Ok y’all. It’s true. On December 11, 2018 I went Vegan. I said I would do it for 30 days and then decide if I wanted to keep going. Here we are, over 2 months later and I’m still going strong.
I surprisingly got a lot of questions like this when I was at gatherings and had to decline some foods. Vegan is:
>> NO meat, fish, dairy, eggs or ANY other animal products.
A lot of people thought it was pretty much the same thing as vegetarian- well no- it’s far from it. Both vegans and vegetarians may exclude meat from their diets for health or environmental reasons. However, vegans also choose to avoid all animal by-products because they believe this has the largest impact on their health and the environment
The “why” is always the most important. If you don’t know your “why” then you won’t stick with anything.
Throughout my life I had developed numerous issues with my health. Some minor, and some major. Here’s what I’m talking about…
>> Severe stomach pains mostly every day, constant migraines, severe acid reflux, irregular bowel movements, lethargy/fatigue, struggle to focus, hormonal cystic acne, weird mood swings not during menstrual cycle, common colds all the time, and blood shot eyes all day every day. I’m probably forgetting a few, but you get the point.
I came to a place in my life where I was tired of taking medications to mask my issues and not get to the bottom of them. I was tired of handing money over to doctors who weren’t actually hearing me. Zack and I want to start a family soon, and most of those medications that I would need to be on wouldn’t be safe while trying or being pregnant.
I did SO MUCH research and couldn’t find a “vitamin” etc. that would solve all of my problems until “plant-based” kept popping up. Over and over I would read that going Vegan solved people’s health problems like mine. It was reversing disease, cancer and eliminating asthma.
Someone who I related a lot to was Andy or @earthyandy on instagram. She also struggled with the same issues I did. I listened to this podcast she was on and OMG. That was it. It was the encouragement I needed.
I also watched What the Health on Netflix. Yeah. Everyone should probably watch that. It’s not so much going to make you feel guilty as it just serves to educate and give you the freedom to make the choices you want. And that’s what I needed- to be educated on what I was eating and how the health system mixes with it. I was also able to see the environmental impact of animal-based diets.
Lastly, I had built up quite the paranoia that I was going to die at a young age, have a heart attack or get cancer and disease at a young age. Sounds crazy. I know. But, I see it ALL the time. This stuff is attacking people at younger and younger ages. A LOT of it is due to what we are putting in our bodies. We are breeding it quicker and quicker. I simply wanted a peace of mind and to know that I was doing my part to take care of my body. I want to live a LONG and fruitful life. If something is going to take me out- I would hate for it to be something I could have avoided by making changes to my lifestyle.
Most people assume it’s more expensive to be Vegan. False. Way false. If you are only buying substitutes like Vegan cheese, vegan brownies, vegan pizza, vegan, vegan lasagna, etc. (you get the point). It will for sure be expensive.
There are some people who have a BIG budget for food and can shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes all the time. That’s awesome, but that’s not our story. We budget no more than $100 a week total for groceries for 2 adults. Here’s a blog that helps me.We shop at Grocery Outlet, sometimes Ralphs (use their rewards), and grab a few things from Trader Joes here and there. The list below can flex based on recipes we plan on making for dinners and what is in season or available at grocery outlet. Buying produce that is in season is KEY to staying on budget. Our goal by the end of the week is to have a mostly empty pantry and fridge from eating all of our fresh foods and not wasting ANYTHING. And we usually do.
