Being Vegan is Easy

No pizza.  At least, not the real thing.

One — if you’re lucky — choice on most restaurant menus, and even then it’s usually something lame, like a veggie wrap.

The feeling that, even when friends are nice enough to cook vegan food for you, you’re kind of being a pain in the ass.

Given all of this not-so-great stuff that comes with the choice not to eat animal products, it’s probably hard for people to understand how I can say, when my friends ask me how veganism is going, that it has been easy.

Incredibly, remarkably, astoundingly easy.

“Don’t you miss cheese?”

No.  The reason I went vegan after two years of being vegetarian is that cheese stopped appealing to me, for the most part.  I still ate it out of laziness and convenience (pizza, most often), but once I made the decision not to do that anymore, it’s been easy.

Twice I’ve ordered pizza without cheese.  It’s not as good as it was with cheese, but it’s still good and it still fills me up.  Does that count as “missing” cheese?  I don’t think so.  It’s not like I go through the day longingly wishing to have cheese back in my life.

The trick was phasing it out.  After each of my previous vegan trials, I lost a little bit of the taste for dairy, and when I finally made this decision, dairy represented only a tiny portion of my diet.

“Isn’t it hard to get protein?”

If you’re looking for 40 grams of protein at each meal, then yes.   But if you’re shooting for only 10-15% of your calories to come from protein, like I am, then it’s really not hard at all.

The fact is, most of the best vegetarian protein sources are vegan.  So getting protein as a vegan isn’t so different from getting protein as a vegetarian; you’ve just got to replace the dairy and eggs with other forms of protein.

I’m lucky in that I didn’t eat eggs to begin with (they always smelled like gym socks to me).  And as I mentioned above, I had mostly phased out dairy by the time I decided to go vegan.  So getting enough protein didn’t pose any new challenges.

One thing I will admit is that as a vegan, I need to pay more attention than before to make sure I consume enough calories throughout the day, not necessarily protein.  To help with this, I’ve added a whole wheat bagel with homemade raw almond butter and a touch of maple syrup to my morning routine, which packs in close to 600 calories on top of my breakfast smoothie.

“What do you do when you go out to eat?”

Eating dinner out used to be a big deal for me and my wife.  We loved it.  To spend a few hours and $200 at an Italian restaurant, with appetizers, main courses, desserts, a bottle of wine, and a cup of coffee or glass of port to top it all off was about as perfect a date as we could imagine.

We don’t have that any more, but for those exceedingly rare occasions when we travel to a city that has vegan options.  And even then, the grandiosity of the meal is never the same.

And you know what?  I’m glad about that.  Consuming so many calories and so much wine that I can’t sleep, blowing that kind of money on a meal, and even making food the focus of our time together are things Erin and I happily do without now.

You know how monks and minimalists find satisfaction in giving up material things and earthly desires?  Without trying to sound holier-than-thou, that’s the best way I can describe it.

A few more things people are curious about

  • Not being able to eat honey is one of the more annoying parts of this.  It’s in a surprising amount of foods (no barbecue potato chips for me at poker last night), and as much as I care about animals, I don’t feel too badly about taking honey from bees.  But for now, I’m going along with the no-honey rule because it’s the vegan thing to do.
  • Our one year-old son is not vegan.  I’d like to write more about this someday, but for now you can check out this post to get a feel for our philosophy about raising him as a vegetarian.  Example: The other day when we were in Philadelphia for the Broad Street Run, we stopped at an ice cream truck with our friends.  I realized at this point that if my son were old enough to want an ice cream cone, it would break my heart to tell him he couldn’t ever have it because of a rule Mom and Dad made for him that he couldn’t really understand.
  • Only once so far have I knowingly eaten something that wasn’t vegan (tzatsiki sauce on falafel).  When I went vegan, I made the rule that I wouldn’t waste food that someone served to me that wasn’t vegan, and that’s what happened here.  (For the record, I think the waiter who told me there was no dairy in the dish was high.  No joke.)
  • I eat bread and drink beers sometimes without checking if they’re vegan, if it’s not easy to check.  If I know they aren’t vegan (like Guinness, for example), I don’t eat or drink them.
  • I feel stronger physically than I did when I was vegetarian.  But although I ran the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago, I haven’t put my body through any intense training recently.  I’ve just started running hard again, for the first time in over a year, so a lot will be revealed in the next few weeks and months.

As you can see, I’m not yet a perfect vegan, if there is such a thing.  But I’m thrilled with how it’s gone so far, and based on how I feel (both physically and emotionally), I have no doubts that this was absolutely the right decision for me at this point.  I have a sense of satisfaction with my food choices that I honestly didn’t expect to feel, and that’s been awesome.

