It all started one night when I was looking for something to watch on Netflix. I had recently been on a documentary binge and a film called Forks Over Knives popped up in my recommendations. I have always been fairly conscious about the things I put in my body, and had previously watched Super Size Me and Food, Inc., and they opened my eyes. But … this movie was different. It succeeded in completely scaring the shit out of me.
The information and scientific evidence in Forks Over Knives is mind-blowing. The basis of the movie is that chronic, degenerative diseases can be prevented and even reversed by switching to a plant-based diet. The film also goes as far as suggesting you limit or eliminate dairy, processed foods, cooked foods, and many oils. I’m no scientist, so I cannot personally back up all of the claims and studies made in the film, but I am a firm believer that food goes hand in hand with health.
I stopped eating meat that next day. It got to the point where I was almost repulsed at the sight of meat. I cleaned out my kitchen of all perceived unhealthy products, and I embarked on a wild 8 weeks of veganism. It was not easy. My mom made oxtail in that first week — one of my previous favorite foods. I flatly said, “Mom, I don’t eat meat anymore!” She looked at me and barely batted an eye, and the next time I came over, she offered me chicken. But I made a choice to only eat fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. I made up my mind I was going to succeed at this!
During my time of meatlessness, I felt great! I had so much energy, I felt lighter, I had no morning breath. Everything was sunshine and rainbows. I also felt that it is no coincidence that many of my favorite artists are or at some point in their life have been vegetarian. Prince, Sade, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Bonet — I used to think they were vampires due to the fact that they look exactly the same as they did 15 years ago. I’m convinced it’s vegetables.
But here I am several months later, eating meat, poultry, and seafood again. Slowly but surely, it all crept back into my diet. But I can’t exactly say I’m upset about it. I haven’t completely abandoned my quest for veganism, but if this is a journey you plan to take, here are a few things you should consider to determine if it is right for you.
1. What are your reasons for going vegan?
I wanted to go vegan primarily for health reasons. For you, it may be weight loss or ethical reasons. Whatever your reasons are, it is helpful to use those reasons to set goals and find ways to track your progress. Without those goals & milestones, you may find yourself questioning why you started in the first place.
2. Manage your expectations
Anything in life I have ever pursued and become successful at, I had setbacks and missteps. Backpedaling every now and then is just fine. Many things that are good for you can be very hard to stay on track with (i.e. exercise). You may also come to the conclusion that being a vegan may be too extreme and maybe being a vegetarian, pescetarian may be more suited for you.
3. Will your income allow it?
Fresh produce can be reasonably priced. But if you want to avoid foods that have been sprayed with pesticides and may be genetically modified, vegan is the way to go. What I’ve learned is that eating vegan can get very expensive. And on top of that, it spoils faster than most conventional produce. As an entrepreneur who recently quit my well paying job, every penny matters. The same may be true for you.
4. Will your schedule allow it?
Do you have a schedule where you can’t eat regularly or are constantly on the go? I found that as a vegan, I was ravenously hungry if I didn’t eat every few hours. Unfortunately, I have a very irregular schedule that doesn’t always allow me to eat regularly and that leads to me eating whatever I can get my hands on at a moment’s notice.
5. What do those around you eat?
I personally don’t know any vegans. That factor alone made it extremely hard to stay on track. My boyfriend, who I recently moved in with, eats meat. I didn’t feel right pushing my new extreme lifestyle on him and even though I maintained for a while, it got to the point where I could no longer resist the smell of his curry chicken.
At the end of the day, anything worth doing takes dedication and discipline. When you’re ready, you’ll know. I may not be ready to be a vegan just yet, but one day I will be and you may too.