Yes, I am Vegan. Part 2: FAQ

Ok, let’s jump right in!!  These are the questions I am asked most often since I began living a vegan lifestyle.  If there are any questions you have that I haven’t answered, please leave them in the comment section and I will consider answering them in a future blog post!  Here we go!!!! (Make sure your read Part 1 first!!!)

1. Where do you get your protein from?

This is ALWAYS the first question I get once someone learns I’m vegan.  It’s so funny because it seems that this is the case with every  vegan!  Don’t feel bad…   I didn’t know either, so I did a bit of research while being mindful of using credible sources.  Protein is in pretty much everything.  Did you know that most vegans actually exceed their daily protein requirements?  Research shows that you only need 5-10% of your daily calories to come from protein sources.  There are countless fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, pastas, powders, and breads that contain protein.  Rice and beans alone is a complete protein!  I posted a couple of  pictures below to give you a better idea of the different sources it can be obtained from and how much they contain.

2. Where do you get your calcium?

This is also another common one…  I mean it’s been drilled in us since birth that you get your calcium from milk and dairy products, duh!!!  But what if I told you that milk and dairy products actually cause your body to lose calcium?!  I’m not going to go into details about the horrors of milk consumption but if you like you can check them out here.  Don’t worry, it isn’t scary!  It’s actually a kid’s video!  Some of my personal favorite sources of  calcium that I consume quite often are plant milks (Almond, mostly), kale and collard greens (which are grown in my garden), broccoli, bok choy, and avocado.

 

3. No meat or dairy? What do you eat, lettuce??

* Rolls eyes*  This one is pretty annoying…  I mean really, did you come up with that one all by yourself, lol?  My favorite is when I’m out with friends and they tell the waitress that I’ll have the bowl of lettuce! (Shout out to Rossi, lol) I promise you, a vegan is not deprived!  I feel like my food options have quadrupled!  I’ll show some of my favorite go to dishes in the next post.  I eat good!!!

4.  What about your B-12, where do you get that? (Longest answer!!)

Before I answer,  here is a definition of B12 from Health101.org incase you were wondering!

“B12 is a water-soluble B vitamin that’s vital for carbohydrate metabolism and energy production, also playing an important role in the formation of healthy red blood cells, and in all neurological functions.  B12 is made by a microbe – a bacteria; it is produced by microorganisms.  B12 is the only nutrient that contains a trace element – cobalt – which gives it its chemical name of cobalamin.  We require cobalt, although it is utilized only in the form of B12. And if you want to get technical, B12 is not really a vitamin; we just call it that for the sake of convenience; this is why from this point forward you’ll see me calling it just “B12” (same for “vitamin” D).  And by-the-way, since your body needs cobalt to make B12, if there’s not enough in the foods you eat because of the way they are grown, your body won’t be able to make enough B12, and this is one of the contributing factors to why raw foodists have B12 deficiencies.”

If you want to go more in depth, they have a great article all about it here!

Back to the answer!  I found myself in a conversation not to long ago about this very subject with a person I will refer to as Her.  There were 3 others in the convo (Who just added to the comments made by Person 3 and myself) but Person 3, who is also vegan, had the most relevant additions to our convo and will be mentioned in the recap of said conversation…

Her: Just a word to all vegans: B12.

Me: Very true but many people don’t get enough b12, not just vegans 🙂 We all must keep an eye on it!

Person 3:  B12 is made from naturally occuring bacterias in the soil. Over time, the quality of the soil has gotten worse because of farming and it’s use of pesticides. Because of this we wash our produce thouroughly and the result is we dont get enough B12.  Animals are also deficient in this vitamin and are injected with B12 supplements. A lot of  vegans get their B12 from nutritional yeast and other sources.

Her: What is nutritional yeast?

Person 3: A product that is very “cheesy” in flavor and is used in many recipes that would normally use cheese.

