In the last month I’ve learned a lot about what it means to be a vegan. Its funny how lifestyle change like this really alters my perspective. I have found a respect for the vegan lifestyle and believe there are some useful things that can be learned from this lifestyle.
One of my most memorable events during my month was a trip to Wal-Mart. It is a place where everybody goes to get the things they need for everyday life but, it was almost weird walking through Wal-Mart as a vegan. I looked up and down the aisles for something I could eat on my new found diet. It seemed I need not look past the produce section. It amazed me how much of the store was non-vegan. The produce section was large and had plenty of options to choose from but, the majority of the store was meat and dairy.
I saw this trip in a different light than before. It struck me how Wal-Mart was simply a representation of the average american diet. Wal-Mart sells what people buy. The meat and dairy section were at least five times as big as the produce section. In the frozen foods section there were tons of options that were almost vegan. They also found a way to put cheese on something that would otherwise be vegan.
A few of the misconceptions I brought in with me during the diet certainly were corrected. I thought it would be a cheaper diet since meat was expensive and that was cut out. The amount of vegetables you have to eat meet your caloric requirements and fill you up is so much more that you just eat more than the price difference. My groceries were much heavier and it took a lot of time to prepare them.
Another interesting thing I noticed is that I felt great during the day except right after I ate. Raw vegetables and fruits made me feel like I was just about ready to explode! I found that cooking them a little helps but then I lose some nutritional value. I’m still playing with the right menu to strike a balance.
The biggest misconception I broke was the protein misconception. How can you get enough protein from a vegan diet? Simple, my body didn’t need all the protein I was giving it anyways. My sources of protein were from the vegetables and whole-grained products. I did eat some tofu as well but in general I found that I don’t really need to worry about protein. I have continued my exercise routine and am still getting stronger. My body is finding the protein it needs and I feel great.
There is another misconception that vegan and vegetarian diets are always healthy. This is most certainly not true. It is really easy to turn your vegetarian diet into a carbotarian diet. The healthiest vegan diets consist of a lot of fruits and vegetables and less whole grains. Also, I noticed that a lot of these veggie burgers tend to have a lot of sodium in them. Easy vegan is not really healthy vegan.
The diet showed me a lot and I lost almost ten pounds in the month. As of writing this I still have not had a piece of meat but I have backed off on the total vegan diet. I used ranch on my salad two days ago and ended up with some food that might have been non-vegan. I think the healthiest diet has meat in it but not nearly the amount that we all tend to eat. One of the best resources I found talking about problems with the vegan diet was this site (rawfoodsos.com). The month has taught me a lot about the lifestyle and I believe that I am going to stick with some of the things I’ve learned moving forward.