Welcome back loves!
Today we’ll be chatting about a sort-of “controversial” topic. Veganism. I found veganism about a year and a half ago and have been riding that wave ever since. Healthy eating is the new trend, and I couldn’t be happier! When I was 13-14 eating healthy wasn’t cool at all, and now I see kids lining up at the Fork and Salad to get big healthy bowls of goodness! It’s incredible to see the shift in our culture and to see people really wanting to care for their bodies and fuel their bodies with good, wholesome, yummy food.
I’ve experienced many nay-sayers in my time as a vegan, and constantly get reminded of how much people love bacon (which, I’m not disagreeing with you, bacon was delicious). It’s hard to try and provide facts and promote a lifestyle that some people are so against, but like anything, you have to move through the people that disagree and find those that want to listen. In this post, we’ll be discussing why I went vegan, my favorite movies/documentaries to watch that provide facts about veganism, my favorite meat-free alternatives and vegan snacks, and how I slowly cut out animal products!
How I made the change from omnivore to vegan.
When I started dating my boyfriend at 16 years old, I was an avid meat eater. I looooooved steak and bacon and adored buttery mashed potatoes. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was a vegetarian and had been one for 10 years. I thought he was insane, and I even went so far as to tell him that if I knew he was a vegetarian when I first started dating him, I would’ve run in the opposite direction! He never brought up why he was a vegetarian, and never pushed me to be one. But when I turned 17, veganism started to gain traction. It was an incredibly popular topic to speak on, and vegan YouTube channels started popping up everywhere, promoting this new idea of wellness.
I always struggled with body issues and would binge-eat whenever I felt like I was losing control of my life. Of course, the most common foods to run for when eating your feelings are fatty, sugary, unhealthy junk foods. It wasn’t as terrible as other disorders, and I never purged afterward, but I definitely ate my feelings. Watching these people talking about this subject of veganism I was intrigued and saw the opportunity to eat as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted, and have it be healthier than the alternative.
I watched documentary after documentary, read articles, followed Pinterest boards, and loaded up on vegan cookbooks. I started to become enthralled by this idea of a new way of eating and living. I remember telling my Dad that I wanted to be a vegan and he looked at me puzzled, asked “Why?” and then rolled his eyes, knowing that when I want to do something, I stick to it and nothing and nobody will change my mind. My family is NOT vegan or vegetarian, let me just make that clear. We had meat, potatoes, and veggies every night for dinner unless we were doing spaghetti, tacos or chicken stir fry. My Dad’s an awesome cook, and his meals were great, but I started to look at them differently than before. They weren’t just food on a plate anymore, those were animals that were living, breathing, sentient beings at one point.
What is Veganism?
Veganism is a lifestyle that promotes a new way of wellness and eating. Those who are vegan don’t consume any animals or animal products, in any form and don’t promote or buy products from companies that allow animal testing. That means no eggs, cheese, milk, meat, fish and for some, honey. This includes leather, suede, fur, and any other material made from an animal. You’d be surprised how many animal products are thrown into food (and clothing) items that don’t even need it. But you’d also be surprised at how much you can eat and enjoy! You become more conscious of what you’re putting into your body every single day, and enjoy the learning process that comes with this lifestyle shift!
What made me go vegan and how did I cut out meat & dairy?
Most people go vegan for one of three reasons. They don’t want to participate in animal abuse, they want to preserve our planet and it’s resources, or they’re trying to get their health in order. Some people make the transition for one or all three of these issues. Personally, I couldn’t handle the fact that I was eating something that once could think, feel, and love on its own. It really freaked me out in all honestly, and as I watched more documentaries, I definitely saw the graphic side of the meat, dairy and egg industry. I didn’t realize the environmental impact that meat had on our planet until I became more engulfed in research, and when I found out how terrible this industry was for our land, air, and oceans, I was shocked.
I was never a huge fan of eggs by themselves, so cutting egg out wasn’t too big of an issue for me, but a number of cookies, chips, bread, etc. have egg in them and to me that was surprising! When cutting animal products out, I started off with small changes, that soon grew to be a full change in diet and lifestyle. I initially started by not eating eggs, red meat or fish, while still consuming chicken, dairy and products with egg in them, like cookies, danishes, bread, things like that. Eventually, I cut out all meat, poultry, fish and dairy, and then finally strayed away from products that contained any of those ingredients (even in small amounts). When you don’t do it all at once, it’s a lot easier to do your research and find replacements for your favorite dishes, and it’s much easier to commit to the lifestyle.
My favorite documentaries about healthy eating & veganism.
I have a few favorite documentaries about veganism and/or healthy eating. I show these to my friends when they come over and a few of these films have actually converted my meat eater friends into vegetarians or vegans and turned my vegetarian boyfriend into a full on vegan himself.
Forks Over Knives– This documentary is really eye opening not only to veganism but to the food industry as a whole. It sheds light on all of the preservatives we put in our food, all of the chemicals we spray on our fruit and vegetables and the importance of plant-based eating. This documentary also hi-lights real people that have reversed diabetes, cancer and preexisting heart conditions with a plant-based, vegan diet.
