Today is my one year vegan anniversary and I am hype about it! Time flies! It feels like it was just yesterday when I made the decision. I remember eating meatballs and cheese squares the day before I just dropped everything cold turkey, and then on August 26, 2017 – my vegan journey began. My first vegan mean was a black bean burger from Detroit Vegan Soul. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. (Tons of pictures at the bottom!!!)
I’ll start by clarifying that I eat a plant-based diet; I don’t live a vegan lifestyle (clothing, perfume, soaps ect.). Over the past year, I have had my share of ups and downs. In the beginning, I tried being a strict vegan, but it left me feeling discouraged. I would go to restaurants and ask if they cook with butter, and it was those sorts of small things that left me overwhelmed. Because of this, I decided to not be as nit-picky. I don’t have food allergies or anything like that, so I’m okay with making a few exceptions to fit my lifestyle.
Overall, I’d say I’ve been about 87ish% vegan. I cook with Earth Balance butter at home, but if a restaurant sautes my hash browns in butter, I’m still going to eat them. I’ve had two full blown cheat meals in the past year – both were vegetable alfredo dishes – but I think twice in the course of a year is pretty decent. Also, my dad makes the best Bisquick pancakes, and it’s hard to tell him no (he does use Almond Milk for me, but he still uses egg). I haven’t had any meat at all, but I will sneak a brownie or a cupcake every now and then. The only other thing I really cheat and eat is Hot Cheetos. That is my cheat food and I’m not ashamed of it. I don’t know why that is the food I chose to indulge in, but my cravings for those is unbelievable sometimes. Going forward, I do think I’m ready to fully give up egg. No Bisquick pancakes, no random cupcakes, cookies and brownies, and no more veggie burgers made with egg.
So apart from those few foods I do allow from time to time, my internal food index has grown so much! I’ve tried foods I’ve never heard of. I both love and hate when people ask me about what I eat because sometimes I don’t even know how to explain it. I make my nacho cheese from eggplant, alfredo sauce using cashews, fake mozzarella and nutritional yeast, Beyond Burgers and Field Roast “corned beef sandwiches” that I don’t exactly know what they’re made of, lentil sloppy joes and so much more. My mom and I have gotten extremely creative with this. I eat rice on hot dog buns, I finally love hummus and pita bread, I buy my pizzas with no cheese plus tons of green olives, and I put mushrooms in everything.
People have a lot of opinions about my diet and many of their assumptions are just wrong:
- “Are you starving?” No. I eat a lot because my food tends to be lighter, but I actually haven’t really lost any weight. I may have lost a few pounds in the beginning, but my weight has definitely stabilized as my body adjusted to the change.
- “Where do you get your vitamins?” From the plants. I did my research, but I don’t put forth an extra effort to make sure I get all my veggies everyday. I vaguely know where my vitamins come from, but I know I get them. I did go to the doctor about 2 months ago and had them check all of my levels. The only thing I was deficient in was vitamin D (but so is everybody else who lives in the North lol). But I did start taking vitamin D daily tablets, and I also take a B12 vitamin.
- “What do you eat, just plants?” NOOOOOOOO! Just because I don’t eat meat, doesn’t mean I just eat plants. This question doesn’t offend me. It actually makes me laugh. There is so much variety in my diet. I love showing people pictures of what I eat, and as you’ll see below – I EAT, and I eat good! What I’ve found is that I only struggle finding vegan friendly options in American Style food restaurants. They might have a veggie burger if I’m lucky. Ethnic foods are always much more accommodating in my opinion. I love Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, and Mexican foods. I also like African and Indian dishes, but I get them less often.
While switching to a vegan diet isn’t the easiest thing I’ve done, it hasn’t been so bad. Meat was easy for me to give up and I love all types of meat: ham, salami, turkey, chicken, pork chops, meat loaf, seafood ect. The hard part for me was giving up dairy. I’ve thought about being vegetarian instead, but it’s the dairy and eggs that hurt me the most because I’m lactose intolerant. At this point, I’ve adjusted to the plant-based lifestyle and I don’t even think about it too much anymore. There have been so many benefits to being vegan. I no longer feel so bloated that my stomach is hard and I look pregnant. I don’t get food comas as often. I have so much more energy than I use to. I feel lighter. I overall feel better. I don’t feel as guilty when I fill my plate up because I’m piling on the veggies and healthier foods. There is no turning back for me.
Also, one observation I made is regarding my cycle but hopefully this isn’t TMI. I was on birth control for the past 3 years because my cycle wasn’t regular. I would only get a period like 3 or 4 times a year. My doctor told me I might have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which is “a common hormonal disorder”. Long story short, my testosterone levels were too high and she told me that birth control would help to balance my hormones. After I started the pill, everything was working like it’s suppose to, but as I’m reaching my mid-twenties, I’m starting to think about my future kids (part of the reason I’m vegan). A few months ago, I asked my doctor for her opinion on me stopping the pill. I wanted to know if my change of diet might be enough to balance my hormones without the pill. She told me I could try it but she doubts my diet would make a difference. She told me she believed that my cycle would go back to being irregular and when it does, I can call her to get back on the pill.
Well, I’ve done my homework. I’m no scientist and I’m no expert, but I wanted to at least give it a try because I read that a dairy-free diet can help with PCOS because of the large amounts of testosterone that’s in dairy products. I stopped the pill a little over 2 months ago and I’ve still gotten my period on time since. Now, I’m not claiming it’s a causal relationship. I’m aware that it could be a number of different things and I also know that it’s possible I won’t get it next month, but for now it’s working.
If you want to read about my transition to a plant-based diet or want a few of my tips on transitioning, feel free to check out my other posts:
Vegan Diet? 7 Weeks Post Transition
5 Tips for Transitioning to a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet