My feelings of weariness towards animal products have occurred my whole life. Ever since I was little, I remember struggling with this internal conflict.
I remember attending the winter birthday party of a young schoolmate wearing the rabbit fur coat I received for Christmas a few months before. Only to witness the unveiling of my friend’s birthday gift, a new pet rabbit. Within moments of touching the rabbit, who would come to be known as Hops, I felt a pang of anxiety that I had never known before.
The moment I realized I was wearing my very own little Hops too! It was a pain that haunts me to this day.
But like most children, we quickly learn coping strategies to help us get by. Especially those who live in a non-plant-based home.
Because in our home, meat was king. Family dinners and gatherings always included meat. The meat was the main staple. The reason others came for the meal. From Sunday roasts to Chicken potluck meals, meat-centered meals brought people together. The meat was the lynchpin of every gathering. It was cultural. Which explains why over time I cultivated a belief that dinner had to include meat in order to feel satisfied.
I also didn’t grow up knowing any vegetarians. My grandmother loved meats of all kinds. Particularly meat in tube form. She was nothing short of a connoisseur of expensive sausages and cold cuts. The woman knew her way around the butcher shop. From finding just the right cut of brisket to knowing exactly how thin her corned beef and capicola should be cut, she treated the purchasing of meat like the sculpting of fine marble. With love and precision.
And her brother, my uncle, drank cow’s milk with dinner every night. Because milk had calcium. Because it was what you are supposed to drink in order to grow big and strong, right?
My parents believed what most parents are led to believe. Although cow’s milk is intended for baby cows, its great for kids and infants too. Weird to say, but the concept just makes sense.
The word vegan was also never a term I heard growing up. In fact, this term wasn’t part of my regular vernacular until I took an ecology elective’s class my sophomore year in college, Animal Ethics. I chose this class not realizing the sadness it would entail, and the emotions it would stir up. For which, I am grateful. Because this obscure night class that started my mental ball rolling on not just animal rights but issues delving into non-consumerism and ecological advocacy too.
But despite all this newfound college knowledge, I consumed meats. Tons of them. I somehow allowed myself to believe that being a consumer of meats and animal products while being a fuzzy parent, was okay. It was just part of the hypocritical compartmentalization I allowed myself to believe.
Afterall, I was an adult. A married adult. A woman whose husband and family also loved meat too. A woman who owned a cat, who consumed meats. So if my family wants it at dinner and my pets need it in their diet, it was okay, right?
Then came the night a few months ago when it all clicked for me. After a nasty bought of food poisoning caused by eating hotdogs at a local bulk shopping chain, the ideas came crashing together. Meat consumption was killing me.
For a long time, I knew I needed to lose weight. To be healthier. Like 100 pounds healthier. But for a long, long time I loved my processed pizza bites more. But in that moment of having my head hanging over a toilet seat in the twilight hours of the morning, after falling asleep in my bathroom, while throwing up for hours on end, I knew my road with meat was coming to a crashing end.
Then came the sobbing. Thinking about what our world has come to. Feeling disgusted with society. Disgusted with myself as well, that I had been so ignorant and oblivious to what was happening behind slaughterhouse walls and behind big corporations. That the big name meat and dairy brands are powerful, full of lies, are guided and funded by deep-pocket lobbyists and super packs. Each seeking to convey to the masses that consuming beings that had once flourished with a life of its own was more than okay.
The worst part? The marketing and labeling. That I allowed myself to believe that there are happy cows and even happier chickens roaming the world ready to self-sacrifice for my Sunday best meal.
When in reality, there are no happy cows or free-range chickens. That cage-free doesn’t mean what we think it means. That we don’t know any better because we are swarmed daily with happy dairy ads, commercials, and marketing schemes. That factory farming is very much existent, including backyard homesteaders and farmers too!
