I am now a few months into eating a completely vegan diet and living a vegan lifestyle, and I thought that it would be fun to answer some of the questions you had about my vegan journey and transition! I adopted a vegan diet for both health and ethical reasons, and it has worked wonders for me in my life journey. I understand that everyone has a different cultural and health background, and I promote adopting the lifestyle that is healthiest for you. That being said, there are many things that people can do to lessen the impact of farming on the environment and on the cruel treatment of animals. If you are interested in learning more, I will leave a few links at the end of this post! So without further ado, let’s get into the questions!
What motivated you to become a vegan? What has been the biggest challenge?
A few years ago if you would have told me that I would be a vegan in the future, I would have laughed and said that I would probably be a vegetarian but definitely not a vegan. My love for cheese and ice cream would never make that possible! However, during my first year of college I faced many health problems that made studying and other day-to-day activities difficult. Despite my attempts to discover what was the root cause, I struggled for many months before determining that it was a sensitivity to meat and dairy. I had been vegetarian for quite a while prior to this discovery, and decided to make the full transition to being vegan. It was by no means an easy transition (there were so many learning curves!), but I would do it all over again a million times over.
I had been a migrainer since age 14, and last year I was having about 1 (or more!) migraines a week. This was very detrimental to my productivity, but I had always assumed that it was stress that was causing them. Once I omitted dairy from my diet, this number dropped dramatically. My last migraine was in July, which is unheard of for me! This alone made the transition completely worth it, and learning more about the ethical considerations for veganism made it a clear choice. I was never excited about eating meat, even as a child, and decided to be primarily vegetarian very naturally in high school. Now that I have made the transition to a vegan diet, my energy levels are consistently higher and my ability to focus is definitely more reliable. That being said, the biggest challenge was maintaining a consistent blood sugar level and adjusting to being a vegan in college.
As a vegan you burn through your calories and nutrients much faster than the more complex proteins found in dairy and meat. For me, these complex proteins often left me feeling tired and nauseous, but switching to plant proteins and nutrients left me hungry about every hour. I’ve learned that carrying snacks around with me (KIND bars, mixed nuts, fresh fruit, etc.) helps me to keep consistent blood sugar and energy levels. I also feel as though I am taking better care of my body by giving it raw nutrients and whole foods. 🙂 I’m considering writing a full post about being vegan in college on a budget, so let me know if this is something you would be interested in reading about!
Do you have any tips or alternatives for a girl who loves cheese and crackers, or mac and cheese?
This is a great question! One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was mac and cheese, and for the longest time the idea of giving up cheese was unthinkable. However, I’ve discovered that Daiya mac and cheese is just as delicious as regular mac and cheese! I’ve also made grilled cheese sandwiches with SmartBalance margarine spread and Daiya cheese melts or shredded cheese! They’re so good and you can’t even tell the difference between them and the ‘real’ thing! Nutritional Yeast is also a great cheese substitute, especially in baking and for pastas. You also don’t have to give up pizza, because Daiya has options for that too! All of their dairy substitutes are so delicious, and quite affordable! 🙂
Have you noticed any differences in your overall health, or how you feel on a daily basis?
I used to wake up super tired and feeling generally “meh” despite getting enough sleep or nutrition, but now when I wake up I’m always energized and happy. 🙂 Someone asked me the other day to describe how I felt on a daily basis, and the only word that I could think of that came close to describing it is light. Not in a weight sense, but in the fact that I always felt groggy after eating meat/dairy. Once I eliminated these from my diet, I never felt uncomfortably full after a meal. I eat frequently and make sure I’m getting enough calories and nutrients, but I always feel as though I can go through my day without feeling a variation in my overall health as the day goes on. 🙂 I’ve also found that I have had a strengthened immune system, and that my hair and nails are stronger, healthier, and longer now that I have switched to a plant based diet!
Is it difficult to eat out when vegan? How do you know what’s okay for you to eat?
Eating out was definitely a bit difficult at first, but now I’ve learned how to be able to go to most restaurants and find vegan friendly options. I usually like to look at a menu online ahead of time just to make sure that there are going to be a few options that I can choose from (samosas are one of my favorite vegan options, they’re just so delicious!!). Some restaurants have dietary labels and cautions on their menus, and with others I have to double check with the server if the meal has meat or dairy in it. They usually will check with the manager to make sure that it fits a vegan diet. Restaurants are used to getting asked about dietary information, so don’t worry about double checking! I’ve often found that many servers give me recommendations for vegan dishes, and they’ve always been delicious! As a vegan I don’t usually eat out often, but I definitely don’t have to miss out on the opportunity to go to a meal with family or friends. 🙂
Do you have any tips for if you experience a lack of protein and energy?
After a process of trial and error, I have definitely found the routine that maximizes my nutrient consumption and balance. I absolutely love smoothies, so adding vegan protein powders to my breakfast or post-workout snack has been very easy. I have both a chocolate and vanilla variety, and love to use them with peanut butter, chia seeds unsweetened almond milk, and bananas for added nutrition and protein. I find that these smoothies are super easy to make and help to keep me full and energized throughout my day. I bought a personal blender over the summer (Oster MyBlend), and I absolutely love it! The blender compartment turns into a travel mug, so even if I’m in a rush (as many of us are!) I can still manage to have a full and complete meal and keep myself balanced and energized.
I also love to have nut proteins and oats as snacks to fuel my day, as well as fruit and vegetables to make sure that I have enough energy to get through a workout or a long day on campus. It’s definitely a different journey for everyone, but I’ve found that I can now tell what kind of nutrients my body needs as I go through the day. I usually eat a protein-filled meal in the morning, and then snack on some fruits and veggies at work or while working on homework for energy and focus. I also tend to eat more protein after workouts and at the end of the day to make sure I stay full and well nourished. Water is also very important! I make sure to have about a gallon per day (at least two liters), and this helps to keep me full, energized, and ready for the day! 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this Q&A post, and thank you to those who submitted questions! If you have more questions, I would be happy to answer them in the comments! Below I will link some of the sites that I have found very helpful as I continued on my vegan journey, and I would love to hear any recommendations that you have!
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