Thank you for joining me again this week as I share even more life-changing pieces of knowledge I’ve gained in the past two years that I’ve been vegan. I’m grateful that I’m able to share my experiences with you and am even more grateful that you are taking time out of your day to read. I’m in a very thankful mood today. As I write this, I have two cats on my lap and a smoothie on the ledge of a window that is open and letting the warm air in. I am content.
Ok so let’s get to it!
How to properly combine foods
I always thought I could put anything in my body and my stomach didn’t care. It would break it down all the same. Wrong. Different foods digest at different rates. Take potatoes and watermelon. Because of it’s high water content, watermelon digests very quickly. If I were to eat potatoes then eat watermelon shortly after, the watermelon would digest faster than the potatoes and run into them in my digestive tract causing stomach pain. Here’s a chart from Happy Cow to see which foods are good to combine with others for optimal digestion.
How to cook
Before going vegan, I knew the basics of the basics. My go-to meal was pasta with jar sauce. In my husband’s words, I “didn’t know how to cook for s***.” If I’m being honest with myself, he’s right! But now that’s a different story. Being vegan inspires me to make new meals. I am by no means a master chef but my inspiration and passion infuses itself into the food I create. I also find it so fun to cook with new ingredients. There are so many plant foods out there that I’ve been intimidated by, so now I’m incorporating more of those previously “scary” foods to see what I can create. Having my eyes opened to the plant-based world has encouraged me to explore and be more creative.
Chemicals are not food
This actually only recently hit me. Even though I’ve been eating pretty clean foods with mostly natural ingredients and ensuring ingredients in the food I buy are pronounceable, I had a realization one day while I was grocery shopping. All those ingredients that I can’t pronounce are man-made chemicals that are passed off as food. Chemicals! They weren’t grown from the earth or plucked off a tree, they were made in a lab. Many of these chemicals are used as preservatives. It’s better to buy fresh, real foods more often than to buy food that will last in your pantry for the next couple years.
What a carbohydrate is
Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, vegetables and grains. While so many weight loss diets promote the restriction of carbohydrates, carbs are essential for true health. Carbs give your brain and muscles the energy they need to function. Not all carbs are created equal though. Simple carbs are found in fruits and some vegetables but can also be processed and added to candy, soda and syrups. You’ll want to stay away from the latter. You can find complex carbs in high starch foods like beans, lentils, potatoes, etc. The difference is that simple carbs digest faster so they provide quick spurts of energy, while complex carbs digest slower to provide sustained energy.
My detox took longer than anticipated
In my Vegan Detox post, I talk about the major detox effects I endured after going vegan. Headaches, breakouts and stomach pain. Those all went away after about a month. But what stuck with me for quite a while was the bloating. It took about a year and a half for the bloating to finally go down. I would wake up with a flat stomach but the moment I ate anything, my stomach would balloon up. It was frustrating but trying to find a way to get rid of it also led me to learn about food combining.
I don’t need to eat meat to get protein
In part 1 of this series I mentioned how I learned that the average person doesn’t need as much protein as we are made to believe. Protein is really a non-issue. But, if you’re working out a lot and trying to bulk up, you’ll want to eat more than the average person. Here are some quick comparisons to ease your mind about not eating animal protein.
100 calories of steak = 5.4 grams protein | 100 calories of broccoli = 11.2 grams protein
4oz. porterhouse steak = 22 grams protein | 1 cup of lentils = 17.9 grams protein
4oz. of ground beef = 24 grams protein | 4oz. black beans = 24 grams protein
How to have a positive relationship with food
Last year I wrote a three-part series about improving your relationship with food and shared my own experience. In a nutshell, I didn’t like eating and saw it as a chore. The only food I enjoyed eating was junk food. Shifting my perspective came from a few different places. First, I started exploring healthy foods and found the ones I love. Eating foods that make me happy makes me want to eat. Second, I educated myself on the purpose of food and what it actually does for my body. I became excited to nourish my body with foods that will serve it well. Last, I came to understand that it’s ok to eat as much as I want of the right foods. Food is not the enemy. We were designed to eat so we should never deprive ourselves of what our body needs.
Counting calories is a huge misconception
Tagging on to the last one, I see now how bogus every diet is that makes you count calories. Yes, of course starving yourself will result in weight loss. But how happy are you when you have to deprive yourself? And how sustainable is it? I have been eating significantly more calories every day for the past two years than I ever have in my entire life. So by those standards, I should be overweight. Let me tell you, since going vegan I’ve gained about 2-3 pounds of weight that was needed after having deprived myself for so many years.
To be more sensitive to animals and what they endure because of us
I originally cut out the animal products for health reasons. But it wasn’t long before I made the connection of what animals endure so we can have meat, eggs, milk, leather, fur, beauty products, and the list goes on. I saw the fear and pain in their eyes when watching footage from meat and dairy farms. That pain struck me in my heart as if that animal was my family. Images of animals being skinned alive for their fur have been burned in my mind. Animals who have lost an eye, received chemical burns or had their fur fall out, never signed up to be tested on. I’m crying as I write this section. This has changed who I am.
I’m more passionate about life
All of these things I’ve learned have given me a completely different perspective on my life. I’ve become so much more grateful for what I have physically, mentally, emotionally. I know that any part (or the whole) of my life can be taken from me in an instant. So I’ve taken charge of my life and have learned to dream BIG. Nothing is too farfetched anymore. In so many ways, I am finally enjoying life and actively seeking happiness and peace.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since going vegan? What do you want to learn more about?