I wasn't always a vegan. I have been for a year now, and previously a vegetarian for a year. My 18 year old son has been a vegan for a year now too. Although, my 16 and 13 year old girls are vegetarian whereas my husband doesn't follow any particular diet. He does occasionally eat animal products but he mostly eats the whole food plant based meals I cook at home so that's great! I believe in bio-individuality, so what works for one person might not work well for another. For myself, it was the best decision I could ever have made. I feel better both mentally and physically than I have in my entire life.
I was raised in a household where having animal products such as meat, chicken and fish is a part of our culture. We were told since we were young to have milk as it was good for our bones and growth. It was what our parents believed in and what the dairy industry promoted.
During special occasions such as Eid celebrations, a birth of a child, new employment, a house purchase,etc, a huge feast of meat was served. It was custom and normal. I never actually took a moment and thought how the food on my plate arrived there.
A couple of years ago I visited Nepal for a solo relaxing trip and the retreat that I was in, only served vegetarian food. I was surprised that I felt satisfied and had more energy.
Challenges I faced when I came back home
I had decided when I was back home I would stay on a vegetarian diet.
I wanted to continue enjoying the way I was feeling.
My husband was not a big fan of my decision at first. He was not prepared for some changes such as; I wouldn't be having our “favourite steak” at our usual steak house, or how we would have to start looking for places that serve “my” food. However, after a lot of ups and downs he finally understood that this was my choice and accepted and supported my decision. Nowadays, he sometimes make the effort to prepare vegan/ vegetarian meals and desserts for us. The end results leave both me and my kids completely blown away by his cooking skills and presentation!
Apart from my husband, I also had to deal with my family’s remarks and dissatisfaction when we had family meals which were animal based and I was left to just eat the salads. I was never a great cook but now knowing this I knew I had to change this if I wanted to continue being vegan. I was surprised with how easy it was to make plant based dishes.
After some time being a vegetarian, I noticed that I hardly ate eggs and although I did love cheese ,they are so addictive! And it actually has been proven scientifically, don't take my word watch Dr Neil Barnard talk facts.
I never knew the dangers of cheese and dairy products. Once I did, I knew I would be vegan and just have whole food plant based meals. I started learning about dairy alternatives and trying many different recipes at home that the family enjoyed.
Nowadays if I am invited out I make sure to eat before hand , just in the case there aren't any vegan options. I am sorted and not starving:) I also carry snacks with me just in case.
In the beginning, I will be honest the change from vegetarian to vegan was a bit challenging but I was convinced and had the mindset. Also the vegan alternatives available helped.
I replaced yogurt and ice cream with delicious vegan alternatives. I was so relieved there was vegan butter that tasted just the same! Finally, I read every label to make sure there was no dairy, eggs, honey, or any other animal byproduct in anything I bought at the grocery store. Yes, I spent a longer time in supermarkets and no one wanted to join me anymore but it was worth it! But after some time I knew what products I needed at home, what plant based milks each one preferred, and learnt now to make healthier options. I now knew what other nasties food manufactures were adding to the food. One of the perks of going vegan is that you start making healthier choices.
The kids became vegan/vegetarian at their own choice, but it was after watching a movie called “compassion” that they knew they could not eat animals again. It was then I knew I had to study more about plant based nutrition to make sure my kids were getting all the nutrients and vitamins needed. They know they would now have to have more vegetables, beans, legumes,etc and vitamins B12 and D. I also explained that they would have yearly blood tests to make sure they are not deficient in anything. So far they have been all eating well with no fuss and their blood work is great.
For myself it was initially for health reasons, and after I researched more I felt more compassion towards our animal friends, and knew what I was doing was also helping the environment. It was a win-win situation for myself, the animals and our beautiful earth.
Now, some may wonder how a vegan stays healthy and gets all the nutrients they need. Well, there are plenty of plant based proteins that are sustainable and more healthy than meat. We do have to take B12 supplements which is not a problem at all when you know you are getting all the health benefits.
I always get asked, what do you eat?
Well a lot of fruits,vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts,seeds,leafy greens which are high in all the vitamins, minerals and fiber we need without the cholesterol, saturated fat, hormones etc. There are so many vegan restaurants / deliveries now available also! Being vegan does not necessary mean healthy food, there are so many vegan products that are not healthy and have a lot of processed ingredients and sugar. I eat whole food plant based (healthy vegan food) however occasionally I do treat myself to Vegan pizza and vegan ice! For some easy to make recipes check my website.
I do know that a vegan diet is not for everybody but me and my family are healthy and thriving. There are so many health benefits from eating this way but if you want to lose weight and keep it off without dieting and feeling hungry all the time then this is definitely the way!
I have a really awesome Plant Based starter guide for YOU to download for free, where there are easy to make and delicious meal suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
My sister, a breast cancer survivor and my hero was encouraged now to try and eat a vegan diet. She had gained more weight due to the cancer medications she had to be on, and going to the gym or yoga centre was not so appealing or sustainable to her. After a few months she lost weight, it was not reflecting on the scale but she noticed her clothes were not the same fit and she was so happy she continued eating a vegan diet. She now feels lighter, has more energy and mental clarity.
Whether you want to give it a try for a month, or try being vegetarian first, it's up to you. Everyone has their own way to transition to a complete vegan diet. Maybe try first replacing dairy milk with plant/nut milk, add more vegetables, have more grains like oats and quinoa, and try to slowly reduce your animal products intake as you see fit. Allow time for your body to adjust to new changes, have an open mind and enjoy the learning process and journey.
If you want some support trying a plant based diet join my private facebook group for tips and daily meal inspirations and recipes.
Some plant based educators I recommend are:
Dr Michael Greger
Dr Garth Davis
Dr Alan Goldhamer
Dr John McDougall
Dr T. Colin Campbell
Dr Michael Klaper
Dr Milton Mills
Dr Neal Barnard
Dr Caldwell Esselstyn
Dr Steve Blake
Dr Joel Kahn
Dr Pam Popper
Dr Kim Williams
Dr Joel Fuhrman
Dr Angie Sadeghi