After celebrating 1 year of eating a plant based diet, I’m sharing why I went vegan! Also answering common questions regarding Veganism.
I’d like to say that I’m very excited about every blog post I share, because I definitely am, but this post about why I went vegan really excites me. Why? Because it was a huge turning point for me regarding so many things. I knew I could do it, but until you really throw yourself into the lifestyle or into the way of eating, just plant-based foods, you never know what could happen. Last January 1st, I took a leap of faith, eliminated eggs & meat…I was already dairy free, so those two things were the last to go, & I went all in.
Here I am one year later & I absolutely LOVE being plant based.
I love the ideology it entails. I love the good energy it brings it. This way of living/eating has improved my health, my mindset, my knowledge, my understanding, & has really awakened a new way of thinking & seeing the world we live in.
A huge reason why I went vegan, was in an attempt to better my digestion, which I’ll talk a little more about below, but throughout this year, I gained so much more than simply digestive relief. It was a complete energy shift. An energy that just made me feel SO good about what I was doing, the foods I was consuming, how I was feeling, the information I was sharing, & beyond.
I want this post to be one of encouragement.
We live in a world all about convenience, & I’ll be the first to tell you that eating a plant based diet takes work. It’s not convenient 24/7, but it’s doable. It’s doable if you work 9-5, it’s doable if you work from home, it’s doable if you travel often, it’s doable if you work night shifts, it’s doable if you are busy!
Below I’m sharing a roundup of questions including why I went vegan, to what my sources of protein are, whether or not a vegan diet is good for the environment, vegan pantry staples, how to plan meals, mock meat, & MORE!
I hope it’s helpful, I hope you find some sort of inspiration, or at least take one small thing & apply it to your own life/diet. When I went vegan, I did it cold-turkey. I knew it was something I wanted to do & wanted to commit to, so that’s exactly what I did. But I totally get that not everyone is like that. So if you think you might want to play around with the idea of going plant-based, take baby steps! If you’ve never cut out dairy before now, start slow, because in my opinion, you’ll set yourself up for longevity if you don’t feel “rushed”. Maybe you decide to throw a Meatless Monday into your routine, add more vegetables into your daily diet, play around with some breakfast alternatives that don’t involve eggs, or just start to cut back on cow’s milk. That’s all great!
Little things DO make a difference!
This year, I plan on sharing much more regarding a plant based diet & lifestyle. And I promise to dive much deeper into some topics mentioned below, but for now, this post is really long…so let’s get into the Q&A!!
Q: When/how did you go vegan?
Going vegan was definitely not something I decided to do overnight. About a year & a half ago, Devin & I did a few weeks here & there were we played around with eating only plant based meals, so that was definitely my first introduction. I never thought I’d go completely vegan, due to my love of meat & seafood, but after meeting an incredible man while living in Canada, I talk more about that in my intuitive eating post, I made the decision that in 2019, I wanted to transition to a plant based diet. And that’s exactly what I did!
In the Fall & Winter of 2018, I found myself intuitively cutting meat out…not on purpose. Since I already didn’t consume dairy & very rarely consumed eggs, meat was the only thing left to cut out. After acknowledging that, going plant-based was one my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 & I stuck with it. Day in & day out. Now, I honestly can’t even imagine taking a bite of meat! Now I don’t know if I would suggest going cold-turkey if you’re looking for longevity, but for me personally, I know that when I commit to something, I go all in, which is why I felt comfortable doing so!
Q: Did you go vegan for ethical purposes?
I have to admit, I did not go vegan for ethical purposes in the beginning. Me going plant-based was an attempt to better my own health & digestion, two things that I struggled with on a daily basis, especially the digestion aspect. But now, a little over a year in, it’s become much more than that. I do now see the importance of going vegan due to ethical issues. Animals are being tortured, slaughtered, & killed every single day for our consumption. I don’t know about you, but that energy doesn’t appeal to me in any way.