If you’re on the fence between vegetarian and vegan, then I hope this helps you just a bit.  And of course, if you’ve got any questions about making the switch, just ask. icon smile

P.S. New Balance 890’s winner announcement coming this weekend!

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Comments

  1. Sorry about the chips, i’ll check the bag next time!

  2. I love this post. This is pretty much how I feel about being vegan, too. I just don’t miss all the things everyone thought I would miss. In my case, though, I eat TONS of pizza all the time. It’s my favorite. I like it without cheese, and I sometimes will use Daiya (fake cheese) if I feel like it. Try making pizza at home with carmelized onions spread all over the crust — I find that for some weird reason that makes a nice alternative to cheese.

    Anyway, confession: I eat honey. I just can’t really muster up too much worry about it, you know? I fully understand those who avoid it, but I don’t mind eating it.

    • I am attempting veganism after finishing The China Study. I say attempting because I keep buying things that I didn’t think had dairy but it turned out they did. The loaf of bread I bought the other day had powdered milk in it… weird. Then tonight I made this beautiful whole wheat pizza crust, then realized as I was spreading the pesto on it that pesto contains parmesan cheese. I ate it anyway but my excitement towards my beautiful, nutritious vegan meal was ruined. I’ll be vegan once I finish the left overs I guess. It’s amazing how many foods have animal products that I never realized before. I need to get better about reading labels.

      By the way, someone here recommended spreading carmelized onions on pizza as a sort of cheese replacement. I did this and it turned out wonderful. Next time I make a pizza (and buy a vegan sauce), I’m sure I won’t miss the cheese!

  3. Great atiitude on being personally vegan as well as towards your son.

  4. Being vegan is definitely a process! When I was first vegan, I would also do things like eat bread that probably wasn’t vegan at a restaurant and etc., because honestly, especially when you’re first starting out, it needn’t be religious. It should be fun! :)

    Now that I’ve been vegan a while I really don’t mind rejecting food that’s offered to me any more. My friends and family are used to my eating habits by now and even my Granny makes me vegan goodies.

    As for the honey thing…my boyfriend and I used to feel the same – avoid it because that’s what vegans do, without really knowing why. I suggest reading about honey production; it’s really just factory farming but with millions of insects and nothing that I care to support.

  5. Nice post–many good points. However, the word ‘real’ in the first line got to me a bit. Dairy products/companies use the little symbol with the word REAL in it to send a message that if its dairy its good, and if its not dairy its bad and fake. Excellent, but tricky marketing. Matt- they’ve still got a hold of you : ) What’s not REAL about vegan pizza?

    • I guess when I say “real,” I’m coming at it from the perspective of a foodie, using “real” to mean “traditional, classic, etc.” Like Neapolitan pizza with fresh mozzarella. You can take the cheese off of it and still have something that’s good, but a lot of its pizza-ness has been lost.

  6. Matt, great post. I had to chuckle, hope you don’t mind, because I recall a previous foray into veganism — I believe you gave yourself a 30 day challenge — and you were not down with it. It really is about mindset and determination, isn’t it? I didn’t enter going vegan lightly. It was just a sudden realization that I was an egg away from being vegan. It made sense. And I haven’t looked back.

    As for me, I’m with you on the honey. My intention is to avoid it. However I have been surprised a few times after the fact that I inadvertently consumed it. I’m so not the perfect vegan (As recently indicated by a question on my Facebook wall re: my delight in my hotel feather bed um, baby steps, people, I’m doing my best)

    I think you raise really important, and truthful, issues for new vegans and am so glad you’re posting about your journey!

    • Mindset, definitely. I viewed those previous attempts very much as 30-day challenges, which is good because I learned that I was definitely not ready to do it for good at the time. It’s so different now, that actually it takes less determination than before since it’s much more a part of me.

  7. I love this post! I was vegetarian for a couple of years and then went vegan last September. I fell out of it for a couple of months, mostly because of the Holidays. My willpower went out the window when I saw all of the baked goods, yet I never ate any cheese, eggs, or other dairy on it’s own. I took the time to evaluate how my body felt eating products containing dairy and recently went back to a 100% vegan lifestyle. I feel so much better about myself and about myself and my decision that I don’t think I will ever fall out of it again.

    PS – If you like pizza, try making it with Daiya. It’s a vegan cheese that contains no soy. I believe the main ingredient is tapioca flour. I try and stay away from soy products as much as possible so Daiya is a great alternative.

    Great blog by the way. I’ve been following for quite some time and finally started my own at http://www.theathletarian.com Check it out if you have the time :)

    • I’m interested to hear how you “fell out of it.” Was it like one baked good that did it, where you said you’d make an exception just this once, and then it led to more?

  8. Great post! And great timing. I have one more Greek yogurt in my refrigerator that will be gone tomorrow. After that, I will also try going vegan. I gave up eggs well over a year ago and I don’t really eat cheese anymore (no honey for me). The Greek yogurt was holding me back, but I found some other alternatives and I’m feeling really good about my decision. This will be my toughest running year, too, so I’m interested in seeing how it all works out!

