It’s six months since I started the vegan lifestyle. So ‘how to be vegan’ was an obvious subject to discuss at this point in my journey. I wanted to share insights on how the transition was for me and things to expect as a beginner.
I started a plant-based diet for health reasons, I wanted to adopt a healthier eating habit. Veganism benefits sold me on the whole plant-based lifestyle. Some people go in for animal rights reasons and that’s a whole different subject which involves eliminating all animal products from your life, not just your food.
Those who practice it don’t use products that contain animal ingredients and are cruelty-free. No animal testing or exploitation, don’t wear products made from animals – like leather shoes or silk shirts, etc.
So just to be clear, I don’t practice this form of veganism because…well, I wear shoes and I don’t remember ever checking if my shampoo was tested on rats.
So, mine is to give you an idea of what to expect if you adopt a vegan plant-based diet for health reasons, or you just want to take up vegan food as a healthier option.
Lessons after 6 months of being Vegan
1. Eating out starts becoming a nightmare
If you have some great vegan-friendly restaurants in your city then you are great. There aren’t many in my city so, in most cases, I ended up in regular restaurants with waiters who did not understand the whole concept of how to be vegan and what vegans eat and don’t eat.
In fewer occasions, cheese still found its way into my order and I was on constant frustration mode whenever I went out eating since nobody seemed to get my order right. After some time I gave up and concentrated on doing magic in the kitchen where I had complete control.
As much as veganism is growing in popularity there is still a lot of misinformation and resentment towards vegans. Even waiters will give you a look when you mention you are vegan…then proceed to pretend to pay full attention and get your order with extra cheese.
2. Your sex life will explode
The first significant change I noticed one month into vegan foods was an increase in my libido. Massive significant change. I don’t know the science behind this but maybe adopting a cleaner diet eliminates clogs in your bloodstream. An uninterrupted flow of blood is great for your sex life. At least the last time I checked.
I recently watched a documentary which was attempting to demonstrate this. So different people were served either vegan or animal products and their sexual activity tracked. Plant-based eaters did better and some crew members joined the vegan gang.
When figuring out how to be a vegan, this should not be the only reason to jump ship, but you have to admit it’s a pretty compelling one J
3. You start loving to cook
I don’t know if it’s the new experience, but when I got on the vegan diet plan, I suddenly wanted to cook often and try new recipes. Vegan Heaven and a virtual vegan share delicious easy to make vegan recipes which I am a huge fan of.
The perception is always that the vegan diet is very limited, but I was suddenly exposed to a variety of super delicious recipes from these two blogs. It helped that I was already a good cook. I just got more adventurous to see how much magic I could do.
You will feel the same too as you start discovering new recipes you were initially blind to because as a regular eater the veggies and grains are always an afterthought.
Consumers of animal products usually end up eating variations of the same thing, if its chicken its either fried or smoked or whatever but chicken still. When you go vegan you kind of get on a food adventure. You start experimenting with different plant-based recipes.
4. Family and Friends will taunt you
The hardest part is always dealing with family and friends, who will mock and always ready to start a debate with you.
Making drastic changes like going from regular to a vegan diet is always frowned upon. This is not helped with loud mouth vegans who rub it in other people’s faces how their choices are better. Being vegan is a personal decision you make either for health or animal rights reasons. It’s not some religious principle you need to enforce on others.
Let others do their thing and do yours as well and you will avoid a lot of debates. Politely inform the chatty ones that it’s a personal decision and for Pete’s sake don’t try to convert everybody you meet into veganism.
But, no matter how hard you try to follow the straight and narrow, you will occasionally come across some anti-vegan mafias who will test your patience.
I also noticed that in social situations, I felt ashamed of admitting I was vegan when that loudmouth at the table asked why I had not touched the “good stuff” so I would lie that am on some medication that did not require meat consumption.
Be prepared to deal with you shame phase.
Pro tip 🙂 – lie that you are just trying it for the week. Then turn down the invite for the next gathering.
5. You learn that a Vegan diet does not necessarily equal Weight loss
Three months into my plant-based diet I noticed I was actually gaining weight. This baffled me because I went in with the mindset that I could not possibly gain weight on a vegan diet.
Curious thing is that as a vegan you tend to eat more compared to your regular counterparts. And you should. This is advised to make up for the nutritional requirements your body needs to function properly.
6. Be prepared to curse at the supermarket often
You will be surprised how many processed foods you thought were animal-free actually have animal products in them. A month after going vegan I was still using a spread which was marketed as “Made with vegetable oils” only to see skimmed milk as part of the ingredients one morning during breakfast.
I was so pissed I went raw vegan for a couple of days because it seemed I could not trust any food. This affected me and I got sick for a couple of days after eating sprouted beans. The story for another post.
I soon figured that I was trying so hard to be perfect. There is no perfection in the world and certainly not in your diet. Which brings me to the next learning.
Occasionally you will eat animal products, unintentionally or intentionally
Apart from situations like the above where I had no idea milk was in my spread, there are situations you will just relapse. The initial 3 months are the hardest.
Sometimes in the initial stages, you will just down a bar of chocolate and then go curse on yourself on the bathroom mirror. I have since completely put these days behind me. I still sometimes crave stuff like chocolate but I have control now and haven’t had one for over 4 months.
Don’t be way too hard on yourself, shifting from what you have known your entire life can be a huge change. Allow yourself space to screw up. Alooot of space.
8. Cravings do change. You will be surprised.
Human beings are habitual creatures. Your mind learns fast and sooner instead of cheese, you will be craving almonds. The more you do the plant-based thing the better you get at it and really start liking it.
My biggest fear was getting started was that I would be in permanent craving mode for cheese. I was a huge fan of cheese and loved my pizza. But soon I did not just care. The cravings have totally died down and cheese actually disgusts me sometimes.
Lifting a slice of pizza from the box was the ultimate drool. Now a just like meh. It will surprise you how fast things can change forever.
What are some initial stage learnings you would like to share? Let’s engage in the comments.
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