Q: What is a vegan diet? What’s the difference between being vegan & being vegetarian?
A vegan diet involves nothing that comes from an animal. No dairy, no eggs, no chicken, lamb, red meat, seafood, honey, gelatin, pork, etc. I do have to admit that I do consume limited amounts of raw honey, because I do believe there are some great benefits, but I make sure that it comes from a reputable source & is labeled organic & raw.
A vegetarian diet excludes animal protein but can include dairy & eggs. And then some people choose to eat seafood & dairy, which is known as being a pesco-vegetarian or pescatarian.
Q: Where do you get your protein?
There is a huge misconception that vegans are not able to get enough protein. And if I’m being honest, it was one of my worries as well before diving in. But the truth is, there are MANY forms of plant based protein, & if you are eating a diverse & nutritious amount of plant based food, you shouldn’t have a problem with your protein intake.
Spirulina is the highest form of plant based protein out there. I have a spirulina smoothie every morning & it’s done wonders for me & I’m able to make sure I’m getting a good form of plant-based protein as I start my day. More sources of plant based protein include, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, peanut butter, quinoa, tofu, garbanzo beans, lentils, chia seeds, cashews, multiple types of beans, brown rice, spinach, potatoes, nuts, green peas, & MORE! Like I said, there are a TON of different ways one can meet their protein needs without animal meat.
I also LOVE GoMacro protein bars, I have one almost daily – I’m literally obsessed! They have great ingredients, they’re gluten free, & contain Organic Brown Rice Protein, as well as, Organic Pea Protein. Oh! And they taste AMAZING! Feel free to use code madi_rowan for 25% off your GoMacro purchase!
Q: Is vegan food more expensive?
This is definitely another common misconception. And I have to disagree. I do not think vegan food is more expensive than conventional grocery shopping. But don’t get me wrong, I think it can absolutely get expensive if you are buying processed & packaged vegan foods. High quality diary free yogurt is WAY more expensive than cow’s milk yogurt, same with diary free milk, cheese, mayo, salad dressings, baked goods, frozen meals, frozen pizza, etc. So if you are filling your shopping cart up with things like that. Yes, it’s going to be pricey. But if the majority of what you buy is real, whole foods, like vegetables, leafy greens, & fruit, you will significantly notice a drop in food expenses.
Q: What’s the big deal about animal products?
Two thoughts here.
Animal products cause inflammation throughout the entire body. I listened to an amazing podcast that I mentioned in my Seasonal Favorites post, where a Doctor & author of the book, Plant Paradox, mentioned that animal protein ages us rapidly. Animal products, I believe, lead to disease & a multitude of health & inflammation issues.
Many people believe that what happens to us (health wise) is determined by our genetics. If you have high blood pressure, it’s because your father or grandfather had high blood pressure. If one of your parents have or had heart disease, you’re probably going to get heart disease. So on & so forth.
I’m here to tell you that I couldn’t believe in something less. Dr. Gundry, who is an incredible heart surgeon, & who I mentioned above, stated that only 8% of what happens to us is determined by our genetics. Everything else is put into our hands. Meaning WE determine our fate based on the foods we eat & our lifestyle choices.
And secondly, like it or not, innocent animals are being tortured, ripped away from their mothers, & live in inhumane living conditions to support the phenomenon of animal agriculture. If you want to turn a blind eye to what goes on in the slaughter houses, fine. But once you see it, & there’s plenty of documentaries & videos that will show you…you can’t unsee it, that’s all I’ll say!
Q: Don’t you need meat to be healthy?
I am not a doctor, so take this as you will, but I believe that animal products lead to inflammation. Inflammation leads to disease & autoimmune conditions, so no, I do not believe that us as humans need to eat meat in order to live a healthy lifestyle, if we are able to meet our nutritional needs through plants alone. And obviously, I mentioned that I am not a doctor, but there are multiple resources & doctors out there that do agree with my stance about not needing meat or animal products to live a healthy life. But I think everyone is different, everyone is at different stages in their health journey & I think you should make going plant based a decision solely based on your own unique experience.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of going vegan?
