Disclaimer: This is just an excerpt of my story. But please don’t go radically changing your lifestyle without consulting professionals first!
I never liked red meat but I ate it because people told me to. They also told me I would be anaemic without it. Then, 4 years ago I went to Asia with a friend and he had decided to go vegetarian. Unlike me, he loved burgers But, still, he said:
I want to be in charge of my decisions: of what I eat, what I do and make sure that I am doing what I want, not what is easy or convenient.
BINGO. We take it for granted that WE HAVE A CHOICE on what we eat and what we do with this body we live in. And a lot of people have tons to say about it but we are the only ones living there anyway!
Then and there I quit almost all meat but fish. I didn’t think I could manage a life without sushi. And I also worried about friends calling me a radical or anything like that.
But bear with me guys – baby steps can take you a long way.
The first thing I noticed was that my so-called chronic digestive issues (reflux, constipation) disappeared!
As George Michael would say: FREEDOM!
I lived happily as a pescatarian for one year – until new sudden asthma crises, out of the blue eczema, more constipation, stomach cramps and fever. A series of exams followed and the verdict came: I was allergic to milk AND eggs. I didn’t even know you could be allergic to eggs.
I had no idea what to eat anymore. I lived on my own and eggs were my most common dinner. So I started to research recipes with no dairy and no eggs and, honestly, that’s when I realized I was a fish-eating vegan (if that’s a thing?)
I tried to stay away from eggs and dairy but I would cheat every once in a while (eating cake on birthdays, chocolate during my periods etc). But I started to feel sicker and sicker every time. It took me a lot of sick days in bed to understand that I had to find substitutes for these foods. Look, I like fruit but sometimes you just NEED cake!
Which means: learning to cook (scary!)
I am not going to lie: I did put on some weight in this process because I was suddenly devouring massive amounts of bread and rice because I had NO IDEA OF WHAT TO EAT. Even so, I felt a whole lot better. I woke up earlier without problem. I had much more energy. My skin cleared. It just made sense to persevere.
So this year I decided to commit and go full vegan.
Is it hard? YES?
Do I check restaurants menus before booking a table? YES
Do I sometimes annoy my friends? YES. (But they still love me. I think!)
I wanted to tell this story to highlight the main points of my transition, in case what I learned resonates with you:
- Don’t hurry. Thinks take time to adjust. If you ate a burger one day it is not going to kill you. But get back on the train and move on!
- Find adequate substitutes for the food you love. There is no point in having a birthday without cake, and more and more places do vegan options. Or, you can bake your own!
- Make a note of what you eat and how you feel for 2 weeks. For me the sense of wellbeing and lack of pain/ allergies/ asthma kept me motivated.
- Perseverance is key. You create a habit by repeating it over and over again – until it is natural. There is no such thing as “failure”. Just pick yourself up and keep moving.
- Find a friend/partner/family member who can support you. It is great to have someone to test your recipes, try a new vegan restaurant and watch nerdy films together.