The truth about veganism
Abruptly in July, I became vegan with no prior plant-based diet. Along the way, many family members and friends supported my decision but didn’t know a whole lot about the subject. They asked me questions, to which I responded, “Do you really want to know?” just to be sure I wasn’t going to be starting an argument.
Because I get many questions and comments, I decided to answer them here.
“You’re going to be skin and bones in a few months! You have no protein!”
After eating a healthy vegan diet for the last five months, I’ve lost 20 pounds. Before this, I was eating boxed macaroni and a bag of potato chips for dinner, so there was no surprise. Anyone who switches from an unhealthy diet to a healthy diet is most likely to lose weight regardless of if it’s a meat diet or not. But, I am definitely not skin and bones.
In fact, many people who are eating a meat diet are not getting the right kind of protein. All protein comes from plants to begin with. So, eating a steak or a chicken sandwich, means you’re actually eating secondhand protein. First, the animal gets the protein from the plant and then you get the protein from the animal. Protein from animals is not very good for humans either. Our bodies have to do extra work in order to process animal protein rather than plant protein.
Everyone would benefit from being a little less worried about protein and a little more worried about vitamins, healthy fats, healthy carbs, and fiber. Protein deficiency is extremely rare, if not non-existent, even in vegans. However, things like iron deficiencies, vitamin D deficiencies, and calcium deficiencies are far more common among all people.
“Finding things to eat must be so hard. How do you do it?”
There is some truth to this statement. Finding things to eat can be tough on my mom. She has to satisfy my dad, a huge meat eater, and me…a vegan. We’ve tried so many different foods and a large majority have been delicious. My mom has come up with new recipes that even my dad seems to like. My family, including my dad, has cut down on animal products since I became vegan. So, although finding new recipes that both my dad and me will enjoy is hard, it’s totally worth it.
We have also tried a variety of different vegan meats and cheese. To my surprise, sometimes my family would enjoy these things more than me; one of them being vegan crab cakes. My mom loved these and was surprised at how similar they tasted to the real thing. I just found it scary how similar the two were.
The more I try these vegan alternatives, the more I realize I don’t need or want the alternatives.
My mom and I have recently been trying to create the perfect vegan macaroni as that was once my favorite food. So far, we’ve tried three totally different recipes and I think we’re getting really close to finding the perfect one. It has been a bonding experience for my mom and me.
On Thanksgiving, we made vegan loaded sweet potatoes as well as vegan stuffing. On Christmas, we plan to do something similar. Having vegan meals during the holidays brings up conversations about veganism in my family, and they now always make sure to include me in family meals.
“So are you like a plant hippie now?”
Well, no. I am the same person I was before I was vegan, just a different diet and a different mindset on what it means to be cruelty-free. Sometimes It’s hard for people to understand that to become vegan, you don’t need to be a hippie.
Being vegan does not always equate to being healthy, either. There are tons of vegan junk foods that I myself have indulged in. Being vegan and healthy is another choice you have to make when deciding to cut out meat and dairy.
Also, I think it’s a great misconception that all vegans love eating plants. I do love some good spinach or broccoli, but I care more about animals than I do plants. I am vegan because I love animals, not because I love plants.
“Local farms treat the animals better. Why don’t you just buy locally?”
In my opinion, there’s nothing humane about killing another being that does not wish to be killed. Just like your dog, cat, or even your goldfish, animals have a will to live and protect themselves. Cows love being pet and pigs love belly rubs. They are equal to your average pet.
Farmers cannot afford, or care, to spend their time putting animals down like we would cats and dogs when they get old. Pretty much all farms use the method of butchering as their way of killing. Even if they did use some sort of euthanasia, animals are still confined in small spaces or sometimes cages for the duration of their short life producing eggs and milk like crazy, and that isn’t right to me.
Overall, I don’t support any type of animal killing or trapping. Whether it’s local or done in a mass production facility far away, there are no significant differences in the cruelty.
“You must be so tired all the time. How do you do it?”
Immediately after becoming vegan I had a lot of energy and I was noticeably happier. Over the past 5 months, almost every time I go to see my family, they comment on how happy and generally alive I look. Although veganism is not a cure for sadness, it has definitely made me feel better.
I find it easier to get up in the morning, resist afternoon naps, and get my work done. Social events are no longer a struggle that drags on. I’m excited to do things, see my family, and be a happier person.
Also, last year and the year before that I was sick all the time. In the span of two years, I had the flu, pneumonia, two ear infections, a sinus infection and a stomach virus. Since I became vegan, I’ve had nothing more than a small cold.
“I feel like you’re judging me when I eat meat.”
Most of the time, I don’t really care if someone is eating meat next to me. I mean I would love it if they became vegan but pushing my views onto someone isn’t going to change their diet. There are rare occasions where I’m particularly disgusted by meat or dairy, but I’d never say it out loud.
The only way to really get someone to understand the effects of veganism is to answer questions only when asked and to show them without saying anything what veganism can do for your body.
Overall, I love talking about being vegan and I love answering curious questions. I think it’s definitely important for vegans and vegetarians to not just blow off questions but instead educate people in a non-aggressive way.