There are a lot of claims out there about how wonderful being a vegan is. It’ll make the whites of your eyes brighter (raw vegans have even reported their eyes changing color). You’ll have more energy. You’ll be overflowing with nutrients and less likely to contract a number of chronic diseases. Your hair will shiny and radiant. You get my drift.
I’ve flirted with being a vegetarian for the past few years, and I’ve been gluten-free for almost five. But eating meat once or twice a week is a far cry from being a real vegetarian, and an even farther cry from the supposed paradise of veganism.
So what’s a girl to do? After checking out one too many blogs/books/Instagram accounts about how amazing people feel/look after going vegan, I decided to try it for myself. No meat at restaurants. No halloumi in my salads. No eggs in my banana pancakes.
Here’s what I found…
1. I GOT HAPPIER
The week before I decided to try out veganism, I was pretty down. My moods were all over the place, and I just felt out of control. After a few days of being vegan, I just felt more positive. It sounds hippy in the extreme, but I felt more at peace with the world around me. If you put negativity in your head all day for work, it’s nice not to put it in your body too!
2. I ATE AN ABSURD AMOUNT OF ALMOND BUTTER AND DATES
Though I felt happier and lighter, it was also clear that I had to make some adjustments if I wanted to continue eating this way. I went into it knowing the pitfalls of other vegans before me, who became and drab and lifeless after surviving on PB&Js and potato chips. I don’t eat either of the aforementioned foods, but I found my own pitfalls: almond butter bananas and medjool dates (aka nature’s candy). It took me a few days to realize I was falling into the same rut as my predecessors, just with slightly healthier alternatives.
3. MY EYES GOT BRIGHTER (SUPPOSEDLY)
Though I’ve been battling allergies since we got to Dallas, about five nights into the vegan experiment my boyfriend looked at me and said my eyes looked very bright and healthy. I’ll take that!
4. IT WAS HARDER TO EAT OUT (DUH)
There aren’t many restaurants that cater to both the vegan and the gluten free. I never thought being gluten free was as hard as people make it out to be — even at an Italian restaurant you can always get caprese if they don’t have gf dough available. But when you take out the option for cheese, too, things get much harder!
5. IT WAS HARDER TO EAT WITH MY BF
And even when cooking at home, my boyfriend and I would basically cook two separate meals. Not ideal.
6. I HAD MORE ENERGY
It may have been that we were getting settled, but in the first few weeks after the move, I would CRASH at 10 pm. Being vegan didn’t turn me into a night owl, but I felt more energetic throughout the day and no longer collapsed at 10 (unless I had a bunch of medjool dates, in which case I would pass out from the sugar!)
7. I WANTED TO WORK OUT MORE
Eating healthy makes you want to take care of yourself in other realms too. I started using an anti-aging cream at night, and worked out a handful of times throughout the week (which isn’t much, but more than I’ve been doing lately!)
8. I GOT REALLY INTERESTED IN OTHER VEGANS
I started reading Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, googled famous vegans and tried to learn all I could about others who had experimented with the lifestyle. Surprisingly, most of the stories I encountered were of people whose lives had changed for the better when they began to focus on eating real, whole foods. Many once battled with illness, and were able to discontinue their medications after making the switch.
Those who found their energy levels dropped usually had a different approach, often trying to live on “potato chips, pot, and cherry soda.”
Of course that doesn’t mean going vegan is for everyone. It may not even be for me. It merely confirms, in many ways, what we already know. To be healthy you have to eat fruit, vegetables and whole grains — food God put on this earth. The more you eat of that, the better you’ll feel!