    Love your blog!

    • What alternative for Greek yogurt did you find? I have done a few vegan trials and really end up missing my morning yogurt. Soy yogurt has been good in smoothies, but not as satisfying alone (and certainly doesn’t live up to Greek yogurt).

      • I’m not a soy yogurt fan either. At all. I actually cut yogurt out of my smoothies a long time ago when I wanted to go “more vegan,” so that was not a problem when I did go fully vegan. I don’t know of any good substitutes.

    • Great to hear, Robin! I like Greek yogurt too. And it sure does help add protein to a smoothie or snack! But I’ve found it very easy to get used to life without dairy. I hope you do too, and let me know if I can help!

  9. Hi Matt! LOVE this post. I’m a new(ish) vegan, too, and I agree with you about not whiling away my hours missing cheese. I also agree with you 100% on honey. I don’t feel strongly about NOT eating it, but for now I don’t because as you say “it’s the vegan thing to do.” And if I accidently have some, I don’t feel bad. I need to read more about that issue! You’ve inspired me to do a similar post on my blog because I get those questions, too.

    • Thank you Kelsey! Yes someone else mentioned “factory farming” with regards to bees. I guess one idea is that even if you don’t feel badly for the bees, it’s still factory farming and probably supports the same people who run factory farms, in some way at some level. Definitely worth more research.

  10. I’ve been vegan for just about a year now and I’ve been avoiding honey except for medecinal uses (raw honey from a local source). I haven’t found anything to replace it with… *shrug*

    If you ever have a craving for tzatziki, Vegonomicon has a recipe for Cucumber Cashew dip/spread that will fool anyone. It’s just like a very cucumbery tzatziki. Yumm!

    • Malva, out of curiosity, what are the common medicinal uses for honey?

      • Christine says:

        Doesn’t it somehow help with allergies to local pollen?

        • I’ve heard that too but I don’t think it’s been proven to work.

        • Honey has antibacterial properties, too, and can be used topically on wounds, like burns for example. Make sure you get the raw stuff, though, because it still has the active enzymes.

          Matt, I really enjoy reading your blog :)

      • We mostly use it to help with sore throats and coughs. As a tea with hot water: honey/lemon, honey/lemon/cayenne, honey/fresh thyme. With elderberry as a syrup.

    • Yum! I do like tzatziki a lot and make falafel fairly often, so I’ll have to borrow my sister’s Vegonomicon sometime.

  11. I made the switch to vegan around the same time you did (I made the decision literally two days before I read your post). I found your comments about honey to be interesting. I was feeling the same way – “as much as I care about animals, I don’t feel too badly about taking honey from bees” – so I decided that honey is ok for me, for now. Especially because a lot of the more “natural” type granolas, cereals, breads, etc. seem to be sweetened with honey, and I’d rather have that than HFCS. I don’t feel bad about eating the honey, but I do feel bad about still referring to myself as vegan! I don’t want to offend any “real” vegans out there so I don’t usually use the word.

    It’s funny about the cheese thing – I thought I would really miss it but I don’t.

    • Stacy, that’s sort of my thing too… I actually don’t care much about labeling myself vegan or “vegan except honey,” since not many people in the real world ask me about it. But for the purposes of my site it’s much easier to simply describe myself as vegan. And since I need to do that often, I don’t eat honey so that it’ll be an accurate description! But it wouldn’t offend me if someone called herself vegan but still ate honey. (I don’t even mind occasional fish eaters calling themselves vegetarian. The more the merrier!)

  12. Sharon says:

    Being lactose intolerant makes being vegan a lot easier! Must less to “give up”! I’m not a big honey eater, but I do have a local source from which I procure it, so I don’t give it a second thought.

  13. Sharon says:

    And PS – I tracked back to your post about raising the baby veg – inquiring minds want to know – how did the dogs react to the addition of the baby?

    • Sharon, our dogs were really great with the new baby. I think for a while they resented him (dogs can resent, right?) for taking over their roles as our little guys, but there have never been any issues with aggression or anything like that. And now they love him and even play with him. One rushes into his room to greet him every morning when we get him out of his crib. It’s really nice to see.

  14. Elvira says:

    Hi Matt, I really liked this post!
    When I became a vegan, a year ago, I was also surprised about how easy the process was for me. I never missed any of the foods I was supposed to miss – now my motto is: it’s not about eating what you want, but about enjoying what you eat :)
    Btw, today I wore for the first time my No Meat Athlete t-shirt, and at the gym a guy approached and told me: “that’s the way to do it!”. I felt so happy and proud! :)

    • That’s awesome! It’s always cool when people come up and tell you their vegetarian or vegan when you’re wearing the shirt.

