It has been seventeen months since I started my vegan journey. I decided to look back and share those aspects which impacted my life during one year of being vegan. I learned a lot and I wanted to share with you some of the surprising things I learned after Going Vegan for a year.
Here are eight surprising things I learned after going Vegan for a year
1. Losing weight without much of an effort
Did you know that by going vegan you can shed those extra pounds without even exercising? You can eat as much as you want, whenever you want and still lose weight. Isn’t that great?
As a newly vegan I wanted to lose weight and was impatient to see the result of my new diet. End of each week I was weighing myself finding out that I lost only a fraction of it and that made me upset.
After two months, I decided to have a different approach. I found out that I was wrong for wanting an immediate weight loss result. I simply needed to give my body time to go through the cleansing and detox process first and be patient with myself.
I began to focus on eating healthy food such as pulses, vegetables and fruits. I didn’t go to the gym. I was occasionally going for a walk, taking stairs instead of taking a lift (whenever possible) and 2 -3 times per week doing yoga at home (20 – 30 minutes per session) which involved stretching and toning my body. And within 4 months I started to see the desired result. I lost weight effortlessly by simply being patient and staying focused on eating the right food.
Hard-core vegans would argue that focusing on health means it’s not vegan but I would argue back cutting back or eliminating long-term medication is important for veganism too.
2. Massive health improvement
Within 3 weeks of eliminating animal and dairy products, my husband and I both started to notice that we no longer lose our hair. I can even count how many hairs I am losing now while brushing them to compare to what was before. (In the past I had been losing hair so much that I could make a wig out of it every three months) … And that is not only it. We noticed countless benefits and were very excited to see the changes our bodies were going through.
Amongst minor benefits I’m outlining some majors:
From improving nail colours and hair, I no longer needed to wear my glasses while using a computer or reading books. Our senses improved, the smell and the taste it’s like everything become awakened. My husband had a bumpy rash looks like tiny scabs on both of his arms and it was all gone for good. I stopped having horrendous night sweats due to hormonal imbalances and my skin has improved and I felt that I look better than I did in my 20s.
3. How unsupportive parents can be
We told our parents that we are not going to eat any food containing animal products they simply thought we are going mad. Most of all, they thought that we become vegan because it’s “fashionable” and trendy, it is temporarily and soon after, we will be going back to eating “normal” food. When they were having meat and dairy dishes, they will always look at us with pity and feel sorry that we are missing out on “delicious” food.
Based on my experience, I have learnt not to try to convince parents that vegan food is healthy and better for them. Try not to prove your point which could only provoke an argument. You could simply say I’ am experimenting with a new diet avoiding all animal products for a period of time and I want to see what effect will it be on my body.
The reality is, that my husband and I decided to go vegan for one year to lose weight and improve our health. One year passed by we felt so much better in many ways. And after seeing so many benefits to our health there is no way of going back. We are vegan for life!
Instead of proving your point lead by example, be the role model, and inspire them with your dedication and commitment to whatever you are trying to achieve. Let them discover veganism through your benefits and the impact it has on you.
4. Never have cravings for meat and dairy
Once the decision for adopting a vegan lifestyle was made, we did it straight away without transitioning. Some people may argue that you need to do it slowly and gradually but the gradual process has never worked for us. I am one of those people when comes to a decision, make the decision, commit to it and do it all at once. The sooner I make the decision to quit meat, dairy etc the quicker I will forget the taste and the smell of food I used to like, and the better I will feel. (I prefer quitting, cold turkey method). It could be just me and it doesn’t work for everyone you might prefer the transitioning process whatever works for you best.
The first two weeks were challenging of not being able to have the usual “bad” food, especially cheese. But soon after, all the cravings went away. After one month on a vegan diet, the cravings never came back. Furthermore, whenever I smell cooked meat on the street it makes me feel rather repulsive than appetising.
5. Can stay for longer without feeling hungry
I am writing this while on a 36-hour train journey and neither of us had anything than water for the last 23 hours. That is something I couldn’t do in the past. If I hadn’t had a meal for a good 3 or 4 hours my sugar level will drop. This will cause my body to shake and me to be moody and grumpy until I get the food. I had to carry some sort of snack with me to keep snacking between main meals.
Being on a vegan diet is a different story. I can fast for 24 hours plus and still feel great. I no longer have those ups and downs with my sugar level. Now it’s very steady which allows me easily overcome hunger, especially on those days when vegan food isn’t available while travelling.
6. Vegan doesn’t mean healthy
Majority vegans are vegan for the animals and they don’t care about what food they eat and if it is healthy or not. The bottom line is to protect animals and do whatever possible to ensure that they don’t end up on a dinner plate.
I learnt that vegans eat a lot of junk food, processed food, substitutes for meat, substitutes for dairy which are high calories food and some food with a high amount of oil and sugar.
If you are looking to lose weight and improve your health then stay away from junk food. Try to eat more beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables and fruits and you can’t go wrong. I watched many videos on health and nutrition topics by Dr M. Greger, Dr N Barnard, Dr J Mcdougal and Dr C. Campbell which all of them promoting the importance of whole food plant-based diet.
Nothing stops you following whole food plant-based diet while incorporating other aspects of veganism such as avoiding using animal-derived products in daily activities.
7. How ignorant people can be of veganism
Is fish vegan? Are eggs vegan?
When we were omnivores, it was clear to us that fish is certainly not vegan. I had so many people asking these questions: “Can you eat fish?” Not even eggs? What’s wrong with eggs? It occurred to me that people are either ignorant or genuinely don’t know what Veganism means. I’ve told to my parents that I don’t eat any meat or any living creature that has a face and eyes etc. My dad still managed to ask me if I eat seafood. How? Not even seafood?
You have to expect this sort of ignorance when you become vegan. It might seem shocking at first but then you will get used to dealing with these sorts of questions.
8. Diverse and delicious vegan / plant-based food can be
What to eat? What vegan food I can cook? I had no idea where to start but I knew that decision was made and there is no way to go back.
I started to read countless blogs and watch YouTubers making vegan food. Found out a substitute for meat, Seiten and what nutritional yeast is used for. After all, I only once bought Seiten when I was in London and nutritional yeast when I was in Malaysia. I didn’t feel the need for having these products as essential cooking ingredients. To have it as on-off or when it is absolutely necessary is one thing but making it a part of your eating habit isn’t healthy. After all, all the substitutes for meat and dairy are loaded with calories, oil, and hydrogenated fats which are detrimental to your health.
I love experimenting with all the recipes that come to my mind on a try-and-error basis whilst travelling and what was available based on the country, I am in.
The possibilities of creating healthy vegan/plant-based food are countless. Anywhere in the world, you can always find countless varieties of pulses, grains, tubers, spices, vegetables and fruits. Your imagination about preparing healthy dishes can go wild. That said, having not adopted a plant-based diet I would have never experienced so much fun with food that can be so delicious and insanely healthy.