Well, tonight I'm still home in PA finishing up some business to close out 2015; I still have a condo in the suburbs and I need to sell or rent it. So I stayed home to clean it out, spend more time with my niece and enjoy two more days in the burbs. See ya tomorrow, New York City!
Tomorrow is 5 years that I am vegan and the lessons I've learned in those years were immense. My vegan journey began when I received The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone for a Christmas present in 2010. It's filled with wonderful information and inspiration: recipes, facts about factory farming, why veganism can help our environment, how veganism benefits our health, her pictures are beautiful, her recipes are awesome. I love it. It's an easy book to lean on if you are transitioning to veganism.
At this point in time, I was already vegetarian. I was vegetarian off and on since high school so giving up meat was nothing new to me. I was never one to crave meat so leaving it off my plate was easy. Cheese, on the other hand, was altogether different. Cheese was ingrained in my brain since birth. It's good, I still admit it's good. It goes with pretty much everything, it's ooey, gooey and makes the most traditional meals complete. We are drawn to certain foods because we grew up eating them; they make us think of our childhood, our Grandmother, our childhood home; food is something that brings families together so it's understandable that we would have trouble giving up certain foods. This is why veganism isn't a diet; it's a way of life. We go vegan for reasons that transcend our desire for animal products. Whatever information we learn about veganism, it is enough to hold us to this lifestyle for many years.
Once I became vegan, I started blogging...and it just took off. I made recipes, blogged about them, took photos, shared my food, loved every second of sharing my veganism. I met people on social media, met vegans in real life, learned why plant based foods are so good for you and eventually quit my job and moved to a new city to pursue a career in the health and wellness field. When I moved to NYC, I met so many vegans, awesome and not so awesome, visited vegan restaurants and attended many plant based events. I realized the activism side of veganism was not for me, that I got along better with non vegans and that while veganism was a big part of my life, it did not define me. Through my blog and talking about my lifestyle, I feel that I'm spreading the vegan word.
Even now, life is not without challenges. I'm the only vegan in my family which can still be difficult (see my last post), I still think about the convenience and taste of some non vegan foods, I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to animals and it tears me apart when I see animal abuse. Which only makes my vegan journey worth it! In times of struggle, I remember why I'm vegan. I remind myself of the pain animals experience on a daily basis just to become bacon or steak. I read about the collapse of the bee colonies and the climate crisis and I feel helpless. I love reading stories of people reversing their diabetes or minimizing their autoimmune disease symptoms while eating plant based. I am continually amazed at the recipes people create without using eggs, cow's milk, and butter, I love being a plant based runner. I love showing people how I can run 10 miles on plant based food, crushing the theory that you need meat to be an athlete.
The benefits of being vegan definitely outweigh the challenges. If you truly believe in something, you will find a way to bring it about. If you believe that there is a better way of life than consuming animal products or using animals for our entertainment or fashion, then believe it, put that into action.
What I don't think always needs to happen is making a big deal about veganism. I don't think activism such as protests at restaurant and businesses is helping veganism. It demonizes us and makes us look like crazy, judgmental vegans. I don't think you need to make a big announcement that you're vegan. There are ways to feel at home at the same table with meat eaters. You don't have to separate yourself from other people by constantly pointing out the differences in what you eat. Veganism is a part of you, it's isn't you entirely. If you are vegan, be vegan for yourself, not to impress others. The reason behind veganism needs to come from within you. This is my advice to newbies.
Some myths about veganism:
Vegans are malnourished and super skinny
Vegans don't get enough protein
Vegans only eat grass and veggies
Vegans can't be strong
Vegan food is not delicious
The first one is surprisingly NOT true, personally I can vouch for this! I was already vegetarian when I became vegan so I was mainly eating healthy. I did not lose a ton of weight when I became vegan. I am not super skinny (see above photo-I'm purposely NOT sucking in my gut!). I have never been skinny even at my lowest weight. Even when I've run a half marathon. Even when I've lifted weight or ate kale every day or drank smoothies. You can be a junk food vegan. You can be a sugar addict vegan. You can eat too much of a good thing. Some foods are best consumed in moderation like healthy fats. Baked goods. Sugar. Weight, weight loss, body fat reduction, it depends on so many factors: genes, activity level, metabolism, hormones, portion control. When you hear stories of people going on a plant based diet and dropping 30 pounds, they were probably eating processed foods and not moving. Veganism is not a diet. A vegan cupcake is still a ton of sugar; it isn't healthier because it's made without eggs or cow's milk. Eat in moderation; I know, easier said than done.
You have to be seriously malnourished or sick to be deficient in protein. This goes for everyone, not just vegans. You should get your bloodwork done yearly to determine if you're electrolytes, vitamins and minerals are at the proper level. But if you are eating a well balanced diet, you're set. As for the other myths, there are vegan bodybuilders. Vegans eat bread, beans and cupcakes and vegan food IS INDEED delicious. If you need to look beyond my recipes for inspiration, check out the many vegan food blogs that are out there! Vegan food is as delicious as you make it.
I just watched the ball drop on TV in Times Square and I thought...wow I'm so lucky I live in that city. I get to go back to NYC tomorrow and start training for the NYC half marathon. Happy 2016. I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful for life, family, health, my job, my city, my friends, my strength.
Will your New Years Resolution be veganism? Check the blog this year for my posts about my marathon training. I'm so psyched for my runs this year. Happy New Year friends. Be well! XO