If not anything, my decision to enter the daunting world of veganism was not planned. I have heard stories of people making the switch to veganism after watching a food manufacturing documentary, getting food poisoning after eating a bad piece of meat, or just learning more about the environment and how going vegan can help reduce one’s carbon footprint (I know, elaborate stuff).
However, I can confidently say that none of these factors played a part in my spontaneous entry into the vegan lifestyle. In fact, although I do put effort into maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, I was accustomed to eating meat regularly and mindlessly. So why go vegan? My answer: I was simply bored. I was searching for a change in my diet, and honestly, I was searching for a challenge. I have previously tried other popular diets such as Paleo (one of my favorites) and Keto (didn’t last as long, tbh), but I think there is an intimidating stigma around veganism that I couldn’t help but recognize. You say vegan, I think tree-hugger. So, when my mom suggested I try veganism as I was sprawled across my couch on a Sunday morning, I was feeling less than motivated to face the endeavor.
For those of you who are maybe not so familiar with veganism, let me give you a quick run-down. The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” Not too bad, right?
As I was in my car driving to the grocery store there were a million thoughts racing in my mind. Could I actually do this? Do I even know what I’m doing? (No, I really didn’t) And perhaps most strikingly, how am I going to give up greek omelettes and turkey bacon? I shook these thoughts out of my head and marched assuredly into my local Whole Foods Market.
My mission: gather yummy foods that would make me excited about my new lifestyle. Honestly, for a first-timer, I think I did pretty well. I stuck mainly to the produce section, collecting all sorts of fruits and veggies to fuel my body efficiently. Some staples include kale, sweet potato, zucchini, tomatoes, berries, and of course, the ever so divine avocado. I made sure to pick up some whole grain bread, olive oil, granola, nuts, and chia seeds to add variety to my diet. As I cruised the aisles of the store, veganism started to look more and more promising.
Now, the start of it all. As scary as the buildup seemed, my first week of veganism was the opposite of what I had expected. I truly felt completely nourished and energized, despite the dietary changes that my body was adjusting to. Surprisingly enough, I was not craving meat or eggs to any crazy extent. I enjoyed making avocado toast for breakfast and mixing together a sweet potato salad for lunch. The diet did not burden my regular workout routine or alter my sleep schedule. Of course, I’m sure switching up your diet effects everyone differently, but for me I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
One month later, I can say without doubt that eating a vegan diet does not need to be scary or seem impossible. It has honestly helped me understand my body more and has inspired me to learn more about how plant-based eating helps the environment. I mastered how to have fun in the kitchen while creating new recipes like zucchini noodles (otherwise known as Zoodles), which btw, I might be obsessed. I also loved to learn that adapting to a vegan diet didn’t necessarily mean that I had to eliminate all of my favorite foods and treats from my plate. My love for banana bread was only strengthened once I found a vegan recipe on Pinterest.
Although my entry to the vegan lifestyle was spontaneous and mostly trial-and-error, it not only introduced me to a whole new way of eating and thinking, but it also allowed me to explore myself and see what I am truly capable of. Not to mention, I have seen improvements in my energy level, my physique, and even my skin and hair. Overall I feel more nourished.
A month ago I never thought I could maintain a plant-based diet just for fun. I might not ever consider myself a hardcore vegan, and I am sure that I will never turn down perfectly cooked filet mignon every now and then, but in retrospect I am proud of myself for trying something new and challenging.