Why I Became Vegan

Pure, old-fashioned competitive drive.

Honestly, that was one of the initial reasons I started down the road of plant-based diets. Now, this was not my first foray into removing entire food groups from my life.

A Little History

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away (totally watched some “Return of the Jedi” last night), I was quite a picky eater growing up. The vast majority of meals consisted of buttered noodles, a dollop of peanut butter (on the side, of course), and pineapple. Sometimes, there would be a pickle thrown in as another delicious side item or some vegetables. I did love me some McDonald’s Happy Meals (“chicken nuggets” baby) and all cheese, all the time. I did hot dogs, steak, hamburgers, and turkey – the whole gamut. And then, at age 12, I read somewhere in print that red meat was bad for your heart. If I recall, it was near the end of the year and it was time to make New Year’s resolutions. So, to lead a healthy lifestyle, I decided to give up red meat and pork in middle school. No bacon. No pork chops. No burgers.

And, I did it. I kept the “flexitarian” diet up through college (I do have a distinct memory eating one hamburger during Family Weekend at college and getting INCREDIBLY sick afterward). But, the tides changed again, thanks to a new life opportunity. Let’s call it: moving to the South, specifically the land of pulled pork BBQ.

Moving to North Carolina began my crawl back to the land of all things meat. Between cookouts and learning what whole hog had to offer, I went – pun intended – hog wild and jumped back into the bandwagon. My meat consumption only increased due to a relationship in which the gentleman viewed meat as a MUST HAVE at every meal. There should have been red flags raised when he ordered a Kobe burger on the first date [stay away – meat-tastrophy ahead!]

Let’s fast-forward to the last few years. Even before Aaron and I started dating, I had toned down my red meat and pork eating considerably.  I will fully admit: bacon still remained a prized item on the table and in my beer. But, the more we read, the more we evaluated our family/personal medical histories, we cut out more and more animal products. I recall chuckling at the idea of ever becoming vegan – how could I give up cheese and yogurt? Those were daily staples (hello calcium!).

In the spring of 2013, several friends of ours went on various challenges regarding their diets. One couple went completely vegan for one month; another went vegetarian (and gave up alcohol!) for 30 days. Aaron and I had dinner with the couple who went vegan, and that began the process of opening my eyes to what life could be like sans cheese (not as bad as I imagined). We also watched “Forks Over Knives” and I became a voracious reader of online vegan blogs, from recipes to ethical stances to the personal journeys of others.

Competitive drive.

Oh, if they can be vegan, I can be vegan. Not even kidding – that thought went through my head (a huge component of my running drive as well). That thought lasted for less than 24 hours because at first, it was hard to be vegan! Well, it’s still hard at times, but in different ways. I craved cheese the first few days. I mean – salivia-inducing, pass me the Brie right now or someone is going to get hurt, craving. Interestingly, Aaron and I had essentially weaned ourselves off cheese prior to our 30 day trial. But, the total deprivation of all dairy had a major effect on my system.

It went away quickly, and then it became easier to imagine life meat and dairy free. Now, I do still eat honey on occasion (from Durham, of course), and as I’ve blogged about before, I’m continuing my vegan journey into the non-food related aspects of life: from beauty products to clothing and more. Now, I’m still not giving up beer, even though I know far and few between are vegan. Consider that part of the work in progress (i.e. I hope someone will discover more efficient methods to use in fermentation/brewing that don’t involve animal byproduct!)

Will I go back to not being vegan? I’ve had this question asked of me, and my thought is: why would I? I feel GREAT – I mean just marvelous. I’ve lost those pockets of body fat that hung around for years, even after dedicating hours at the gym. I have not fallen prey to the same bouts of sickness that had marked the various changes in season years prior. My energy levels remain high. My endurance, speed, and strength have all improved drastically. I’m happy and (I hope?) less moody than I was. I used to have about a headache a month, and those have all but disappeared.

So, if you are on the fence, give a try. One week. Two weeks. One month. You’re not the first to try. And, you may fall down a bit. But, keep at it. It’s worth it for your body, your mind, and your spirit. It’s worth it for the greater good of our planet, our species, and our humanity.

ImageRock on, vegans in training.

9 thoughts on “Why I Became Vegan

  1. Hooray for being more healthy and feeling better! I’ve definitely noticed the same when I focus on plant-based diet. Even though I don’t want to go full vegan, I’d like to get to eating vegan 85% percent of the time (6/7 days a week). And I’m really trying to reduce my sugar dependence after the holidays. The biggest thing for me is planning. It’s only hard for me if I don’t plan out plenty of good snacks and meals, then go shopping with that in mind. PS – I tried a really excellent vegan restaurant, Aside of Heart, that you gotta hit up next time you’re in town!

    • Thank you for sharing your own vegan eating goal! I know you have the tenacity for it. One thing that has helped me in terms of planning is to always keep certain staples (typically purchased in bulk thank you Costco) around, like quinoa, brown rice, chia seeds, etc. One thing I have noticed since shifting diets is that my sweet and salty taste buds have perked up, to the point where foods that may not have been super sweet to me before are REALLY zinging! Let’s plan a date for the November weekend we visit to check out Aside of Heart – sounds awesome!

  2. I have been vegetarian for about 18 months and thought I could never be vegan, but realized that probably 85% of our meals are vegan anyway. While it’s not a strict goal for me, at least I can keep an open mind.

    • An open mind is always the best place to start 🙂 You are so well focused on all aspects of your health that it would seem natural for plant-based eating to dominate. Plus, it tends to keep those grocery bills lower – cheers!

  3. Cheers to your competitive drive – it’s served you well!! Like you, I can’t imagine reverting back to eating meat and dairy. I’ve been vegan for two years and I love eating this way. There are occasional times where it’s annoying (like at my sister’s wedding), but those are few and far between. Thank you so much for following my blog, by the way. Your blog is fantastic! It’s a pleasure to e-meet you chica! Celeste 🙂

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