freegans and whatevers. Plant-based eating and living is healthy, even if it’s only PART of your action…every little bit adds up and makes a difference.
If every American swapped out just one meal of chicken for a vegetarian meal (according to this) it would be the same carbon dioxide reduction as taking half a million cars off the road! Even the most ardent carnivore can get behind one veg meal a week.
With over a million vegans and 5% of the population considering themselves vegetarian, it’s definitely gaining in popularity. It seems that every day there’s an article about some celebrity, politician, trainer, dietician that is touting the benefits of going veg.
What does veganism do for me? From personal experience, I can say that it 1. Has played a large role in my losing 35 pounds. 2. Seems to make my skin clearer and glowier. 3. Definitely has cut back on a lot of stomach issues. 4. Seems to play a role in my NEVER getting sick anymore. 5. I went from having hypertension (135/95+) to perfect blood pressure (115/78) and from having “pre-hypercholesterolemia” (yes, it’s a thing—basically borderline high cholesterol) to having again, perfect scores.
|Fearless vegan travelers|
Eating plant-based has helped me make better choices when it comes to going out to eat (yes, it limits your options, but hey—whatever you do eat is probably going to be pretty low-cal and healthy). It has helped me become more aware of what I eat, and plan out my meals better. I’ve saved a lot of money, and naturally moved away from processed and “junk” foods.
The weird thing is that it just sort of happened naturally. There are times when it’s challenging. The middle schoolers at my school recently did a pizza sale as a fundraiser, and that ooey-gooey cheesy delicious pizza smelled pretty good (and I ended up donated some money to them anyway, even though I didn’t buy a pizza). When we went to England this summer it was challenging to follow our vegan diet, and we had a few “don’t ask” moments, where we just picked the vegetarian option and hoped for the best.
Overall, though, being vegan is easier than I thought. Years ago I used to refer to the Wendy’s Bacon Mushroom Cheddar Melt as the “Jenny Sandwich” because it consisted of everything I loved—namely meat, cheese and bread and nothing that I didn’t love (namely vegetables) I can’t even believe that I am the same girl. Tastes just change, and somehow I’ve just found that when I gave up dairy and meat, I really stopped craving it. It was weird.
What it does veganism do for the planet? Well, overall two people are not going to change the world, but it’s a start. Sam and I have managed to get most of our family members to at least become open to the idea of trying our “weird vegan food”. When I share food at work or make items to take to a party I always try to get a few people to try something new, and try to make it as yummy as possible.
More than trying to make a drastic change, I think it’s about making little changes. If we are able to support vegan restaurants, enjoy vegan products and share vegan recipes with friends, then maybe a few more people will try putting black beans and pumpkin in their brownies rather than eggs (it’s really really good, I swear!!).
It takes 16 pounds of grain to make one pound of meat. By that logic alone, we are saving energy and resources. We are helping with the global water shortage. We are helping with the hunger problem. It’s a drop in the bucket, and a way to reduce our personal footprint and impact.
Vegan Psychology I am no mental health expert, but here’s the weird thing, guys—being vegan makes you “FEEL” better. Seriously. I have experienced less depression and anxiety in the last year, which could be coincidental, and could be related to exercising more BUT there’s something nourishing and kind to yourself about being vegan.
I’m not one to believe in a lot of stuff about the spiritual aspect of eating dead things, but there is something to be said for your mental well-being and your conscious by subscribing to a less-harm, more-plants philosophy. I can’t explain it completely, but I know that I definitely feel happy about what I’m eating. I feel like I can look at my dog without guilt. I feel like my choices are good for my body and the planet.
Protein, Iron, Calcium, B-12 and Vegan Diets:
So what does it do to your running performance? What about the protein, protein, protein thing? What about my bones?
Well, I am not a nutritionist by any means. I know that the last time I gave blood I had excellent iron, which is unusual for a woman. Sam has had no problem keeping up his muscle tone, and doing weight training along with running. He has that lean runner’s build, but he had that before, and being vegan hasn’t seemed to make a difference.
Our vitamin D levels are good, but in the winter I take a supplement, because I am in an office ALL day with no outside light. Sam works outdoors and gets some sun, so he doesn’t supplement and has been fine.
|Plenty of Iron in this blood|
Neither of us have experienced any issues with our bones, teeth, hair, or well…anything. My nails grow like crazy, and more since I’ve been on this diet. We both take a B-12 supplement, because B-12 is the one vitamin that you can’t get from a vegan diet (well, rumor has it that you can get it from algae but I also don’t eat a lot of algae, so yeah…supplement it is).
Vegan diets might not be for everyone, but I think it is a pretty great way to eat. You’ll probably hear me talk about vegan recipes, or products, and I really hope you give things a try. That’s the great thing about plant-based—everyone can try something that’s plant-based and it fits in all sorts of diet plans.
The next time you have a chance, give that veggie burger a try, or opt for the vegetarian meal option (if you’re on a plane or at a wedding you’ll probably be happier with your selection anyway). See what a plant-based diet can do for you, and then see what it can do for the world around you!