In July 2016, I committed to veganism. After being vegetarian for about seven months, I realized that I needed to take the plunge. There’s so many people online that extol veganism and it promote as the magical elixir that will fix all your problems and make you a superhuman. In an effort to write more personal material and get an honest discussion about veganism going, I want to share what the past six months have really been like.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the lifestyle and I’m not abandoning it by any means. I just want to offer my experience to those considering making the transition and those who feel like their experience hasn’t been represented within the community.
The best way to tackle this is to break it down into specific categories. If I don’t cover a topic you’re interested in, it’s safe to assume that I didn’t see any changes. Feel free to ask in the comments though :)
If I compare how much I ate in a day on my old diet to how much I eat now, there’s a big difference. Currently, I’m eating more food more often. I found that my body processes food much faster and well, I’m just hungrier throughout the day! If you look into the online vegan community, you’ll notice that eating abundantly is a common theme and one that I’m all for. Often, an increased appetite is chalked up to vegan food (junk food aside) being less calorically dense than animal products, so naturally you have to eat more.
Initially, I lost about five pounds. For some people, that’s great news and for others, it’s unimportant. For me, it was cause for concern because I’ve been at the same weight for years and I don’t have extra pounds to spare. I did gain it back and have maintained my pre-vegan healthy weight. It could have been because I wasn’t eating enough at the beginning, but I’m not sure exactly what caused it.
As a chronically tired person, this was one of the benefits of veganism I was very interested in. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen much of a difference, or one that’s evident enough to remember six months later. It’s worth noting that this is something I’ve struggled with for a long time and I believe it’s rooted in other things.
Regarding how I feel after meals is completely different. There is no more feeling sluggish and heavy after eating. Instead, I feel revitalized.
I used to often feel foggy and sometimes disconnected from what I was doing. I can now say that I have greater mental clarity. Who doesn’t want that? It makes life much easier when you can focus and aren’t constantly forgetting or messing up the details.
Eating a clean healthy diet is great because you feel really good… until you eat a ton of junk food one weekend. I’m left feeling a bit sluggish and not like my usual self. I’m less likely to indulge now because I know that I’ll just feel, well, shitty. My body is far more sensitive to changes in my diet and I can’t get away with neglecting my nutrition. Really, this is a good thing because it makes me want fresh wholesome food, but when I go rogue and eat Ben and Jerry’s nondairy ice cream, I feel it.
If I’m at a restaurant, or buying something not explicitly labeled as vegan, or that has the ominous “MAY CONTAIN TRACES OF MILK AND EGGS” statement, I get nervous. The last thing I want to do is ingest animal products. Honestly, the thought of doing so fills me with sorrow, disgust and fear of how my body would react.
I don’t want to constantly be fearful of food and like I have to be on high alert every time I eat. My solution has been to avoid those situations as much as possible. If you have any tips about how to deal with this, please share in the comments.
How I Shop
Unless it’s a routine purchase, you better believe I’m turning over every product and reading the ingredient list. I’ve been a stickler for reading the ingredients for years, so this wasn’t a really a change for me although I’m now looking for animal products as well. I just became extra attentive and mindful. If you’re not vegan or an ingredient-reader, you’d be surprised where they sneak in animal products. If it’s a nonfood item, then I’m also checking to see that it’s cruelty-free. This was something that I hadn’t done before unfortunately.
This was one area I immediately saw a huge difference. Waving goodbye to dairy meant hello smooth and clear skin! For me though, this improvement was temporary. Within the last three months, my skin was perhaps the worst it has ever been (acne and severe dry patches), but I do not blame my diet. Why? It’s been a time of great stress and I moved, so the water and environment are different. I started using a few new skincare products (reviews coming soon) and my skin has significantly improved.
The takeaway is that yes, going vegan can improve your complexion, but if you’re dehydrated, stressed, neglecting your skincare routine, subjected to pollutants, or eating poorly, it still affects your skin. Basically, one good thing doesn’t cancel out all the bad.
Ladies, you will be pleased to know that since I’ve gone vegan, the pain has reduced tremendously! Previously, I would get horrible “can’t do life today” kind of cramps. You know, the ones that have you in the fetal position and wishing your to-do list would vanish.
Now my period is lighter, shorter, and less painful. Some months are worse than others, the ones over the holidays being the worst because I ate all the junk food (no regrets). Typically, it doesn’t greatly affect my day to day life and if you’ve suffered from intense menstrual pain, you can appreciate just how wonderful that is.
Since I began my vegan journey, various factors have improved in my life, which have in turn made me happier. Because of this, I can’t say I’m happier now solely due to veganism, but I do believe it has played a crucial role. I firmly believe that when you eat well, you feel good. Of course, knowing that I’m putting healthy foods into my body and not contributing to the torment and death of animals also makes me feel good. Even if I’ve had a horrible day, I’ve still treated all the Earth’s inhabitants with respect and that’s something to be proud of.
I’ve presented a bit mixed review of veganism, but in truth, I’m incredibly happy and extremely passionate about the cause. I urge you to not just take my word for it. Do your own research about the reality of the food industry, see what others’ experiences have been like, and just try it. It may feel too hard or like it’s not for you, but you won’t know until you try. I have a post on 4 easy vegan recipes to get you started.
If you’re vegan, please share your experience below. I’d love to know how it’s impacted you. I’d be happy to answer any questions as well, so don’t hesitate to ask!