Have you ever thought, “If I go vegan, I’ll miss out on all my favorite foods!” Well, not too long ago, I thought the same thing. Fortunately, I found out that I was dead wrong.
However, I’m not here to tell you that my cauliflower buffalo wings taste like what I ate four years ago when I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m also not here to tell you that all I eat now are salads (because there’s no way I would ever do that 😅). I’m not going to give you a list of steps to follow on how to go from being a meat eater to being a vegan. I tried those and they were pretty helpful, but I was still failing every time.
Hear me out.
A Look Into The Dark Side
I went from eating meat practically every meal of every day to never eating it again (and going over three years strong now). For breakfast, I’d swing by McDonald’s on my way to work and get a couple sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits with a medium or large iced coffee.
For lunch, I’d eat leftovers or swing by my local gyros restaurant and get a cheeseburger with fries and a Coke. For dinner, I’d eat anything from pizza with pepperoni, hot dogs, grilled chicken with some sides, carne asada with some sides, any kind of meat, really, with some sides. My favorite, though, was Popeye’s.
One day, I was looking through pictures of myself and realized that I was gaining quite a bit of weight. I was really stressed out by things like work, school, and social factors, and I was using food to help take my mind off of those things. By the examples of what I was typically eating, you could probably tell that I wasn’t binge eating the healthiest food. So, I decided one day to stop eating meat. Why? Honestly, I have no idea why I thought to quit that food, specifically. Whatever made me make that decision, I’m so thankful for it.
So there I was, just deciding not to eat meat without having done any research. “What can I eat?” “Do I just eat grass?” I had A LOT of cheese and bread, many times together. I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, quesadillas, a lot of bananas, cereal, pasta, cheese pizza, more sweets, etc. And, honestly? I was losing weight. But I knew it wasn’t healthy, so I took to Pinterest and searched “vegetarian recipes.”
My mind was blown.
Is Pizza A Vegetable?
It was like I was rediscovering vegetables for the first time. “Oh yeah, carrots! I forgot those existed!” “Beans! I’m Mexican, how could I forget beans?!” I started cooking more, which was honestly more difficult than I thought. I bought my ingredients and forced myself to cook after work, no matter how tired (or lazy) I felt.
So, I had some yummy foods…and then my leftover ingredients got moldy and went to waste…and I got tired of the same meals I kept making…. But I pushed through and learned new recipes–learned how to buy ingredients that I needed and could repurpose. I still sometimes let my spinach go to waste because I forgot it was in the back of the fridge, but I’m still learning.
You also may be thinking, “How do you go vegan if you don’t like vegetables?” I didn’t like quite a few vegetables until I got used to them, honestly. I wasn’t too big of a fan of spinach but I added a bit to my sandwiches, pizza, salads, etc. And now I love it. I used to hate mushrooms when I was little and I started loving them when I got older. Also, the further your palate moves away from meat and dairy, the more you start to really taste fresh foods. It’s like a vegan super power, I swear. Unsalted nuts have never been so delicious.
So, as I went on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to add more recipes to my repertoire, I noticed that vegan recipes kept showing up. And I clicked on a vegan recipe and magically turned vegan. Nope! I ignored them. Until I didn’t.
The more vegan recipes I clicked on, the more vegan posts in general I would see on my social media feed. Thanks, internet! And then I saw some posts that disturbed me.
I saw cows being slaughtered. I saw baby chicks being thrown into a grinder…while they were alive. I saw pigs being boiled…also while they were still alive. I saw people punching animals in the face. I saw baby pigs getting castrated. I saw people stick their arms in the anus of a cow. “What the heck is happening?”
I could have ignored those posts. I could have chosen to just keep doing what I was doing or just throw in the vegetarian towel altogether after about a month of doing pretty well. But, I’ve always loved animals. Lots of friends knew me as an animal lover. But, I was still eating eggs. I was eating more cheese than ever before, even though it made me sick. I drank milk all the time. And I also love people.
I was raised by immigrant parents and I had dedicated a lot of my life to helping underdogs, like immigrants, the homeless, the person that was standing by themselves in a social situation, etc. Seeing Dairy is Scary and stories of those that live near factory farms helped me realize that animals AND humans were suffering from factory farming. (I still look at these posts pretty often and follow social media accounts that post these semi-regularly to help remind me to keep fighting the vegan fight and I highly recommend this.)
So, just like I quit (vegan) cold turkey with meat, I quit all animal products and became vegan.
Veganism And You
Why did I quit so suddenly and would suggest the same for you? I quit because I am someone that does my best to live a life that reflects my morals and standards to the best of my ability. “I love animals, yet I’m still eating them.” Either I start saying that I love just pets or I stop eating animals. “I love helping the underdog, but I pay for people to kill animals by the thousands every day and it’s affecting the underprivileged, it’s hurting people’s health, and it’s destroying the planet.” I knew I needed to change. I also consulted my doctor and kept track of what I was eating using a simple app on my phone (yes, I was getting enough protein). So, do I suggest you do the same? I’m not a doctor, nor am I even certified in nutrition (yet). So, you do you.
Again, I’m not here to give you the 10 Steps on How to Go from Being a Meat Eater to Being a Vegan. I’m here to tell you what I did. I found my motivation for going vegetarian and then vegan, I listened to my body (I knew that, if I weaned myself off of meat, I would never give it up. I’m looking at you, Popeye’s), I did my research, I consulted a health professional, and I never gave up.
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