I have been vegan for about a year now and this is no small feat for someone from Wisconsin. We are born with cheese running through our veins and brats coming outta our ears. What makes my experience even more unique is that fact that I live about ten driving minutes from a grocery store, or any normal type of society for that matter. However, for my job, I travel around the world and at times that comes with its own set of challenges.
I have found that being vegan comes with ups and down. Some of the stereotypes about being vegan tuned out to be true and some turned out to be complete phony baloney. Clearly being vegan is going to be different for everyone and there are a number of circumstances that will affect your own personal experience.
Before we dive into the vegan lifestyle please note I am not a doctor. All my information is based on my personal first-hand experience. If you are thinking about going vegan you might have some of the same experiences I have had or, you can have your own completely opposite experiences.
Myth: All vegans are super skinny and in shape
Fact: Vegans CAN be skinny and in shape
No matter what type of diet you choose to do you still need to work out. A diet can only take you so far, if you aren’t putting in the work to move around the calories are going to add up. I have met many vegans who still appear “overweight” or unhealthy. Sorry to break the news to you, but yes you can be a fat vegan. If you don’t pick the right vegan foods to put into your body you aren’t going to be healthy or in shape. Yes, pasta is 100% vegan but you shouldn’t just live off carbs my friend.
My personal experience from first going vegan was great. I lost tons of weight and felt the vegan high. What is the vegan high you ask? Pretty much what it sounds like. A vegan high often leaves you feeling super energetic and full of life. You have a buzz feeling through your body and you feel like you can take on the world. Your body is getting a reset on what you have been feeding it and it gives you a sense of euphoria.
After a few months however my body adapted to the new diet and lifestyle. I found that my new vegan body had started to plateau on the weight loss and the vegan high had started to go away. Keeping carbs in check and overall focusing on what I was putting in my body, like eliminating bread and noodles, helped me get back on track to losing weight efficiently again.
Body changes after going vegan – Vegan weight loss
Overall the vegan diet works well with my body type and metabolism. I notice by cutting out dairy and meat that my body is less bloated and I feel more comfortable throughout the day. The vegan diet helps me maintain symptoms brought on by my GERD. Before the vegan diet, I had to simply rely on my GERD medicine to help me with my symptoms. Now I hardly ever need to take my medication for symptoms related to GERD flair-ups.
To be noted: I have tried just about every diet known to man and going vegan shows the best results for me! I am 5’3 and was a gymnast my whole life so I need to do certain workouts and watch what I eat so I don’t over bulk. Being vegan fuels me for my workouts and helps keep me toned instead of turning me into a little walking hulk.
Skin benefits of being vegan
Another benefit of being vegan (as to how it pertains to my outer appearance) is that I love how it makes my skin look and feel. I’ve been fortunate enough to always have pretty good skin and eating vegan just elevates it that much more. You sweat out what you eat and when you are only putting plant-based products into your diet, your skin is going to benefit from it. I sweat a ton when I work out and with my diet, I don’t ever break out. Whereas before I would get a pimple or two on my forehead or check after my long runs.
Myth: Being vegan is going to break your bank account
Fact: Being vegan isn’t the cheapest but can be
Listen I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up your ass. Eating vegan isn’t that cheap, no matter if you eat out or make food yourself at home. Our society pretty much makes eating healthy impossible. Want some noodles with sodium through the roof, just pay 99 cents. You want healthy veggies and fruits, just pay $25 dollars for a meal. Grocery stores set you up to fail.
Eating out as a vegan
Here’s what I think is ironic. When you order at typical restaurants it is going to be cheaper to eat vegan because you aren’t paying extra for meat in the dish. Most places I’ve been to accommodate changing ingredients to make a non-vegan dish vegan. Going to eat at a typical vegan, vegetarian or healthy restaurant is going to have more options for you to eat but be more expensive than a standard restaurant. Catch-22 isn’t it? Personally, the quality at any vegan type of restaurant is going to be extraordinarily better than your classic restaurant so the price increase is worth it. You are paying for quality of the food at vegan restaurants and when you eat vegan, the food is always all about the quality over anything else.
I personally will spend a bit more and go to vegan places when eating out because there are simply more options. Typical restaurants do have vegan food but it’s almost always salad, noodles or a hummus wrap. A girl can only eat so many salads in her life. When you go to a straight up vegan place you are going to get options everyone else gets, but in a vegan form. Do you want a Big Mac, Philly cheesesteak or lobster bisque? No problem, head to your nearest vegan spot and they are sure to have all your favorites. When you go to a vegan restaurant you can order straight off the menu like everyone else gets to. You don’t have to worry about subtracting, subbing or altering any of the food items.
