I have been off the hard meats for a year and a half, you know…red meat, poultry, lamb, and chicken. In 2017, I consumed only fish, eggs, and a bit of dairy. In 2018, I went full vegan.
Anyone that knew me growing up, let along until 2016, would never imagine in a million years I would ever go vegan. It’s still strange to call myself “vegan” right now. Like, what the hell have I become?
Long ago, in my carnivore days, aka before 2017, my meals looked a lot different. Breakfast was typically a smoothie loaded with whey protein and Greek Yogurt, lunch was a “healthy” slab of grilled chicken, fish, or steak and some rice, and dinner featured a 6 egg omelet with some bacon on the side and a bowl of warm gooey oatmeal to lull me to sleep. The order of the meals is weird—but hey, it’s what I loved most days. I also ate the standard array of baked goods and desserts, especially anything with chocolate!
Food and I have always had a love/hate relationship and my dependence on certain foods like the high-protein animal products was more evident than ever before going vegan.
I was afraid to give up my beloved ice cream, beef burgers, grilled chicken, sautéed salmon, and of course, bacon! Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into the replacements for each of these. Some imitation and replacement products are damn good but many just don’t compare.
The main reason I was nervous to go vegan is because I never wanted to crave food that I couldn’t have. Who would volunteer for a diet? That is sheer stupidity, especially a diet that is supposed to last forever!
But something happened that I didn’t anticipate.
Think of some of your favorite foods. You probably have pizza, fried chicken, lasagna, steak, lobster, omelets, etc. on that list—at least numerous animal-based dishes. That’s cool. For me, it was lean grilled meat, eggs and cheese. I could live off that stuff. My fear was that I was always going to be relying on my willpower to overcome the temptation of the chicken dish at a friend’s house or a buffet. Truthfully, I knew I would lose that battle. That scared me.
But guess what? Next week will make 6 months vegan and every day gets easier and easier. Why?
My taste buds adapted. I never thought I would grimace at the stench of ribs on the grill, a smell that used to make my mouth water. Now, I smell hormone-injected, rotting flesh, with a hint of cayenne pepper. My cravings for the hardcore animal products disappeared. My eating has gone so rogue that eating fried chicken seems almost as unappetizing as devouring a cockroach on Fear Factor.
The point I’m getting at is that I was afraid the cravings wouldn’t go away. I was afraid it would be miserable because my taste buds and mind would continue to have the same perspective they have always had and every meal would be a draining internal battle of right and wrong.
I didn’t anticipate craving fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes more. The first few months at buffets were certainly a battle of willpower, especially when the vegan options were plain veggies at a salad bar compared to the elaborate meat filled dishes.
Now it’s easier. A few months ago, I had dairy-based ice cream on my first night of vacation in Cancun. My willpower gave way to the desires of my taste buds but my body was not ready for it. I felt like complete crap. The bloating was insane. I looked like a damn balloon and felt even worse.
Nothing cures a craving like spending a night in bed on your back holding your stomach as you hear and feel your organs battle each other to the death. Needless to say, that was the last milk-based anything I have had. Thank you for that painful lesson, Hyatt.
The combination of constantly finding foods and dishes that your taste buds enjoy and your body likes to digest, with the knowledge of what circumstances produce most animal-based food products and how your body will react has made a much easier and pleasurable experience than I would have ever thought.
I’m not going to say it’s easy, just easier. Open your mind, open your heart, and open your mouth to a lifestyle of conscious eating.