My, what a big bold claim! Easy and radical in one little phrase? There should be nothing easy about radical. A radical change should require extremely hard work and sweat and only those prepared for such a grueling path should even consider it. And going vegan is not only radical, it is anything but easy for those of you who eat a normal diet and have certain unbreakable bonds with your foods. Right?
Nope. Sorry. Wrong. Incorrect. Time to reconsider old answers and seek new truths.
Just as subtle changes can be surprisingly difficult, radical changes can settle into your life and fit you like a glove that’s been waiting for you all its life, but only if you have the right mindset and approach, and if the choice is right for you. Opinions set such a poor tone to a challenge so beware of your ingrained opinions and preconceived notions. The truth about yourself will surprise you.
For sake of clarity, vegan means a diet consisting of no animal products so no meats, no fish, no dairy, and no eggs. If you call yourself a vegan, then that means you do not make exceptions. If you eat a mostly vegan diet, then you make some exceptions but you are not vegan.
Story-time with Promise of Relevance
I remember two years ago when a friend told me as a matter-of-factly that she was vegan, I was shocked. She immediately transformed before me from an average person to one of exceptional ability. How in the world does she do it? Does she have a personal chef? Can she be vegan long-term and still live the lifestyle of travel and social life and what about cravings? Does she not feel deprived of so much – oh so much – that one has to give up to comply with a vegan diet?
Eating super well has been an integral part of my life and the pursuit of health has been a border-line obsession for a long time but I never thought about making a change as radical as going vegan. I had tried a mostly vegetarian (sushi now and again) diet in 2006 after reading several books and particularly this one, which funny enough, I disliked a great deal, but on a vegetarian diet, I had only gained weight and felt worse. It may be worthwhile to note that it was also the most stressful time in my corporate career and stress can do strange things to a perfectly good body.
Come 2008, I woke up! I had to do things differently, I had to do something that worked for me. Little by little, I found a smarter lifestyle through green juicing and plenty of raw foods (affiliate), giving up coffee and starting on the Oolong journey, and weight training plus a cardio program on top of yoga. I still ate an occasional Persian meal – think lamb, red meat, plain yogurt, and of course, Basmati saffron rice – delicious sushi and sashimi dinners, and serious Indian food with no exceptions. Still, the weight began to shed, my beauty and confidence began to resurface and I found happiness again in my own skin.
So life was good and I felt fine until I started thinking about the radical notion of going vegan and thus, entertaining many interesting conversations with my family. Everyone expresses a natural concern when someone they love goes against the norm, but ironically, it is the norm itself that has always caused me concern!
Is a Vegan Choice even Right for You?
You know, I would never ever tell anyone to go vegan. I would only tell them why it was the right choice for me. This post is about making a radical change easily but I felt I needed to call it out – in case it was implied – that I am advocating a vegan diet for others. Quite simply put, it is absolutely not the right choice for many people for too many reasons to list here and there are many great choices of eating styles besides this one.
It is the vegan journey for now and next, it will be the raw vegan journey, thanks to the Raw Foods Rock (affiliate) inspiration!
If you are curious about a vegan diet, first answer these 9 questions openly. I think you can guess which ones match you better to a vegan lifestyle.
1. What is your reason and your goal to try a vegan diet?
2. How much do you love vegetables?
3. Do you take delight in discovering new vegetables, fruits, and legumes?
4. Are you or someone who cooks for you (!) open to trying new recipes?
5. Do you believe in the theory of getting true protein from animals and true calcium from dairy?
6. How much do you enjoy preparing food for yourself?
7. How flexible are you when the choice of eatery during social events presents challenge for you?
8. Is it important for you to eat the same style as your friends & family?
9. To what extent do you care about what others think of your decision(s)?
My Vegan Diet Disclaimers:
Before I go on, disclaimer #1: A vegan diet can be as unhealthy and bad for you as a poor standard non-vegan diet with meats and dairy. You can eat poorly enough on a vegan diet to experience plenty of weight-gain and unhappiness among other things. Vegan does not imply healthy. You have to insert the healthy explicitly in there! There are no magical short cuts to health and vegan is certainly not one of them.
And this leads nicely into disclaimer #2: I am not eating a vegan diet to save the animal kingdom or the planet earth – much as I love both – or drive a universal change in this world against meat consumption, cheese factories or the local McDonald’s. Those causes and similar thoughts may or may not motivate you for changing your diet (See question #1 above).
For me, this change stems from a proudly selfish desire to first fully meet my own needs. My diet has always been about finding the ideal, the most fitting and most youth-infusing, energy-enhancing way of eating and by God, I was going to discover it one of these days! I truly believe the ideal eating for my body creates the ultimate energy and power that then feeds into every other aspect of my life, hence completing the cycle of holistic health and rendering me at my best for the world.
What do you believe will lead to that type of holistic health for you?
How to Easily Make this Radical Change:
Vegan Diet – Part 1:
July 2010 is when I first decided to go vegan. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I told the whole world and stayed true to form for about a month to 6 weeks but I struggled emotionally. I felt deprived of the foods I had given up and the cravings were strong. I missed my plain Trader Joe’s yogurt, and my sashimi and it was torture to decline my husband’s chicken dishes and my Mom’s cooking. Restaurants were a nightmare because all I could see on the menu was all foods forbidden to me. And I became stressed and the urges were so strong that I decided to listen to my body.
Vegan Diet – Part 2:
Give those things worth pursuing at least two tries in life. I ate to my heart’s content until the end of 2010 – Berlin, as you can see, was unrestrained fun! Then on January 1st, I decided to give vegan another try. Except this time, I took a new approach.
I wanted to master my reactions and control my thoughts without “being deprived”. Whereas my whole focus was on “managing that which I had deprived myself of” the first time around, this time it was all about the possibilities before me. Exploring the fascinating world of new foods, tapping into new sources of nutrition, unlocking new paths of energy, and giving a full chance to this way of eating.
Before going on this challenge on New Year’s Day, I made a pact with my body. I was going to listen to it if it made fair and healthy requests. If we were going to do this, we needed to be in it together; mind and body in unison all the way to the end. This go around, I refused to feel deprived. This time, it was about feeling fulfilled.
It was this mindset, this way of thinking, this approach to eating a vegan diet that made all the difference. Change can happen!
And guess what? I had a single craving in 100 days, which I fully satisfied – and I neither felt deprived nor experienced any strong urges to suppress. I feel and look fantastic. My medical doctor thinks I’ll live well into my 90s this way. So for now, you bet I am sticking to it. I do not proclaim a lifelong commitment but it works brilliantly for now.
What’s Coming in the Next Post:
I happen to be crazy about healthy, well-made, delicious vegan food. My eating style has been like so: Purely vegan with minimum processed foods, hardly any “fake” foods such as fake meats or cheeses, very little tofu, maximum raw foods, natural foods, legumes, grains, nuts, salads, green juices, green smoothies, and home-made meals, thanks to my personal chef. I have indulged in less healthy vegan foods at restaurants at times. So that story along with tons of easy vegan recipes are in part 2 of this series!
Until then, tell me, how are you eating these days?
And have you made a radical change with ease and grace in your life?