Since 2014, Report Buyer has found that veganism has grown 600% in the United States alone (from 1% to 6%). As its numbers increase, so does its social recognition. An initial draw to veganism tends to be the health benefits that it may provide, which include, lowering cholesterol, contributing to weight loss, and, in certain cases, reversing diseases. There have been cases of people who have had arthritis and some cancers that were completely reversed just by cutting animal products out of their diet. I have heard of this directly, happening in one case from a personal trainer, as her and her husband adopted a vegan diet in hopes that it would help with his arthritis. In only weeks had already seen massive positive results.
I grew up in a family that, like many, includes animal products as a normal part of their everyday consumption. My favorite food until I was nineteen was hamburgers. On my year abroad in England my junior year of college, I underwent a complete dietary transformation. I had been immersed into the English culture, a country that seemed to me to be socially progressive compared to my upbringing. I started appreciating a life without animal products after becoming friends with a pescatarian. This constant conversation that I was surrounded by was what ultimately sparked my interest in trying out veganism for myself.
Back home, my little sister had been vegetarian for around a year previously, and I had always rolled my eyes at her choice in meat-free meals. As soon as I made the decision to give it a try, I was quick to get advice from someone I knew would have a better understanding of my transition. After only a couple weeks since our conversation, she messaged me with a link to an informational video on veganism. It was then only a few weeks later that my boyfriend at the time and I decided to go all out and give veganism a try.
What I’ve Found Works Best:
1. Using an approach that works best for your personality. I do best in making a full and complete change overnight. However, many others find it to work better for themselves to take it one step at a time (for example taking out cheese followed by milk followed by casein a.k.a. milk protein). From what I have seen for myself, the one-step-at-a-time approach tends to work best for the majority.
2. Find someone to cook with! This doesn’t have to be for every meal, of course, but it will make cooking new dishes more enjoyable for those who might not have the easiest time cooking to begin with. I literally did not know how to cook before this, so if I can do it, anyone can!
3. Eat snacks—although vegan meals might seem to fill you up in one moment, in the next you might be left completely hungry again. (This is okay! This means you’re having an easier time digesting these foods as they’re more natural for our bodies.)
4. Don’t get too stuck on a few foods or recipes. Variety is such an important part of this diet. So many clean and delicious foods are out in the world that you might have never even heard of before, so try everything and do it with an open mind.
A vegan lifestyle is such a drastic change from how many of us were raised, and calls for changes in tradition and comfort. It has become a normal part of my life now, and I oftentimes forget about the aspects of it that are quick to scare others off. Let me make the statement that is so often used as a counterargument in drawing attention to the fact that yes, protein is a very important part of our diets as humans, but there is protein in nearly all of the food that makes up a well-balanced diet. So, if you are eating enough in general, you are getting enough protein, with or without meat and dairy. It really is that simple.
The vegan diet comes off as being extremely plain in eating only grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. When you think about it though, there are really hundreds of different types of foods to choose from within these categories.
Without meaning to, I have become a healthier person and a much better cook since becoming vegan. I have always given some degree of care over the foods I put in my body, even previous to my transition, and so to me this challenge was a fun one. Not only am I surviving on a vegan diet, but I also feel like I have become the best version of myself through it.