LR7: Silly Carnivores

Vegan SurpriseI have to remark on some things I find odd about the whole vegan thing. The first is how few people actually know what is included in a vegan diet. Everyone, without exclusion, attempts to define it by what a vegan “can’t” eat. As they begin to ask questions like, “so no fish either,” I try to simplify it for them. It is a plant based diet. I only eat things that come from plants. Inevitably, every adult asks, “what about alcohol”? It’s funny, they seem to think they could be a vegan, but cutting out alcohol would be a deal breaker. When I tell them that alcohol is from plants, they relax a bit.

One question I am asked repeatedly is, “how long are you going to do this vegan thing?” I used to answer with, “who knows”, but then I really thought it through. I became a vegan because it’s a healthier choice, not unlike quitting smoking. So in reality, their question is not dissimilar to asking a former smoker how long he plans on staying away from cigarettes.

“Do you take any supplements?” This is one of the funniest questions of all. The implication is that my diet must be deficient in supplying me with some essential vitamins, minerals or, most likely, protein. Here’s why the question is so funny to me. Almost every single supplement in the world is derived from plants.

Cherry Garcia for Vegans

“Cherry Garcia” for Vegans

Think about this. Only 2% of the American public is vegan and 5% is vegetarian. That means 93% are not. It’s hard for me to believe that the supplement and pharmaceutical businesses have grown so large, by supplying all the vegans that are nutritionally deficient.

Finally, I am often asked if I am a “strict” vegan and someone recently remarked that their daughter is “not as strict as I am.” I must admit, this word “strict” totally confuses me. A vegan only ingests things derived from plants. If you eat chicken, fish, or anything else from an animal, then you are simply someone who eats more vegetables than most or someone who eats meat only occasionally. Oh, and it doesn’t matter if the meat is organic. That has absolutely nothing to do with defining your diet as vegan. So either you are a vegan, or you’re not. There is no more granularity in the definition than that.

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LR7: 3 Vegan Weeks & Not Really Counting

Recall I decided to become a vegan not because I want to live forever, but because I want to enjoy every minute that I am here. To do that requires as much energy as I can muster. Therefore, what I was hoping to gain from becoming a vegan was more energy. It’s inevitable, whenever I say that to someone who knows me, they always ask incredulously, “YOU need more energy?” Yes, I need and want more energy. I want to learn, try, discover and fail at many more things in my life. I want to hike further and faster, read more books, launch more charities and generally be a more interesting person. To do that, I need more energy for many years to come.

After 3 weeks of following a vegan diet, I can emphatically pronounce I have substantially more energy now than when I started. I haven’t suffered from a single headache and I get a better nights rest as well.

If you are contemplating improving your life by becoming a vegan listen to just one piece of advice. Do not try to replicate your current diet. Don’t buy soy meatballs, veggie burgers, or fake cheese. Make a clean break from your old habits regarding flavors and textures. The longer you do this, the less likely you will experience cravings or resort back to old habits if they are close at hand while vegan options are not. Think of it like this. If you didn’t have any food immediately accessible to you right now would you substitute dirt or a light bulb for your usual burger? No, you would simply wait until you had access to actual food.

Vegan PancakesThis means you must be all-in in order for you to succeed. (I underlined succeed because if you can become a true vegan you will have succeeded at freeing yourself from weight problems, so many health issues and given yourself the gift of energy.) Try every vegetable put in front of you, even the ones you “know” you hate. Go to a restaurant and say, “I noticed you don’t have any vegan options on the menu. Could you have your chef make me a plate of vegetables, quinoa, grains and whatever else he sees fit to include, prepared however he/she likes so long as it doesn’t have any meat or dairy in it?” A good chef is an artist and will love the challenge to create something on the fly. You win by having a great new experience.

Vegan LunchTry doing the same for yourself. Here’s a lunch I threw together at home. It’s simply peas, corn, garbanzo beans and grape tomatos. I’m not sure how many calories it has or how much protein, but to be honest I’ll bet it’s far better for me than the Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza I would normally have resorted to in the past, and it tasted far better too.

Finally, I need to share two great sources of information and inspiration that I have discovered so far on my journey. I’m thankful that people who know so much are so willing to share with the those of us who don’t.

Vegan Sparkles – I love this blog for the density of information Rebecca delivers in a witty, fun way. Her blog’s title intrigued me and the content didn’t disappoint. It’s also chock full of great links that have been extremely helpful as well.

My Plant Based Family – Holly’s recipes and guidance for a vegan newbie is incredibly valuable and her enthusiasm is infectious. Her blog is incredibly organized, solving one of my pet peeves about blogs in general and making her wealth of knowledge readily available.