Trying Something New: Veganism

by CHLOE Taco Salad Photo: Hannah Udren (Tulane '18)

by CHLOE Taco Salad
Photo: Hannah Udren (Tulane '18)

If you have a Netflix account and frequent the documentary section, you likely know about the health and environmental damages of the modern American diet. Going vegan is now even trendier than your Adidas Superstars. However, the objectively extreme approach to eating healthy goes far beyond being a fad diet; it’s a lifestyle. Yes, as cheesy as it sounds, once you go veg, you’ll never go back. Well, at least that’s how I feel after 30-days animal product free.

I had been skeptical of veganism for a while, but feared that being a freshman in college living off the dining hall would limit me to cereal and almond milk. Once summer rolled around and I was free to grocery shop and cook for myself, I was ready to drastically change the way that I ate. After doing tons of research, I came to the conclusion that the way I had been eating for the past 19 years of my life was hurting the planet, and maybe even my health too (everyone has different opinions about what foods we should be eating–do your research and decide for yourself!). If I claimed to be passionate about the environment, I could no longer blindly consume products that contradicted my morals..

Going vegan wasn’t something that was going to happen overnight for me. If veganism is intriguing to you for whatever reason–health benefits, weight loss, environmental concerns or animal rights–but you’re nervous about the extreme shift in diet, try the following methods to make sure you don’t ditch the diet after three days.

  • Cut out meat first (even just red meat)
  • Stop eating foods that are pure animal product (e.g. scrambled eggs for breakfast, milk in your cereal, etc; continue eating foods that have animal products baked in like pasteries, sauces, dressings, etc)
  • Cut out all dairy and eggs when you feel stable and ready.
Photo: Rachel Glick (Michigan '18)

Photo: Rachel Glick (Michigan '18)

I am not the Messiah of healthy eating, and never have been. I’ve only been vegan for one month, and am by no means an expert, however I can tell you that switching to a plant-based diet has been one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I am so much more energetic now and no longer feel tired after a large meal. I have learned how to cook for myself rather than wasting money eating out. My skin is clearer and my hair is stronger.

Being vegan is not about restricting yourself. It’s about exploring new foods and cutting back on others. Remember that just cutting back on animal products does wonders for your health and the world. Maybe eat vegan one day a week. Maybe try becoming vegetarian. Maybe you try veganism but give in to Shake Shack one night. That’s ok! We aren’t perfect, and our diets will never be. Eat what makes you feel good in the long term, and your body will thank you.

Here are some final tips on going vegan for those of you interested in trying it out this summer!

  • Take in more substance! Fruits, veggies, and legumes are much less calorific than meat and dairy, so you need to be eating much larger portions of them than you used to in order to be meeting your calorie needs for the day.
  • Make sure you are eating a high carb, low fat diet. This means lots of whole grains; not so many nuts or avocados.
  • Try to avoid all of the fake “meat” and “cheeses” when you’re starting out. Most of them aren’t nutritionally dense, and with a few exceptions (Daiya “cheese” and Jack fruit “meat” Mmm…) they don’t taste like the real thing and will only frustrate you.
  • Don’t drive yourself crazy. If you’re out to eat with family and the only non-meat meal has egg in it, get it, avoid the egg, or not, and move on.
  • Find inspiration on Youtube and Instagram (Hot For Food on YouTube is amazing)
  • Remember that vegan does not equal healthy. Be mindful of what you are putting into your body (plenty of junk food is vegan, and its easy to accidentally under eat when you cut out huge categories of food. It's all about REPLACING the foods you took away).
  • Check out Cowspiracy and Forks over Knives on Netflix–you’ll be surprised by how misinformed Americans have been about what is good for us (No, you don’t need to eat three Quest protein bars a day to have muscle; plants have protein too!!)

Good luck to all those who dedicate their summer to healthy and conscious eating, no matter the diet!

 

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