*Side Note* I like to use nutritional Yeast to make “Nacho Cheese” or what I like to call Not Yo Cheeze, lol. I also use it in vegan macaroni dishes!   Wikipedia defines nutritional yeast as follows:

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most natural food stores. It is popular with vegans and vegetarians and may be used as an ingredient in recipes or as a condiment.

While it contains trace amounts of several vitamins and minerals, it is only a significant source of some B-complex vitamins. Sometimes nutritional yeast is fortified with Vitamin B12.  Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy, or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. It can be used in many recipes in place of cheese, such as in mashed and fried potatoes, and atop scrambled tofu. *End Side Note*

Her: I think that we are supposed to eat meat rather than nutritional yeast, and I am more informed now, because it has low B12 quantities and is mostly produced in an industrialized way…  I don’t think cavemen took their B12 by making nutritional yeast.

Me: (After chuckling internally) Or instead of eating the b12 injected meat, buy the pill, the injection, or the sublingual liquid at your local pharmacy and take it yourself to make sure you are getting adequate amounts! 🙂

Person 3:  Also, Cavemen had better soil quality and didn’t wash their plants as much as we do, so they were getting enough B12 from the soil.  Now, the quality of the soil is worse so we often need a supplement!

Her: We didn’t go through years of evolution to get B12 from pills…

Me: (Still amused at all the shade she was unnecessarily throwing)  I was just stating other alternatives to get the vitamin outside of meat, nutritional yeast, or any other fortified source for those who may not eat it.  We get it how we choose to get it and some may prefer pill form.  To further clarify my point, as P3 stated, the meat you eat is supplemented… It’s not naturally occurring!  I mainly pointed out that you could take the supplement yourself instead of getting it from the already supplemented sources that were mentioned.  One way or another, you’re taking a pill/supplement, whether it be yourself or through a 3rd party…

*Her went on with her defensive answers that ultimately put words in everyone else mouths. Gist, she was saying that our diets shouldn’t be rich in supplements (No one said that it should…) because that’s not good for you and that milk (Cow or plant), dairy, and meat are all supplemented (contradicting her argument) and that’s how we should get the vitamins…

Me: (Ends the entire conversation with this) But the plant milks, meat, and dairy are all fortified with the same supplements!  What’s the difference between taking them in pill, injection, or liquid form as opposed to eating or drinking the SUPPLEMENTED food or drink, lol?  That’s all I, and everyone else, was getting at.  I don’t believe one is worse than the other.  We went from getting B12 from different sources to a diet based in supplements…  I don’t think anyone said to base your diet on supplements, not sure where that came from…  As a vegan, you really have no reason to supplement anything if you’re eating a diet rich in a variety of organic whole foods.

Moral of this quick and random story… If you’re going to call out vegans, be ready to defend your point with factual information that makes sense and definitely don’t get defensive while contradicting your own argument!  Was that mean?  lol.  I hope not.

In conclusion, we get our B12 from either supplements in pill, injection, or sublingual form or from fortified foods you can purchase at your local health food store which include plant milks, nutritional yeast, and breakfast cereals!

5.  Isn’t it expensive?

It depends on the person…  It can get expensive but it can also be very affordable.  Having a plan will absolutely keep you on the more affordable side of the scale. I  don’t find that it is to expensive in my case.  Organic produce and gluten free alternatives were already on my shopping list.  Now, I just buy more of it.  It ends up canceling itself out though because I’m no longer purchasing as much meat and dairy (Hubby still eats them) as I once did.  I just replace what would have been my portion with vegan options.  You will, however, spend a bit more if you try stocking up on all things vegan at once.  I just add the vegan pantry staples little by little as I research recipes that I add into my meal plans.  Planning out what you are going to eat, especially if it’s whole foods heavy, will help you spend your coins wisely.  You’ll buy exactly what you need for the week and it will prevent you from buying more than you can eat in that time frame.  Nothing is worse than seeing your beautiful organic fruits and veggies spoil before you could devour them!  Two words. Meal. Prep.  If you always have something ready to eat you will never be hungry!  If I’m going to be out and I’m not sure if where I end up will be friendly to my diet, I’ll grab one of the prepped meals and some fresh fruit to bring with me just in case.  I also prepare them and haul them in a cooler when I’m headed out of town!!

