There’s so much on the media about going vegan and there’s even more bashing vegans…the memes on both sides are countless. Coincidentally, a lot of my close friends are vegan. Being lactose intolerant myself, I figured I was halfway to being vegan. But I just didn’t see how I could give up chicken or eggs, or other countless staples in my everyday diet. They told me it would be worth it and I wanted to try going vegan, but I just wasn’t fully convinced.
That changed last quarter when I was writing a policy brief for a class I was in. The topic I chose was why the Goleta School District should offer a vegan meal program to reduce its impact on the environment. To complete the paper, I had to do quite a bit of research into the effects the meat and dairy industry has on the planet. Let’s just say after writing that paper, I felt so guilty about eating meat that I couldn’t allow myself to do it anymore (not every day at least). From the deforestation, water pollution, carbon footprint, animal cruelty, and so many other adverse effects, I couldn’t go on! So then I began my (mostly) vegan journey. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
1. You can’t simply replace meat with a meat replacement.
I tried to just sub out the chicken in my salad with tofu but found that I was starving just an hour later. Going vegan taught me to incorporate a more balanced diet with a carb, protein, and fat at every meal. Once I made my meals more well rounded, I didn’t find myself looking to devour everything in sight anymore.
2. I really didn’t miss meat that much!
I was worried that I would be craving chicken, steak, and eggs all the time but really I did not think about or crave them that much. People would always ask how much I miss bacon or eggs but when I thought about the animals being harmed, the workers being affected, and the impacts on the environment I felt better about refraining from consuming those products.
3. I noticed I had better skin and better sleep, aka a better life.
Already maintaining a dairy-free diet helped my skin a lot, but removing meat products helped even more. I was able to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
4. I did pass quite a bit of gas!
Sorry if this is a TMI, but a vegan diet consists of quite a bit of fiber, and fiber is good at making anyone quite gassy. I already had a pretty healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, but eating a plant-based diet increased this even more. Don’t worry though—stick with it and it goes away as your body adjusts.
5. People think you can’t get the proper nutrients or protein from a vegan diet, but that’s just not true! And you will get lots of hate in general!
Finding some great friends who are also vegan or following pages on Instagram and YouTubers can help you find the community to stick to it. The longer I’ve stuck to it the easier it has been to find vegan options wherever I go. Sometimes, if there is no option, I try to just enjoy. I can’t not eat my Grandpa’s famous 5- day turkey for Thanksgiving! The environmental impact of eating vegan 90% of the time still makes a huge difference.
Image credits: Giphy