I realize that I do a lot of talking about the fact that I eat a ton veggies and how I don't eat meat, but what I've really failed to mention is why I don't eat meat. Here's my story ;).
Why I Don't Eat Meat
Why? About two years ago, I had this idea to stop eating chicken (and turkey, but chicken was really my main meat). I only ate chicken and turkey, with the odd bit of red meat thrown in there, and some seafood. One day, I decided that chicken just wasn't doing it for me anymore, so I decided to cut it out as a 'challenge' to myself. I wanted to see how far it got.
Fast forward two months and I noticed that I hardly even missed it or any other meat for that matter…so I kept going. The only thing I decided to keep consuming throughout this trial was seafood, which stayed in my diet until the end of summer, 2011.
Along this journey, I stumbled across some reading material and watched a couple of documentaries. These are pretty much what made me become a full on vegetarian and then vegan (a few months later). The information presented to me just coincided with my beliefs and thus, the veggie loving freak inside me was born.
I left some dairy in my diet (just out of not caring when eating desserts and veggies/potatoes sautéed in butters when out, froyo, Greek yogurt), and like I said, ate fish (especially when we went out to eat, which we did a lot that summer). When November 2011 rolled along, I gave all that up too because I had quit working and wasn't tempted by leftovers at work!
I never thought in a million years that I, of all people, would have ended up as a vegan. In all honesty, when I was eating meat, I used to make fun of vegans and did the typical joke of, "what do they eat?!" So this just goes to show how one might surprise themself. And then to have your husband (who went to school in the south, full of pulled pork and all that jazz!), surprise you by giving up meat (minus fish the odd time) as well. A lot can change before your eyes, people!
How it's changed me? The first (unintended) thing it did was helped me lose some weight. I had this goal weight before my wedding that I had always wanted to reach, but never ended up reaching it (which was ok, because I was completely and utterly happy on my wedding day and my weight was NEVER a thought on my mind at all that day), but I did reach that weight when I went vegan. My hubby also lost a lot of weight too (this loss was of fat, not muscle...at least I hope not! ;)).
It's brought way more awareness to the things I eat; ingredient reading, buying organic, buying local, etc. I've always consider myself to be mindful when I did eat, but now I'm super mindful of what I put in my body. This pretty much just means that I use organic sugars in my cookies now instead of generic ;).
Also, from an environmental standpoint, it's nearly impossible to talk about bettering our earth with meat still in the picture. Because of this fact, I am constantly striving and thinking up new ways to be enviro-friendly, so I'm glad that my decision to not eat meat has lead to a positive chain reaction.
It's also given me a better appreciation for all living creatures - both human and non-human. I always considered myself an "animal lover," so when I gave up eating all animals it made me feel confident in that title…finally!
What I eat instead now? In place of the meat and eventually seafood that I cut out of my diet, I replaced it with beans, nuts, seeds, nut butters, grains, legumes, tofu and (of course!) veggies!! I like to mix it up whenever I can. You will rarely see me using, say, chickpeas, everyday. I keep everything on rotation, or if I haven't had something in a while, I'll find a dish/way to use it. And in place of dairy, I drink almond milk, use vegan butter, and the odd time, vegan cheese (daiya). I feel like the possibilities are endless, as long as you keep an open mind :).
As a vegan, and maybe to someone who is looking for ideas on how to cut back on meat, I wanted to list some of my favourite foods that I try and have stocked in the house almost regularly (veggies aside) that are good meat alternatives:
- black beans
- kidney beans
- lentils (green and red)
- long-grain brown rice
- quinoa (regular and red)
- rolled oats
- organic peanut butter
- organic extra-firm tofu
- mushrooms (portobellos or cremini)
- chocolate (a must, in my opinion and totally makes this list!)
- seeds: flax, hemp, pumpkin and sunflower (are the typical's)
- nuts: almond, cashews and walnuts
- protein powder (vanilla Sunwarrior, chocolate Vega)
- spirulina powder
Will I ever eat meat again? On this day, in this moment, here right now, I will tell you 'no.' But you can pretty much bank on that decision for a very long time (like, maybe my whole life time).
This might be a good place to add that I didn't give up meat because I didn't like the way it tasted (or more so the 'smell' of it, these days), but because of what it actually is. Plus anything seasoned right can be delicious, so why is it standard to just apply this to animal parts?! So, I can't really say that I miss the texture, flavours or tastes now because, truth be told, it's been way to long since I've had it to remember what it's like anyways! I guess to go so long without having something, you just forget what it's even like. And I don't miss what I don't remember!!
I've also had people ask what Nia's diet will be like and to this, I answer that she will be vegan as long as I'm in control of what she's eating. Once she's old enough to make decisions and choices for herself, she in the dictator of what food groups she consumes. Obviously I will be educating her the best I can to make good choices (and ultimately what my choices are because these are what I feel to be good/true to myself and my family), and be constantly informing her on why we eat the way we do.
I think with the acceptance of all these new diets bursting today that veganism will become more acceptable and (hopefully) easier for things in the future like: children's birthday parties, various food days at school, sleepovers, etc.
Overall: I feel 100% confident, happy, delighted (insert endless positive emotions here) in my decision to give up meat (and animal products). Am I a 'perfect' vegan? Hell no. I'm pretty sure I bought a face cream last month that has honey in it, and still carry products that I purchased before becoming vegan that contain animal ingredients. BUT, I'm still learning. I can only learn more each day, and try to take my knowledge and apply it in areas of my life that make sense and work for me.
I also don't want to preach my little vegan heart out (I think I was more outspoken when I first became vegan because I was just SO passionate about all the new stuff I was learning), but if I can help educate anyone in even the slightest, then that makes me happy.
And of course, I always welcome whatever questions you may have on the topic, or if you want to know more info that I didn't provide here, well, I'm down with that too!
I hope you learnt a little bit more about me, my decision, and my diet!
Please note: I'm just sharing my experience with you and in no way am I trying to push my views and opinions on you. I just wanted to honestly post about my decision to stop eating meat, which I know is not an ideal scenario for everyone! Also, I recognize and respect other people's choices to consume meat. I just hope that we can all still be friends!
Question: Do you consider yourself to follow a certain diet? Or, do you have any exclusions in the way you eat?