      Yeah veganism really has been so easy. Back when I wasn’t ready, it seemed so hard and I just didn’t understand how people made it work. Now I do. They just felt strongly enough about it that it became easy.

  15. Amanda says:

    Matt,

    This was a great post to read. I am Vegan and went straight from basically eating it all to vegan and it surprised me how easily I could do it. I’m certainly not perfect and my sweet tooth gets the best of me from time to time, but I like that it is constantly a small challenge to see just how perfect I can be. I hope you stick with it, as I know the change has done great things for my life, and my favorite part? It’s all my decision, so technically I’m never wrong about what I eat (I’m a honey-eating Vegan).

    Thanks again for sharing, it’s great to hear from fellow vegans as I don’t have any friends who are.

    • That’s a really good point, and one that has helped me. I plan to stick with veganism for a long time, maybe forever. But like you say, knowing it is a decision and that we’re choosing not to eat certain foods really does make it feel much better and less restrictive.

  16. I wish I felt the same way! I tried going vegan about a month ago and failed. I did manage to decrease my intake of cheese, cut out yogurt, remembered that veganaise is probably the most delicious thing ever, cut out ranch dressing, etc. But god help me, I LOVE cheese. I’ve cut it out of many dishes, but I can’t imagine a world in which I never get to eat real pizza, tzatziki (my all-time favorite food), or Nutella again. *sigh* Maybe with more time and more vegan attempts I will, like you, lose my taste for cheese. I hope that happens! But for now, I’m sticking with my years-old vegetarianism and trying to eat *more* vegan than before. I have a feeling this will be a long process! Anywho, good for you and one day I hope to feel like veganism is as easy as I find vegetarianism to be.

    • If you google it, there are vegan recipes out there for Nutella.

    • Sarah, it’s amazing how much your tastes (and motivation to make it work) can change. When I tried it before, I enjoyed the experiment but was absolutely ready for it to be over by the end. And I just couldn’t imagine it ever working for me. And hear I am less than a year later saying how easy it is. I guess I’m just saying don’t feel bad, but don’t give up! If not now, maybe one day, and if not, then vegetarianism is pretty damn good. :)

  17. Great post Matt! I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 19 years and the last couple of years have gone back and forth with being vegan. I don’t like eggs and I find after a while without cheese (which I used to adore) it makes me gag. It’s kind of “gloopy” if you know what I mean. I do eat honey (a retired friend of my Dad’s is a beekeeper and I buy it from him), and I don’t check the ingredients in bread or baked goods that I am served so I still refer to myself as a vegetarian even though I avoid obvious cheese, eggs, and milk. I think I need to jump back in and see if it sticks this time (it took me a couple of times to go veg too). BTW, it’s not healthy, but the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is amazing for cake and cupcakes. Omnis can’t believe they are vegan.

    • Exactly! Cheese is gloopy! With the exception of pizza, melted cheese does not seem good at all to me anymore. (Hard cheese still does, I will admit, although less than before.)

      As for honey, I do like the idea of getting it from a local source. Then you’re not supporting factory farming of any kind. For now, I’m going to stick with the no-honey veganism, but I could see myself allowing honey again eventually.

      I’ve heard lots of good about Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. I’ll tell my wife; she’s been really into vegan baking recently.

  18. Linda Walsh says:

    After reading this article and re-reading the previous one (“My Decision to Go Vegan”, I got to thinking. This weekend is Mother’s Day and would be the perfect day for me to make the final leap from vegetarianism to veganism … in honor of dairy cows everywhere that must surrender their offspring routinely as veal.

    Like yourself, I find that dairy and eggs make up less and less of my diet as time goes on. So not so big a leap but still one worth making. Keep up the great work … your words DO inspire others and make a difference!

  19. I also found being vegan much easier than I thought it would be. And I hear you on the restaurant bills. When we go out now, we spend about 25% of what we used to and we still get a great meal (usually Thai – the only cooked food we generally eat).

    • Yeah, 25% probably sounds like an exaggeration to some, but it’s honestly not. It’s hard to find an expensive vegan meal in a non-vegan restaurant!

  20. Matt, I have to ask. Why do you aim for only 10-15% of your daily caloric intake to come from protein? Admittedly, I don’t count how much protein I take in everyday, but ensuring I’m fulfilling my protein requirement is my first priority when choosing what I eat. I don’t want to lose any hard-earned muscle. My question has nothing to do with whether vegan protein sources are inferior/superior to their animal counterparts. I’m simply curious because I wouldn’t expect 10-15% to be sufficient to prevent muscle wasting. Thanks!

    • Sean, good question. Here’s what happened for me. When I went vegetarian, I said I wasn’t going to worry about numbers at all. I was just going to eat stuff that was good, make sure I filled up, and eat as much variety and whole food as possible. (I wanted to make vegetarianism last, so I was willing to eat a less-than-optimal diet, or so I thought, for sports.)

