Health Lifestyle

Happy Veganniversary

I was excited to write a blog post after 1 year of being a vegan entitled “vegan-niversary” cuz I love a good “portmanteau” (AKA when 2 words are combined, not gonna lie I just learned that term now as I googled “what do you call combining two words” ). In any case, I love a good word combo, they’re fun and “veganniversary” seemed so cute that I had to write a blog post about it. Only problems are:

a) I’m quite over due since I’ve been vegan for way over a year now

b) I don’t actually remember exactly when I became vegan

In any case, I often get questions about veganism, so I thought I’d write a blog post about it regardless, and we can all just pretend that it is in fact my veganniversary. Sounds fair? Good. 

I’m currently living in Switzerland, going to a traditional Swiss Hospitality school AKA I could not be living a life less suited for a vegan. Food here has cream and butter in ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and making duck pâté is part of the curriculum. So it’s safe to say I’m not surrounded by many other veggie-heads. Every time I’m in some type of social situation where food is involved (pretty much all social situations) I end up spending the majority of my evening explaining why I won’t be having fondue and why no thank you, I don’t want any chocolate either.

When I first went vegan I didn’t really tell anyone. This was for several reasons.

  1. I didn’t want this to be a “fad diet”. I didn’t know how being 100% vegan would make me feel, and I definitely didn’t want to set my mind on doing something that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I told myself I would “try” eating plant based for the next little while and see where it takes me.
  2. Vegans don’t really have the best rep. People think we’re these angry crazed animal-loving hippies out to lecture you about cows n stuff and are most probably going to strap you down at some point and force you to watch a slaughterhouse video while hysterically yelling “DO YOU SUPPORT THIS?!?! DO YOU???” Yeah some vegans do that, but not all of us, so pls don’t put us all in the same boat.

Why did I go vegan?

This is a pretty classic question. “Sooo you can’t eat Nutella?? Why the hell would you do that to yourself?!”. I’m sorry to say that even though I genuinely believe that going vegan is one of the best, most selfless things you can do, I first did it in completely selfishness. I did it for myself. I’ve never really been an animal person, nor have I been particularly determined to save the planet, but I’ve always put my health first. After watching Forks Over Knives I starting doing more and more research on the benefits of veganism. I then followed Dr. Colin Campbell’s online Certification in Plant Based Nutrition with e-cornell and after all of that I was pretty much convinced. Yuuup, time to ditch the yogurt.

But it didn’t really happen one day to the next. As I mentioned before I didn’t really go vegan with the intention of it being necessarily long term. When I moved to Barcelona in August 2014 I decided that I would cut out all processed food since I had spent the summer travelling, drinking and eating crap. This is turn lead me to following a 90% vegan diet for a few months (as compared to my previously 70% vegan diet that I followed most of my life). In early December 2014 I went to visit my extended family in Lyon, France. There I ended up eating lots of meat, cheese, white bread, all that crap that I hadn’t eaten in months and left feeling like shit. I was bloated and could really feel the acidity build-up in my stomach. So the second I got back home to Barcelona, I was like “hey I’m gonna do 100% vegan for a week to clear my system or something”. Fast forward a year and a half later and I haven’t touched animal products since.

Hardships of a vegan

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“Don’t you sometimes just want to bite into a big steak?!?” “Omg I couldn’t live without cheese, how do you do it?” “Wooww that must be soo complicated for you…”

These are often the comments I get when people find out I’m vegan, but here’s the truth: No I actually don’t miss steak. I never really ate a lot of meat at home (my mum has always been vegetarian, and my father became vegetarian when I was about 13). When I moved in alone for the first time I never cooked meat for myself, mainly cuz it’s expensive, you can’t store it for long, it’s complicated and I never really felt like it. Ask me what I wanna cook for dinner and I’ll always lean towards a big veggie curry, or a stir-fry, or a stew, or some gluten-free noodles with garlic-tomato sauce, or a big salad with chickpeas, avocado etc. T-bone steak? Naaahh not my thing.

Veganism is more or less “complicated” depending on where you live. I think that I live in pretty much the least vegan-friendly place in the world, (having lived in North America, Asia and elsewhere in Europe, I like to think I can draw this conclusion pretty fairly). So if I can be vegan in the least vegan place like EVER, then it being “too complicated” is hardly an excuse. But here’s what is true: it takes organization, preparation and effort. Yes I cook everything I eat from scratch. And yes I go nowhere without a big bag full of Tupperware. Yes I have to think ahead of time “okay I’m invited for dinner, how am I gonna go about this, will I have time to eat before etc.”. In Switzerland it’s almost impossible to eat vegan in restaurants. But of course this isn’t the case in London, in Berlin, in Singapore, in New York, pretty much everywhere EXCEPT FOR THIS COUNTRY it’s fine. Here it’s like… you don’t eat meat… or fish… or dairy…. or eggs?? Bro WTF do you eat?! I EAT LIKE VEGGIES N STUFF KAY! People in this country don’t even know what vegan means let alone actually offer vegan options at restaurants. Buuuut it is always possible to find some vegan food out if you know where to go. Here are the best options:

  1. Indian. Most Indian food is vegetarian from the get-go and since Asian food in general does not use milk you’re pretty much good. Gotta ask incase for any egg, yogurt, etc. but if you get some rice, daal, chana masala, vegetable curry etc. you’re set.
  2. Middle Eastern. Even though this cuisine can include a lot of meat, there is hardly ever any dairy involved, so with any vegetarian dish you’re almost always safe. Opt for any of the dips with pita (hummus, baba ghanoush), taboule, falafels or any of the fried veggies (eggplant, cauliflower, potatoes).
  3. Japanese. Japanese food may be famous for their fish, but yet again, dairy is hardly present. Go for some miso soup to start, wakame salad and any vegetarian sushi (avocado maki, cucumber maki).
  4. Thai. Thai food is my favourite kind of food. You will often be able to find vegetable curry and rice, just make sure you ask with no fish sauce.
  5. Mexican. Another good one, you will often be able to get some type of vegetarian burrito, just ask no cheese and no cream (and extra guac… cuz there’s never enough guac).

