Answering the most frequently asked questions I face as a vegan, debunking myths about protein, nutrients, cost, and more. Find answers and insights here!
Why are you vegan?
This is definitely at the top of my “most frequently asked questions” list since changing my diet. Totally understandable but It’s interesting how people think. You would never ask someone why are they eating meat, right?
People are genuinely curious about what drives someone to adopt a vegan lifestyle. While the reasons may vary from person to person, the most common motivations include ethical concerns for animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and personal health. For me, it all started with my desire to improve my health but as I kept educating myself, I couldn’t reconcile my love for animals with the knowledge of the suffering and exploitation they endure in the animal agriculture industry.
Additionally, I learned about the significant environmental impact of animal farming and recognised the potential health benefits of a plant-based diet.
How did you decide to go vegan?
I was vegetarian for 6 months, which started kinda ‘by accident’ or more like, unplanned. During that time, I decided to study nutrition and was fully invested in a healthier lifestyle. I would spend hours watching vegan cooking videos and vegan vloggers. So I definitely admit that I was influenced by them to start researching more about all of that and how I can implement it into my life. Funny enough, at the beginning, as much as I enjoyed spending my time binge-watching those people thrive on a vegan diet I would always mumble in the background how I could never ever stop eating cheese and I could never go vegan. The time was passing, I started watching different documentaries, I read books, studies and articles which lead me to where I am now. I’m vegan for over 6 years and I can confidently say it suits me well.
Are you an ethical vegan?
Yes, I am an ethical vegan.
What does that mean? Being an ethical vegan goes way beyond the food that is eaten. You avoid animal suffering at all costs. So for example, besides the food I don’t eat, I don’t wear leather, silk, wool, feather stuffed clothes, I don’t use products tested on animals, I don’t visit zoos, circuses, safaris or anything that includes animal exploitation.
I would lie if I tell you it’s easy. It’s quite frustrating sometimes not buying a pair of shoes that I really like because they are made of leather. But that doesn’t mean I will buy them.
Nowadays, lots of companies started their ‘vegan range’ but it’s still far from where it should be.
Where do you get your protein from?
I love this one.
Protein can literally be found in every plant. We are taught that protein comes only from animals but no one talks about beans, chickpeas, peas, tofu and tempeh (soya beans), seitan (wheat gluten), and even vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, artichokes, spinach. By consuming a varied and balanced plant-based diet, it is entirely possible to meet protein requirements. Additionally, most people tend to overestimate their protein needs, as the average person’s daily requirements can easily be met through plant-based sources.
I understand it’s more convenient to put a piece of chicken in the oven than prepare meals from scratch but this is exactly why I share all the recipes with you. Minimal effort for tasty recipes!
Is it hard to be vegan?
I won’t lie, it was hard. Not anymore but it was challenging at the beginning. You are used to putting a piece of meat into the oven or grilling it on the stove, throwing together some veggies and voila. You are used to going to a shop and getting whatever you want, just grabbing it from a shelf and putting it into your basket.
As a vegan, firstly I didn’t even know what I can or can’t eat. I didn’t know how to recreate my favourite food, where to get omegas, how to be sure I am getting enough of everything that my body needs and why on earth everything has milk powder.
I remember standing in front of those shelves for hours and reading labels so I can find crisps that don’t contain milk or sweets that don’t have gelatin, beeswax or crushed bugs.
But it does get easier, trust me.
Do you ‘cheat’?
Never. I made a decision to go vegan and I am fully committed to it. I don’t feel the need to have anything that contains animal products or byproducts. I know I can make any dish vegan and If there is something specific, I remember my ‘why. (Read more about how to find your ‘Why’ here)
Always ask yourself, is my short-term satisfaction worth someone else’s life? Definitely not.
It did happen that I consumed non-vegan food by accident because I wasn’t aware of all non-vegan E numbers or how the food is processed. I.e. that some beers or wines are filtrated by using a fish bladder. Or when I’ve been served a coffee with cow’s milk even though I ordered a plant-based one.
I don’t blame myself, we learn as we live. But I would never eat something that came from an animal on purpose.
Did your health improve and how?
