12.21.2014

once upon a time i became a vegan.


{vegan peanut butter carob cookie from french meadow cafe and bakery}

Greetings, earthlings! I haven't shared in this space in such a long time, but I decided to pop in and write about something that's been on my mind for months now. I started eating vegan about a year ago and began telling people this about six months ago. Since making this choice, I'm constantly being questioned and sometimes criticized on why I chose it. I probably get asked at least once a day, so I thought I'd put it all together in a post for the entire world to see! Which is a little nerve racking. But anyways. It all started around April of 2013 when I experienced terrible acne and a little bit of extra "chub". It caused me a lot of stress and I was always wondering why my skin looked the way it did. In an attempt to clear it all up, I temporarily eliminated dairy, sugar, and gluten from my diet and realized dairy was my problem. I strayed away from it and began experimenting with alternatives. At one point, I went a few months without dairy and when I reintroduced it into my diet again, along with the terrible acne, I began getting terrible stomach aches. After recognizing and eliminating the cause of my health issues, my diet was becoming healthier than before, I started feeling better, and I became very health conscious (almost to the point of obsession, but thats a whole other story). 

After eliminating dairy, I began reading about veganism. Veganism was something I'd never even heard of up until about two years ago, but from what I could tell, vegans were just a bunch hummus-making, yoga-loving hippies, shouting the joys of plant power for all the world to hear. I had never really been a huge fan of meat or eggs. They were just something I ate on a regular basis because my mom cooked those things for our family. Living in Africa, I saw a culture that was completely centered around meat. Seeing meat and dead animal carcasses everywhere, I began losing interest. I started eating less meat until, before I knew it, I genuinely did not want to eat it. The thought of an innocent animal being killed for my food, let alone food I didn't even care about eating, seemed completely wrong to me. So I wasn't eating dairy or meat but I was still eating eggs, mostly just in baked goods and on avocado toast. I started researching plant based sources of protein and researched today's food industry and the treatment of animals. And in early 2014, I made the decision to eat completely vegan. I had decided that I did not want to eat an innocent animal, yet it was not as clear to me why I did not eat eggs or dairy until I realized the abuse those animals experienced for our food as well. Even if they weren't outright killed, they were still being treated so terribly. 

As soon as I made the switch, I experienced clearer skin, my stomach aches were gone, my weight leveled out, I became more confident in myself, and my energy levels were through the roof. I realize not everyone will understand why I eat the way I do. And I've come to accept that fact. Veganism isn't for everyone, and I'm not saying it is. However, I believe that everyone should eat in a way that makes them feel their absolute best and that certain way changes from person to person. It just so happens that I feel my best when I don't eat anything that comes from an animal. 

Another reason I love eating vegan is that it's HEALTHY!! Vegans are generally more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, etc. since they don't eat meat, eggs, or dairy. Because I've eliminated animal products, I've simultaneously cut out most chemicals, additives, etc. that commonly make their way into our mouths.

Now there are some questions that I hear constantly so I thought I'd talk about those too.  One of the most common misconceptions about vegans is that we don't get enough protein. Yes, animal products are the most common source of protein, but they're not the only ones out there If you eat a well-balanced diet full of variety, you shouldn't have any problem getting your protein from plant-based sources. 

Another question I get asked a lot is what about cookies and sweets and all those foods you love? Well, thank goodness there are SO many alternatives out there, you wouldn't believe it. I can make vegan chocolate chip cookies using the recipe on a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie bag by simply swapping out coconut oil or vegan butter for regular butter, a flax egg for a regular egg, and dairy-free chocolate chips for regular ones. Once you adjust to making those minor changes, it's really no big deal.  I've become so accustomed to eating this way, it's second nature to me now. There are also amazing alternatives out there for ice cream (double chocolate fudge brownie, oh yes.), chocolate bars, boxed cookies, and pretty much everything you can think of for those moments when you're in need of a little junk food therapy. It happens to everyone. 

Another thing I love is that vegan baking and cooking opens the door to many opportunities of experimenting and trying new things. Sure, not everything works (I have yet to find a good vegan brownie recipe that doesn't taste like play-doh.), but when you actually do find something that works, it's quite exciting.

I'm always being asked if I feel restricted eating this way. The answer is no, I really don't. Once you learn to focus on what you can eat rather than what you can't, a whole new world is opened up. I would never eat this way if I felt deprived or restricted. Feeling that way is indicative of an unhealthy lifestyle, and like I said before, I eat this way because it makes me feel happy and healthy.

People always ask me if I miss eating cheese and ice cream and all those other non-vegan things. I honestly don't. Cheese was definitely the hardest thing for me to give up. But once I got over the fact that I couldn't eat it without getting terrible stomach aches and pimples all over, it made it pretty easy to stay away from it. Of course, like I said, there are amazing alternatives out there. Although ice cream is basically a main food group in my diet (kidding only sort of), I haven't tried any of the vegan options for cheese that are out there because honestly, they do not sound appealing whatsoever.  

What does my family think of all of this? Well. Let's just say they're not always the most accepting and I do hear my fair share of "If only you'd eat meat…" or "Want some of my steak?" But I'm thankful that they've let me make my own choices regarding the food I choose to consume on a daily basis even if it's different from theirs.

Being a Christian, I know that God put animals on the earth with the purpose of providing us humans with nourishment. However, I also know that we are called to be stewards over what He has given us. I'm convinced the way that animals are treated, being inhumanely tortured, abused, torn from their mothers, and killed, is not being good stewards of what we've been given. 

"You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas." Psalm 8:6-8

I've faced a lot of criticism because of my choice, like one time when we were at a BBQ in Tennessee, I told the waiter I didn't want the baked beans if there was meat in it. The man behind me overheard and said, "Some meat won't kill ya." I'm thankful that most people I encounter are open to hearing what I have to say and curious about my choices. I honestly love how people wonder and ask me questions.  I know there are some vegans who are quite extreme and think veganism is the only way to go and if you're against it, you're a terrible person and against the lives of animals. I don't play that. I respect people for their own choices and they respect mine. You eat meat and dairy and eggs? Cool, I don't! I never want to become the preachy type, but would rather show the world how awesome and fun being vegan is. In closing…  my purpose of this post really was not to convince you to go vegan, but to better explain why I made this choice for myself. I hope this answers some of your questions and gets you thinking! 

If you've made it this far and read this entire post, thank you. You deserve a big fat hippy cookie. 

P.S. These posts are fantastic and talk about veganism in a humorous, totally relatable way. 



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15 comments:

  1. I think it is great. I thought you might like this recipe. :)
    http://averillrecipes.com/2014/10/06/moosewoods-six-minute-chocolate-cake-vegan-margaret/

    Krystal

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