Changes my body has gone through

beforeandafter

Safe to say that if veganism made people fat, there probably would be a whole lot less of them, but that being said vegan is not necessarily healthy, nor does it necessarily make you lose weight. Oreos are vegan, Doritos are vegan, deep-fried everything is vegan so bro, you can be vegan but if you’re living off Fanta and french-fries you’ll still be at major risk of heart disease and you won’t be bikini ready that’s fo sho. Since I had already cut most processed food out of my diet though, going vegan really just made me stick 100% to nutrient-rich whole foods, and paired with lots of exercise I did get quite a bit fitter.

The biggest change I experienced when going vegan however was in my energy levels. All of a sudden I had so much energy. You know that feel where you’re in class and it’s kinda boring so your head just sort of starts leaning more and more to the side and your eye lids start feeling heavy and then OH SHIT did I just fall asleep for a split second there?!?! Yeah, if you’ve had a decent amount of sleep (7-8 hours) that should not happen. It’s just not normal to always be tired, to be in your 20s without any health issues and to “need” that morning coffee. At 20, you’re at your prime.

You should be ready and awake every single day, you should feel good.

And I swear, even going from 80% vegan to 100% made a huuuuge difference for me. My skin is clearer than it has ever been, I’m hardly ever sick, always awake, full of energy, I basically just feel amazing always. So when people say maaann it must be so hard to be vegan, like k yeah maybe I spend longer cooking than everyone else, but I’d give up beef burgers to keep my killer energy levels up any day of the week. No question bout it.

Any negative repercussions?

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Of course it’s easy to go on and on about the benefits of veganism (you know; having zero cholesterol, reduced chances of developing cancer, you produce 50% less CO2 than a meat-eater, 1/13th of the water and don’t kill any animals, just to name a few), but the question is: are there any negative effects? People often assume vegans are deficient in probably everything, like aren’t you lacking in protein?!?! Calcium is only found in cow’s milk!!! Mmmmm wrong and wrong. First of all it’s almost impossible to be protein deficient unless you’re calorie deficient (unless of course you eat your daily calorie intake in solely Froot Loops). Contrary to common belief, meat is not the only source of protein, there is protein in absolutely everything, and we actually don’t need as much protein as people often think, so as long as you’re eating a balanced diet of whole foods, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and legumes; you’re set. Ain’t got no protein worries. Now, the one thing vegans often do lack, is Vitamin B12. I take supplements occasionally (I’m not as strict with my intake as maybe I should be), but my nutritional yeast (which I p much just douse on everything I eat) actually has B12 in it, and when I got my blood work done a few months ago, my levels were A-OK. There was only one issue, and that was iron. Iron deficiency is something that many women, vegetarian, vegan or neither, suffer from. I was told by the doctor that I was not yet “iron deficient” but that I had no iron stores. This basically meant that I eat enough iron day on day (like ya girl I go through A FULL FREAKING BAG OF SPINACH EVERY DAY, I hope I eat enough iron, damn), but my body isn’t able to store it. I therefore now take iron supplements (which also include B12 so yaayy win win).

All in all, going vegan was the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s helped my energy levels, my skin, my physique, my concentration, fitness progress, helps the environment, goes against unethical treatment of animals etc. basically just makes me feel amazing in all aspects. Veganism isn’t something I preach on people, because I do think everyone has their story, their habits, and diets aren’t one-size-fits-all, but if you’re considering it, I definitely suggest giving it a try. There’s a reason why so many highly successful people are vegan. It’s dat green fuel, it keeps ya goin’.

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  • Laura
    March 13, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Hey! 🙂
    Reading this just made me super happy! I’ve decided to make a change in my life too and have started with being vegetarian. I want to see on the long term how it will work, and then try going vegan. As you said, it’s not easy to get the fact that you’re vegan across to people in Switzerland.. But let’s all help each other ! The options you give are really good and I haven’t thought about them all I have to say! But the Indian at the food court is not bad at all I have to say 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story, I feel less alone in this country !

    • Victoria S.
      March 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Hey! Thanks so much for your comment lovely 🙂 That’s amazing! It’s definitely good to try it out, but make sure to keep an open mind and not put too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay to have a “trail period” and really try see how your body reacts to it. Everyone is different! And I’m glad you’re with me girl! Always nice to know there are like-minded people around xxxx

  • Nicole
    March 13, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I’m with you on the reasons for not telling anyone! Happy veganniversary 🙂

    • Victoria S.
      March 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Haha thank you love!!

  • Oriane
    March 14, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Yaaay great post thank you for sharing your story ! I have the same feeling, becoming vegan is the best decision I’ve ever made 🙂

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