      Within weeks of making the change to vegetarian, I noticed my speed and endurance were greatly increasing. So I continued doing what I was doing. Since then, after realizing this is a long-term thing for me, I started taking it more seriously, and calculated that I’m almost always in that 10-15% range. I’ve talked to a good number of people who I consider experts (Scott Jurek, Brendan Brazier, and Matt Ruscigno, who is a vegan dietitian) who have confirmed for me, either directly or by comparison to their own diets, that this is a reasonable amount of protein for an endurance athlete to be getting.

      So I’m sure some people will do better with more, and obviously the fruitarian crowd thrives on even less. The biggest thing for me was letting go of the idea that I “had” to get X amount of protein and just seeing what happened when I didn’t anymore. And I was fine.

  21. Ms Molly says:

    We are vegan bc of food allergies, I love eating vegan and feel healthier bc of it. Sometimes because of our food allergies (soy, wheat, corn, eggs, peanuts, and lactose intollerance) eating out and vegan is hard so we have to stray to organic beef or bison. We are already on a strict diet and although I feel guilty eating an animal I would feel worse if my child had allergic reaction bc it was vegan. Luckily that doesn’t happen often. We all have to make tough choices, and our kids come first.

  22. Monica says:

    HI Matt… This is my first comment on your blog, which I love and have been reading for about a month now. About 2 months ago I was told by my dr. that I had to go gluten free. So I said, “what the heck, I might as well go vegan too.” All or nothing, that’s me! I had been toying with the idea of vegetarianism for awhile. Anyway, gluten free, for me is a HUGE challenge as I love pizza, bread, just about anything made with wheat flour. Vegan was not that hard. A month in I found myself really missing bread, not really missing dairy, somewhat missing eggs and totally not missing meat of any kind. So I’ve fallen off the wagon many times with gluten free and am now eating vegetarian. RIght now, I’m ok with vegetarian as I feel like my whole eating lifestyle has been turned topsy turvy (mostly due to the elimination of gluten). I guess I’m just having a hard time with the elimination of so many things familiar.
    I commend you for successfully attempting veganism again… perhaps I will go there again someday. I personally don’t wish the necessity to go gluten free on anyone, but no meat…. I’m loving that! Loving the way I feel and loving what I’m doing for the environment. Take care and once again, I love your blog and really enjoy looking to you for a practical and common sense approach to vegetarianism/veganism and all things running.

    • Monica, that’s crazy! If someone told me I had to go gluten-free before I was vegetarian, I probably would have jumped on the Paleo bandwagon, since they’re nearly GF anyway. Good for you though; I’m impressed.

      Yes, I can see how you’d miss breads and wheat. But there really are tons of alternatives out there now! Have you tried a lot of them? I haven’t, but I do limit wheat in my diet far more than I used to. One alternative I really like is spelt, and it also has more protein. Of course, it’s not totally GF. :(

  23. Glad to hear it’s going well for you Matt. I got a weird look in a restaurant a few days ago for getting the pizza without cheese. I haven’t missed dairy since seeing a video on mastitis in cows, and reading about commercial dairy production. Where I live, dining out and finding something remotely interesting on a menu has been difficult. However, when I’m cooking at home, I have found it quite easy and I’m more creative in the kitchen then I was when I was vegetarian or omnivore.

    I don’t think you need to be a perfect vegan – it’s just about continuing to make daily choices that you feel good about and that make you feel good.

    • Thanks Tawney. A lot of people, like you, mention enjoying cooking more now that they’re vegan. That’s one where I’m the opposite — since going vegetarian, I’ve never gotten the same joy from the actual cooking process as I used to. I was seriously into it when I decided to stop eating meat, and since then, the fun isn’t there for me. Weird.

      Mastatis in cows = :(

  24. The biggest thing holding me back is Greek yogurt. I have it daily and I can’t find anything soy-free and coconut-free to replace it. In fact, I don’t think I eat anything else that isn’t vegan. So I guess I’m doing better than some, not as good as others.

    • Yeah, there’s no good replacement for yogurt that I found. Soy yogurt never did it for me. Haven’t tried the coconut ones though.

      Seriously, though, being vegan + yogurt is pretty great. Forget the label.

  25. Caitlin says:

    Great post! I would consider going vegan, as opposed to my current vegetarian, but I can’t find enough protein sources that aren’t eggs or cheese! How many carbs do you suppose you take in a day? Thats another concern of mine for switching from vegetarian to vegan–to assist weight loss I’ve been limiting my carbs. Any input would be great!

