This past month, I decided to eat strictly vegan.
It was a month full of consulting Dr Google whether “is (insert food here) vegan”. Yeah, I had my days when I really wanted that cheese omelette or spicy salmon roll. It’s been 25 days though, and I’ve made it this far!
Where did my inspiration root from? Several distinct reasons. Firstly, I have to give credit to my friend Jennifer Hao who actively spreads pro-vegan tidings through her Facebook. Although our motives to try veganism were quite different, Jen deserves full credit for reminding me that this lifestyle was even an option.
Overall, veganism was a fairly easy journey for me. Here’s why:
Saving money: For people who are on-the-go as much as I am, it’s all too easy to pop by the nearest takeout restaurant and grab your meals to-go. Not only is this remarkably unhealthy, this can be quite tough on your wallet if you’re living on a budget. I was pleasantly surprised to discover on grocery store trips that plant-based shopping lists helped lighten the bills at the end.
Eating out: Contrary to what most vegans say, one thing I disagreed with was the accessibility of vegan dishes when dining out (at least in downtown Toronto). Unless I went to vegan restaurants, the menu options available were pretty darn limited. However, the great upside to this was that I was forced to cook at home more, producing various results from protecting my bank account to embracing healthier routines.
Living healthy: I ate more nutritious food! For those who know me, it’s a pretty given fact that my cooking will not qualify for Iron Chef. I don’t love to cook – I would rather dedicate the time it takes to prepare meals to connect with someone over an already-prepared meal. Taking up a vegan regimen meant that I had to cook at home more, meaning I was able to know exactly what went into my food and what I was consuming. It’s so easy for us to order out and not have to think (nor have the opportunity to think) about what the food we eat is actually being made of. Because protein sources such as poultry and beef were eliminated from my diet, I paid much more attention than before to ensure that I was obtaining the adequate amounts of nutrients from each food group. Overall, I’m eating a lot cleaner and have earned my entitlements to #cleaneating #instahealth #fitspiration. (I was also introduced to the beauty of the juicer. Drink ALL the food!)
Sustainability: Perhaps the number one reason that I gave veganism a chance was the social good factor. It blows my mind that a change as small as adjusting my personal diet can affect the global climate, obesity, and hunger crises. For example, in food production, 15 497 litres of water go into making 1kg of beef compared to 900 litres required for 1kg of maize.
Veganuary: The thing I loved the most about Veganuary was how their campaign was strategized. My belief in their cause is summarized in this short excerpt from The Guardian: “Traditionally the vegan message has been focused on ending cruelty to animals, but veganism achieves much more. There are many health and environmental benefits to be found in adopting meat-reductionist diets and thinking more about what we eat. With Veganuary we wanted to take a relaxed, non-judgmental approach, asking people to take part whatever their motivation.” There is often a negative connotation attached to veganism due to the preach-y attitudes surrounding it, but Veganuary successfully worked around that by appealing to a wider, non-niche audience.
All in all, it was worth it. Not only did I feel better, I also didn’t feel bad – the change in my diet reflected as positive implications on my health. Lately, I’ve had to rely a lot less on coffee and a lot more on just consuming fresh, natural food. I started my Veganuary a little bit later so I’ll still be carrying on veganism for a couple more weeks to fulfill my full-month experience. Who knows – maybe I’ll make this a permanent thing.