It all started a few years ago. My husband had this growing fascination with being a vegan. His cousin was a vegan, he had friends that were vegan, and he was just interested in the lifestyle. He looked forward to getting more energy, losing weight, feeling better, feeling lighter, and other perks he heard that veganism brough.
So, he took the plunge and dove into being a vegan. He lasted about 2.5 years.
I started my own vegan journey alongside him.
And, I lasted about 3 weeks.
Here's why I quit being a vegan.
What vegan life looked like
Cutting out all meat was not a big issue for me, really. I didn't eat a ton of meat or fish in the first place so cutting this out was not painful.
What I wasn't prepared for though, was all the dairy and animal products that are in many foods.
Eggs are in bread, milk and butter are in cookies, sometimes meat flavoring or meat broths are in soups or store-bought foods from the grocery store.
You have got to do a lot of label checking.
This was a shock to me.
Though I am pretty familiar with nutrition labels and checking macros, I wouldn't imagine that I would have to label check as much with a vegan lifestyle.
I did not like this.
That was the first red flag.
Then came the energy falls.
I started to feel like I had less energy. I didn't have as much of a crash as my husband but I still felt a difference. I tried to make up for that by eating more greens and beans, along with taking a multivitamin. I ate more spinach and kale. I ate black beans a lot and included a daily multivitamin.
I felt a little better.
That was red flag #2.
I started to get real cravings for my favorite foods. I'm not a health nut by far, so this was donuts, cookies, cakes, and other pastries that I couldn't stop thinking about.
Pretty typical in a diet.
I only indulge in these things once in a while anyway but the thought of never eating these things again made me sad.
And, this was red flag #3.
I tried meat substitutes, I tried dairy substitutes and alternative-foods that were supposed to be as good as eating eggs or eating yogurt, pudding, icecream, dairy-laden cakes, etc.
It's just not the same.
I don't expect it to be but, I was hoping to discover a tasty find that I would enjoy as much as my favorites. I never did.
Trying these alternatives were expensive.
Where I live a pound of meat-substitute like Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat can be as much as $8 to $10. That's more than the $4 I normally spend for a pound of ground beef. It's double actually, or more.
Then, there's the cost of...
- Dairy free cheese
- Dairy free milk
- Dairy free snacks like crackers, popcorn, etc.
- Dairy free sweets like ice cream, cakes, etc.
One thing I never understood is why vegans try to make non-vegan foods vegan. Why? Think about all ingreidients and preservatives that go into making alternative eggs or alternative chorizo sausage.
What kind of effect is that going to have on your body long term? And, all that soy? Yuck. That's why I could never get behind alternative foods.
Most of the meals we made were nut-based. They had a creamy cashew sauce or a coconut milk sauce. I wanted to try vegan to enjoy healthy veggie stir fries that filled my plate with a rainbow of colors. We didn't eat this way often and that's because at the end of the day, you're staring at a plate of veggies for dinner and you eat that way everyday or most of the week. It gets boring.
That was red flag #4 for me.
Food is supposed to be exciting and fun. While it's nutrition and fuel for your body, it should be enjoyable and an experience, I think.
We ate the same meals almost every week.
It was 2-3 vegan soups per week plus, 2-3 lentil-based meals and then 1 new or different meal which was a nod to our previous way of eating, but veganized. This was something like lasagna or burgers, spaghetti with "meat sauce" or enchiladas with "cheese."
As I mentioned, I'm not a fan of veganizing non-vegan meals but, we tried it.
All these red flags.
Could I really eat this way forever?
I quit being a vegan
And when I did, my old energy levels flooded back. I was happier. Our grocery bill shrank a bit, because vegan food is expensive. And, I even lost a bit of weight, funny enough.
A lot of people think that if you're vegan, you will lose weight automatically. That's not the case all the time, though I did lose weight when I tried being a pescatarian for a year.
The reason I didn't lose weight is because when I was a vegan I was constantly overeating, not realizing it until I looked back. I kept trying to fill myself. And, I was doing this to reach satiety. I wanted to be satisfied and I never was so I kept piling food into my mouth to reach that feeling that never came.
Because I was eating a mostly veggie-based diet, I didn't gain weight because of this, which I'm pleased about.
But, when I got off of the vegan diet, I ate less of the foods I loved because I reached satisfaction and enjoyment with my meals a lot faster.
And that naturally allowed me to shed a little weight.
My problems with being vegan
A vegan lifestyle is not for everyone.
It can actually cause health problems sometimes, like kidney stones, etc. It's not necessarily going to stave off all disease or keep you young. I read a story about a woman getting thyroid cancer 3 years after becoming a vegan. She was naturally irritated at that, as she started her vegan lifestyle to avoid disease and be healthy.
It's not a cure all, that's for sure.
Dropping energy levels was hard. It's difficult to try to find energy during the day for everyday things like working at your desk, caring for your kids, exercise and other activities. Though supplements and certain foods can help, it doesn't come close to returning some meat or fish to your diet, at least for me.
Would I do vegan again?
I love vegetables. I would eat plant-based but I wouldn't be vegan again.
Have you tried a vegan diet? What do you think?