My Vegan Experience > What I’ve Learned by Going Vegan
Since embarking on my vegan journey this year, I’ve received incredible support from family, friends and strangers. I have to admit that many people, including myself, were very skeptical about veganism and how I could manage without eating my favourite foods that included fast foods, fruit juice and lots of candy. It’s now been more than 5 months since my vegan experience began and this article serves to talk about things that I’ve learned by going vegan and how my life has changed due to veganism.
My initial goals for going vegan and learning about veganism included the following:
1. Live a healthier and happier life through a vegan diet and vegan lifestyle
2. Educate myself on general health and vegan nutrition programs
3. Become more aware of what I’m putting into and on my body through making tough conscious decisions
4. Debunk myths about veganism or vegans that were unconsciously planted in my brain during my adolescence
5. Continue my ever changing fitness and core training routines
6. Learn to cook (both raw dishes and cooked meals) that follow a vegan diet
7. Talk to and research about vegans or people who have experienced going vegan
8. Watch at least one documentary per week about food, water, whole foods plant based diets, veganism, vegetarianism, physiology or happiness/emotions
9. Inspire those around me to adopt a vegan diet and to experience veganism (for perhaps 1 month at least)
I haven’t felt more physically and mentally strong since going vegan five months ago. It’s been a life-changing experience so far, and this 1 year experiment may need to last a lifetime. I’m really enjoying educating myself about veganism and what it means to be vegan in addition to becoming more aware of everything surrounding us when it comes to our food supply, diet and fitness. All of these things contribute to a healthier and happier life and I’m very grateful to have embarked on this vegan experience at this point in my life. If you are interested in learning more about my first 5 months of going vegan, please read below.
My Vegan Experience > 10 Unexpected Personal Benefits of Going Vegan
1. Going vegan has allowed me to sleep a lot better. I’ve never slept through a night before (unless with harmful medication), but now, I get at least 5 to 6 hours of solid sleep a night. I attribute this to my vegan diet and lifestyle.
2. Simply said: I don’t get painful migraines anymore. I used to get at least a migraine every other day. They were painful and crippling both physiologically and mentally. I couldn’t work, play or relax. I haven’t had a single migraine since starting my vegan diet!
3. I also used to get allergies throughout the year that were triggered by pollen, temperature or altitude changes. These allergies were often debilitating, causing an unstoppable runny nose, itchy eyes and migraines. I still get allergies, but certainly not as bad as before I went vegan. If I get a runny nose or itchy eyes, I can take a half dose antihistamine and the allergy will disappear completely.
4. Since my vegan experience began, my body weight has continued to be very stable (around 155-160 pounds). As an athletic person who weight trains, I certainly didn’t want to lose any body weight or muscle mass by cutting out animal based proteins and whey protein powders from my daily routine. However, I’m pleased to say that I’ve found plenty of plant based natural protein sources to accommodate my protein needs for fitness.
5. Further to my body’s physiological changes, I’ve noticed that my body fat content has actually decreased since going vegan. I’ve now got a more ‘defined’ body that actually looks ‘more muscular’ even though my body weight hasn’t changed.
6. By switching to a whole foods plant based diet, I no longer have extreme tiredness in the afternoon (I often had to take naps around 2-3pm). I also don’t have the sugar spikes and troughs throughout the day, which has lead to a more balanced and healthy life.
7. My teeth are whiter than before. Yes, that’s correct! My teeth have increasingly become more white since cutting out candy, refined sugars and sugary drinks from my diet.
8. My digestion is better and I’m more regular (enough said). I also don’t get heartburn, cramps or bloating anymore (enough said there too).
9. I’m a lot less anxious now. Whether it was too much caffeine or refined sugars, I was always anxious about something: work, schedules, travel and everything else. Now, I feel like I’m a lot calmer and more patient with everything… which is who I was when I was younger. It’s nice to get this feeling back. It’s great to have control again.
10. My skin is clearer and my hair is healthier and shinier. I’ve also noticed that other small things have changed gradually, including healthier looking skin, hair and nails.
My Vegan Experience > 10 Interesting Things I’ve Learned by Going Vegan
1. Never assume anything. Always educate yourself in what matters most to you. If it’s veganism or going vegan or health & nutrition in general, self-educate. It’s a life changing skill, so work on it!
2. My top 10 superfoods include: spirulina, raw cacao, maca, papaya, kale, spinach, chia, hemp, flax, lemon. These are followed closely by: banana, goji, almond, pistachio, wheatgrass, blueberry, ginger and broccoli.