Not to mention all the hormones and antibiotics pumped into the animals to keep them from getting sick, to speed up the growth process, and to advance the bottom line of every dollar generated by processing centers throughout this nation. Food that has become so processed and nutrient-lacking, we are becoming sicker by the bite. Labels such as “got milk?”, are more properly posed as “got cancer, heart disease, and stroke?”
But this mess isn’t all our fault. Or completely of our own making. It’s just what we have been told to believe. The reality of the situation is that we don’t need animal products to thrive. Animal protein consumption is causing disease left and right due and plant-based eating can resolve numerous ailments in millions of people. Including me. From my acid-reflux to PCOS to my MTHFR gene mutation, the eliminating of meats and dairy products from my life can help elevate and irradicate these symptoms.
Because there are no healthy meats. Because there are no ethical animal farming methods. Because we can all sustain our bodies without the exploitation, mutilation, and degradation of other living, breathing creatures. There is a great deal of hope in that message!
So how has my journey of living a plant-based life been? I’m happy to say, four months into my plant-based journey, these results are true. While I’m not cured, my blood pressure is lowered, I’ve lost an additional 16 pounds, my acid reflux is all but non-existent, and my energy levels are higher than ever before!
Because of all this, all that I’ve mentioned, my life will never be the same.
Since that night of sitting on my toilet for six-plus hours in agonizing pain, I have not eaten any animal products whatsoever. I made the connection that a plant-based lifestyle is what my body needs in order to thrive. This realization was pretty empowering.
Then there was the issue of my husband. The poor guy who had no idea what emotional blindside he was coming home to the next day.
He walked in the door to a ready-to-galvanize-the-world wife. He asked for a cold Dr. Pepper before my rant commenced. For which, he kindly nodded and obliged my newfound views. He figured it was just a phase. He was wrong. Because I’m happy to report, he has come around and is also now eating a plant-based diet as well.
Though he is a vegetarian, and not a vegan, its a start. An awesome start. Of which, I am beyond proudly and hold have a great deal of respect. For his willingness to listen. To find his own journey to change. He also helps us advocate these changes to the rest of our family as well. He and I both know now that this was no phase, this was a major life change. Plant-based whole foods are the only way out family’s diet will ever truly thrive! And we’re ready to take this journey as far as it can go!
We no longer purchase meat products. I no longer consume dairy products and my family member’s who do drink milk have switched to organic varieties. Our family also has limited our processed food consumption greatly too. The three of us have done amazing as a result!
Our pets have made the change as well. My dogs, though natural carnivores have adapted well to a plant-based kibble and organic grain-free pet treats. Our beta eats a plant-based flake brand of fish food, and our cats, who still consume meat-based foods because its what is ideal for their health and nutrition, now eat a better quality organic food. By eating a better quality food actually eat less food overall. Which means that fewer meat products are consumed in our homes, even by natural carnivores.
This was also just the beginning of my vegan advocacy journey too! This past season, I’ve watched numerous other documentaries, read books, articles and immersed myself in learning everything about plant-based nutrition. I’ve become a nutrition junkie, wellness addict, health guru, and plant-based advocate.
I’m also realistic. I recognize that for many, living a vegan lifestyle is a major turnoff. That the plant-based lifestyle can come off as having an heir of expensive, exclusivity, and entitlement associated with it and the people who ascribe to the lifestyle. I hope to help dispell that myth. There are tons of vegans and plant-based folks of all backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, socio-economic levels, religious, and cultural backgrounds. My perspective is just one of the millions!
Which is why I have committed myself to changing how I blog on this platform. New meal plans, printables, and food hauls will reflect my plant-based lifestyle. I want to use The Lady Prefers 2 Save as a place of positivity and to shed light on this heated yet growing topic. To spread awareness and inspiration. To create deliciously vibrant recipes. And most importantly, offer encouragement to others.
Going vegan doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. It’s actually the most budget-friendly food plan I’ve ever been on. It’s simple. It’s delicious. It’s real. It’s not processed. It’s whole foods from nature. It’s what we are meant to be enjoying on the daily! It’s also helped me to lower my grcery bills and add in more organic produce too!