4. Isn’t it tough?

Yes and no.  Yes because change isn’t easy.  Especially big change.  To completely cut out staple foods in my former diet and our cultures diet is huge!  I literally went cold turkey right before dinner.  I had chicken that I planned to cook thawing out in the kitchen!  I ended up just eating brown rice, beans, avocado, and tomatoes (Huge fave!) and I started researching vegan meals to prepare for the next week while I enjoyed my first.  Going to a restaurant now is an adventure!  Almost EVERYTHING on EVERY menu contains either meat OR dairy or meat AND dairy!  It’s crazy!!!  It’s like a food monopoly!!  It doesn’t make eating out impossible though.  This is where the no comes in.

I’ve learned that most restaurants have vegan menus and if not you can email or call ahead and the staff or the chef is usually good about telling you what to say to the waiter to make certain items on the menu vegan. Order this with out this and this and add this…  I had one chef pretty much write out how to make the majority of his menu vegan and email it to me!  Google is also your bestie!  Just type in “Vegan *Your restaurant of choice* Menu.”  Some amazing vegan out there or the actual restaurant decided to make your life easier and posted what to order online!!  I promise you won’t be deprived especially when you plan ahead!  There will inevitably be a place or two that have super slim pickings (Miller’s Ale House is one of them), if anything.  In these cases, I’ll order like 2 servings of sweet potato or regular fries and chow down on my mono meal or I’ll have something small and eat something else later!

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My  double sweet potato fry mono meal at Miller’s Ale House!

Youtube is a God send!  Recipes upon delicious recipes!  My palette is more well traveled now than it has ever been!  Some of my favorite vegan food channels are HotForFood, EdgyVeg, & FabLunch.

My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you eat ENOUGH!  That will absolutely make your transition easier and keep you from relapsing and choosing animal products.  I’ll list some of my favorite recipes and how I eat throughout the day in the next post!

5. How am I supposed to eat meat around you now??

Ummm…   just do it!  Like I said in my previous post.  I’m not here to judge you for your choice to eat meat.  I won’t be staring you down with contempt, lol.  Enjoy your food. I do however, hope my veganism peaks your interest and you do a little research and possibly consider a change… but I’m not going to force it on you.  Just don’t tell me you thought about becoming vegan once upon a time if you don’t want me to go in!  Cause I will.

6. What if you were stranded on a deserted island…  would you eat fish/animals then?

I’m pretty sure this would never happen so why should I bother answering?  lol.  However, there’s probably a plethora of edible plants,  fruits,  coconuts, and seaweed on islands… I should be good!

deserted island

Whelp, that concludes my FAQ!  I’ve had several more questions asked but I don’t want to make this post too long!  Plus, it gives me a reason to write another post on my life as a vegan!  Stay tuned for part 3 of this series and as always, be well!!!

Love, Nevelyn Pearl

Yes, I am Vegan. Part 1

It is day 22 of my vegan transition.  I am literally a baby on this journey and have already experienced more than I could have ever imagined.  Luckily for me, I prepared myself before letting my decision be known. Why?  Well, because I knew my disclosure would be met with genuine curiosity, defensiveness, and the ever popular side eye.  I’ve learned quite a bit in these very short 22 days.  About myself, the vegan community, and my friends and family.  It’s actually quite scary…  I mean this is all new to me.  I’ve been a “meat eater” all of my life.  Going vegan challenges not only all I’ve known but all anyone around me has known.  Veganism is a very in your face decision whether you want it to be or not.  At one point, I didn’t even want to label myself “vegan.”  I was prepared to refer to myself as plant based but after much thought, I didn’t want to minimize what it means to be vegan.