My main reason to go vegan was because of my health. As mentioned, I was vegetarian at the time and I’ve seen massive benefits of not eating meat. Since my teenage years, I always had digestive issues. I never got myself tested but I’m sure I had some sort of IBS and/or hyperactive colon. Every time after having red meat, greasy food or anything that might upset my digestion, I would have terrible cramps and end up on the loo. It was quite annoying as I couldn’t eat out because I never knew how my body will react. Will I end up in pain or running to the loo? or both.
But, I never even thought that my diet might be connected with my issues. I was telling myself it’s just the way my body reacts and I have to live with it. Obviously, it wasn’t every day, but it was often enough to cause discomfort and problems.
So as soon as I stopped eating meat, the cramps stopped. My too-often loo visits stopped. I still had bloating problems and discomfort after consuming milk, like cereals, hot chocolate, cocoa etc.
But the real transformation happened when I switched to a vegan diet. I was always anemic and being blonde and pale naturally I would look so pale that people would ask me what was wrong with me.
Also, my hair was quite thin. My skin was very dry. But it’s funny how I was always justifying that as ‘it’s just the way I am.’ “My hair is naturally thin”. I am naturally pale. My digestion is ‘genetically’ bad. I have dry pale skin, cause my mum has the same. Also, you are bombarded with shampoos for thin hair, moisturisers for dry skin, and supplements for anemia..which all make it sound normal. But no one is talking about preventing it and addressing those issues.
Until I actually saw the opposite. I remember going for a haircut and my hairdresser asked me what on Earth have I done with my hair. It was double the thickness and it grew so fast.
My iron levels went from ‘anemic’ to perfect.
I could actually tan.
I can eat anywhere I want, anything I want. I don’t have that heavy feeling in my stomach after meals and I feel like I can run a marathon after lunch. Or dinner. Or any other meal.
It amazes me how our body works and how it can improve with just a change of diet. And to be clear, I didn’t know it’s gonna happen. I haven’t become vegan knowing all these changes will happen. I’ve seen the change once I stopped eating meat. Truly incredible.
Is it expensive?
It definitely could be expensive. If you eat processed food like vegan burgers, vegan mince, vegan ‘chicken’, and other vegan meat substitutes it could be quite expensive.
If you eat a whole food plant-based diet, it’s most certainly, more affordable than a meat-based diet. Buy local, buy seasonal fruit and veggies, and buy legumes, nuts, and seeds in bulk.
Do you miss meat, dairy or any other non-vegan food?
I don’t miss meat and dairy. Not even the slightest.
I was never a big meat eater (or foodie in general) cause I would always feel sick afterwards and I would rather have nothing than a proper meal. Milk would make me bloated and I never liked the taste of it. My love-hate food relationship got me to the point where I was weighing 45 kg until the age of 23. I’m 165cm to put it into perspective. I am naturally thin and was eating very little since I was a baby, so it wasn’t that surprising but my digestive issues definitely had a major role in my relationship with food.
On the brighter side, I loved cheese and I really loved seafood. Hence me stuffing myself with vegan sushi until I can’t breathe.
What I miss the most is gummy bears. I know you’re probably giggling now but I was a real gummy bear lover and i haven’t been able to find one that resembles Haribo. As silly as it is, I’m still waiting for Haribo to create vegan gummy bears. Let me know if you have any connections, ya know..
Isn’t it difficult to eat out as a vegan?
While it can be challenging to find vegan options at every restaurant, the availability of vegan-friendly eateries has grown significantly in recent years. Many restaurants now offer vegan menus or at least have plant-based options clearly marked. Additionally, with a little creativity and communication, it’s often possible to make modifications to existing dishes to suit a vegan diet. As a vegan, I’ve discovered exciting new restaurants and cuisines I might not have explored otherwise.
Being a vegan invites curiosity and questions from others who may not be familiar with the lifestyle. By addressing these common queries, we can foster understanding and encourage a more informed conversation around veganism. Remember, each person’s journey to veganism is unique, and it’s essential to approach these discussions with empathy and an open mind. Whether it’s concerned about nutrition, ethical considerations, or practicality, sharing information.
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