What Being Vegan for a Year Taught Me
Spoiler- I can't eat dairy😣
Six years ago I decided to try out veganism. For those that don’t know a vegan is someone who doesn’t eat meat, eggs, dairy products, and all other animal-derived ingredients. Some vegans don’t consume honey or white sugar because the process making it uses animal products. For me it was more about not eating animal ingredients, but I still consumed honey and sugar.
I am going to be honest—I was not a very healthy vegan.
It did allow my body to reset from all of the animal products I had been consuming before that point (my favorite vegetable was cheese 😬).
If (hopefully, when) I end up going back to eating a vegan diet I will actually focus more on eating whole foods that are plant based.
You would be amazed at the amount of processed foods that are vegan. Those processed foods were some of my staples and the main reason I still didn’t feel great as a vegan (I’m looking at you Oreos).
Having a focus on whole foods (real food, unprocessed) and not just on whether it is plant based or animal based is what is important.
Another thing I learned while I was vegan is that it is doable! There were so many times back then people would say things like:
“I could never do that!”
“That must be so much work!”
“I could never give up _____!”
Fair points but for some reason I didn’t struggle with eating a vegan diet. There was a lot of trial and error with recipes I tried but overall I enjoyed doing it and had fun creating dishes I never would have thought of had I not been vegan. Some of those dishes we ate back then are still family favorites like this Chickpea Patty Recipe my whole family will go to town on!
The last thing being a vegan taught me was when my body hadn’t consumed animal products for over a year going back to them wasn’t the same. I thought it was all just food and it didn’t really have much bearing on how I would feel. I mean, I was in my twenties at the time and had eaten lots of animal products up until that year.
It wouldn’t be a big deal right?!?
Like I said taking the year break allowed my body to reset. I gave it time to heal and when I reintroduced some things I loved before I was met by a big surprise. I couldn’t eat them! They made me sick or gave me really uncomfortable symptoms. The biggest of which was—you guessed it—dairy.
I couldn’t eat dairy in any form without it causing some really unpleasant issues. I thought for a while it was the lactose and so I tried to use “dairy pills” that helped your body break down the lactose. But even those didn’t help. I just couldn’t and didn’t consume dairy any more (This past summer I got some sensitivity testing done to see what food my body has been having issues with lately. And on the list of things that was tested was dairy products. And there on the sheet of paper was confirmation—I cannot consume them! I actually react to casein not lactose. Which is why those pills didn’t work for me!).
It was a wild ride being vegan for a year so long ago. I am hoping to get back to eating a plant based whole food diet again soon because I see a lot of the benefits which come with it. Staying away from all of the processed junk that is vegan will be one thing I do this time around! I know it's doable and I won’t struggle with recipes or coming up with what to eat. There are so many great resources out there to help people who want to improve their diet without ‘going on a diet.’
Let me know what your experiences have been with a vegan or plant based diet. Do you have any go to recipes that you love?