That was the question I asked myself last summer during the beginning stages of the vegan diet rave that earned 2017 the title: “the year of the vegan”. It seemed appealing and a bunch of my friends back in Philadelphia were already vegan. In addition, the social media sites I frequented began guilting me into the idea that I was contributing to the slaughter of thousands of innocent animals. Don’t get me wrong, I do not condone the suffocating environments and inhumane murder of these creatures, but I felt overwhelmed by these factors and decided to see what this animal product free diet was all about.
I was already excluding eggs and dairy from my diet due to intolerances, so I figured I would have no problem taking one more food group out of my eating routine. After doing my research on alternative sources of protein, I stocked up on greens, quinoa, and vitamins and began the process.
The first few days of the diet felt great! I was energized and my digestive tract was more active than ever before, but on the fourth day I hit a wall. I was exhausted, sluggish, and was suddenly transformed into a pissy man-child. No matter how much water I drank or broccoli I consumed, I could not focus on simple tasks. My boyfriend watched me descend down into the depths of exhaustion and gently encouraged me to call it quits. Looking back on it, I can understand why he was so gung-ho about me going back to a meaty diet because I was truly an awful person to be around. Giving it a few more days and having no luck with regaining my vitality, I caved in and added chicken back into my diet. It was like drinking the elixir of life. I was back to my normal self within minutes of consuming the protein.
Now I would like to address the key reason why this diet did not work for me and why many other people have tried and failed. Allergies. It’s as simple as that. If a person is allergic to the main sources of protein that are apart of the vegan diet, how is that person supposed to find ways of providing the nutrients their body needs? One may argue that there are many other sources of protein other than nuts, soy, legumes, and grains, but I found myself needing to eat three times the amount of food that I had normally consumed while maintaining an omnivorous diet which meant I was constantly having to run to the store and spend dollar after dollar on organic produce. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough and I admit that there were extra steps I could have taken to help adjust my body to being vegan.
You can say it, I wimped out, but I would like to iterate that I am not bashing or down-talking vegans. In fact, I am extremely jealous of those who can pull this off and encourage anyone who is capable of eating a vegan diet to go for it! Do what makes you feel happy and healthy. My only wish is that those who are privileged enough to be vegan can come to understand and acknowledge that not everyone can join them in their animal product free lifestyle. There are many dietary options out there and each person’s body is unique. Happy eating everyone and don’t forget to eat your greens!
(The featured photograph is the salad I created today using mixed greens, shredded carrot, avocado, sliced radish, diced onion, hemp hearts, and topped with organic avocado oil.)