Now I know what some of you are thinking. You don’t want to picture the process of how your food gets to your plate – I get it.
Most people would just want to enjoy their cheeseburgers and milkshakes. Humans stick to what they know and don’t want to go through the extra trouble. But as we all know, true growth starts when we step outside our comfort zones each and every day.
Veganism may seem new and unfamiliar, that’s all – but it’s just like anything else. It’s not about deprivation, dieting or counting calories. It’s about adding in foods your body will love and will recognize as actual food that it can use. Real, whole foods found in nature. No more, no less.
This lifestyle has impacted my life in so many ways! After feeling so healthy and alive, I could never go back to animal products. The biggest benefit for me was the feeling that my clothes fit better than ever as well as clear, glowing skin with a healthy tone that I’ve never had before. My skin is no longer dull. I don’t have to wear as much makeup as I used to. Energy has been another major plus. I feel stronger. So for me, strong is the new sexy!
I want everyone to experience these positive changes. My mindset is more positive. I believe that’s because I am no longer consuming foods that are filled with anxiety, fear, and pain. Following my intuition is my driving force, and my intuition is crystal clear. For the most part, I feel well and energized every single day. Except Monday’s. But, yeah. Even veganism can’t fix that dichotomy.
Whether you want to take baby steps and incorporate more vegetables into your daily life or go full throttle like I did, that is up to you. There is no right way to transition. There’s also no judgment from me in your life choices. Ever.
Though I do think you would live a healthier life is you started incorporating non-dairy milk, more fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and grains like oats and quinoa into your diet, while slowly eliminating the animal products. But still, no judgment. Remember, it’s a journey and a learning process. So if you would like more reasons to take the plant-based plunge, here are 5 tips to help get you started.
1) Try new recipes: Look online for new vegan recipes! Check out Meatless Monday options too! Check out vegan cookbooks from your local library or free ebooks online. Remember to stick with real, whole foods and stay away from processed meat substitutes and frozen dinners. Just because it’s vegan doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you. With the exception of Oreo’s. Which are vegan. And needed. Remember, Mondays are coming!
2) Consider your proteins: As a vegan, you can get more than enough plant protein from foods like quinoa, tempeh, organic tofu, lentils, black beans, chickpeas, hemp seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, kale, spinach, broccoli, peas, oats, potatoes, sunflower seeds, and edamame to name a few. I use the Cronometer app to measure all my nutrient levels to make sure I get enough essential vitamins, minerals, proteins each day. I also take B12, vitex, and kelp supplements each day.
3) Start slowly: Every fruit and vegetable offers different vitamins and nutrients for your body. Try them all at least once. Replace dairy milk with almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, cashew milk, or hazelnut milk. That’s an easy, delish swap. Make just one healthy choice a day. The changes in your life will be immense!
4) Educate yourself: Read books, articles, and documentaries. A few of my favorite documentaries are Rotten, Forks Over Knives, Earthlings, Vegucated and Food Inc. – all on Netflix. Find out why you personally want to incorporate more plant foods. You are likely to stick with this healthier lifestyle if you have a driving force.
5) Allow your body the time it needs to detox: The detox process can take several weeks, months, even years. So be kind, patient, and nurturing to your body. Eventually, you will benefit from this lifestyle. You may feel kinda crappy sometimes, too! That is your body trying to flush out years of built-up toxins and chemicals from animal products. It’s truly a good thing! Self-care is key!
Small changes in your life can make a difference. I promise. Stepping out of your comfort zone is liberating. It opens new doors. It adds life to your years.I can’t tell you how much positivity this lifestyle has brought me. I wake up eager to work on this blog every day and connect with all of you. Becoming vegan has taken my health to the next level and was hands down the best decision I have ever made.
As mentioned above, I will be including new plant-based menu options and recipes on this blog and printables as well. And if you have any questions please leave me a comment, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear your thoughts and personal stories. Your health is all you have at the end of the day. Take control of it. Today!