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Questions I’ve Asked Since Going Vegan & Answers

assorted vegetables

By Jillian Lankford

Should the title read “going plant-based”? Probably. I haven’t gotten rid of my leather goods just yet and my purpose for switching it up has been health and environment based, see My Week As  Vegan Part: 1.

Over the course of the last 6 months as 99.1% plant-based (the kids can not live without Simple Truth Organic boxed Macaroni and Cheese at least once a week) I found myself questioning changes in my physical and mental health. Questions I’ve googled for relentless hours to confirm my elder-millennial suspicions that plant-based living has changed everything.

Why Do I Have So Much Energy?

I’m sorry to say my relationship with caffeine has ended. We no longer need each other.

One cup of coffee is only necessary in the morning because it pairs well with sunrises, a cozy blanket, and the quiet of an early morning house.

Getting sleep is easier. My improved metabolism allows my body to settle into rest swiftly. My insides aren’t feverously digesting animal products throughout my most important sleep cycles. I wake with a child-like energy that can run nonstop. Plant-based eating is the most natural energy boost I’ve ever experienced.

Am I happier?

Sure feels like it. Seems like I have the mental bandwidth to stay focused and on top of the day to day chaos, then some. Circumstances that would normally drag me down after a while are easier to move through. I feel happy. I feel bright and shiny.

There has been a vibrant mental health improvement that has accompanied this plant based lifestyle. I have more physical and mental energy to, not just live life, but add to it. Sounds simple but it’s definitely complex; going vegan is a real mood enhancer.

https://www.depressionthewayout.com/ltmh-blog/2020/08/01/how-to-boost-your-brain-with-plant-based-eating

Is my workout easier?

The biggest difference I noticed exercising on an animal based diet has been my level of energy. A protein packed pre-workout meal of some type of animal protein, be it whey, chicken, eggs, or beef takes longer for my body to digest. The energy used to “pump me up” took away from the energy I needed to “power through” my workout.

It’s important to note, if I fall down a vegan junk food rabbit hole, my endurance is not the same. Calories are calories. Sugar is sugar. Junk food is junk. You get what you put in.

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Can-Vegan-Diet-Improve-Fitness-44274391

Where is all my silverware?

Random question I know. I swear I am using more silverware. Possibly from the different layers I have to add to a burrito or bowl to get the right amount of nutrition. My silverware fills up the dish washer before any other kitchen item. Which leads me to my next question. . .

Am I using more water as a vegan?

Our previously produce packed grocery list has doubled, which means more washing. There’s more stewing and saucing. According to PETA, “one person who goes vegan can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year.”

https://www.peta.org/blog/how-to-save-219000-gallons-water-year/

It seems like I am running the faucet more and incorporating more water into recipes and dishes. National Geographic says “on average, a vegan, a person who doesn’t eat meat or dairy, indirectly consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than a person who eats the average American diet.” If we eat the plants we water first instead of watering them to feed a cow that needs water too, we are conserving natures greatest natural resource.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/water-conservation-tips

Is my BO more fragrant?

Yup.

Could carbs really be giving me brain power?

Short answer is yes. The power of carbs compels you.

Prior to becoming a vegan family we ate relatively healthy. More of a paleo based diet with a focus on meats, nuts and legumes. We avoided heavily processed carbs and stuck to one weekly whole grain pasta dish. Now we enjoy pasta several times a week as well as a variety of home-baked breads and biscuits. Carbs give us the fuel and brain power responsible for this enhanced mental state and high energy.

Digestion isn’t a symptom taking over my body, it is a process. This new process is inflammation free. My brain has more power to think and utilize carbs in a more productive way. Some way, some how, I have more energy to think. Crazy I know, since I have two rambunctious toddlers. I thank the carbs.

https://www.livekindly.co/diet-brain-health-can-eating-plant-based-make-you-smarter/

Does this have protein in it?

When I first transitioned my family into a plant-based diet I immediately started with the swap method. I swapped all meats, milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese with a imitation replacement. This was an easy way to go ‘cold turkey’. Some replacements were crowd pleasers, other others not so much. Which led me to wonder why use replacements at all?

Cheese was super tricky to let go let alone substitute. If you ask someone outside of the United States to describe our nation’s way of cooking, most would tell you “just add cheese to everything”. (Seriously look at a restaurant menu, 80% of the options include some type of cheese.) Then I realized we didn’t need it. I was adding cheese to meals for added protein. Most vegan cheese replacements have less than 1 gram.

A few weeks in we figured out what replacements weren’t going to work and honed in on whole food centered meals. No – we do not live without cheese in our home, we just choose to make it from whole foods instead.

How much coconut is too much coconut?

Another problem with using vegan replacements is an overconsumption of the good stuff. There is really only so much coconut you need. In our home we use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil and canola oil. We found that our milk and yogurt replacements, which we use multiple times a day in meals and snacks, were mostly coconut based. After feverously researching the pros and cons of overconsuming coconut specifically, we found we were inadvertently eating too much saturated fat without the benefit or getting extra protein. Sticking to whole food based meals and snacks has been a difficult adjustment but not unmanageable with proper prep and planning.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/coconut-nutrition

https://ilovevegan.com/resources/transitioning-to-a-vegan-lifestyle/

Is that vegan?

This question is complex. It can be asked in different ways with different inflection. It can be asked by people who practice a plant-based lifestyle and by those who frown upon it.

Restaurant menus are so misleading! Why are we using the vegan symbol on menu items that are not 100% vegan? That’s like saying something is nut free but made out of cashews. Our family doesn’t regularly eat out so vacationing this summer as new vegans was challenging. Some restaurants do a great job of providing vegan friendly options. Others advertise those options as vegan or plant-based but include cheese or dairy. So we were frequently asking, is that vegan? Some restaurant workers have no idea what vegan is. Much like members of our family. God bless my mother and her never-ending confusion. It’s not their fault. Even though we question, we are always willing to explain.

And why is junk food mostly vegan? Chips, so many kinds of chips, when not made with milk to make them even tastier, there is chips-galore ready for vegans to eat. Such a delicious shame.

On the other hand I have devoured meals against my will because they taste so good. Who knew flavor wouldn’t be sacrificed without butter and fatty meats? Is that vegan? Sure it and it’s delicious.

Why is going plant-based so hard to believe?

The benefits out weigh the difficulty for sure. Though it can be hard to admit that being a vegan is difficult. If you live in a food desert or in a community with limited healthy nutritional awareness, it can be hard to start, let alone maintain, a plant-based lifestyle.

Let’s face it, there is more money in meat and dairy than there is in plants, right now. You will see more advertising and marketing against the latter than you will condoning the benefits of it. It’s just the American way. America loves money.

Going against the grain has historically never really been met with open arms, look at the civil rights issues in this country. So if you believe it and you feel the change or are interested in trying it out, find resources that work for you, ask questions, and do it. Do it for yourself and forget everyone else. Let the haters hate. The environment and animals will thank you.


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