Even though it is quite well past a year of my vegan lifestyle, I still think that my experience with veganism for a whole year has taught me far beyond my expectations. On top of that, my discoveries of both the highs and lows of veganism have made my journey that more exciting and insightful. Because of this, I think that talking about my experiences and my advice since being vegan for a year is most certainly worthy.
Now, let’s get into the pros and cons, starting with the lows. There are downsides to veganism? Well, despite what a lot of vegans want you to believe, there are a few that should definitely be addressed. I have not experienced all of them, but others might run into at least one.
- Certain nutrients are better available and more bio-active in animal products, such as heme-iron, retinol (vitamin A1), vitamin D, and certain B vitamins such as B12. Examples of these rich foods include liver, cod liver oil, and oysters. However, just because these are amazing sources of micronutrients does not mean their plant-based counterparts are any worse. For example, beta-carotene, or vitamin A2, can be converted into vitamin A1 via physiological functions, and is abundant in plant sources. On top of that, plant-based foods provide dietary fiber, vitamin C, and water, which animal products have a negligible quantity of. Non-essential nutrients that are found in animal products but not plants can be created by the body, so as long as you eat enough wholesome foods.
- Some restaurants are genuinely apathetic towards shifting their recipes and ingredients to incorporate more vegan dishes. Most of the time, it’s because they might not to put in so much work for a very small handful of their customers, not because these restaurant staff are immoral. To be safe, you should choose restaurants that are entirely plant-based, or other places where you know the ingredients as well as whether your dishes are cooked on the same surface as any animal-based dishes. However, if this is not possible, you may want to e-mail or call ahead of time to ensure that your dish is safe from animal products.
- Those who love to dangle meat in front of your face and scream “BACON!” around you are the best, aren’t they? Ignore those people. Seriously.
- Follow up from #3: how about family members or close loved ones? That’s another story.
- Cruelty free household items, such as shampoo, dish soap, shoes, blankets, sweaters, and brushes, are more pricey than their counterparts that contain animal products.
- Depending on your conditions, you may need to take a few supplements.
- Not all sources of veganism are reliable and credible. Hint hint: beware of pseudo-science.
- For people with more moderate to conservative political beliefs, it is rare to find a vegan who is NOT a liberal. Don’t get me wrong–conservative vegans exist, but they are few and far between. Personally, I identify as a liberal.
- Anybody who tells you that you aren’t “vegan enough”.
- In addition, anybody who informs you that you aren’t going about veganism “correctly” without credible scientific evidence.
- Vegan activists aren’t perfect. PETA has been notorious for its stomach-churning advertisements and tales of euthanizing pets, but it is still one of the loudest voices in animal rights. Individual vegan activists express hurtful statements that only turn outsiders away from veganism. I am so grateful to have come across influencers who have conveyed their messages through sole positivity, compassion, tranquility, practicality, and understanding.
- A few people may develop restrictive eating habits and beliefs if adopting veganism. Using veganism to mask an eating disorder is never ideal.
- Animal products. Animal products everywhere. Don’t believe me? Check what’s in your car and your phone.
Cons are a mouthful indeed, but I have gained so many more incredible factors from veganism that nothing else could have granted. Note that a lot of these cons are anecdotal, but are extremely common among those who have become vegan and may seem apparent to you when you eat more plants. Some may come to a surprise, some don’t. I’ll keep some of them blunt to cut space.
- Veganism has taught me to be more liberal. I have always been a die-hard lefty when it comes to social norms and policies (feminism, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, etc.), but I have become more passionate about these movements.
- I can eat a meal and put on makeup while knowing that I have not sacrificed the life and suffering of another animal.
- Learning about new ingredients never ends. There are still so many ingredients I can cook with that most non-vegan recipes don’t include, such as aquafaba!
- I feel less heavy after a meal, minus the times I’ve eaten an entire table of food at a vegan potluck. Even half a jar of peanut butter has less of an effect than two eggs!
