As of the day after Labor Day, I have been vegan for one year. It hasn’t been a perfect year, vegan wise. I have had some dairy and even a couple of hamburgers over the year (no one’s perfect), but overall, I’m considering it a success and plan to continue to eat vegan.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself and my diet over the last year.
1. I don’t miss cheese
The cheese is the one that always gets people. I hear regularly, I could give up meat, but not cheese. I won’t lie, it was hard for me. No joke I went through cheese withdrawals. But now, I don’t miss it at all. The few times I have had it, it really didn’t taste very good and I was sorry I had given in to eating something that looked yummy.
2. I feel healthier
Overall my body feels healthier. I don’t really know how to explain that better. I just feel healthier. I’m eating way more vegetables than I used to and I love them. The one thing that I do find is that I will feel really tired on occasion. That’s usually been when I’ve had a hamburger and it makes me feel better. I think it’s the iron, not the protein, since I have a tendency to be anemic. I’ve probably eaten 3-4 hamburgers over this last year. It’s not perfect, but I felt my body needed it, and I feel pretty good about it.
3. It feels good to have a humane diet
Although I have eaten some meat this year, it makes me feel good to know, for the most part, nothing has to die for me to live. This surprised me. I really didn’t think the animal rights aspect of veganism was anything I cared about. Turns out, I do. I like not eating other animals.
4. I love the environmental aspects
By eating a plant based diet, I know I’ve cut down on my carbon footprint. Raising animals for food takes a big toll on the environment, and it makes me really happy that I’m lessening my environmental impact.
5. My Kids Will Eat Veggies
Since children can’t stand to see something on your plate that’s not on theirs, my kids have at least tried a whole lot of my vegan dishes. They like some of them too. By going vegan, my whole family is eating healthier and I like that a lot.
6. When Cooking Something Vegan, Don’t Call it “Vegan” something
If you make mac n cheese vegan style, don’t tell anyone you did it, or they’ll complain. Also, don’t try to mimic it exactly. Macaroni noodles in a yellow sauce, that’s mac n cheese, other noodles in a “cheesy” sauce with maybe some veggies thrown in, that’s entirely different and no one will care. Same goes for “lentil” loaf. Don’t pretend it’s meat loaf. It’s not. If they’re expecting meat loaf and then take a bite, they’re going to be disappointed and complain. Even if they’re a grown man and should just get over it.
7.Vegan Desserts Kick Butt
Seriously. They’re fantastic. I will never not bake vegan again. No reason to have cholesterol in my desserts if it tastes the same without it. However, the one caveat is vegan desserts are not no calorie, or necessarily lower calorie. They’ll make your butt big if you’re not careful.
8. There are a lot of misconceptions about vegan food
Namely, that it’s bland and tasteless. It’s not. It tastes very good most of the time. Also, there are a lot of things we all eat on a daily basis that are vegan. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Vegan. All fruit? Vegan. Hummus? Vegan. Pasta? Vegan. Really, you probably eat more vegan foods than you realize. It’s okay. I won’t think you’re a weird hippie.
That’s some of what I’ve learned over the course of this year. I’m happy I made the change. Anyone else vegan and loving it? Anyone surprised I’ve “cheated” a little?