Here’s what’s on our typical grocery list for a week:
- Bag of sweet potatoes
- Bag of small red or white potatoes
- 4-6 green peppers
- 1 red pepper, 1 yellow pepper
- Fresh bag of full sized carrots
- 2 cucumbers
- Bag of brussels sprouts
- bundle of asparagus
- 0-7 avocados depending on season
- bundle of cilantro
- 6 Apples
- 6 Bananas
- 3 large oranges
- Bag of small lemons
- large bag of spinach
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 large white onion
- Can of black beans
- Can of kidney beans
- Can of garbanzo beans
- Can of lentils
- Can of corn
- Package of firm or extra firm tofu
- Gluten free tortillas
- big container of hummus
- Daiyo dairy free shredded cheese
- Amy’s Soups (split pea, veggie lentil) x3
- 2 Vegan microwavable meals (lunch)
- Nature’s Bakery Gluten free Pomegranate bars (12)
- carton of Almond, cashew, or flax “milk”
- snacks: vegan crackers, turmeric chips, pretzels, plantain chips, tortilla chips,
- La Croix
Things we use but don’t have to buy every week:
- Almond butter, peanut butter
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts & macadamia)
- Chia seeds
- large bag of frozen mango
- Black bean burgers (pack of 12)
- cauliflower, broccoli
- Hemp seeds
- Teas, coffee
- Gluten free & vegan bread (once a month)
- Everything bagel seasoning from Trader joes
- dairy free ice cream (tiny pint lasts a month)
- Frozen salmon & seared tuna for Zack
The first 3 days of being Vegan I felt absolutely horrible. Things got a little better by day 14. At that point I had no more headaches or withdrawal symptoms. My body was adjusting to craving meats, dairy and other animal products. Ok. So… how am I doing now? You may or may not be surprised, but I feel wonderful. 99% of my issues listed above are GONE.
Something I’m most surprised by is no migraines. Not a single one. I would get up 3 to three attacks a week prior to being Vegan with at least 1 of them being a successful full blown migraine. No more stomach pains. No more acid reflux. I have SO MUCH energy when I wake up.
The one thing I’m still working on is my acne. I was told that was one of my issues that could take longer to subside as everyone’s body detoxes at different rates. Mine could take 6 months or even longer to detox medications and built up toxins from animal products. Detoxing can affect your skin. So, I’m still working on it and have not lost faith. When done with initial detox after going vegan, most people see completely clear skin.
I told myself I would do 30 days at a time and re-evaluate. I’m on month 3 and plan on staying Vegan because of how wonderful I feel. I can’t imagine going back to feeling the way I did.
Here are the MOST common questions I get…
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I take probiotics, B12, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, and a vitamin that helps my body to get rid of excess estrogen (to offset what my IUD is doing).
Q: How do you get enough protein?
A: Watch “What the Health” documentary for a better explanation on this. According to my holistic doctor who is also a nutritionist, I need around 50 grams of protein a day (a little under or over for most people). Most Americans take in at least 90 grams a day. Yeah. That’s way too much. Americans have more of a fiber deficiency than a protein deficiency. I get mine from tofu, quinoa, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, chia seeds, hemp seeds, beans, edamame, and spirulina (powder I put in my smoothies).
Q: Aren’t you hungry all the time?
A: Quite the opposite. Since going Vegan, I get fuller faster. The fruits and veggies I’m eating have WAY MORE fibre than the packaged snack people eat like goldfish, chips, etc. I can barely finish 1 green pepper as a snack and I am SO FULL. Fibre is KEY to being full and as stated before- Americans have a major fibre deficiency. No wonder we think we need so much food. People are “filling” themselves with empty food that aren’t actually filling us. A few almonds and I’m tapped out.
Q: How are you Vegan if your husband isn’t?
A: When I first went Vegan, I told Zack he didn’t have to do it with me. It was my personal journey. This was something I learned from Earthy Andy. She did the same thing. After month 1 of me being Vegan Zack cut out all meats. After month 2, he cut out dairy and eggs. He saw how amazing I felt and looked and wanted that for himself. I didn’t have to force anything. It was just contagious. He currently only eats fish and no other meat, dairy or eggs. I showed him the What the Health documentary and he recently learned that some of his favorite mountain biking and enduro athletes are plant-based as well. I love that my husband also wants to live a longer and healthier life. Happy tears **
Q: How do you eat out?
A: Living in Orange County makes eating out Vegan prettttty easy. There are so many places dedicated to vegans. But, you can also do it anywhere else in the country. When you are about to go to a restaurant just search on google “vegan options at _______.” There are TONS of blogs and forums dedicated to this. Take a screenshot and be prepared when you show up. I recently did this for Cheesecake Factory and found there to be lots of options. Same with Souplantation. The sofritas from Chipotle is SO YUM Vegan pizza from MOD is also delish.
Q: Have you lost weight?
