I’m never going back. Instead of getting frustrated with this fad or losing enthusiasm, after a year of veganism, my resolve and commitment to this way of eating has only deepened.
What started as a challenge and a true investment in long term health has become a passion that comes down to ethical and moral issues. I won’t preach to you, I just do think you should know where your food comes from – whether it is a blue M & M or a steak.
I’ve also learned a thing or two that might help you if you are considering taking the plunge to a vegan lifestyle:
- Supplements: For several months, I had great energy and then come the Spring, I began to feel like I was run over by a truck. Allergies, I thought? Spring cold? Nope. I knew I should be taking my extra vitamin D and B12 supplements, but most days I’d forget or just vow to do it later – which usually meant never. Just about everyone can benefit from a little extra vitamin D and animal products are the only source of B12, a deficiency of which can lead to anemia. I take these every morning upon waking and my energy is soaring again. Of course, check with your doctor before adding any supplements.
- No preaching: I may brag about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle when asked, but I try my darndest not to preach to people about the horrors of animal-based diets. No one wants to be shamed. Education, however, is a powerful tool. If you can show that a plant-based diet can be done and extol its benefits – people will be inspired. Inspiration is so much stronger than criticism.
- You do matter: You may wonder if your choices matter? Will it really have that much of an impact if you choose to not buy dairy and meat? I’ll tell you this – it does. You’ll inspire others to do the same and you’ll send a message to stores and restaurants that alternatives are important to offer.
- You can gain weight: Don’t go vegan to get skinny. I still gained my typical 5 pounds training for the marathon – seems a half a jar of peanut butter a day habit is not slimming.
- There is a lot to learn: I’ve gotten into more of a groove, but you do have to learn a whole new way of eating. Be patient with yourself. You’ve eaten animal foods for 10,20,30, 40 + years – you know what to go for. It is like learning to eat all over again – finding the right snacks, packable lunches, baking ingredients — it takes time. Approach it like an adventure, rather than a chore. There is a learning curve, you might make mistakes. Do the best you can.
- This is about your health: Yes, veganism is a choice, but the growing body of research also shows it is the one best way to take care of your body.”Eat to Live,” “The China Study,” “The Starch Solution,” numerous studies and documentaries can’t be wrong. When the meat industry, dairy industry and USDA dominate the airwaves and government policy, you may get confused – but don’t be fooled. Increasing your intake of vegetables (key) and lowering your intake of animal foods will help your health. Processed vegan foods are not the way to go — whole, natural plant foods are.
- You are not alone. A growing number of athletes and probably your own friends are going vegan for health, performance and ethical reasons. All of this means a greater awareness and more products.
Even if you aren’t ready to go all vegan, consider cutting back on your consumption of meat and dairy. One meal may turn into one day may turn into several times per week. Anything you can do to reduce suffering in your body and on this planet offers up good karma.