So to start with I just want to say this blog post is going to be completely anecdotal and just me talking about my experience being vegan for 6 months, I’m not going to talk about any of the scientific literature for or against the diet, this is because depending on which article you read veganism is either a miracle cure that helps you live forever or basically a one way ticket to nutrient deficiency and injury. So instead of comparing these contrasting views I will just talk about my actual experience.
Why did I do it?
Most people’s 1st question has been why, there are a few different reasons but 2 main ones stick out;
1. I absolutely love animals, ever since I was very young I have loved animals and last July when I became vegetarian it was because I realised that it kind of makes you that guy in a glass house throwing stones if you walk around saying how much you love animals, but at the same time partake in an industry which kills millions and millions of animals a year (meat industry). After watching some other documentaries curtesy of Netflix and finding out that the Dairy industry in particular is not too far behind the meat industry when it comes to unethical behaviour I decided to go full vegan and stop eating animal products all together.
2. I have done diet plans for people for a while and especially last year with the “Game Changers” documentary coming out on Netflix, the number of vegan diet plans I was doing was going up and up, when doing the plans I did find it interesting working the different foods into the plan so they fitted into the calorie and macronutrient requirements, but I always thought it was a bit rich writing a diet plan for something I’d never actually tried, so I decided to get some first hand experience and try it.
How did I feel?
Generally, I felt really good on the diet, there was a few times in the early days of the diet where I tried to chase exact macronutrient numbers (particularly protein) way too much and it ended up with such large quantities of beans or soya products that it really made my stomach hurt. However, after these initial problems I settled into the diet and really enjoyed it. I am one of them people who is pretty happy to eat the same sort of foods most days so once I decided on the foods that I enjoyed eating and fitted nicely into the diet and all the nutrient requirements I was mostly set. Lots of people asked me how didn’t you lose loads of weight and I think that they are forgetting that even beyond all of the fake meat products now available, major carb sources such as potatoes, rice and most pastas are vegan so eating enough calories really isn’t as hard as people think.
What parts were difficult?
Eating out was a little more difficult as unfortunately some restaurants haven’t really updated their menus to include a wide selection of vegan food, so often you would get only one choice. However, after noticing this early on, I started looking online at the menus before booking somewhere to go and eat to check what their vegan selection was and some restaurants were absolutely great, it must be said the best was probably Wagamama where they had the best vegan selection I’ve seen!
The only other part which I found difficult and the longer the 6 months went on the easier I found it (because I just accepted it as the new norm), was not being able to just eat stuff. For example, if someone brought a cake into work, or had done some baking or just generally the constant having to check the ingredients list to make sure that no animal products were in the food.
What is the plan now?
The plan now is pretty much to continue to eat vegan 80-90% of the time, the only animal products I’m planning on properly adding back into my diet are eggs and honey. I don’t massively miss drinking milk and actually think coconut milk tastes a lot better than regular milk (additionally, ethically speaking I think the dairy industry really does need some changes made to it). I’m not going to avoid dairy based products completely but I am going to try to make sure that my consumption is kept relatively low.
Would I recommend the diet?
Yes, 100% I would I’ve really enjoyed the diet and it has definitely made me feel better, personally I didn’t find the diet too hard to stick to and I think once you start figuring out what you can and can’t eat and then make sure them foods are what you have in your fridge and cupboards then I think it becomes much easier.
To conclude I really enjoyed the vegan diet and am still going to eat primarily vegan based (just with a few vegetarian additions), I had tried a vegan diet previously for a month and found it a lot more difficult to stick to so I do think you have to give it a bit more time to allow your body to adapt to the diet and I think going from vegetarian to vegan rather than meat eating to vegan made the transition much easier on my body as well.
I’ve been asked by a few people if this now means I won’t do meat eating diet plans and the answer is of course I will still do them. Around 80% of the diet plans I do are for people who eat meat and I spent the first 23 years of my life eating meat and a lot of it, so personal experience wise I’ve got that one covered.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful and has given you an insight into the vegan diet and helps you decide whether or not you want to try it.
Next week’s blog post – Caffeine the good and the bad