So, today we’re going to have a little discussion about leading a plant based life (a.k.a. going vegan). Vegetarianism and veganism are things that I’ve toyed around with for a while and was lacto-ovo vegetarian for some time as well.
Now, for those who aren’t familiar with alternative diet lifestyles here’s a crash course:
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: Eats dairy and eggs, just no meat.
- Ovo Vegetarian: Eats eggs, but no dairy or meat.
- Lacto Vegetarian: Consumes dairy, but no eggs or meat.
- Pescatarian: Eats diary, eggs, and fish, but no other meat.
- Vegan: No meat, no diary, no eggs, no honey. Absolutely no animal by-product whatsoever.
Now, the reaction that I get whenever I mention that I was previously lacto-ovo and am thinking about doing it again and thinking about transitioning to vegan I tend to get the exact same response:
“Tricia! Have you lost your damn mind?! Why would you do that to yourself?!”
Short answer: It’s a personal decision and none of your fucking business.
Long answer: It’s all about my own personal health and I feel a lot better when I do these things. And still none of your fucking business.
I’m all for having an intelligent conversation about my eating habits however, the second you mention maintaining an alternative diet they are all up in arms assuming that you have PETA tattooed across your chest and eat nothing but twigs and berries. Let me assure you, that couldn’t be further from the truth. At least, not in my case.
Background time: My family has a terrible health history. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer (pretty much every cancer imaginable but with a focus in cancer of the ta-ta’s), high cholesterol… the list goes on and on.
So, with all of that working against me I decided to go for genetic testing and I had multiple pre-cursors in my gene’s that pretty much point to a “when” not “if” of me getting breast cancer as well as an array of other illnesses.
At the time that I went to get tested I was 20 and probably in the best physical shape I’d ever been in (not the case now, *le sigh*). So, I didn’t take what they told me directly to heart.
4 years, a desk job, and a slower metabolism later and let’s just say my health became something that’s constantly in the fore-front of my mind.
With all of that said, I decided to become educated on the food industry. Let me tell ya…. the food industry is a scary, scary thing. I went down the rabbit hole man, wayyyy down the rabbit hole.
I traumatized myself to the point that I went entirely lacto-ovo that night. I was completely off meat, cold turkey and refused to eat anything that had more than 4 ingredients on the label. I was able to maintain that for a few months, but I hadn’t completely done my research about protein alternatives, balancing macros and nutrients, and living a healthy lifestyle while not eating meat.
The side effects were pretty terrible. I didn’t lose weight like I had initially assumed I would ( I lost a little, but not enough to make a difference), I felt more bloated because I was adding salt to everything for flavor (like I said, I hadn’t really done my research), and the lack of a balanced diet from eating only a handful of things led my hair to fall out, my skin got sallow, and I found myself constantly hungry and craving something more.
So, it didn’t last. I went pescatarian and introduced meat back into my diet. Then, because of the months of depriving myself my diet completely went down the drain. And what’s worse, my body wasn’t used to digesting all of these things anymore so I blew up like a friggin’ balloon.
Now, it’s been a little over a year since I went back to eating meat and some of the weight I gained at the beginning has come off. The only difference is now I’m educated on how to balance my nutrition. I’ve done more research, gotten better at balancing my meals, and overall am just eating healthier in general (locally grown produce when I can, non-conventionally raised meat, typically grass fed, you get the drift).
Now I’m at the point where I need to up the ante. So, I was digging around and came across the documentary Forks Over Knives and it completely changed my way of thinking. It exposed me to so many reasons why leading a plant based lifestyle would be beneficial, especially for someone with my family health history.
Don’t get me wrong, the environmental factors are a MAJOR benefit. Who doesn’t want to help save the world?
However, I definitely am all for living a happy and healthy life. And a plant based lifestyle will help me do that.
So, I am currently in transition to go back to vegetarianism and then, eventually, vegan. But, it will be a steady process because this time I want it to stick. I’m taking the time to find meat substitutes that I actually enjoy while slowly transitioning meat out of my diet hoping to never feel like I’m missing out when I do go vegetarian. And the same with dairy and eggs. I’m slowly trying to find substitutes of the things I love (the Tofutti brand has been a lifesaver!) that way by the time I’m completely vegan I won’t feel deprived and it’ll be easier to make sure all of my nutritional needs are being met.
So, the next time you meet someone who is vegan don’t automatically arm yourself with a slew of defenses as a meat eater. The vast majority are not there to judge you based off of your own dietary lifestyle… they just want to do their part.
And for all of my vegetarian and vegan friends, what are the best substitutes you’ve found? Drop into the comments and spread the love and the knowledge!