- Though I have never experienced terrible skin problems, my complexion has improved pretty significantly. I actually glow!
- My relationship with food has healed remarkably. I no longer fear carbohydrates, sugars, and overt fats as much as I used to.
- No, vegans don’t always eat salad. We eat pancakes, waffles, enchiladas, Pad Thai, porridge, ice cream, sushi, curry, hummus, bread, lasagna, pie, chocolate cake, donuts, smoothies, sandwiches, stir-fries, tofu scrambles–pretty much anything you can think of has been veganized some way!
- Consuming enough vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which a lot of Americans tend to be deficient in, is not at all a challenge!
- For the most part, my energy levels are a lot higher. However, you need to eat a greater volume of food to obtain this effect.
- Meeting fellow vegans is astoundingly exciting. I have been to countless meetups and have loved them (as well as the vegans I have met) all!
- Environmental harm is alleviated by milestones. According to Cowspiracy, a vegan meal saves 1,000 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forest land, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, and the life of at least one animal. Amazing, right?
- There is a weirdly personal satisfaction in telling people about your vegan story and your reasons for following it. I think it’s because I’m so passionate about sharing it with everyone!
- My health isn’t jeopardized by common carcinogenic compounds in red meat, but also excessive LDL cholesterol, saturated fats (saturated fat is not entirely bad, but it is a lot easier to avoid overt amounts of it on a plant-based diet), IGF-1 from cow’s milk, and hormones injected in farmed animals and dairy.
- Consuming my five-a-day has never been easier.
- Resonating with animal rights activists is an amazing experience.
- My grocery budget has shrunk! Animal products tend to be more costly than plant-based alternatives. That’s to say that Big Macs still cost less than a smoothie from Jamba Juice, but you cannot compare the two.
- This isn’t something I have personally tried to accomplish, but a lot of people experience weight loss on a vegan diet. If you are trying to lose weight, a vegan diet may be suitable for you. However, it is almost just as easy to gain weight on a vegan diet if you put your mind to it (or your spoon in a giant jar of peanut butter).
- Piggy-backing off of #16, bodybuilders frequently gain muscle mass more rapidly when following a plant-based diet than on a conventional diet (probably due to increase in carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that help repair muscle tissue).
- Lead by example. Is it healthy to pick at a wound for it to bleed all over again? If you say no, why push rage against rage? Research as much as you can to share this important information as well as delicious and easy recipes. Most importantly, don’t make veganism look even more difficult than it already is.
- With an objective perspective, educate yourself on everything and anything about veganism. Yes, even the counter-arguments against it. Being objective overall demonstrates a greater understanding of veganism’s purpose. Emotion wears out, and you will be less likely to revert away from this lifestyle.
- If you don’t already, TAKE A B12 SUPPLEMENT.
- Dogmatism and isolation will only harm the vegan movement in the long-run.
- It is absolutely vital for you to find websites, platforms, and books that are documented by individuals with a well-educated background for scientific and nutritive information. Registered dietitians, medical doctors, environmental scientists, and biologists are your best bets for accuracy. No salt free, fat free, oil free, supplement-free, and other restrictive diets by those who have their body fat percentages as their best forms of evidence.
- You are going to make mistakes, whether in the form of fish sauce, honey, cream, eggs, or even animal-derived additives. Never beat yourself up for it. If you find that you really, really have to incorporate at least one more animal product back into your diet, do so, and just be plant-based the rest of the time.
- Transition accordingly. If you’re in a position and mental state to switch overnight, do so. If not, gradually swap every animal product out. Experiment to find what works best for you.
Thank you for reading my long, long schpeel on what I’ve experienced in my vegan journey so far! I really hope that this post prompts you to look into veganism, or even consider it as a possibility in your future. Even small swaps make the world of a difference. Ultimately, it is up to you to make positive impacts on the environment, your health, and those who are bred for human consumption and commodity.
If you are vegan, what has your experience been like thus far? What advice did you wish you have when you were vegan?