    • Caitlin, I really don’t know how many grams of carbs I eat in a day. It’s just so rare that I look at food numbers that I’d have a hard time estimating. Maybe one day I’ll take the time to calculate for a week or so and publish it; people seem to be interested in that sort of thing.

  26. Being vegan & eating out definitely takes some resourcefulness. Especially if you’re raw vegan– I once went to a Mexican restaurant WITH vegan options, but no raw options, and asked for a huge side of guacamole on lettuce (it was a special request, admittedly, but they were more than happy to fulfill it) and ate it with lots of salsa.

    But like you said, eating out isn’t everything. I found that before I went to vegan I wasn’t satisfied with eating at home all the time, but now I’ve learned to enjoy (and prefer!) eating at home. When I’m in an especially vegan-friendly city, though, I can’t help but visit all the vegan spots ;)

    • Yeah raw really does make it tough. I know that I feel great when I eat a lot of raw food, but I don’t know that I’ll ever give that real go. Who knows, though, maybe it’d make for a fun experiment.

      Oh yeah, when I go to a vegan-friendly city, I visit as many good places to eat as I can! (Austin was great earlier this year; Portland coming up soon!)

  27. Carla Robertson says:

    Its amazing to me how much of your post I can relate to! I decided to go vegan just over two years ago, and I haven’t looked back. Cheese or eggs were never a huge thing for me, especially around the time I decided to make the big step.
    Like you, I won’t check buns or breads at restaurants to see if they’re vegan, but on my own shopping trips or at friends places I’m diligent and strict. Honey was another point of contension with me. I do in fact eat honey, but always try to get it from smaller farms to make an effort to support local businesses, but I just didnt see how it would hurt me ethically or from a health perspective.
    I also just started running again after a year long haitius and have had no problems so far, I have upped my protein intake though. I’ve also been rock climbing three-four times a week and have no problem building muscle etc.
    I live in Victoria BC and never seem to have any problems finding restaurants that both my omnivore friends and I can eat well at. I’ve always said that once I start losing weight or losing my hair I’d stop… Hasn’t happened yet! Also, my other strong hold is knowing that other than if my health is compromised, the only reason I’d ever go ‘back’ is because I like the taste of meat. And that simply isn’t a good enough reason, and hasn’t been for the past two years.
    I’d like to read your post on your thoughts about raising children vegan, it’s something I know I’ll struggle with in the near future.
    Anyhow, thank you for this! It was nice to read every line and think ‘yes! Me too!’ it’s a comfort for sure :) I Respect your attitude towards your lifestyle, its very realistic and if I wasn’t already vegan you would definitely sway me. Cheers

    • Haha, I like your rule about losing weight or losing hair! I’m glad to hear it’s working so well for you; I think that type of example is really the best way to spread this lifestyle, if that’s even your goal.

      Thanks for reading!

  28. Melissa says:

    Awesome post Matt.I appreciate everything you shared and while I don’t have kids, I can imagine that presents a challenge.

    • Actually, it really hasn’t even been a challenge. My wife and I are lucky that we agree on what we think is the best way to raise our son, and although both of us care about “extremely healthy,” neither of us thinks we should force him to be vegan or even completely vegetarian. We want him to experience things. I do hope our way of eating influences him, and since he’ll be eating what we cook for the most part, it certainly will.

  29. Jon Weisblatt says:

    Hey Matt,
    Awesome post! I feel better physically being (mostly)vegan. I feel the same way you do about food served to you and checking breads in restaurants and such. It shouldn’t have to feel like a chore or a downer. I admit that I still once in a while have pizza and I recently did have egglant parm at a restaurant and forgot to ask for it without cheese. The wife make killer black bean nachos as well, but will try to get her to use the Daiya next time. Does this mean I don’t qualify yet for a NO MEAT ATHLETE t-shirt(I still have the $10 coupon from when I bought your book but have been hesitant to buy a t-shirt if I’m misrepresenting myself)? As for honey, I don’t eat it much but why is it really a no-no for vegans? What is the protein content? The honey we do have in the house is from local bee keepers, which I agree with Allysia that factory anything is not cool.
    We don’t have kids but the I won’t make the cats go vegan…yet.
    I’m amazed that so many times it’s like you’re reading my mind in your posts. Keep up the great work!!

    • Jon, of course you can wear a NMA shirt. :) And anyway, you can be a non-vegan vegetarian and still be no-meat!

      Honey is non-vegan because it comes from bees, which are animals. And by definition, vegans don’t eat animal products.

      Protein? I think it’s pretty minimal. Honey is almost entirely sugar.

  30. I feel the same way- being vegan is SO much easier than I expected it to be. I put it off for a long time thinking that it would be hard, and now I wish that I had gone vegan years ago. I know for sure that it is something that I can stick with for the rest of my life. And I was really surprised that all of the things that I thought I would miss, I don’t! Sure, every now and then someone brings in fresh bakery donuts or something to work and they look really good, but feeling so strongly about my beliefs in why veganism is the right choice for me makes it easy to pass them up. P.S. Yay for the Broad Street Run!

