You want to become a vegan, or are at least curious, either way – sweet!! If you’ve landed on this post, you probably already know what vegan is. However, since going vegan I’ve realized that not everyone knows what that is. I mean in my head its like “I thought this was obvious” but as I’ve had to explain why I can’t eat someone’s cookies or why I can’t put butter on my roll, that it’s not common knowledge. I’d like to start by explaining the difference between veganism and vegetarianism.
Vegetarian vs. Vegan
A vegetarian does not consume any animal meat: Pork, Beef, chicken, fish, or any other wild game.
A vegan, on the other hand, doesn’t consume any animal meat or animal products. This would include:
- All meats
- Gelatin, some sugars, and honey (if you choose to be a strict vegan)
Some vegans will take their compassion to the next level and also avoid buying any clothing, cosmetics, or other products that were either made from animal products or tested on animals. As you begin a transition to Veganism, it might be easier to just focus on the food aspect in the beginning then start becoming more aware of where your products are made of/come from.
There is no right or wrong way to become a vegan. While experimenting with this new diet, don’t be so hard on yourself! If you slip up or eat something you thought was safe, only to find out it had dairy/honey/gelatin in it, don’t beat yourself up over it! Your intentions are what mean the most. Forgive yourself and move on to your next meal or next day and know that you are a great person making a great life change.
What are Some Reasons to go Vegan?
There are very few people who just wake up one day and go “Man, I’m done with animal products! I’m going vegan!” and just like that cold-turkey [no pun intended] they’re vegan. If that’s you then more power to ya! The honest truth is most of us will feel compelled by some event, thought, documentary, or research to try vegetarianism or veganism. Most vegans start off as vegetarians and then being cutting out animal products.
If you need a reason to go vegan here are a few common ones:
- Love and compassion for animals
- Carbon footprint/Green Environment
- Dairy Allergies
- Nearly two-thirds of the world’s adult population have some degree of difficulty digesting milk
- Digestion issues
- If you are struggling with digestions, you could have any number of triggers. By trying vegan you cut out a lot of hormones and additives and add in a lot of whole foods and fibers which helps your digestive system work much more effectively!
- Health improvements
- Switching to vegan can reduce cholesterol, diabetes, and the risk of heart disease (among many things). Most people who switch to a vegan diet also feel that they have more energy. [Forks over Knives is a fabulous documentary on this topic]
- Athletic Improvement
- Personal challenge
- Who doesn’t like to try something just to prove to themselves that they can?
- Consume more vegetables
Whatever your reasoning, the nearer and dearer it is to your own heart/mind/body the more compelling it will be and the more likely you’ll be to stick to it.
Beginning to go Vegan
I’m sure many people out there will encourage you to dive right in! However, I am a firm believer that a gradual transition will give you the best long term success. Moving slowly into veganism will make it so you don’t feel so suppressed.
For someone who is eating meat often: I’d suggest starting with an idea like Meatless Monday and work your way up to 3-4 days, and then eventually a whole week where you aren’t eating any meat.
For a vegetarian or someone whose worked through the above suggestion: I’d suggest gradually working milk or cheese out of your diet. Again starting with a day or two a week and then working up to a whole week without.
When you feel ready [whether you’ve chosen to try the above ideas or not] I’d highly recommend challenging yourself to go 6 weeks being vegan. If you only go for a week or two you won’t see the true benefits. However, if you stick it out for 6 weeks this gives your body time to eliminate all of the toxins and bad ju-ju from the meat and dairy products in your body and for you to feel how your body functions when there is none of it in your system. I’m almost certain you will feel so much better! You should be less bloated, more energized, a bit happier, and maybe you will have even lost a few pounds, who knows!
At the end of your 6 weeks you may be dreaming of a food or two that you’ve been missing terribly! Some may disagree with me on this, but if there is one thing you are craving, try just a little bit of it [please don’t go crazy, your body might hate you]. I tried doing this and when I at the piece of bread, that contained egg, and topped it with the delicious butter I’d been craving, I realized it was not everything I’d been dreaming about for the last 6 weeks – and with that my craving for that ended! It was also Easter when my 6 weeks were up, so there was candy galore! I didn’t go nuts but I did demolish a row of peeps and a few M&Ms and although tasty at the time, my face and body let me know it was not happy! My face broke out something fierce and my stomach was crampy and bloated for at least 2 days [I’m lactose intolerant]. From that experience, I learned that the tastiness was not really worth it.
Sometimes you can only learn by making “mistakes”. Remember that time your mom was all like “Don’t try ____” but you just had to try it for yourself? Your mom could have told you 100x not to do something but you’d never learn that doing ____ would hurt you unless you had tried for yourself! Pay attention to your body if you’re going to sample something you thought you’d been missing. You know your body best and you’ll be able to tell if what you sampled did not agree with you.