A little over a year ago I decided to go vegan. I was a vegetarian at the time and I could no longer justify consuming eggs, dairy, and cheese. Going vegan was the best decision I have ever made. This blog post will explain why.
Back then, I was worried about the costs of going vegan and whether or not I could live without cheese. Turns out you can maintain a plant-based diet on a budget and a life without cheese can be just as awesome.
How it all started
While I was studying to become a nutrition coach I learned that a whole food plant-based diet is a healthy AND safe diet choice. This was a bit of a surprise to me because I was brought up with the idea that we need products like meat and milk in order to be healthy. But what I learned was that these products can be easily replaced by plant-based options (there are sometimes even healthier). So if health wasn’t an issue, what’s keeping me from going vegan?
I started doing more and more research and gradually changing my food choices. Lunch and dinner were easy. I cooked all the things I did before but used beans, soy products, and the occasional vegan meat substitutes to replace meat and fish. I switched to plant-based milk, yogurt, and ice cream. When buying snacks, chocolate, and cookies, I checked labels and soon found enough vegan items to get through the week.
Taking it one meal at a time
My main challenge was breakfast. I used to love, love, LOVE greek yogurt or quark with a scoop of whey in the morning. I couldn’t find affordable plant-based yogurt and protein, so I decided to switch to oatmeal (even though I hated it). I still don’t like the taste and texture of cooked oatmeal, but I did fell in love with adding uncooked oatmeal to cold soymilk with a splash of grapefruit juice. This has been my standard breakfast ever since. I add fresh or frozen fruit, nuts and seeds and occasionally some chopped chocolate.
Give this breakfast a go. I’m sure you’ll love it just as much as I do.
Don’t aim for perfect
With any diet change, it is important to not aim for perfect. I allowed myself to make mistakes and to see the bigger picture: I want to be a vegan for the rest of my life and so I basically have 50 years to learn and grow as a vegan. In my head, I pictured myself as a happy vegan grandmother who taught her kids and grandchildren about veganism and eating a healthy plant-based diet. This thought always put a smile on my face and has been, and still is, a big source of motivation for me.
Go watch this video and you’ll understand my #grandmagoals.
Let’s talk cheese
My love for cheese goes way back. I think it started when I was 16 and became a vegetarian. At that time cheese became my best friend. I used it for sandwiches, as a snack, on top of a pizza, as a sauce for pasta. You name it, cheese was there. I never in a million years thought that I would live without cheese. But the truth is, I don’t miss cheese at all. I discovered that pizza without cheese is even better. And when you are in need of something cheesy and gooey you can always go for vegan cheese.
Vegan cheese is quite pricey, but a perfect solution for when you do crave cheese. I have used the sliced cheese from Vegan Deli as a topping for veggie burgers, the super delicious cashew cheese from Gopal on bread rolls and the sliced cheese from Violife on sandwiches and croissants. You can say I am one happy girl.
A perfect match
When we are talking about veganism and plant-based diets we are talking about two different things. All vegans are eating a plant-based diet, but not all people who eat a plant-based diet are vegan. Makes sense? For me, it’s not just about the diet. Veganism appeals to me because it’s striving for equality and justice and not just animal rights.
Since I started this journey I have gained enormous respect for vegan activists and the vegan movement as a whole. Veganism is not only a way to live healthily and contribute to a healthier planet and fewer animals suffering, but it’s also the opportunity to change the world. I am talking about ending world hunger, malnourishment, gain social justice and so much more.
I no longer see veganism or vegans as extreme, but as the healthy/fair/right/logical thing to do and to be. I truly fell in love with the idea of veganism and all the vegans that I’ve met. I am looking forward to learning more and seeing where the vegan movement stands in a few years.
Now, that you have read my experience as a new vegan I would love to hear from you. How are you feeling about going fully plant-based or becoming vegan and what’s the thing you are most worried about? Drop a comment below and I might be able to help you with valuable tips!
Love and healthy vibes,