Sometimes, the comments I read, the remarks people make about individuals who choose a more plant based lifestyle just makes me so sad. I have been criticized by strangers I don’t even know, I have lost friends, even some family members who don’t respect our lifestyle have made it clear what they think. To think, all this grief and hurt because we are trying to eat more plants and be as healthy as possible.
I remember how I was raised, eating rare steaks for dinner, large quantities of chicken, pork, and fish regularly. In moderation of course we still ate veggies, salads, grains and starch sides. That is completely different than how we eat now. If someone had asked me 6-8 years ago if I would ever consider being a vegan I would have laughed in their face. That is perhaps the reason why this bullying hurts the most, because I know I was one of those people. I was not bold and open about it but privately and to my close friends and family I would occasionally remark on how I thought vegans were a little bit extreme and how that couldn’t possibly be healthy.
That is how I was raised, your family doesn’t eat meat? Don’t consume dairy? That is “weird”, its “un-natural”, its even “un-healthy” These are the types of things I was taught to believe about people who chose to live a more humane and plant based lifestyle. Its ironic actually because my family was very politically liberal so racism and sexism were terrible, not okay, not acceptable in any way. However this idea about a specific group of people seems similar to discriminating against someone because of any other difference.
As I became an adult and entered into those years where you really begin to understand the world, what being an adult is truly like and who you are as a person in this life, I changed many of my opinions. I was so shocked to learn the truths of the food we eat every day thinking its healthy being told its “balanced” discovering that isn’t exactly the full story. I began to feel very concerned about what I was eating and all the disease and sickness I saw around me. I began to educate myself. I read articles, lots of articles, read books, speak to my own doctor, a nutritionist, and people in my life who I once had thought were weird for the way they lived that I was now going to for information and advice.
Once I discovered I was going to have my first child I got even more into my research. My own parents made comments that I was “going overboard” and that It was “unhealthy” to be this concerned for what I ate and consumed. The more I learned, the more I realized that what was best for me was completely the opposite of what I learned growing up about health. The more I discovered about the meat industry, the dairy industry and what was done to innocent animals with no rights or choice, I was sickened. I was astonished that most people are not aware or concerned about these incidences. I was desperate to talk to people about what I had learned and so because of my passion I was most often bullied and told to stop talking about it.
I lost friends because of my beliefs. I lost people in my life and I was made to seem like a lunatic because my fiance and I had agreed to give up meat and dairy and try our best to focus our diet on raw fruits and veggies. This was so saddening to me, I felt like I was loosing people because I wanted to be healthy, I thought for sure once they learned what I learned that they too would be on board or at least understand why we were doing all this. Sadly, it was not the case, in fact I think it only made them more steadfast in their choices to continue their lifestyle. People would flood my inbox with articles on how organic vegetables actually hold more carcinogens than “regular vegetables”, articles on how vegans are slowly starving themselves, articles on how raising a child vegetarian or vegan is basically child neglect. I was so upset, sad and scared.
I felt like not only was I trying to make a huge shift in my life as far as what I ate and what I consumed, but I was getting so much push back was it even worth it? The answer was, yes, it was. Even though it was hard, even though people didn’t like it, it was the best thing I have ever done, maybe aside from having our son. Immediately I felt the benefits of eating healthier, I will never go back. I should say we will never go back, because my fiance and I are both in agreement that this is truly the best way to live, for us anyways.
I want to share a few myths about how we live because I know this lifestyle is not for everyone and I would never ever push it on anyone else if it was not what they wanted. Because I am so sick of being made to look like a bad mother, a crazy person, an extremist in the nutrition department and many other things I thought maybe this list would shed some light on the subject. For those of you who are vegans, vegetarians you will totally agree with these and hopefully be happy that someone said it!! Haha!
1.) Vegans & Vegetarians only eat lettuce:
I have heard this one MANY MANY times… “So what do you even eat….. like lettuce?” I seriously just laugh now when people say this because, not to toot my own horn but I FEAST as a vegan… I think the only explanation needed for this one is a few images of some of our REGULAR meals that are incredibly easy and delicious. These meals could even make a meat eater’s mouth water!!
Enough said right….?
2.) Vegans & Vegetarians are always tired and starving.
Again, I would like to refer you to the photos above. After one or sometimes two portions of any of those meals i think we can all agree that hunger isn’t possible at that point. Our meals are focused on plant based protein, vitamins and minerals. We eat a ton of beans, avocados, tofu, tempeh, grains, nuts and of course fruits and veggies. Below is an image of a basic shop for us. With all this food eating ENOUGH is essential to being vegetarian or vegan, but once you have had enough you feel incredibly satisfied without the heavy uncomfortable weighed down feeling that meats and dairy can cause. I can officially say I am not starving, hungry, exhausted, or lacking in any way. Taking one look at my fiance and our son you would understand, my son has boundless energy we cant contain and my fiance is a very healthy over 6ft. man who doesn’t look like he is lacking at all!! Trust me when I say none of us are!
