That is the question, my friends. What is a ‘vegan’ diet you may ask? Well, it’s a predominantly plant-based diet where no animal products are consumed. Essentially it’s a low fat, high fibre, and healthy diet. For me, my transition to a vegan diet arose because of my health and it was something I made a conscious decision about, to see if I could alter my cholesterol without having to go on prescription drugs for the rest of my life. When you think about it, you are what you eat…so why not fill your body with healthy food and essential nutrients.
Initially, going vegan scared the pants off me. Instead of looking at the positives, I was too worried about everything I couldn’t eat (not necessarily bad food, just things like yogurt and cheese which I had been so used to having in my everyday diet) and I thought it was all just salad and fruit, which blind-sighted me a little. But, you know what, it’s amazing how driven you are when it’s something you have to do. Without sounding like a drama queen, it was really a case of being accountable for my own health, doing what is best for my body and choosing to make a difference in my diet… and I just went full throttle. Don’t get me wrong, it was really hard going cold turkey; I was a person who ate relatively healthy but who never had to pay attention to ingredients and nutritional values, and who was always able to indulge from every food group… and now I am taking account everything I eat and drink. But let me tell you a little not so secret…after the first week…I LOVED it!! Literally, after just a couple of weeks I already began noticing changes. Fast forward three months and my skin was clearer and glowing, I felt lighter on the inside (that sounds funny, I know, but it’s the only way I can think of to describe it), I had more energy and I was just healthier inside and out.
I think if you’re going to do it…do it whole-heartedly. I made the decision to throw myself into my new diet from the first day, rather than ‘wean’ myself into being vegan. So, from day dot, I was completely vegan. Do whatever works for you, of course, but I just found this easier as there is no point pro-longing the inevitable. Plus, to truly see results to your health and body, you can’t do it in bits and pieces or you won’t know if it works for you or not.
Not sure if other people have experienced this, or just me…but I have received a ton of questions and criticism from some people on my choice of diet. I think it mainly comes down to a lack of knowledge on the subject and I’m sure they mean well…but rest assured, being on a vegan diet doesn’t mean you will neglect your body of vitamins, minerals, protein and essential nutrients. Just read up about it and you will quickly learn substitutes for animal products and which fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds have certain nutrients in them, which you can incorporate into your daily diet to ensure you are keeping up with what is required.
Now, don’t be fooled; a LOT of vegan food is unhealthy…oil is used a lot in many recipes and technically you could eat crisps, drink soda and stuff your face with sweets and you’re still a vegan. However, this is an extreme, as the majority of people who choose to go vegan for the health benefits are definitely healthy vegan. There are so many amazingly delicious vegan recipes and at the end of the day, it just comes down to your taste buds and personal preference. I’ve learnt to experiment with ingredients and recipes and adapt them to my taste. One thing I will tell you, is that you need to ensure you set aside time for cooking and preparing meals, because vegan food definitely isn’t always fast…in the sense that you can’t just head to the shop, get something out of a packet and heat it up in the microwave. For healthy, nutritional, vegan meals sometimes a little more effort is required but you will reap the rewards in abundance, I can promise you that. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all slaving away in the kitchen, there are so many quick meals you can rustle up or prepare earlier for the next day etc. And if you’re worried about adapting your current recipe collection and weekly meals to a vegan regime…don’t you worry, there are so many adaptations and it just takes a little bit of experimenting. For example, bet you didn’t know that if you leave chia seeds in a bowl with some water, after a little while they become gelatinous and are a great replacement for egg! So don’t you go worrying about it being hard, trust me, I’m speaking from experience. Just get through the first week and you’re well on your way.
I don’t want to be a preacher but it is one of the best decisions I have EVER made, it’s been more than just a diet change for me, it’s been a lifestyle change and I honestly feel great. My advice to those of you reading this that think you could never ever make the transition to vegan for whatever reason, that’s completely fair enough, but try having one or two vegetarian/ vegan days a week…and see how you feel. It may / may not be for you, but you’ll never know unless you try and vegan or not…you can still be incredibly healthy and reap the benefits.