The most challenging part for me has definitely been eating out. Some restaurants do cater a few dishes for vegans, but rarely are they both vegan AND gluten free which I also avoid due to being Celiac. It definitely has taken some creativity on my end when ordering. Also, a lot of gluten free breads, pizza crusts, baked goods etc. when purchased elsewhere have eggs baked in them, so that can be tricky & it’s something that I’ve gotten used to asking about.
Q: Did you notice a difference after transitioning to a plant based diet?
The biggest difference I noticed was about 6 months in. My digestion started to improved tremendously. That was my main goal when transitioning my diet over to a plant based one. I had previously tried many, many things in order to improve my digestion, but nothing worked, until I eliminated meat & eggs. Like I said, I started to notice shifts about 6-7 months in…it was definitely not immediate, but that is to be expected because your body need to process through a lot of junk that has been built up over the years.
Q: Do you just eat salad?
No, not at all! Thanks to my amazing spirulina smoothie, I get a good amount of greens in just after waking up. I try to incorporate greens whenever I can throughout the day. But I definitely don’t live on just salad!
Q: Do you ever miss eating meat?
This was something that I was really interested in, because I SO thought I would! But here I am, & I definitely don’t miss it. Sometimes I see a piece of meat or fish when I’m out, if someone else is eating it, & it might look or smell good, but I don’t have any desire to eat it.
Q: Is there anyone who shouldn’t go vegan?
I am NOT a doctor, so I should not be telling you who should or shouldn’t be vegan. I was under the impression that certain people, including myself wouldn’t thrive on a plant-based diet due to my blood type. However, after many conversations & working with my holistic energy healer to make sure I wasn’t deficient in area specific areas, I felt confident in my decision to go ahead & eliminate meat. If you have hesitations, I’d recommend seeing a holistic doctor.
Q: How do you live without cheese?
I get this question often! I too was a cheese lover (who isn’t?!), but like anything, you get used to not having it! There are amazing cheese alternatives, my absolute favorite being Braggs Nutritional Yeast, it totally satisfies any cheese craving that I might have! I hope to do a dedicate post just on cheese alternatives too, because I think that could really be helpful, for someone who may be new to eliminating dairy!
Q: What are some of your favorite vegan pantry/fridge staples?
There’s a ton of vegan pantry staples that I enjoy, but for now, I’ll leave you with some that are more focused upon dairy alternatives!
- Almond or Oat Milk
- Trader Joe’s Organic Coconut Milk
- Sir Kensington’s Vegan Mayo
- LAVA, Kite Hill, or Nancy’s Diary-Free Yogurt
- Alter Eco or Hü Vegan Dark Chocolate
- Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips – great for baking
- Violife Shredded Cheese – Mozzarella or Cheddar
- Flaxseed – I use this as a egg alternative when baking!
- Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese
- Miyoko’s Cream Cheese
- Siete Cashew Queso Dip
Q: What’s your favorite vegan documentary?
All three are on Netflix & equally amazing!
- What the Health
- Forks over Knives
Q: Do you eat fake/mock meat?
If I have no other choice, yes I will eat it. Would it be my first choice? Never. Mock meat is SO processed & filled with tons of nasty crap that I don’t want to be consuming. Mock meat is a perfect example of something being vegan, but not healthy. Many people assume that if something is vegan, it automatically means it’s healthier, but that’s not the case, especially when talking about fake, processed meat.
Q: Do you eat a lot of tofu?
I was totally against tofu at the beginning, because I’m not the biggest fan of soy, which is what tofu is. Now a year in, I have to say that I do enjoy tofu occasionally. I actually think it’s delicious, but I do limit my intake for sure.
Q: Is a plant based diet more eco-friendly?
100% YES! Eating a plant based diet is the biggest way that YOU can help our earth. Isn’t that just amazing?!