3. Top 10 food products that are most susceptible to food fraud: milk, olive oil, honey, saffron, fish, coffee, orange juice, apple juice, black pepper and tea leaves.
4. Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables that are laced with pesticides: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, imported nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and sweet bell peppers. This is followed closely by kale and summer squash.
5. Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables that are the cleanest and contain the fewest pesticides: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas (frozen) and sweet potatoes.
6. The United States just approved a pesticide that has been linked to the Honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder or CCD whilst the European Union just banned the same substance for at least 2 years.
7. Always buy organic, locally grown produce. Not only are they the safest to consume, but they are also the healthiest when it comes to nutritional value.
8. Almonds, cashews and hazelnuts have the highest nutritional value when it comes to nut nutrition. This is followed by pistachios and peanuts. Of course, these nuts should be roasted and not salted.
9. There are always more healthy alternatives and substitutes for unhealthy foods and processed products. Take for instance… baking and eggs are synonymous with each other. However, you can easily substitute an egg with 1 tablespoon of flax with 4 tablespoons of water when baking. Or, you can also substitute refined sugar with organic dates, coconut palm sugar, stevia or honey.
10. Our bodies require a lot less food (in terms of weight/quantity) when we focus on eating nutritious whole foods and plant based foods. Our bodies are filled with more nutritious calories (versus empty calories) which tell us to stop eating sooner. Because of this, we spend less money on food now when compared to the pre-vegan lifestyle. Now that’s food for thought.
My Vegan Experience > 5 Other Funny, Weird and Wacky Things About My Experience Going Vegan
1. It has only been 5 months, but organic wheatgrass has NOT stopped my hair from turning grey, nor has it turned my grey hair back to black. Perhaps it’s just a myth, or maybe I need to keep growing and eating wheatgrass to see these benefits. In any case, I’m not taking wheatgrass so that I stop greying … my friends tell me that I look more distinguished and perhaps sexy with grey.
2. I buy all of my organic produce from a local market on my way back from the gym. It’s a family run Chinese market that sources fresh, organic and beautiful vegetables and fruit that I can’t get anywhere else. They refer to me as ‘The Papaya Man’. But lately, I’ve bought more organic kale than papaya, and so they’ve changed my name to ‘The Healthy Kale Guy’. They’ll probably end up just calling me ‘The Strange Vegan Guy’.
3. Because I wanted a true vegan experience, I decided to start a vegetable garden in my backyard. One day, the topsoil (essentially, it was shit … but I hate to use that word, but it really was just shit) arrived and they dumped it all in the back lane that is used often by my neighbours. Unfortunately for me, I had to spend hours shoveling this manure into my vegetable gardens … it was tough work, smelled really horrific, but hopefully it was worth it.
4. While going out with friends and family, I often felt like a ‘social pariah’. I felt like an outcast and sort of ‘isolated’ from my friends because not many other people were going through my vegan experience at the same time. In addition, many people often made fun of my vegan diet and veganism in general, which was hard to take at first. However, as time went by, I realized that these people were manifesting their own fears and doubts about their own diet, nutrition and fitness. In many ways, there were only trying to justify their unhealthy lifestyle by putting down veganism, which is unfortunate.
5. When I went vegan, I didn’t know what kale, Swiss chard, spirulina, raw cacao or maca were. No idea. Didn’t know if they were vegetables or fruits or meat or whole foods. Things have changed.
I started my ‘vegan’ experience by gradually taking out the ‘bad stuff’ and ‘bad food’ in my diet while continuing to exercise at least 5 times per week. I didn’t go cold turkey on things like organic meats (mainly chicken and beef), gluten or dairy products. I did, however, go cold turkey on all candy and fast food from the beginning. It took about 30 days (1 month) to get from a very unhealthy lifestyle to a completely healthy vegan diet and nutrition program.
I understand that many people don’t have the support network, time or commitment to make a full scale life-long change to veganism, and that’s why I started Just Add Good Stuff. I want to inspire people to take on a whole foods plant based diet as much as possible, but I also understand the complexities of everyday life that are so unique to every person.
Therefore, Just Add Good Stuff, is all about taking the ‘bad stuff’ out of our lives gradually while adding more ‘good stuff’. By doing so, you can still enjoy life to its fullest … and in many ways, by taking care of your health first, you will be much happier, successful and healthier in everyday life.
I am proud to call myself a vegan. Now, I challenge you…