Over the last few months, this is a question I’ve been asked frequently on social media and in my everyday life – are you vegan now? I either avoided the question, or replied with no. So, I thought that I would explain in a blogpost why I went vegan and share some problems that I have faced along the way while transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.
Around Christmas time last year, I started getting drawn to the vegan lifestyle – mainly for the raw treats – and since then I found myself becoming more and more interested in this lifestyle and way of eating.
It wasn’t until I watched a program in the new year, where it showed a calf being taken from its mother after only a day old (so that we could have its milk) that I made the decision to start cutting dairy from my diet. You just can’t know these things as a vegetarian and ignore it, especially when you see the baby calf pine for its mother in high definition. It’s sad! And I didn’t want to be a part of that.
Being a vegetarian of ten years and relying heavily on mycoprotein faux meat, eggs and dairy, I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. At least when I cut meat from my diet ten years ago, there was the muscle, cartlige, bones and blood to put me off – that and the fact I never really liked it anyway. So going vegetarian for me was a walk in the park.
Going vegan on the other hand…not so easy.
After watching the program in the new year, I had my eyes opened to the dairy industry and while I knew a little about mother cows being separated from their offspring after they were born; I never knew how bad it actually was.
I started looking more into the vegan diet after this and more and more things were coming to light that I just couldn’t ignore – male baby chicks being ground up alive – another grim and gruesome find.
Even though I now knew a lot more than I used to, I still doubted my ability to follow a vegan diet long term. It just seemed so daunting, restrictive and intimidating on times and I was also concerned about my health too.
I decided to try it out anyway and so continued cutting out dairy and eggs. It was only then I noticed the negative effects these foods had been having on my body: my hormones so out of whack it was crazy and certain stomach issues started to get better too.
The one thing I wasn’t expecting while quitting dairy, was to experience symptoms of a detox.
Yes. I was going through a detox from dairy and eggs and it was an awful experience.
I didn’t even go through this big of a detox when I got sober from alcohol ( 9 months & 12 Days).
For about two weeks after removing cheese, eggs, milk and butter from my life I was; irritable, nauseous, bloated, my skin turned to s*it and I had hyper digestive issues ( insert cringe face here), insufferable joint pain; plus, my moods were all over the place and I was flat on my arse tired with a constant ‘hangover’.
Veganism wasn’t as glamorous as everyone was making it out to be. It was awful and at this point I hated it.
I didn’t understand it. When you go vegan, you’re supposed to feel incredible: lighter and brighter, with unicorns and rainbows dancing all around you – that’s what people claim 😉
Why was I feeling so s*it?
At this point I really didn’t want to continue the vegan transition and even though the images of calves being taken from their mothers, and little baby chicks going through a grinder alive were playing on mind – I doubted myself and I was running out of meal ideas, and quickly becoming bored with food.
It was the exhaustion and joint pain that was getting me down. It was constant and I wasn’t happy. Not only that, but I was going through a massive depression too ( started way before I considered veganism).
Did I really want to add more problems to my life?
Not one to ever give up I kept going, while leaving faux meat in my diet for iron and aminos, and for my own sanity. I didn’t want to jump into this vegan lifestyle too quickly. I needed to find my feet first and work this s*it out, so that I could make this a part of my life.
I kept researching.
It wasn’t until late spring when it started to get warmer and the days got longer, did my depression start to get easier. And it was then I found the motivation to start working out again: my joint pain was fading, my moods were better and I was starting to feel happier again – the benefits of the sun.
For years I have done kettlebell training, so I got outside and started doing my thing. But, I still had zero energy and because it had been 6 months since I last worked out, I was weak. It was because of this I decided to start tracking my macros again to see if I was eating enough food, but also to try and find some balance in my life.
It was then I realised that my protein was really low and I wasn’t eating enough calories overall; most of them coming from bananas, potatoes and white rice.
I wasn’t willing to workout intensely and continue to eat as little as I was with 70-80g of protein a day, even if other vegans were recommending it. I knew my body and it wasn’t happy or healthy. I was already tired on a sedentary lifestyle; I would just be causing more problems if I carried on.
So, I started upping my protein to 120g, which is the amount I had always aimed to eat as a vegetarian and guess what? My energy levels went straight through the roof.
I had bags of energy and everybody noticed it and also how much happier I was too. Not only that, all the problems I had suffered with prior were now a thing of the past and my skin was positively glowing. So, much so, that I was walking out of the house makeup free: something I have never done before.
It goes without saying that with the increased energy came better workouts, more strength gains and because of these two things, my depression started to get a lot better too: my dark OCD thoughts, fewer and fewer.
I was happy, or as happy as I knew how to be.
As of this week I cut out the faux meat and I can now say that I am a vegan. I have noticed that it has been harder to hit 120g of protein without it and some days I haven’t even hit 100g; and yes my energy levels have depleted significantly because of it which has resulted in me not having the energy levels to workout this week either. I do need to add that mother nature has been screwing with me this week too, but then I have had her visit me for the last two months without fail and my energy levels were fine then.
I guess I’m still at the trial and error phase of veganism and finding what works for me, but getting my carbs from whole foods, starchy carbs and cooked veggies, does seem to benefit my energy levels more than if I were to eat a ton of fruit or a smoothie bowl as my first meal.
I am still keeping my carbs high, like vegans suggest, but with higher protein too and moderate fats (45-50g) while listening to my body instead of what works for other people’s bodies, because this is #MyHealthyNotYours after all 🙂
Follow me on Instagram for more vegan ideas and I’m also on Snapchat now too – HungryWelshGirl