Today is an amazing day! Today I celebrate my first year as a vegan! It’s been incredible and confusing and I’ve learned a bunch along the way.
Why I went Vegan.
I went vegan for so many reasons. If you asked my husband, I saw a documentary on Netflix while he was gone for the weekend and by the time he came back I was a full-fledged Vegan. Not so simple but sure. It started out, very much, as a health decision. I wanted to cut back on meat, specifically red meat, and I wanted to incorporate more veggies into my diet. Especially since I have pretty bad asthma and the healthier I am the less at risk I am for having attacks. I also had this idea that eating vegan meant I would lose a shit load of weight. It’s progressed, since then, to so much more than health. I am very conscious and aware of the animal abuse, the environmental influence, and the wastefulness that comes with not being vegan. I mean, growing up I always had the idea in my mind that “damn I’m eating a cow right now and that’s pretty fucked up.” And any Dominican has been to a cook out where the whole pig is just chilling on the table, all roasted up, and you have that split second thought like “wow this is not right.” But I always kept eating meat because everyone does it so why should it be a problem?
How I went Vegan.
I celebrate today as being Vegan because today was when I made the conscious decision to go fully into this commitment. However, I didn’t do it cold turkey. Actually, when I went Vegan I kept the attitude that if it doesn’t work out its fine I’ll just go back to eating meat. We’ll see how it goes. I honestly didn’t think I would make it to one year. My new years resolution for the year was to stop eating red meat. By the time July started I was already not eating red meat, pork, and was very rarely eating chicken and turkey. This weekend last year, Matt was away in Atlantic City and anyone who is married to a man knows that this meant I finally got the remote control to myself! This was around the time What The Health was all over the place so I decided to watch that. Then I started watching a bunch of other documentaries. And not just on veganism but on the effects of drinking and smoking on your body, what eating more vegetables can do to your body, the meat industry, the prescription drug industry and so on and so on. By the time Matt got home I was so motivated to just live a healthier life and I knew I wanted to start by going vegan.
Pitfalls of my journey to Veganism.
Not eating meat is not hard. It really isn’t. You just don’t do it. Being vegan is so much more than just not eating meat though because it’s not consuming or using any animal products. Things that you don’t even think about are not vegan and the random stuff that has milk in it is pretty insane. I remember I bought a big ol’ bag of dark chocolate covered almonds thinking they were safe. Then one day I actually looked at the ingredients and of course it contains milk. Another time I was buying the Morning Star mock meat products. Totally safe right? Wrong! I realized they contain milk and eggs. This happens pretty often actually. I’ve gotten a lot better at being able to spot things that I cannot have and reading the ingredients carefully. So has my husband. Some times people get my order wrong and I have to send it back which really sucks. I try to be as flexible as I can but sometimes it’s out of my hands. Like the other day we went to get bagels and I ordered a whole wheat everything with tofutti (tofu cream cheese, it’s delicious you should try it!) onions and tomatoes and Matt ordered an egg everything with cream cheese. They accidentally mixed up the bagels! Now, if it was any other bagel I would have eaten it but the egg bagel is just not an option. So, I sent it back and I felt bad even though it wasn’t my fault. Another time I ordered veggie dumplings and they sent me pork ones and I took a bite not knowing. I spit it out and kept it moving. I’ve learned to ask for no cheese even if the dish doesn’t say it has cheese. I’ve found that 90% of foods have cheese in it at most restaurants. For. No. Reason. I don’t know why but I’m telling you we put cheese on everything! It’s insane! There are times when me and my husband will be eating out and I’ll get something and he’ll go be all like wow I can’t believe you made a meal out of all of that. Nice! And then there are other times when we just sit there laughing at whatever is put in front of me. Like one time I ordered avocado toast without the egg. I got literally two slices of bread and a whole avocado cut down the middle. They didn’t even mash it! No salt or pepper, or anything! I was like CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! I mashed that baby up, put some salt and pepper, some tomato and onion slices and ordered a side of potatoes. I actually got a compliment on how healthy I was eating that day from some random woman in the restaurant! Not everything is in your control but where there is a will, there’s a way and I don’t mind making a meal out of sides if I need to.
Hardest part about being Vegan.
When I first decided to go Vegan I thought the hardest part would be finding something to eat when I wasn’t at home. I mean I went vegan in July and in August I took a trip to Cuba. It wasn’t like I could pop into a Cuban supermarket and pick up a Beast Burger or something. Honestly, it has never been an issue.
What I do struggle with is the social aspect of being a vegan. I live with my husband and my two dogs. My dogs have currently been switch to vegan kibble. They still eat cheese and bones and things like that but their main food is vegan. The kibble they eat helps because they have pretty sensitive stomachs and their poop is amazing on the vegan kibble (sorry TMI but dog parents understand the struggle.) My husband eats meat and so does almost everyone else in my life. I am also a people pleaser, I love to host, and I want everyone to leave my house happy. When we have a big party I struggle with the fact that in order to serve my guests I have to include meat and other non-vegan options. When I cook dinner for my husband sometimes he wants a steak. So how can I protect my morals and my decision and still host and serve the people I love without shoving my own beliefs down their throats and/or making them uncomfortable? I don’t really have an answer to this. It’s something I am still working through and figuring out on my end. I’ve made this choice in my life and that doesn’t mean everyone else has to follow suit. Also I may change my mind one day but how do I live now? My opinion on veganism in generally is that I will always be a work in progress. And that’s okay. Don’t let the twitter and Instagram thugs convince you that you’re not doing enough or that you’re doing something wrong.
Misconceptions about being Vegan.
I had this idea that being vegan meant being the healthiest person ever. That I would be immune from junk food due to lack of options. I was so wrong. Between the vegan burgers, vegan chicken wings, and vegan pizza the options for vegan junk food are endless. Meaning gaining weight as a vegan is not hard at all. Also there’s pasta. No waistline has ever survived the undeniable pull of pasta. I’ve learned that you can be a vegan in many different ways. You can be a junk food vegan, a raw vegan, a whole foods vegan, a social vegan. Shit you can be a meatless Monday, once a week vegan. There are so many more options to being vegan now than there was 15, 20 years ago. Being vegan has never been so easy. Like all other eating habits, being vegan means there needs to be moderation. There are delicious deserts and plenty of fattening food. My biggest misconception was that being vegan meant everything I am eating is super healthy. That’s not always true.
My favorite part about being Vegan.
My favorite part about being vegan, aside from the fact that I don’t have to kill any animals and it’s better for the environment, is that I am trying all these new foods and flavors. I had never heard of jackfruit before and once I became vegan I found out how crazy flexible this one fruit is. I’ve learned so many different ways to cook and eat tofu I could probably write a book. Then there is the excitement of finding a vegan version of one of your old favorite foods. Eating vegan is an adventure!
Goals going into my second year of Veganism.
I spent all of this past year focusing solely on eating vegan but veganism has so much more to do with your lifestyle than just eating. It’s the clothes, make-up, and everyday supplies that have random animal products in them too. My goal for this next year is to continue to educate myself on using vegan products. I also want to look into living a more eco-friendly, waste free lifestyle. I’ve been reading a lot about it lately and even with this new movement to go strawless I’ve been really interested in exploring that lifestyle.
One year down and who knows how long to go. I’ve definitely had some missteps in my journey but I am truly dedicated to being vegan. For now that’s all I need.
Have you ever considered going vegan?
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