Take a look at those boys! Healthy as can be and enjoying some apples while apple picking this fall!
3.) You are only vegan/vegetarian to be better than everyone else, that’s self righteous and pretentious.
This is a tough one to hear. When someone completely calls out your life and explains that you are only making this big life decision because somehow it makes you “better” or above others in some way. Aside from the fact that if someone is choosing to be a vegan for the right reasons which most of us are, this is completely not true. I have heard this one on several occasions. Members of our own family have accused us of this and said that there is no need for us to take these actions regarding our diet and that we only do this to seem above them. This is incredibly hurtful to say to someone especially when they are only trying to make the best decisions for themselves and their family. I have had lots of time to think about an appropriate response to this accusation and my best success has come from a very direct and matter of fact calm response. Something like this is usually what i go with…
“I am really sorry to hear that, Its upsetting to me to hear that you think I would make decisions in my life just to be “better” than someone else. I assure you my decisions are not for that reason or any reason like it. I do feel terrible about animals raised suffering only so humans can eat their meat, and I do personally feel wrong about eating meat, that is my decision. I personally believe dairy from mammals is for their offspring only, I don’t feel I have the right to separate baby calves from their mommies, and see animals tortured and harmed so I can have eggs and milk when there are so many healthy alternatives. These are my feelings but I would never force them on you, this lifestyle is not for everyone. I do however, expect that you respect my decision and stop remarking on how wrong you think I am if we are going to stay in each others lives.”
I really think this needs to stop going around. Being a vegetarian or vegan is hard work. Society today is made of quick easy places to eat meat and dairy products and hardly any places where veganism and vegetarianism is accepted and honored. Its hard to even go out to dinner to celebrate an occasion. We often find menu options for us to be minimal, everything is covered in meat and cheese. I can confirm no one would ever choose to do this just to be cooler, or better, because that is quite a sacrifice.
4.) Its impossibly expensive and costly to be vegan/vegetarian
Yet another thought among many people who have not tried this lifestyle. Its widely thought that its unrealistically expensive to eat vegan/vegetarian diet. I have found the exact opposite! Once we did a grocery shop for the first time without meats, dairy, cheese, eggs, and minimal packaged, processed products we found we were saving money!! Once we were regularly shopping this way we would put this extra savings to more fruits and veggies we liked, buying a bag of oranges to juice and a watermelon for dessert! As long as you are good at budgeting you can make this lifestyle work for you! I have a post on this blog about budgeting a shop and what we spend on average every week and how to keep costs down! Read about that here!!
5.) You cannot be athletic, build muscle, and get enough protein while on a vegan/vegetarian diet
This is another common one. Honestly if someone asks me if I get enough or how I get protein one more time, my goodness! I am actually fine answering questions as long as someone is being respectful about what I am all about! SOO PROTEIN!
There are so so many plant based protein sources that you can learn to love as a vegan/vegetarian. Here is a list of the protein sources we use and eat in quantity and regularly!!
~Beans (Black, Pinto, Kidney)
~Nuts, Nut milk & nut butters (Peanut, Almond etc…)
~Tofu & Tempeh (great meat substitutes, eaten organic and in moderation are so great for protein and nutrients!)
~Dark Leafy Greens (YES! They contain protein! We eat LOTS OF GREENS)
~Quinoa & Other Grains
These are only some of the excellent sources of protein we use in every one of our meals!! Many athletes, body builders, trainers go by a more plant based diet.
So I am hoping these small tidbits of info, these common misconceptions corrected help those who are not versed in the facts of plant based diets to understand. I hope that those of you who are already onto this amazing healthy natural lifestyle are happy to read this and hopefully agree. I think in this society whatever is different is always going to be strange and not understood. I think people are always going to fear something they dont do themselves, questioning your own lifestyle is not easy, but making small changes is! I would say for anyone who is looking into this lifestyle and is confused, doesn’t know where to start, there are easy ways to begin and see if this is for you! I have a post about starting to get into a more plant based lifestyle if you want to read about it HERE. Thank you all for reading, thank you for giving my words a voice. It feels so good to come to this platform and express my feelings about these issues some of us face and be met with understanding. I know and understand not everyone agrees with me but I know some of you are looking for this information and I hope to provide that.
Thank you! -Alexa-