Cowspiracy– Probably one of the more well-known animal activist documentaries out there, this film was directed (and I believe funded) by Leonardo DiCaprio. It offers a slightly overwhelming amount of facts about the environmental impact that the meat, dairy and egg industry has on our planet, and touches briefly on the abuse of animals towards the end of the film. It also covers the bias that big corporations and big non-profit organizations have towards to agriculture industry. This is one of my favorite films to show to my friends, as it’s not graphic by any means, but it definitely brings awareness on the topic of veganism/vegetarianism.
Earthlings– One of the more “controversial” documentaries out there, this one can be found on YouTube rather than the other ones which can be searched on Netflix (or their websites). This documentary not only touches on the meat, dairy and egg industry, but also the abuse that happens to dogs and cats in pet stores, and shows some pretty graphic content. But in the wise words of Gary Yourofsky “If it’s not good enough for my eyes, then why is it good enough for my stomach?” Which brings us to our next and final documentary.
The Best Speech You’ll Ever Hear– Another popular video among the vegan community, Gary Yourofsky’s speech to a group of university students is informative, powerful and a bit triggering to those with a sensitive stomach. He shows two brief clips, one of animal slaughter and the other of the dairy industry. He hi-lights all the key points of veganism, and really takes it home with this speech, even challenging the omnivores that claim that we’re not built to just eat plants. This is the video that caused my boyfriend and me to seriously transition into a vegan lifestyle.
My favorite vegan snacks/meat/dairy replacements.
There are endless amounts of food replacements that you can use that should be able to fill the void of animal products no longer being in your diet, especially when you first make the transition. I get it, animal products are tasty, but once you find excellent replacements, it’s a hell of a lot easier to stick to your diet/lifestyle. I want to be clear with the replacements I put down below, these are novelty items and do not make up a well-rounded, vegan diet. You need to be getting veggies, fruits, nuts, grains, etc. But they are nice to eat as a main once in a while and are great if you’re just starting out with your lifestyle change!
Happy Planet GO NUTS! – Vanilla Chai, Cold Brew, and Chocolate Mylk smoothies. These drinks are delicious, and aside from tasting incredible, they’re also low in sugar and fat and are incredibly creamy because of the cashew and almond milk blend. You can’t even tell that you’re drinking something that isn’t regular cow’s milk because it’s that good.
Chao Tomato & Cayenne “Cheeze” – I usually am not the biggest fan of vegan cheeses and that’s coming from a die hard vegan herself. Cheese is a tricky food to replicate, but when you find the right brand, it’s incredible. This fake cheese melts and tastes delicious and gives you all the satisfaction of cheesy nachos without the cruelty.
Earth Island Soy Free Veganaise – this stuff is unreal. I usually mix a spoonful of this veganaise (mayonnaise imitation) with garlic salt, pepper, lemon and sometimes a bit of stone ground mustard and you get an incredible dip for french fries or vegan pretzel bites.
Yves Mexican Veggie Ground Round – This ground “beef” is incredible. When I say good, I mean it’s really good. It cooks and chars really well, and is pre-seasoned with taco powder, so it’s really effortless to make for taco night. Stick in a hard shell taco or spinach tortilla wrap with some greens, salsa, and shredded carrots and you’ve got dinner!
Sol Spicy Black Bean Burgers – This has also been a staple of mine since I first went vegan, and my Dad actually introduced me to these. You get tons of protein from the beans and veggies in the patty, as well as a nice kick of spice. They’re firm, they taste great, they have tons of protein and did I mention they taste great?
Gardein Crispy Tenders – I’m obsessed with these. I cannot give these vegan “chicken” strips enough of a positive review. They’re so good. They have a multi-grain breading around them, and the inside really does taste like chicken. I’ve actually fooled non-vegans before with this food. I dip these in my veganaise dip and die over how good they taste together.
Facts about Veganism
- Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.
- Livestock is responsible for 65% of all human-related emissions of nitrous oxide.
- Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 Gigatonnes CO2E limit by 2030, all from raising animals.
- Livestock operations on land have created more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in our oceans.
- Raising animals for food required 45% of the Earths land.
- 1-2 acres of rainforest are cleared every second to make room for agriculture farms, killing animals native to the forests and causing others to lose their habitat.
- More than 150 billion animals are slaughtered each year for food. 32,459,000 million cows, 112,126,000 million pigs, and 8,648,756,000 billion chickens.
all facts are from the cowspiracy website (linked above)
What I hope you get from this today.
I love being vegan. Since changing to this lifestyle, I’ve become a more loving, compassionate and caring person. I want to educate and help as many people as I can to transition into this amazing way of living. I know it’s not for everyone and that’s okay, but if I can help one person to change their eating habits, even if it’s just once a week where they don’t eat meat, or once a month or every day, I’d be satisfied with that.
Becoming a vegan, I lost 32 pounds in the first 4 months of my diet change, and that was with doing light exercise a few times a week. My skin cleared up, my periods are regular again, I’m way less hormonal, and my relationship with food is better than ever. Not only did I change many things for myself, but for the planet as well. Every day, as a vegan, I save 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forests, 20 lbs of co2 and most importantly to me, I save the life of one animal.
I hope you see what I saw in these animals, innocent beings deserving a chance, and I hope today you watch one of those documentaries listed above. If you do, please let me know what you think of them! I’d love to hear all your thoughts.
All my love and positive vibrations,