  31. I went to a vegan pizza place yesterday – Peace O’ Pie in Allston – and you should definitely try it the next time you’re in Boston. Really delicious. We got one topped with veggies and you couldn’t tell the cheese wasn’t really cheese.

    I’m still a blend of vegan/vegetarian. The food I prepare for myself is vegan, but I’m not all that strict outside of the home.

  32. Do you take any vitamin supplements, or eat any foods fortified with vitamins which are difficult to absorb without eating any animal products? I’m specifically thinking of B12.

    • James, I try to take a multivitamin just to cover the bases, but I’m not very good at staying with it. When I run out, it takes me forever to get a new supply. I don’t detect any difference in how I feel when I’m not taking it, but I think it’s good to take for long-term health, just in case I’m missing something. But I eat lots of fresh whole foods, and always a wide variety, so I don’t worry too much about it.

      B12, for me, comes from chlorella and fortified foods. It’s something I haven’t thought about much, because it’s not nearly as big an issue for non-vegan vegetarians as it is for vegans. But now that I’m vegan, I do need to pay more attention to it.

      • The B12 was something I wasn’t paying attention to either for a little bit, but my awesome doctor let’s me do whatever blood tests I want, and I found out that my B’s and iron were low (and my D, he tossed that one in too because it’s “trendy”).
        When I started supplementing, I felt SOO much better. I found some awesome vegan B vitamin with iron sup (one tiny pill) and it’s made everyday life so much easier.

  33. Great points. I love what you said about meals no longer being as involved or leaving you feeling poorly (like Italian meals out). I don’t know why most of us eat in a way, when we’re out, that leaves us feeling that way. Without being rude, I think a better case (for the non vegan) could be made for cheese versus a bagel. Or maybe a case could be made not to eat either. I think you’re probably putting a lot of thought into your diet and how foods make you feel. Aside from calories, what is the bagel giving you (yes I know it tastes good) but there are better breads/grains.

    • Yeah I wonder that too about eating out… it’s very strange that we don’t learn to take it easy on how much we eat, when we feel like crap afterward. I’d imagine it’s something in our makeup that tells us to feast when we have the opportunity and the food is delicious, that no matter how rational we try to be, overrides it.

      As for cheese vs. bagel, I can see your point. I’m not sure that the bagel is nutritionally better, but again, the reason I’m vegan (as opposed to vegetarian) is not for my health, it’s because I feel bad about what happens to animals. I’ve heard compelling arguments for and against dairy, as far as our health goes.

      The point, for me, is more calories. One great thing about a bagel for me is that it’s a vehicle for getting almond butter into my mouth, and almond butter is one of the best foods I can eat for my diet goals. Sure, the bagel would be better if it were made of spelt hemp or brown rice or another grain/seed, but convenience, price, and taste are all factors for me.

  34. Matt, you’re so right that there is no such thing as a perfect Vegan. I am personally not vegan but I like to center my meals around plant foods. It’s not about what you call yourself, it’s about what works best for you and your body! :)

    • And what works for animals, which is the reason I’m vegan. I do believe that vegetarian works better for my body than eating meat does, but I’m not sure that veganism is any better for me than vegetarian was, especially because I didn’t eat a lot of dairy.

  35. Marissa says:

    Matt, I totally appreciate the part about shifting to food not being the focus of our time with loved ones. It’s amazing, really, when the food isn’t the “entertainment”, the people that we’re with are. It’s something that I’ve found at big holidays/parties/etc. when I’m not there for the food (usually eat before or after so I’m not bemoaning that all that’s available to me is some weak salad), I’m way more able to connect with others.

  36. Matt, I’m curious if you’re vegan only in eating, or live a full vegan lifestyle. If it’s only in food, but not in fiber, then why is honey such an issue? It’s almost hypocritical to not eat something because an insect made it but wear fibers that came from other animals or insects. I’ve just never seen you mention it anywhere.

    As a knitter, I can’t imagine a vegan lifestyle, as that would mean no wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca… all sorts of lovely fibers. Most silk production does kill the bug, but the bugs end up being an awesome protein source for the workers who reel the silk. I’m currently a vegetarian, but feel like I would be cheating as a vegan due to my very non-vegan fiber lifestyle.

    • Then why not just be a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy or eggs? It really doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Like, I’d never buy a new leather product because that creates demand and makes companies produce more. But I’d buy em used, because why let them go to waste?

      I use a vegan makeup brand for the sheer fact that I love it. I didn’t know it was vegan until after I became a regular customer. It was a very pleasant surprise.

