The decision to go vegan was a bit of a spur of the moment 'let's just give it a go and see what happens' moment in my life. I was frustrated at the time with following a strict, macro tracked, pre-prepared meal schedule that left no flexibility for life's unexpected events. I also needed to wrestle back my Sunday's from endless meal prep, to having a choice of what I felt like eating that day, rather than what i'd prepared the Sunday before.
Without wanting to ‘blow out’ my diet or lose strength at the gym, (typical worries of a standard meat eating athlete living off chicken breast), I researched as many eating styles as I could, categorizing each into a ‘maybe’ or ‘not a chance’ pile in my mind. This is where going vegan became a tiny spark of possibility.
After reading endless articles and recipes about the vegan way of life, I had a little perspective as to what to expect moving forward. The most unsettling hurdle at this point being no more meat!! I’m not afraid to say I love the taste of meat, and truth be told up to this point I only threw a few veggies on my plate because society 'and my mum' told me I needed them, not because I actually enjoyed the taste. Growing up on a farm in New Zealand, meat, spud and a side vegetable or two like peas or carrots was a staple part of every evening meal. Put a plate of roast lamb or a venison in front of me and I was a happy person.
I could have eased my way into the vegan lifestyle by first switching to vegetarian, but I’m an ‘all or nothing’ kinda person, competitive to the core even against myself, plus after looking at vegetarian recipes a large majority were based around egg, Omelette this, quiche that… I hate egg… always have, always will.
My first week saw the breakup of my relationship with meat, cheeses it turns out was much harder to part with…surprised me too…. so I slowly weaned myself off, like a lamb switching from milk to grass, using it less and less frequently till we finally parted ways.
Then magically, well actually through pure determination and willpower about 4 weeks in, I was officially ‘almost vegan’ . I say ‘almost’ as I found eating at restaurants, cafes, work functions, etc, vegan options aren’t always available so in those cases I resort back to vegeterian. But in my own kitchen, its vegan all the way with the only meat on a dinner plate in my house being in the dogs bowl, much to my husband’s distress who's reluctantly being dragged along my vegan journey as I’m the cook in the house!
In that initial month, I was bombarded with questions from all the non vegans in my life. Friends, family members, workmates all asking me the same thing. Don’t you miss meat? Do you feel weak? How will you get enough protein? Can you still train? Why do you have to be so extreme? Are you going to be a hippy? Wont you get too skinny and look sick?
In the first three months I recall thinking about meat on two separate occasions. The first was one weekend when a craving for my old favourite Sunday roast lamb hit hard, and the other while driving home from work, planning schnitzel for dinner before remembering I don’t eat meat anymore!
With those two exceptions aside, I can’t say I miss it at all. My digestive system is finally running effectively, although I’m not going to lie the first week was not pleasant as I adjusted to all the extra fibre in my new diet. But since then, my weight has stabilised, I actually lost about 3 kg in the first month of stubborn fat that I’d been trying to move for months. I feel satisfied after eating meals as my hormones are finally in check and signal the stop eating switch when I'm full, something that was previously ‘broken’. I can stack my plate and still know I’m not over eating, which as a visual eater I find beneficial, and as for the gym, my strength hasn’t noticeably changed, so I’ve managed to keep the muscle I built over the last few years even with the weight loss, only now I’m finally seeing the definition I’ve been working so hard for.
So that’s about where I’m currently at. One year in and still reaping the benefits of a natural, unprocessed, whole plant based diet. My nails have finally grown after years of peeling and breaking, my hair is strong and shiny, my mind clear, my belly less bloated and overall I just have more spark and energy to tackle everything in my life.
In the past I tired a vast variety of eating styles, but this one has by far been the most effective for me and my goals. Eating a vegan diet fits my lifestyle. I’m not saying it's for everyone. I’m a firm believer that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for every human, but I'm happy and healthier than I ever was in my 20's and I'm also proud that I no longer contribute to any of the animal cruelty that is become all to common in all kinds of meat farming.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about my vegan journey, or if you’ve gone vegan yourself and how you feel now that you've made the change. Let’s share the good and the bad and all learn from each other’s journey.
You only get one life, one body, one chance. Figure out what makes your body fire on all cylinders, be happy and healthy and live your life to its fullest potential.