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.
Ha I’m watching forks over knives now while also browsing the net going back in now, have to come back to read this in full afterwards.
This was what I was looking for the new year. Great advice.
try watching Fat, Sick, Nearly Dead, it changed my life. and took 30 pounds off of me.
This article is really speaking to me. I have been working on going vegan, with the exception of honey, for a while now. For the most part I am good – I’m not that attached to meat and I don’t like dairy except for cheese on a dish and the occasional ice cream cone. I have also kicked out all white flour products and processed sugars,which is why I am NOT giving up my honey! My problem is I am looking to move to France aka a cheese lovers paradise or Chile aka meatopia in the Fall and I worry about how I will be able to accommodate my diet.
I want to go vegan for the health benefits – diabetes and hypertension run in my family and I am looking to beat all of that. But part of me thinks it is good to incorporate meat every few weeks just to make sure my body will still be able to process it just in case. I guess I just have to figure it out. Any suggestions?
@LemonNLime: I have the same issue with honey, too! I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with having meat in moderation. I am anemic, so I often struggle to keep my iron levels up without meat. I’m sure it’s very possible with just a plant based lifestyle, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet.
I’m a Vegetarian and almost a Vegan, and i can tell you that if you eat and combine the right food, you won’t have problems with your iron or anything else.
I used to be almost anemic and now i have an amazing ability to absorb iron.
If you eat something that has a lot of iron, eat it with something else that has vitamin C, because it helps the body to absorb the iron.
There are much more food combinations, look for it.
And juices are very good too to help you get all the nutrients and vitamins you need.
Good luck everybody.
Don’t give up on being the best Humans you can be 😀
Happy and Healthy day to everybody*
I have been vegetarian for 4 months, lactose intolerant so dairy wasn’t a big deal. I was hoping that i would find the smell of meat repulsive after awhile but no. My goal is to be 50% raw I love bread and pastas and those are not beneficial if you want to lose weight so i am cutting out the bread and limiting the wheat pasta. I have to say that french fries are my go to meal because I feel like i have given up so much already I want to take more time with this.
@Darlene Johnson: a hint: eating fried food will not help you lose weight. Keep the fries, keep the spare tire. Lose the fries, lose the spare tire. The fat you eat is the fat you wear, and vegan or not, fried foods NEVER promote good health and are LOADED with empty fat calories. Bake your fries instead and keep the oil to a minimum.
This is a very good article! I watched Forks Over Knives and have been vegan now for over three months. The companion book and resources in the book/film have been inspirational. For me, I wanted to become vegan for good health (lots of health issues in my family) and I am convinced that by not eating meat, I am being in control of what goes into my mouth. It is a struggle. I agree. It is a transition that should be according to your pace. I went cold turkey because the film spoke to me and I cannot stand the sight of dead animals on a plate. I applaud you for making your feelings known.
@Miriam: Thank you!
#3? Did you mean organic produce, not vegan produce? I have the complete opposite experience with produce longevity. My stuff lasts forever, especially if I get it at the farmers market.
From my local market: salad leaves last 2-3 weeks. Green beans are about the same. I bought and organic bell pepper and forgot about it for 3 weeks. It was fine.
Potatoes, onions, and carrots last like their conventional cousins.
Peaches, plums, and strawberries don’t last long. But I tend to finish those fast. And they are picked riper than their conventional counterparts. Hearty fruits like apples and oranges last the same as usual.
@Jame: You are correct, I did mean organic!
jame has highlighted some of my points.
the vegan produce, you would be refering to, is organic. to be vegan you dont have to go organic but many do. in the case of produce going bad quickly, its most likely that its not local, hence why its going bad faster. it might be the case that there arent many local organic growers in your region, or your super market doesnt deal with local growers as much.
I applaud you for spreading the word! trying to learn about eating healthier is always a life change for the better.
if you must eat meat I encourage you to research local farmers who have free range chickens, feed their animals w grain etc. get in contact w an independant local butcher if you can, more expensive but well worth if you must eat meat.
last but not least you MUST (lol), read a book called “eat vegan for $4 a day” by ellen jaffe jones. its amazing!! it was my Christmas present this year, by far my favorite.
