What To Expect When Going Veggie

Photo Credit  Eamon Curry.

Photo Credit Eamon Curry.

 

Going Veggie, whether Vegan or Vegetarian, is easy…for some people. At least that is what is said in the community at large. I have lost track of how often I hear someone claim that it just clicked one day, and the next they were buying all organic, plant based, cruelty free, human rights supportive, upcycled, fair trade everything. The way they make it sound, they woke up in the morning and their entire lives had become a PETA catalog.

Well, for some of us, it ain’t that simple.

My purse, bought second hand long before I made my decision, is still leather. I have been unable to stop myself long term from eating cheese, no matter how much I try. I still don’t have a great grasp on what brands do and don’t test on animals. And when my delicately euphemistic “Time Of The Month” rolls around, I crave red meat like I am a T-Rex and the world is my steakhouse.

A few times I have come across a new Veggie and found them in despair. They gave in and ate some meat. The shampoo they have been using isn’t certified as animal safe. They can’t bring themselves to throw out their favorite suede jacket.

I am here to tell you: it’s OK.

The Dividing Line

You can pretty much break the community into two groups it seems: those who go all out, and those who give some leeway. I don’t think that either is better or worst than the other. But I do believe that the stress and guilt often put onto the people who aren’t as gung ho, or struggle sometimes with the lifestyle, is unfair.

I also think it marginalizes the community enough that it shuts people down who might have otherwise made an effort. Plenty of omnivores become defensive at the very mention of being a Veggie, after all. Considering how self righteous some Vegans in particular can be, can you really blame them?

Knowing what to expect if you aren’t able to just jump right in, good intentions or not, can be helpful.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting….To Go Veggie

This is based around my experience, and the experience of others I know. Those who are able to just give it all up, I salute you. Your self control is a constant source of admiration and, frankly, bemusement from yours truly.

For me and my few examples, here are some truths:

Your Dedication Will Wane.

The first few weeks are sooooo great! Excitement and moral outrage can go a long way towards making a change to your lifestyle. But over time, the desire for something becomes great. Maybe it is cheese (oh God, the cheese…), or ice cream, or even a meat you used to enjoy.

Most things have a replacement readily at hand that you can turn to. TVP and plant based faux meat, coconut or almond milk frozen treats, ect. But it may not be as satisfying, and slip ups can happen. When they do, don’t beat yourself up. Just move on from there, and remember that you are changing a life habit that has been with you since you were old enough to chew.

The Body Takes Time To Adjust

In the beginning weeks of switching to a largely plant based diet, you aren’t going to feel like yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t like you will be weak or sick or anything like that. If you are, you need to analyze your diet to see if you are doing it correctly. More than one Veggie has relied too much on carbs and fruit, and not enough on veggies and proteins when they first get started.

For the most part, your struggle is going to be due to fiber. Plants have a lot of fiber, and you won’t be used to having so much. Even if you ate a lot of vegetables and fruit prior to your transition. This could lead to some confusing changes to your, shall we say, bathroom habits.

There might be something you can do about this. I can tell you that I never found a good solution. All you can do, as far as I am aware, is wait for the body to get used to the new intake. This will take around two weeks, and is more of a minor inconvenience than anything else.

You Need To Vary Your Foods

I don’t care how much produce you think you eat. Chances are, you have a rather short list of items you consume on a regular basis. Which can not only get boring, but also potentially inhibit your nutrients. Varying your diet is important on many levels, so it is experiment time.

Each trip to the store for your general shopping, pick up two new items to try. One should be produce, one should be anything not containing an animal product. Going to other stores, especially cultural markets like Mexican or Asian grocers, will be a goldmine for new foods. Maybe you will like what you get, maybe you won’t. The point is you are trying something new, and might discover a few goodies to incorporate into your meals.

Another benefit to this is that it forces you to learn how to prepare something you didn’t know how to cook before. Which means seeking out recipes, which will lead to further ideas, and so vary your diet and meal plans even more.

The Weirdest Things Contain Animal Products

I already did a post about this, so I am not going to say too much on the topic. But animal products are everywhere, in everything. It’s bizarre, what some brands will shove into their foods.

What is more problematic is that different companies will put it in where others don’t. It is the most annoying part about being a Veggie: turning over a product that is a different brand than you usually buy and seeing eggs, or whey, or gelatin. Be wary, even after you have been going at it for awhile.

Processed Vegan Products Also Suck

You might be thinking that because it is Vegan, it is healthy. This is so, so wrong. Animal free processed foods have the same pitfalls as those made with meat and dairy. High salt, high fat, high calorie, low nutrient value. Especially Vegan cheese and butter spreads, which are almost all oil.

Let’s not forget about cellulose, as well! What is this magical ingredient that seems to be on the back of every package these days? Cotton, or wood pulp. Seriously. They grind it up and add it to foods to thicken it, stabilize it, or just reduce the calories that would otherwise be in it if they used actual food.

