My name is Reggie, and I’ve been vegan for three years now. However, I still get tons of questions about it from friends and family. All the time, I hear things like: What is a vegan? What do you even eat? What’s the point of going vegan? Well, here are your answers.
First off, if you’re curious about veganism as a whole and what it entails, just know that vegans avoid any and all animal products.
Going vegan is a deeply personal decision, and everyone has their own reasons for living a vegan life. In this post, I’ll share how and why I became vegan overnight, and I’ll do my best to inspire you to do the same!
My Vegan Journey
I started eating vegan when I was in college, and I’ve never regretted it! After my health went downhill in high school, I knew it was time to be more intentional about how I ate. That’s why I kicked off my vegan journey right after graduating from senior high – proof that you’re never too young to go vegan!
My motivation to eat vegan was rooted mainly in concerns about the environment, my lifelong love of animals, and necessity – I wasn’t healthy, and I wanted that to change.
I Went Vegan for My Health.
Before going vegan, my diet consisted mainly of processed meat, tons of cheese, and the occasional fruits and veggies. I was pretty overweight for several years due to this way of eating – and my sedentary lifestyle definitely didn’t do me any favors, either! At first, I considered just going flexitarian, but I didn’t think that was going to be enough.
I Realized I Needed to Make Some Big Changes to My Eating Habits
Eventually, eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, especially all those processed foods, caught up with me. I visited the doctor, who had me step on the scale for a routine weight check. The results shocked me – it had been years since I’d weighed myself. I was right on the edge of obesity. At over 200 pounds and just under six feet tall, I had known that I was carrying around some extra weight. I just had no idea how far above the norm I was for my height and age.
After realizing that I needed to lose weight and get into shape, I changed my eating and exercise habits with the support of my family. I started by cutting down on calories and including daily walks in my routine, which helped me shed the first few dozen extra pounds.
At First, I Ate Less Food, But Not Better Food.
Eventually, I was closer to a healthy weight, but I still felt sluggish and exhausted most of the time. I hadn’t changed much about the quality of what I ate, just the quantity – less food, but the same processed junk and tons of animal products. Was that what was making me so tired?
Frustrated with how bad I still felt, even at a lower weight, I decided to experiment with a vegan diet. I knew it would be tough, but I was surprisingly unfazed by the idea of ditching animal foods. The truth was that I didn’t really love meat, dairy, or eggs all that much – they were just familiar. Plus, animal products were everywhere, and I’d always eat whenever food was available.
Making the Switch to Veganism
After I made the decision to leave animal foods behind, I knew I had to start fast and go all-in. I’m the kind of person who does everything at 100% or not at all, so transitioning from the standard Western diet to a vegan eating plan was something I knew I had to do all at once. I literally became a vegan overnight!
At first, I’d say my vegan eating was… unbalanced. I’d snack on fruit and raw vegetables all through the day, often skipping meals for the sake of convenience. With this mindset, I wasn’t taking in nearly enough calories each day, and I was missing out on one of the best parts of vegan eating – vegan cooking!
After a few weeks of snacking and minimal meals, I decided it was time to get cooking. I started making meals that revolved around veggies, legumes, whole grains, and healthy fats. Some of my favorite whole plant foods right when I started out were collard greens, peppers, and mushrooms in particular, since they have a meaty, umami flavor that adds extra oomph to any dish.
After each meal, I felt satisfied. It was amazing to me how quickly my body – and my life as a whole – adjusted to this new way of eating. I was finally getting the nourishment that I needed, and it felt amazing!
Plus, the weight kept dropping. I avoided the scale for a while, but after about six months on a solid vegan diet, I realized that I was now sitting at a healthy 155 pounds. I wasn’t starving myself and I never felt deprived, but the food I was giving my body was finally what I needed. After dropping the weight, I felt more alert and productive than ever before.
That’s not where the benefits stopped. Back when I was eating a lot of junk food, I really struggled with my skin. It seemed like no matter what face wash I tried or how much I avoided touching my face, I couldn’t seem to shake the constellations of red spots on my cheeks.
