The new year is coming and we’re all hoping this will be a bit better than 2020 at least. The first thing that comes to my mind in the change is that Veganuary is officially starting tomorrow. If you’re new to the term, Veganuary is a non-profit organisation that encourages people worldwide to try Vegan for January and beyond. In 2020, more than 400,000 people took the pledge to try a vegan diet, while more than 600 brands, restaurants, and supermarkets promoted the campaign. I found it amazing that an organisation incentivises people to get together to try the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and make the process of change so easy to follow.
The campaign is very close to my heart. As Vegan for almost three years now, I can say that the change to a vegan lifestyle had made an enormous impact on my way to see the world, take care of my health, and my views about the world as a whole. I’ve become a more empath person, more connected with nature and the environment, and overall healthier. And if there’s one thing I don’t do is to eat only salads all the time (quite the opposite). So, if you’re thinking on make the transition and need some words of encouragement to go ahead and try yourself, here’s a list of the ten small changes that happened in my life since I became vegan.
1 – Developing a better relationship with food: I love cooking, and I always have, this is not a secret. But I guess my transition to Veganism was supported by my curiosity about combining different kinds of food to get all the nutrients I needed from each meal. Every person will ask you about protein as soon as you say the word “vegan”, but, did you know that several studies are showing that the average person in developed countries eats twice the amount of protein needed in their diet per day? To quote an article from The New York Times:
Most American adults eat about 100 grams of protein per day, or roughly twice the recommended amount (46 grams of protein a day for women and 56 grams for men). Even on a vegan diet, people can quickly get 60 to 80 grams of protein throughout the day from foods like beans, legumes, nuts, broccoli and whole grains.
Other essential nutrients, like fatty acids, calcium, iron, zinc and omegas 3 and 6 are easily found in vegan foods. The trickier one is B12. Present in animal products but not made by animals themselves, this vitamin is produced by a bacteria found inside animals. Vegans can get their B12 from foods like nutritional yeast, plant-based milk fortified with it and yeast extracts. This is also one reason why vegans should take supplements, to make sure we’re getting a good amount of B12. Not a huge deal, to be perfectly honest. To get up to date information about Vegan Nutrition, check here a comprehensive list of daily intakes, and follows the Vegan Society for more.
2 – No more sinus problems: I use to suffer from sinus inflammation issues. Winters and cold weathers would be a nightmare to me and, well, then I moved to Ireland and decided to follow a 100% vegetarian diet for good – I’ve tried vegetarianism in different periods. Milk and eggs were still present in my diet, mostly milk. My first week as a vegan was one of the worst weeks ever for my sinus disease. And probably the last one. That was the first week I cut off all milk on my diet. I spent days with the worst of my headaches, a constantly running nose, and it felt like I was expelling my lungs every time I cough. I know, not necessarily pretty. But after that week, I never felt any other symptom of sinus again. In short research about it, I found several articles about a dairy relationship with respiratory diseases and, I think that explains a lot. This is my personal experience, and every person will have it differently, so, I’d recommend you not to take it as the absolute truth. Check facts and research yourself if you suffer from sinus or any respiratory disease and if you’re thinking on cut dairy to see how you feel. Here is one article that can help you get started.
3 – More energy: This is a widespread statement from people starting a vegan diet – they feel more energy. This has been mentioned in documentaries like The Game Changers and a series of studies, but it’s a matter of fact: empowered with more healthy foods and fibre, your body reacts with more energy. I noticed a big difference in my exercise routine as well, and all types of physical activities. I go for long walks, cycle for more extended amounts of time, and I feel less fatigue or tiredness in general. The only significant change in my routine was the vegan lifestyle shift, so I have no other thing to blame!
4 – A genuine care with my consumption habits: I don’t see myself as a big consumption weirdo, and I never really surrounded myself with unnecessary things. I’m more and more living with the things that are vital for me to have and with some small luxury items I give myself the rights to have to make life more pleasant and comfortable. But since I adopted a vegan lifestyle, I’m genuinely more concerned about where those products I buy come from, how they’re produced, and the material sources. I haven’t through away all things I had that used animal products – I simply finish using them until they got old enough or until I spend them (this is valid for toiletries, for instance) and after that, I started to look up for vegan-friendly products and brands. I did the same with clothes, shoes, drinks, cleaning products and about all things surrounding me. And I can say that’s it a real good feeling to look around your house and know that most things there are causing the minimum damage possible to the Earth and the environment as possible.
5 – New food discovers: remember that vegetable you say you hate, but you haven’t really tried before? Or a herb you’re not used to including on your soups or food preparations, but it can be a bit of an essential part of that new recipe you want to try? As a vegan, I faced some exciting discoveries daily. It’s crucial to keep true to the things you really like and the ones you don’t, but being open to discovering new flavours was an important step for me.
6 – Better eyesight? Yes, I think so!: again, this is my personal experience, and I’m not a specialist, but here it goes. I don’t wear glasses. I had eyesight issues when I was a kid and experienced eye tiredness ever so often. Last year, I went to do a series of tests to see (ops!) if things were cool, and the doctor told me she has never seen such clear ocular globe. I was surprised. As a person who spends most of its days with the eyes glued to different screens, reads a bunch of stuff online and offline and has people from both sides of the family with varying sorts of eyesight issues, I was expecting a very different diagnosis. I can only blame Veganism. Again, here is one article for you to start your research about it.
7 – Less waste: Everyone will have that phase, and that’s wonderful. Becoming vegan is not only a diet change but a mindset change. You start caring more about a thing that would be unseen, and one of the things that I’m proud to say I’ve changed is a more significant reduction in waste coming from my household. I’m grateful to have the ways to do it in my surroundings. Still, I do separate clothes to donation; my recyclable bin is always full, and with all items clean and loose. My flatmate and I are building eco-bricks from the plastic we use and can’t recycle, we choose to get glass bottles instead of the plastic ones whenever we can and buying loose food has been an evolving habit here, which brings me to the next topic.
8 – Supporting local economy: again, I’m very fortunate to have the possibility of choose buying from local business, that supports a more sustainable living. We have several vegan-friendly shops that provide most of their items on zero or less waste formats, and all the vegan options available are excellent. Small Changes, Noms, Reuzi, Veganic and Minimal Waste Grocery have been in my list for longer now. I’m longing to discover new ones while keeping supporting business that provides alternatives to a more sustainable relationship with consumption.
9 – That fun feeling of discovering someone is vegan too: do you know when you really like an artist or famous personality, and then you find out they have something in common with you? From similar political views or the share of the same ideas regarding a specific matter, it’s always cool to learn someone you admire gives you one more reason to respect that person. Some of favourite vegetarian and vegan people are Paul McCartney, Anthony Kiedis, Travis Baker, Billie Eillish, Evanna Lynch, Stuart Murdoch, Joaquin Phoenix and the list goes on.
10 – Empathy boost: although some might say this has nothing to do with Veganism, I can see a correlation. Whist developing bigger care for animals and treating them, I kind of noticed my understanding of human nature and problems expanded. I feel like I’m more understanding regarding what happens with people, how we react when facing adversity, how and why we develop anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. I’m less judgmental too, but my sense of justice also came a long way upfront. I can be exceptionally verbal about anything I think is unfair. I see it as a good thing, I feel good about it.
I hope the list above can inspire you to make the change if you’re already looking to do it or even if you weren’t considering it right away. Veganuary website has a series of tips that go from where to start, lists of shops and restaurants supporting the campaign, recipes, and many more. I’ll also be sharing my tips on my social media channels, so follow me for more. And leave a comment if you want to ask me any questions or are interested in something I mentioned above. I’ll be happy to help.