As far as we know, it is safe. Just like the multitude of chemicals and colors added to those faux chicken strips are safe. But that doesn’t mean they are good for you. Use these products sparingly, or not at all.

You Will Fall Off The Wagon, Climb Back On, Then Fall Off Again

I think it takes a very special kind of person to just make a sudden change like this and then stick to it unwaveringly for years. They exist, and they usually show the same kind of immediate intensity to the rest of their lives. Most of us aren’t going to have that talent, however, and we will need to struggle a bit.

Whether you are doing this for health reasons, moral reasons, or just “ew, meat is icky” reasons, you will fail sometimes. Don’t feel guilty, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty, either. Just pick yourself back up, get back on track, and keep in mind that every little bit you do is actually making a difference.

Don’t believe me? Read this.
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Back To School Veggie: Avoiding School Lunches

School_Lunch

School lunches in the United States suck.

Now, I am not saying the school lunch programs itself are awful. Many public schools offer their students discounted or even free lunches in cases of those below a certain income line. They also offer breakfasts, which are an incredible help to families struggling to make ends meet. When you have a child living in poverty, school lunch programs can be a life saving benefit that we should most definitely continue funding through taxes.

The problem is the type of food that schools serve in cafeterias all over the country. Not only is it low quality food, but it could be argued that most of it is incredibly unhealthy.

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Criminal Vegans – Do The Ends Justify The Means?

FreeTheAnimals

Earlier this week I posted a link on my Facebook page to a news story about the Iowa state fair. Some activists for the Iowans for Animal Liberation group hid so they were locked in with the display of a cow, then vandalized the exhibit. They threw red paint everywhere and wrote “Freedom For All” on the glass window to the display.

Obviously, Veganism is pretty synonymous with activism. Part of witnessing the problems with the food industry – the meat and dairy industries in particular – is dedicating yourself to spreading awareness and perhaps fixing it. Even if what you do is done with small acts rather than far reaching loyalty to the cause, just making the choice to go Vegetarian or Vegan is a step in the way of change. You have done something very real to foster a shift in demand.

But what about those who choose to go further?

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Juice Fast – Three Days Become One

As I said in my last post, I am a skeptic. I don’t believe in toxins building up mysteriously in the body, or anything like that. But juice fasting has been one of those things that even other skeptics I know often swear by. The biggest claim in the community I am a part of isn’t that it will clear your body, but that it makes you feel amazinby drinking nothing but a strange concoction of fruits and vegetables.

This was the thing that struck my curiosity. It didn’t seem like a pleasant thing, at all. So why did so many people love it? All I could find in researching the topic was a lot of differing opinions on both sides, both horror and triumphant stories about successes. So I set out to do the only thing I could think of, and that was try it myself.

Well, I did, and while I had some surprising finds I also found that I had no desire to go the full three days. Instead, it turned into a one day fast, and here are my impressions as they happened during that day.

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Should New Vegans Do A Juice Fast? Let’s Find Out

Juice fasting has been a hot topic in most health related communities for quite some time. But after the release of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead it became a national obsession.

In the documentary, Australian Joe Cross admits that he is severely overweight, facing numerous health problems, and also has a rare disease that causes his immune system to overreact to perceived threats and create rashes and hives all over his body. In a desperate attempt to save his health, he went on a 60-day juice fast and traveled across America as he did so. Along the way he met trucker Phil Staples who also went on a juice fast and lost hundreds of pounds.

Now, I don’t know what to think of the whole juicing thing. A lot of people have recommended going on one now that I have switched to Veganism (at least most the time). According to popular opinion, it will cleanse me of toxins, hormones and chemicals that are regularly found in animal based products. Not to mention pollutants found in tap water, the air and the shadow government’s airplane trails or whatever.

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Frankenmeat – Could Lab Grown Beef Change The World?

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It has been all over the news: lab grown meat has finally been cooked and eaten by various food experts and researchers in London.

This unique beef is made by cloning stem cells and “growing” the beef, without harming the cow the cells were taken from. Which scientists are saying could offer a solution to world hunger and provide a more sustainable way to eat meat.

But could this really be as world changing as it sounds?  Continue reading

5 Veggies Who Could Kick Your Ass

Ouch-boxing-footwork

When I tell people I don’t eat meat the majority of responses are far from supportive. We have all heard the comments: it isn’t healthy, we need meat, the animals will zomg run the world and humans will die forever! You know the drill.

But when I speak to men who are Vegetarian or Vegan, there is a common thread. They are accused of being less ‘manly’ or physically weaker because of their choice to avoid meat. As though we were Neanderthals, males seem to have to prove their virility by how much innocent flesh they consume.

This has always bothered me, but a recent post by The Meaty Vegan made me really think about it. No matter how many people waft a cheeseburger under my nose like it is entertainment, I have never been threatened with a lack of strength due to my choices. Patronized and condescended, yes, but never marginalized as less of something.

So I thought today I would write a post for the fellas. Next time someone knocks your strength because of your convictions or diet, here are five Veggies to point out that could, without a doubt, kick the ever living shit out of them.

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