Animal agriculture definitely takes a huge toll on the environment due to an abundance of greenhouse gasses emitted into our air on a daily basis. The production of meat not only requires huge amounts of energy, but it also involves fossil fuels being burned, lots of water, & lots of land. Another huge issue that many people don’t often consider, is what happens to the vast amounts of animal waste. That waste is pushed into waterways, ruining habitats & polluting environments – it’s truly awful.
Q: Did you work with a doctor while transitioning your diet over to being plant based? Do you take any supplements?
Yes, I worked very closely with my holistic energy healer throughout the entire process of transitioning over to a plant based diet. I had explained to her prior, why I wanted to go vegan, & we worked together in making sure I was not deficient in any specific area. She also is a long-time vegan (I think 10 years), so she was very responsive & encouraging of my decision to do so.
As of right now, I take an occasional daily vitamin & probiotic. I believe that if possible, I want to try my best to get as many nutrients with diet alone, & of course, supplement when needed. But, up until this point, I haven’t felt the need, & the woman I have been working with has been in agreement with me. I add nutritional yeast, which is a fantastic source of b12, to literally everything, so I think that takes care of that area!!
Q: How do you stay on track & plan your meals? Do you meal prep?
I do not meal prep. I think meal prep can be extremely convenient for some, I know a lot of people absolutely love it, but it’s one thing I can’t really get behind. At the start of a normal week, I’ll sit down & make a detailed shopping list, planning out the meals I will be making & the exact ingredients I need. This helps keep me organized & saves me time so I’m not left guessing about what I’m going to be making next. I find SO much inspiration for plant based meals over on Pinterest – you can even follow my plant based recipe board, if you’d like – I’m constantly pinning new recipe ideas!
I love to make large dinners because they usually will give me enough food to eat the next day for lunch or sometimes even dinner too. With that said, left-overs are basically the extent of my meal prepping. I know meal prepping saves a ton of time, but it doesn’t appeal to me. To keep myself on track, I owe it to having my meals already written out, grocery shopping ahead of time, & designating time each day to make a meal for both lunch & dinner.
Q: Will you be plant based forever?
I like to take each day as it comes, but if I’m being honest, I have a hard time picturing myself consuming meat any time soon. Obviously I can’t see into the future & that might change, but for now, eating a plant based diet is really working for me, & I feel very happy & empowered in my decision to live my life in this way.
Q: Why do people like telling others that they are vegan?
I always wondered this!! Seriously! When you meet a vegan, they probably tell you they’re vegan without you even asking haha! And I never understood why that was until I dove in! It’s because going, eating, & living a plant based lifestyle is SO rewarding. Vegans want everyone to feel the way they do! Why? Because for me, & for many others, this way of life gives you a whole new outlook on your health, the way you feel, how you are helping the environment, & how you are helping save innocent animals. Unfortunately, many times vegan come across as pushy or aggressive with their beliefs, but it’s just because they are SO passionate about this way of life.
So there you have it…my VERY LONG reflection on my first year of eating a plant based diet. If you might be considering giving a plant based diet a try, I HOPE I’ve provided you with some information or inspiration that fuels your decision to make the jump! If you are new to the idea of a plant based diet, I hope you learned something here, & even if you decide that you want to give Meatless Monday’s a try within your household, that’s equally amazing!
Have you ever considered a plant based diet OR are you already plant based?
Jo Harrison says
Wow! Eating a plant-based diet has been on my mind for sometime now. I’ve made some small changes such substituting some dairy milk for almond milk and definitely cutting down on meat. Totally agree that we determine our own fate with the choices we make. Thanks for the inspiration!
Madalena Rowan says
Love that you’re doing that! Thank you so much for reading! xo
Jen @ Jenron Designs says
Wow I have toyed with the idea of going vegetarian or pecasterian but full vegan would be a game changer. Congrats to you.
Madalena Rowan says
Thank you Jen! It’s definitely been a huge accomplishment!