Hey guys! Today I’m handing over the blog reins to one of my good friends, Anna to talk about going vegan after she had a baby! She’s a lovely person and I hope you enjoy getting to know her and enjoy reading her story about becoming a vegan. She definitely inspired me to re-evaluate how much meat I eat. (Fun fact: did you know I was a vegetarian off and on for years from age 15-24 and a vegan for about a year? Yep. But my story is a story for another day.) Over to Anna!
Hey, A Foodie Stays Fit readers! Anna here from curiouser & curiouser. I’m SO honored to be featured as a guest post today. (Thank you for having me, Teri!)
Fun fact: Teri was one of the very first friends I made when I moved to Winston nearly seven years ago. She and I were connected by a college bestie of mine who had gone to high school with Teri in Utah. What a small world. (Thank you again for that intro, Olga!) Now, Teri and I aren’t just friends, we’re also on the same Beautycounter team, which has been so much fun. We live pretty much around the corner from each other, too. (Oh, and our husbands really love each other, making double dates pretty great. Speaking of…we need to schedule that cooking class, Teri!)
But I’m here today to talk about why I switched to a vegan diet last summer, so let’s get into that, shall we? I’m a list lover, so I’ve set this post up in a Q&A fashion to help address some of the things I’ve been asked consistently since making this dietary adjustment.
Ready? Let’s do this!:
Why did you switch to a vegan diet?
It’s funny — I think I knew that I’d eventually go vegan if I let myself really pay attention to the conversations happening around plant-based diets. For me, the turning point was having my daughter last spring and breastfeeding her, and thinking about just how many hormones were in that milk. For her, it was just right: the hormones in my milk were exactly what she — a tiny human baby — needed in order to set the stage for her growth into a human child and, eventually, adult.
But then I started thinking about cow’s milk. It also contains tons of hormones, except THOSE are meant to help baby calves grow into huge, adult cows. Surely as humans we didn’t need the same milk baby cows get. Right? (I think we can all agree, regardless of our dietary choices, that the fact that we as a society consume breast milk from another animal is somewhat odd.) For this reason milk is, for me, the ingredient I most want to avoid. (It’s also the hardest one to avoid, in many cases. Start looking at ingredient labels and noticing just how many items it’s in!)
But then, where do you get your protein and calcium?
From plants! After all, cows don’t produce calcium. They eat grass, and that’s why cow’s milk has calcium. We can get all the calcium we need from greens and other plants, too. Protein-wise, I rely mostly on produce and nuts and beans. As it turns out, America is a pretty protein-obsessed culture (just take a look at how often the word is prominently featured on packaging these days), but most of us are ingesting far more than we actually need. So I’m all set!
What are some of your go-to resources for recipes?
I wish I had more time to cook! (That’s how I felt before going vegan, too.) Often, I throw together meals like salads and stir fry dishes — especially on busy weeknights — but when I have a little more time I turn to these resources for recipes and inspiration:
I’ve also loved meals from the subscription service Green Chef. They have delicious (and easy-to-prepare) vegan options that make weeknight meals far more creative than when I’m left to my own devices!
Has it been a hard transition?
Honestly, it hasn’t been! Everyone’s different, of course, but this wasn’t a difficult transition for me at all. I was eating meat regularly before I made the switch to vegan back in August, but had largely cut out dairy and didn’t ever looooove cheese. (Don’t get me wrong: I liked cheese a lot and would definitely eat it occasionally, but I can live without cheese, which I know is hard for some people to imagine.) Removing meat wasn’t a problem in the slightest. I honestly feel like this is the way I was always meant to eat. (That’s such a hippie thing to say, I know!)
What do you eat at restaurants?
I can always find something to eat when we go out. Ethnic restaurants (Mexican, Thai, etc.) are the easiest, but I can almost always find something on the menu I can eat as-is or easily modify (like leaving the cheese off of a vegetarian dish or tweaking a salad order to leave off the chicken).
That said, I don’t want to be “that person” in restaurants, so I don’t ask whether vegetables have been cooked in oil versus butter, etc. I just do the best I can, and it’s actually been a fun challenge in some cases to kind of build my own dish from the menu! (Many restaurants are extremely accommodating for vegans, too – especially nicer restaurants whose chefs enjoy the challenge. Try telling your server you’re vegan and asking the chef to whip something up for you, and you’ll often end up with the most mouthwatering and creative dish at the table!)
But you can’t have dessert anymore!
FALSE! (Which is great news to me, because I definitely have a sweet tooth, even though I try to keep it in check.) There are some easy substitutions you can make to baked goods to make them vegan (such as substituting a flax egg for an egg or almond milk for cow’s milk), and more and more vegan treats are popping up in bakeries. Here in Winston-Salem, go-to bakeries for me are The Humble Bee Shoppe and To Your Health Bakery. (And here’s a favorite vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe, too! It’s one I modified from the version my mom made during my childhood, and it always gets rave reviews. Oh, and no one will no it’s vegan unless you tell them…) You can also listen to this podcast episode (it was my pilot episode, in fact!) with Brittany McGee of The Humble Bee, where we talk about vegan baking.
Do you feel like you have enough energy?
I absolutely do. I feel healthy and strong, and feel like my body is dealing really well with this way of eating. Plus, I love knowing I’m avoiding the hormones that come with animal products. And it’s nice knowing I’m not contributing to the craziness that is meat production and the environmental impact it’s causing.
I definitely didn’t address everything here, but there’s much more to talk about regarding this topic. If you have any other questions or would like to continue the conversation with me, please feel free to reach out! I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks again for letting me stop by, Teri!