Cooking at home as a vegan
Just like any other type of diet or lifestyle, you can choose to cook cheap meals or more expensive meals. This is really going to depend on the effort you want to put into your meals both on the shopping front and cooking time. I suggest investing in Sams Club or a Costco card and start buying things in bulk. If you want to buy fruits and veggies in bulk but don’t think you will use them all then freeze it! Want to save even more, by frozen fruit and vegetables. It might be a pain but meal planning for the week and investing in meal planning Tupperware is really going to save those benjamins.
Yes, you can always go the cheap noodle and bread base route for meals but as we just went over that isn’t going to be the best thing for your body. There are more money-saving options when cooking vegan at home that includes:
- Use beans vs meat alternatives and make your own patties
- Have a vegan grocery shopping list
- Shop at farmers markets
- Freeze your leftovers
- Buy generic over brand names
- Look for foods online
Overall vegan expenses
At the end of the day, it really isn’t about if being vegan is more expensive or cheaper. I would say the true thought at hand here would be if you choose to be a planner or not. Being vegan is about planning ahead of time, which can be beneficial to any lifestyle. My two things to take away from this is to meal prep for cooking at home and look up menus when planning to eat out.
Myth: You’ll get shit for being vegan from non-vegans
Fact: You’ll get shit for being vegan from non-vegans
Here’s the thing, people are often afraid of new things or fear things they don’t know. I think this is a deep-rooted seed of a reason why people freak out or judge as soon as they find out you are now vegan. You would think I was telling people I started shitting glitter, however, that might actually go over better.
The first thing that is said when you tell others you are now vegan is, why? You start to understand the first few people that ask why but after a while it gets really annoying. You want to roll your eyes and start asking people why they use toilet paper to wipe their ass. Does it concern other peoples life why you are going vegan, no. Yet they will tell you a million reasons why you shouldn’t be vegan or start telling you ridiculous stories they have heard about being vegan. The best is when they tell you being vegan is actually unhealthy for you.
The first few months after I told my family I was vegan they would give me shit both in person and via text. In my family group chat everyone is sure to send me their meat dinners or let me know what great new restaurant has opened with tons of non-vegan options. After a few months, however, they all got used to it and only occasionally give me shit. They actually ask my input now on what I want at family get-togethers and ask if what they’re making is okay. The only one who gives me shit daily still is my dad, but he does it in a playful way now.
Friends are no better at avoiding the question game.
Friends are a little bit better than family members but still seem to be perplexed by it. I usually go with the medical reason on why I’m vegan (to help maintain my GERD) and that usually gets them to stop asking any other stupid questions. My boyfriend gets away with telling people he’s vegan by just saying he’s doing it because I’m doing it. Were attached at the hip so that stops all additional questions for him as well.
It’s great when I travel for work and am able to be around all my vegan friends. It’s just understood you are both vegans so picking restaurants are no big deal and neither is cooking a meal. There’s no back and forth on what you can eat or not eat. It is truly effortless and sharing new vegan recipes is always one of my favorite things to look forward to. My work friends were all vegan years before I was, so they let me know all the products that I should get and all the ones I should avoid. At the end of the day, vegan peeps are truly the only ones who understand you and your lifestyle. I miss my vegan friends very much when I am back home.
Judgment from restaurants
Depending on the type of restaurant you go to, waiters are either super accommodating to your dietary restrictions or are super annoyed by it. Honestly, I am surprised at how many service industry people are more open to your vegan requests. Typically when I go and ask for something without meat they will instinctively ask me if I also want the dairy taken out as well!
Myth: Vegans have a hard time eating at fast food restaurants
Fact: Many fast-food restaurants have options for vegans
As the world evolves so do people’s minds. Fast food restaurants are realizing the reality of more people not only choosing to be vegan but wanting to choose healthier food options. You can see this is apparent by the addition of calories being labeled by each menu item. Restaurants have begun sectioning out menus into more food groups, and some restaurants have even evolved to the point where they have a separately labeled plant-based part of the menu.
Some fast food restaurants I frequent as a vegan includes:
- Chipolte – their sofritas is the bomb dot com
- Panera – they have a plant-based menu
- Noodles – you can subtract diary and meat from ANY item, they also have tofu and Zoodles!
- Firehouse Subs– tons of salad options and they have giant portions
- Wendy’s – baked potatoes!
- Denny’s – they have veggie patties!
A big go to at every fast food restaurant is obviously going to be french fries! Yes, they are not the healthiest but if that is your only option to eat, then eat it. Nothing is worse than going with your friends to a fast food joint and just sitting there staring at them! Get the fries or onion rings and partake in the meal. If you are eating with your friends by multiple restaurants go grab your food and take it into where they are eating!
Another great thing happening in the fast-food world is the welcoming of the impossible burger. You won’t find it at classic fast-food chains with their own burger recipe but places like Fridays, White Castle, and Unami Burger are all serving it up. If you want to know where impossible burgers are served up you can check on their website!