It’s hard to believe that a year ago I made the decision to go vegan. My initial reason was to not only support my mother-in-law in her transition but to also learn to make better and healthier decisions and to just feel better overall. I must say that I am proud of myself and my husband, Joe, because we toughed it out during some difficult times where there weren’t many vegan options, when we were tempted to eat meat or cheese or when we just wanted to give in to our cravings for cheese pizza; not once did we feel it was “too hard” and give up. I will say throughout this year we maintained a good 80-90% vegan diet. I learned a lot in this year about food and my body; it certainly went through changes during this transition and they were good transitions.
I had to change my mindset and what I told myself.
One of the biggest things I had to stop doing on this journey was saying “I can’t”. That was such a big thing for me prior to going vegan and when the word vegan is mentioned, that’s usually everyone’s response, “I can’t give up my meat”, “I can’t give up my cheese”, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”. That phrase alone has already defeated any efforts of any kind. So, I stopped saying “can’t” and just started telling myself, “it’s possible and I will do it.” Another defeating mindset or phrase is that it’s “hard”. When you constantly say something is hard, you’re diminishing your abilities to do anything. Yes, it is hard. Anything worth having will be hard work. If eating healthy, exercising or even completing life goals was easy, everyone would do it. It’s okay to acknowledge that a lifestyle change is hard, but that can’t be the reason for not going for it and I didn’t want that to be my reason.
Not everyone/everywhere will accommodate vegans and it’s okay.
I knew that with eating out and with traveling, not every restaurant accommodates vegans and not everyone knows what veganism is and that’s okay. I’ve come across a few vegans who have gotten upset when they discovered there weren’t vegan options somewhere. Because before going vegan I only ate certain meats (chicken, turkey and some fish), I was used to sometimes having limited options at places and/or at potlucks and knew I would be even more limited as a vegan. However, because I don’t expect anyone to accommodate my lifestyle choices, I always come prepared. Whether I look at the menu before going to a restaurant, bring my own food or snacks or eat before I go, I always have the mindset that I will not be accommodated and I need to prepare. I know that the majority eat all types of meats, dairy and such and I’m not going to stress myself out or be angry when I’m not accommodated. I just roll with it and having that mindset has made my eating out and eating at potlucks a better experience for me.
Traveling while vegan can be a challenge. Do what works for you.
I travel a lot – both business and pleasure. Traveling while vegan can be a challenge. There have been times when I’ve been lucky enough (more times than not) to find a vegan restaurant or a restaurant that has something vegan on their menu. However, there have been a few times when I wasn’t so lucky and got tired of only being able to eat a salad and fries lol. Because of this Joe and I decided that while traveling if vegan options were slim to none, then we would be vegetarian while traveling. We realized that even if ordering a black bean burger, it’s possible it may have egg in it and also possible that fried vegetables like mushrooms were battered with egg and/or milk. Instead of being that strict while on the road we decided that it makes eating while traveling a little easier if we at least maintain a vegetarian diet on the road if vegan options aren’t available and/or if we want more than salad lol. Which brings me to my next point…
We decided to not be vegan on our cruise.
In October we went on our cruise (yes, the one I was getting #cruiseready for). Joe and I decided well before the cruise that we would not adhere to our vegan diet, but would instead maintain a vegetarian diet. However, the moment we arrived in New Orleans, our port of call, the day before departure, we immediately decided that “anything goes” lol. We wanted to experience all of our favorite foods, try new foods and not feel like we had to be strict and couldn’t enjoy everything – especially since we had already paid for endless food on the boat. Because we weren’t too far removed from the meat and cheese life, we figured we would be okay, but we had some relief solutions (lactaid – because I’m lactose intolerant and charcoal) just in case 🙂 Surprisingly with all the chicken, cheese and ice cream I ate, I did not get sick. That was a blessing because I was certain I would at least have some lactose issues, but not once. We were glad we made the decision to just enjoy ourselves since this was our first year as vegans and our very first cruise as vegans. I’ve read a few blogs about vegan cruisers and how they maintained their veganism, but we had to be honest with ourselves – we just weren’t there yet. I must say I enjoyed and sincerely missed my cheese and chicken and it was worth the fallback.
We’ve experienced some great health benefits and we’re sticking with it.
Since becoming vegan Joe and I have experienced some health benefits. One of the major ones for me is my skin. I’ve struggled with acne since my teenage years and as an adult it’s gotten pretty old. I’ll go more into detail and even share some pictures in another post because that’s a whole other story. Anyway, because I travel so often and at times travel between climate changes, I was getting sick often after my trips. In this last year I may have been sick with a cold once or twice and it probably only lasted a day or two whereas before it would last a least a week with a lingering cough up to a month. We’ve both lost weight. In the first two months of going vegan Joe lost 40 pounds. Overall, we feel better and can tell the difference from a vegan diet and a diet high in animal products. Although we fell back in October and that was only one month out of the year, we felt a difference. My skin broke out the week I returned from my cruise, we experienced so much bloating and experienced that “normal” sluggish, tired feeling we had gotten used to throughout our life. We decided that November, even though the holidays are near, we would get back on track and clean it up. We did it last year and we’ve been doing it all year, so we can and will do it again!
So, I said it’s my veganniversary (kind of) because I wasn’t 100% vegan this year, but I think Joe and I did pretty doggone good for our first year. Our lifestyle change has inspired others and even caused some curiosity in those who didn’t even know about veganism. If you’re thinking about a lifestyle change, whether it be diet or fitness, I just want to encourage you to do what works for you! Move at your own pace, don’t be confined to imaginary rules or standards. Set small goals for yourself and take it a day at a time. If you fall off, it’s okay! Get back up and start over. And most importantly, stop saying you can’t and stop saying it’s hard – just go for it!
Thinking about a vegan lifestyle? Check out Positive Health Wellness for some additional tips and resources on how to maintain a raw vegan diet.
Until next time…