After I started eating vegan, though, my skin slowly but surely started to clear up. It wasn’t an all-at-once thing, but over the course of several months, the acne flare-ups started to slow down and eventually stop for good. That’s not to say I don’t still have the occasional breakout, but the difference is astronomical.
I Went Vegan for the Planet
While my health was the first thing that motivated me to go vegan, it wasn’t the only factor that made me ditch animal foods. In addition to wanting to get healthier, I also had some big issues with the factory farming industry, its treatment of animals, and its negative impact on the planet.
How the Animal Food Industry Is Hurting the Earth
The standard Western diet is, in a word, horrible for the environment. The “normal” way of eating in the West mainly relies on factory farming – raising animals in massive quantities to produce as much meat, dairy, and eggs as possible.
The factory farming industry uses up around 75 percent of the world’s farmland. That means that three times more space and resources are used to raise and kill animals for food than to grow plants. When I found that out, it blew my mind. I knew I never wanted to support that system again.
My issues with factory farming changed the way that I viewed the food on my plate. I started taking sustainable food seriously and thinking about how my eating choices affected more than just me. The result? I now eat in a way that is consistent with what I believe is best for the Earth and the creatures that live on it with us.
My Dog Convinced Me to Go Vegan
This might sound a little silly, but my sweet pup had a lot to do with me making the switch to a vegan diet. He’s my best friend in the world, and he’s the sweetest, smartest, and most loyal animal I’ve ever known.
Building a relationship with my dog helped me realize that animals aren’t for eating. They have feelings – they’re capable of experiencing fear, affection, and pain – and they can bring us so much joy! For me, knowing that was more than enough to convince me to stop eating animals, big or small.
For the record, my dog’s name is Scott Hutchison – I named him after the late, great frontman of the Scottish rock band Frightened Rabbit – but we call him “Hutch” for short.
How to Get Started with Eating Vegan
Getting started with a vegan diet is simpler than you might think. Let’s go over some key info to make the transition as seamless and easy as possible.
What’s Vegan and What’s Not?
While some people might try to tell you that eating vegan is restrictive, it’s really anything but. You have tons of options and places to get your much-needed nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. On a vegan diet, you can eat:
- Whole grains: Quinoa, rice, oats, wheat, and many more
- Legumes: All kinds of beans, as well as peas and lentils
- Fruits: Berries, melon, apples, oranges, bananas, and so much more
- Veggies: Sweet potatoes, kale and spinach, broccoli, and all the rest
- Nuts and Seeds: Peanuts, almonds, flaxseed, chia seeds, and a host of others
- Plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh
There are tons of vegan foods to try, and they all comprise a nutritious, well-balanced, and delicious way of eating. I promise that with the right recipes, your taste buds aren’t going to suffer on a vegan diet. Make use of herbs, spices, and other vegan ingredients, and you’ll have tasty meals in no time.
In fact, the only things you can’t eat while vegan are:
- Animal-derived additives
You’ll be amazed by how much you don’t miss these foods! Your body doesn’t need them, and you can get by fine without them in the kitchen. Vegan recipes abound that cleverly replace animal foods with vegan alternatives. Everything – and I mean everything – can be creatively swapped out for a vegan ingredient! Even milk and white chocolate have plant-based alternatives, like these delicious white chocolate and peanut butter bars.
Embracing a New Way of Eating
Since meat is often the centerpiece of standard Western meals, the vegan diet changes the way that you think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Instead of building dishes around meat and other animal products, you’ll get your energy and flavors from grains, legumes, veggies, nuts, seeds, and fruits. There are infinite possibilities with these plant ingredients, and you can have a blast trying out new recipes.
Of course, you might miss meat and other animal products from time to time, but eating vegan is a decision that you’ll never regret. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is – and how much better you feel when you skip meat.
Need Some Vegan Inspo? We’ve Got You.
If you’re getting started with vegan eating and need some inspiration and information, check out the MiiRO magazine and MiiRO TV. There, you’ll find tons of articles, tips, and recipes geared towards the vegan lifestyle.
In addition, make sure to stop by the MiiRO shop to get all of the ingredients you need for vegan baking, as well as pre-made vegan treats that taste like heaven.