      As far as your knitting and not being able to “be vegan”… You know, it’s really not about labels. Do what you can! Every animal product you don’t eat creates less demand, and it does make a difference. Nobody can POSSIBLY have a 100 percent cruelty free lifestyle (if you eat vegetables, probably some bugs got killed in the process of harvesting), and they’re crazy if they obsess over it. I think the ones who are so rigid and judgmental turn people away.

      It’s just a matter of thinking of others, and doing what you can. It’s about each individual decision. I still wear silk and non-vegan shoes and things like that- but I say I’m vegan just because many people who work at restaurants are morons and can’t handle remembering that someone can’t eat milk, can’t eat cheese, can’t eat eggs, can’t eat meat, can’t eat mayonnaise, in addition to a mushroom allergy. There’s SO many foods in the world. Why does every restaurant have to serve the same stuff?! It’s nuts! :P

      Overall, if you’d choose to do a “vegan-ish” lifestyle, do it for the animals AND yourself. I improved my health SOOO much when I quit meat and dairy and eggs. I am young, and I had dangerously high blood pressure, and within a couple of weeks, it was normal again with NO medication. I had symptoms of prediabetes. GONE within a week, never came back. I had an abnormally high heart rate (tachycardia) and it’s given me no problems since I quit putting cholesterol into my body. I had aches and pains constantly. A vegan diet combined with massage therapy fixed all my problems and I can move like a kid again, and now i only need the massage therapy every few months. I had some pretty bad emotional problems due to putting too many hormones into my body through meat. I’d be depressed, cry over absolutely nothing sometimes, get INCREDIBLY angry over so many things that in hindsight seem so trivial. I’ll tell you what, I’m the most mellow person on earth now that I stopped eating that stuff!

      There’s so many good reasons to change your diet. You’re off to a great start being vegetarian. Don’t let “cheating” turn you off from trying to quit dairy and eggs if that is something you are interested in.

  37. I’ve been thinking about going vegan (or really probably just plant based as a full on vegan lifestyle would be unrealistic for me) for awhile now. I’ve been vegetarian 25+ years and yet somehow it still seems like a big change. I’m not sure I’m there yet mentally. I think my lack of culinary skills is the biggest obastacle! Good for you for making it work though and nice to hear your thoughts on your sons diet :)

  38. Please let me know anyone who cook and deliver plant based dinner to my home close to San Diego for business. My wife don”t let me cook. Thank you.

  39. For me, the longer I’ve gone without dairy, the less and less I miss cheese. I don’t even really do the alternatives.

    Sometimes I get a slight craving for kraft mac and cheese or pizza hut cheese sticks, but it passes if I eat something equally delicious that’s actually good for me. I love vegan pizzas loaded up with veggies, but most pizza places don’t have much to choose from. I love onions, tomatoes, and pineapple. I sometimes get black olives. Other than that they have like 4 kinds of peppers (which I don’t like) and mushrooms (which I’m allergic to). I wish they’d start including zuchinni or kale or things like that. <3 Still, they're good though. Onions are my favorite.

  40. I’m so glad I found this post. Your thoughts on veganism being easy pretty much echo mine and I I don’t eat honey for roughly the same reasons although I do know commercial honey makers kill hives for the winter because it’s cheap (that should be illegal with the bee shortage!).

    I too don’t always check my alcohol but I am pretty good with everything else.

    As for being a perfect vegan, you have to grow all your own food for that. Veggies are grown in non-vegan stuff sometimes (blood and bone!!), they are harvested with machines that run over god knows how many animals and generally being a human is detrimental to our fellow beings! Still, we can put in some effort, that’s the way I see it!

    I’ve been veggie for 12 years and vegan for nearly 2. I find my running is pretty smooth these days and when I decide to increase distance the new fitness comes quickly. I’ve just started back on some upper body work (first real muscle work since being vegan) so interested to see how that goes.

  41. I became a Pescetarian in 2011 and moved to a vegetarian in 2013 and have been one since. I haven’t given much thought to the vegan diet. My problem with the vegetarian diet is that I feel that animals are exploited for their milk and eggs.

    If I had millions of dollars I would start a humane dairy and egg farm. All animals after they became unproductive could retire on large acreages of land to enjoy the rest of their lives.

    I would love to envision one day when we could be in harmony with all of God’s creation.

    In closing I will say something regarding being a vegetarian. It’s very easy to do especially in the west where food is so plentiful. And like you I too am caught in the Pizza trap a lot. LOL!

    I’ll say another thing and I’m sure EVERYONE will agree. Isn’t it funny that once you become a vegetarian or vegan you absolutely crave veggies? Man! When I ate meat I rarely ate veggies at all. Now I love them and what else is interesting is that the intensity and flavor of veggies are magnified now.

    As a final note the thought of eating meat makes me cringe now. To think what we are doing to conscious living animals is disturbing.

    Kyle

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