Vegetarian: A person who does not eat meat, and sometimes other animal products, esp. for moral, religious, or health reasons.
Vegan: A person who does not eat or use animal products.
I “interviewed” a friend of mine about her living the vegan lifestyle. I quote interview because we are friends and always discuss food in general. I am an omnivore, I eat animal and plant based foods. I don’t think I would ever give up my lifestyle easily. Although, I have been more conscious of where I get my food from, especially after going to culinary school and learning a lot more internally about “food” in general. My friend Cristina changed from being an omnivore to a vegan 3-4 years ago. What amazes me is she did so, while pregnant with her second child and cold turkey. Cutting out all animal based products from her diet altogether. What a woman!
As we talked I asked her many questions, some I already knew about her. I am using her first name only, for her privacy. Cristina will be of course reviewing this before I blog it. I wouldn’t want her to be offended or be distraught about anything I said on here.
Typically our discussions are ways she can make an omnivore meal vegan.. Such as Buffalo Wings (which would be Cauliflower and some sort of Buffalo sauce (of course checked for animal products). Cristina was not always a vegan. She grew up in the south, dominantly a carnivore’s delight and of course catered to a normal omnivore lifestyle.
Why didn’t she start sooner than 3-4 years ago considering she is in her late 20’s?
I suppose I just never really thought much about it before. I wish I would have known about it and started sooner.
I really wanted to know what got her into going vegan, I mean what was the determining factor in changing her lifestyle, something that for me would be very difficult to do.
I’ve always been into fitness but I decided to start looking into health. ‘Diets’ for fitness doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I picked up a few books the first one, the one that made me change my diet, was The Kind Life by Alicia Silverstone. The book describes why non-vegan is bad for our health and why vegan is good for our health and it give recipes to help get you started. After that I started doing more research to the vegan and raw vegan diet and never looked back.
Amazing right. Never thought a book could change your life, well there you have it. Cristina is remarkable and has a lot of discipline. How many of you read one of those self help books and actually applied it to your life and saw results. I would probably say the results are slim to none. I’m sure though just having read the book there were challenges Cristina faced. Can you imagine going from eating steak and eggs to a vegan eggplant lasagna. Especially starting out and having to do all the research, to find recipes, and ingredients that fit. How about going to a restaurant and having to explain to the waiter your “diet” requests. A few years ago there weren’t as many options as there are now for vegans.
The hardest part is the inconvenience and having so many people question you about it. Other than that it’s ridiculously easy. In the beginning it was a bit challenging, there were cravings and you have to learn what to avoid but if you have your mind set you can get through it like I did.
Remember this lady next time all of you decide to vote on awesome moms. Cristina has two children, one is in elementary school and one is a toddler. As I mentioned above she went vegan during her second pregnancy. I remembered my pregnancy and my cravings for cheese. Her self resolve is impressive. How did her family, her children handle her decision to go vegan?
Kids are really awesome. They adapt easier than adults. The best time to start a healthy lifestyle is in childhood. You set your kids up for their lifestyle whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. I want mine to be intelligent, healthy, active, and strong so that’s what I teach them. That’s what I show them. My husband is the challenge, he is set in his ways. He is a grown man who makes his own choices so I can’t save him.
Even more difficult, having a husband who eats a complete 360 degrees to her and her children’s’ diet. Hence why I hope I am a good friend, I try to lend her advice to cooking meals for her husband. She is one tough cookie because she is still able to cook animal products with no break in her resolve. My favorite thing she has stated to me was when she texted me the first day after our husbands had returned from deployment. She was cooking bacon and sausage for breakfast for her husband. She mentioned the delicious pigs and that it was one thing she did miss from the omnivore lifestyle, even though it is not the healthiest of things.
I have often wondered the challenges that are posed when raising children vegan in a community that is dominantly omnivore. Especially in public school settings. The constant pressures at school, the questions from peers. And of course at home, explaining why you don’t eat this or that. The purpose of why “we” eat this. I’m sure it has it’s challenges, similar to having children with diabetes or weight problems or eating disorders. (Yes there is such thing as young kids having eating disorders, and no I am not talking anorexia, or bulimia, but what actually leads to them.) Here is what she had to say about her children in dealing with veganism.
I’m completely upfront with my children. I want them to understand and know why we eat the way we do. They’re so young it’s not challenging for them. For me, I have to get it set up at school and all that which is a huge challenge because the school, sadly, treats it as a food allergy simply because it’s “different”. But for the children it isn’t difficult.
So, for you parents out there with children that are young and are worried about the impact of a vegan diet or any other food lifestyle on your children, take it from Cristina it isn’t difficult as long as you are candid and know what you want for your children.
What has been the most positive result that you have seen, felt, from going vegan?
The best part is how it makes you feel, your body comes alive. The positive long term effects of a diet this healthy is endless. If you want your body to function optimally, you have to treat it as such.
What has been a disadvantage or a negative result that you have experienced in going vegan?
The challenges are convenience. The sad fact is, it’s more convenient to eat unhealthy. But it just isn’t worth it. The only thing I would change is having done it a lot sooner.
What would your advice be for others out there who are considering changing their eating habits?
Do it now. The sooner the better. Start by looking at recipes. Pinterest has an endless amount of raw vegan and vegan recipes. I went cold turkey with eliminating meats, eggs, and milk. In the beginning I used substitutes to make the transition easier but it’s really not a must. You don’t have to lose out on delicious foods, you just have to learn how to make them differently.
Same advice goes for the children. It’s even more important for them.
Now you have an idea of how easy it is to change your lifestyle/eating habits for whatever reasons. And a small look into the life of a mom who is an active vegan. Even with juggling being a mom and a wife, Cristina is a personal trainer and a student on top of her other roles. If she can make a positive change in her life, you can too. I myself like to share the different walks of life people choose in regards to food. As I said before I do not plan to change my lifestyle for something like the vegan lifestyle. What I can do for myself is choose to research my foods, be picky, try new things, be aware of unhealthy lifestyles and practices. “You don’t have to lose out on delicious foods, you just have to learn to make them differently.”