@tara: You are correct, I did mean organic! Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
“But if you want to avoid foods that have been sprayed with pesticides and may be genetically modified, vegan is the way to go.”
This should say organic is the way to go.
While the vegan diet can be healthier you should do your research to make sure your are getting proper nutrients. I know many people who have become vegan more so for ethical reasons and their health has taken a back seat to this. So while they are not eating meat they eat a lot of meatless meat products which are highly processed and contain genetically modified ingredients.
I consider myself flexitarian while I do eat meat I do it sparingly. My diet primarily consists of organic vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds. When I do eat meat I purchase local higher quality meat. It can be expensive which is one of the reason why I only eat meat a few times a month rather than every night.
I’ve be a vegetarian for 11 months and did it to get healthly and now the thought of eating an animal gets under my skin. I have watch Forks over knives and Fat,sick and nearly dead after becoming a vegetarian and I’m still inspired by all the participants of the films. I’m also looking into being vegan. I’ve stop drinking milk for about 3yrs, my biggest issue is baking/cooking w/o eggs and cheese. I’m exploring several receipes and I see veganism in the near future. (next 2-3 months).
This article is great! I’m new to this site and I’ve found it pretty interesting so far. I’ve been vegan for six months and it’s been shockingly easy for me. Dining out is only a moderate challenge. I have two good friends that are vegan and a host of others that are open to the lifestyle. I’m very lucky to have such great support.
To Lady J- Cooking has always been a large part of my life. To that end I’ve experimented often to convert old recipes to fit my new lifestyle. I’ve found that oat milk is great for baking and any Whole Foods should carry an egg replacement for baking as well….good luck!
Thanks K for the tips.
That you everyone for the feedback! Glad you found the article useful 🙂
Something I noticed about the article is that you make excuses for people and people don’t need help in that department. Someone who is thinking of trying a vegetarian diet may look at one of your “considerations” and abandon the whole idea. People sit in front of the tv for 2 hours a day but don’t have “time” for something challenging. And “what do the people around you eat” … well that’s a no-brainer. Hardly anyone even knows a vegetarian let-alone spends meal time with one. Practically everyone can abandon the idea with that “consideration” alone. Not very encouraging to say the least.
Being a vegan is easy if you try and there is nothing extreme about eating plant based whole foods. It also involves reading labels and being aware of animal testing and other forms or exploitation such as leather, fur, etc. It is not more time consuming considering it has a direct impact on your health and well being. Veganism is not for the weak minded. If loving yourself and respecting all life is extreme, then people have a twisted view of life.
that comment is really not cool guys ” being a vegan may be too extreme and maybe being a vegetarian, pescetarian may be more suited for you.”..smfh seriously??you the ones who talking about in the forks over knives how the dairy industry lie to us for decades and cow dairy products takes the calcium away from the bones and cause cancers and now u telling people vegetarian diet is ok too??let me tell u something ,no vegetarian diet helps but unfortunately not enough..dairy industry is just as nasty as the meat industry..they separete the baby cows from their mom soon after they born and they cry for each other for days..and not long after they brutally slaughter the baby calf for the veal industry..all so u can have a milk in your coffee..not fair..cow milk and eggs is bad ,baby cows die for your milk and male baby chicks grinded alive for your eggs,its a sick industry and being VEGAN is the only way to stop this torture..and cow dairy products are bad for your body its cancerous..so being VEGAN is not extreme is the best way ,being vegan helps stop the environmental destruction,world hunger,global warming and the animal torture those animals living in hell and tortured to death for your taste buds..and overall being vegan is best for your health too..thats what forks over knives was all about how eggs,dairy and meat harms your body so u should stop eating them all ..for the animals,for u ,for the planet..
I have been vegan for a year and a half and have never been more happy with my body. I shed 20 lbs without trying. i wasn’t even really overweight- just unhappy w/my body.
i learned a great deal about how to listen to my body and how inexpensive and rewarding veganism can be.
it’s a commitment but it’s insanely worth it. Not to mention, as health food becomes more and more in vogue, there are more and more options for eating out, snacks or treats, than there were even a year ago!
http://www.earthlings.com that should help everyone along.
This article is depressing. You were never vegan, you were a plant based dieter. Vegans are only in it for ethics. It is also a lot cheaper than eating meat.