A: Losing weight was not actually one of my goals for going Vegan. You might have noticed it wasn’t in my “why.” But yes, I lost weight. My face is thinner, arms are thinner, and pretty much everywhere on my body. I’m still strong, surfing, doing yoga and working out. Several people have mentioned to me in person that I look different. Same with Zack.
Q: Is this something you will have your kids do?
A: PLEASE listen to the podcast linked above in the “why” section if you have children. Andy has 3 kids and she explains what Vegan looks like for her family. But yes, Zack and I plan on raising vegan kids from birth, but giving them the option to stray as they please as they get older. Again- listen to the podcast to see how this plays out in Andy’s family. It’s super insightful and shocking.
Q: What do you miss eating?
A: I don’t really crave foods from my pre-vegan lifestyle. If I see someone eating chick-fil A nuggets I get a little jealous. This also goes for a milkshake.
Q: Do you have advice for getting started?
A: DO A LOT of research. Draw a line in the sand. Go cold turkey. Don’t say “I’m going to cheat on these days” or “I’m going 50% vegan.” Moderation is not really the answer in terms of a plant-based lifestyle (or for anything really but that’s my opinion- you need to build up your discipline and will-power). Tell one person you are doing it. I told Zack for accountability. Keep a food diary for the first 30 days (I kept mine in the notes on my phone). Listen to the podcast. Watch What the Health. Follow people on social media who are living that lifestyle. My 2 favorites are Earth Andy and Alana Blanchard. See a plant-based nutritionist (can cost a lot but you should only need to see them once and it’s SO helpful).
Q: Do you do cleanses or protein?
A: I do a beet juice pressed powder, and a pineapple chia cleanse from Smart Pressed Juice. The beet juice helps with energy, digestion and performance for workouts. The pineapple chia helps with bloating (which can happen when you first switch over), and energy/protein. I don’t use a protein powder though there are lot out there for vegans. I just think I get enough protein from everything else. Zack needs more protein than me so I will put vegan protein in a smoothie for him.
Q: What do you do when you go to parties?
A: If I’m know the person who is hosting I tell them ahead of time and ask if I can bring a side/main dish. They usually really appreciate that. Sometimes they even offer to make something too. My mother in law is great about this. I also went to a baby shower where they had a taco company cater. She made sure they provided veggie tacos. A lot of other people actually enjoyed them too. Zack made a vegan chili for our high school leader meeting and everyone really loved it. Trust me. You can go in public as a Vegan.
Q: Did you get any flack or judgement?
A: Sure. Absolutely. It’s usually from people who don’t know me. They say “how do you do that? I could never do that.” or “that’s crazy.” I usually respond with “anyone can do anything if you’re dedicated and try hard.” That pretty much ends it haha. My family and friends support my decision because they see how great I feel now. Zack is so happy he doesn’t have to see me suffer anymore.
Q: I don’t get what’s wrong with dairy and eggs?
A: What isn’t? Major yikes. Like I’ve said above- research and educate yourself. It’s vital. Doesn’t matter if they are free range, cage free, etc. It’s carrying ingredients that can affect your hormones, cause disease and the list goes on and on. Research. Watch documentaries. It’s absolutely SHOCKING. I can’t go back to taking in dairy and eggs after reading and watching what I did. I didn’t eat a ton of meat before I went Vegan, so I know the main reason I feel so GOOD now is from cutting out dairy and eggs.
Q: Any hiccups along the way?
A: Yep. I found out my body doesn’t love imitation meat. I tried the vegan burger from Carls Jr. (Hardees for people in other areas of the country) and I felt SO SICK afterwards. There’s a learning curve at first and my first month of grocery trips took a little longer as I had to really think about what I was buying and look closer at labels. I accidentally drank a hot cocoa I thought didn’t have dairy but it did. I got sick. When at a sit down restaurant, ALWAYS ask for your food to not be cooked in butter. That’s a sneaky one. I’m hypoglycemic so I need to pair my fats with sugar. I can’t eat bananas or apples by themselves. I need to do a peanut butter or almond butter with them.
Q: What’s a favorite recipe?
Ok. Y’all. My hands are tired from typing. If you made it this far- thanks for reading. I hope this is helpful for those curious about my journey and maybe looking to make the switch! If you have any other questions- leave a comment here or on my post on instagram. Also check out my Vegan Journey IGTV video available on my Instagram profile.