Vegan-Poster

photo source: spaecochateau.com

I decided to write this post series to answer the many questions I have already been bombarded with more times than I can count.  I figured, if I write it all here everyone will realize that I’m doing this for ME.  Well, also for the planet and the animals that suffer because our society loves the taste of their dead flesh or the more acceptable term, meat. I’m not here to judge anyone who chooses to eat meat so please don’t feel the need to be defensive for your choice.  I’m just telling you my side of things.  You can do whatever you please with the information because I’ll still love you regardless.  I’m not here to preach to you though it may come off that way unintentionally.  I just know no other way to explain it.

A vegan is one who doesn’t consume meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and some with myself included, don’t consume honey.  They may also avoid leather, wool, and silk along with any products that require animal testing.  I’ll explain my personal views and approach later.  Vegans are not the same as vegetarians as they consume dairy, and eggs.  There are MANY different kinds of vegans in this world.  Some give it a great name and some give it a bad name.  At the end of the day, they all have an important message and are fighting for the same causes.  Some are very extreme in their fight and some fight quietly.  Some even have different views on what it means to be vegan and are so passionate about it that they offend many people, other vegans included.  I am not fond of any approach that disrespects a person for their personal choices in food or in life.  I feel that approach only pushes people away.  I’d like to think that I’m compassionate across the board.  I’m not gonna call you this that and the other and put you down because of your choices because I find that to be hypocritical.  I will, however, urge you to educate yourself on what really goes on.  It’s your own choice from there and it’s not for me to judge.

Why I decided to become a vegan:

Food has the power to change your body for the good or for the bad.  In 2012, I learned for the first time just how much the food I put in my body affected me.  I was at my highest weight.  220 pounds.  It hurts to even type that.  I was at rock bottom.  Physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I was depressed and I’d lost myself.  I didn’t even recognize my own face in the mirror.  I wasn’t taking very good care of me and I had lost all self love. I was in a complete fog.  That summer I had a conversation with my father and that conversation ended with him and I deciding to change our ways and lose weight together as he was also at his highest weight.  He told me about the blood type diet and we followed the lifestyle change together.  Through this change I learned that I was gluten intolerant ( I had almost every symptom of the intolerance) so I cut it completely out of my meals.  It was tough!  Very tough, but I was determined.  The weight literally began to fall off.  I wasn’t even exercising!  Eventually, I began exercising as well and ended up losing a total of 41 pounds.  My dad lost 50 . Outside of the weight loss most of the gluten intolerance symptoms had disappeared, my mind was clearer, and I was significantly happier.  I wasn’t 100% but I just felt better overall.  The best part, I began to love my self again but I still felt more could be done.  I knew that My body and my mind could be healthier.

In 2014, I got ahold of Netflix.  I came across the documentary “Food Inc.” I won’t explain it here but you are more than welcome to watch it.  The gist? It is an eye opening documentary about what really goes on in the food industry and why.  It opened my mind and I wanted to learn more. I then watched “Food Matters“and a few other documentaries. Later, I came across “Forks Over Knives.”  My first introduction to veganism.  Though inspired, I struggled with whether or not I could make the transition.  I mean, a life without meat???   I’d experienced a month without meat, processed food, and added sugar when my husband and I went on a collective fast with our church.  We were literally dreaming of eating meat again.  A month is one thing but to give it up forever…  It’s all I’ve known!  It’s all I’ve been taught.  I couldn’t even fathom that!  No steak???  No bacon???  NO CHICKEN!!!  No way!  That’s cray.  So I didn’t.  I closed my eyes to it but it never really left me.  Especially since I was now aware that I could do it if I really wanted to.

Fast forward to 2015.  My weight had become stagnant.  I still had 20 pounds to lose in order to get to my ideal healthy weight.  I’d stopped my regular workouts and gained back about 5 to 7 pounds.  I’d just been maintaining because of my diet.  Veganism had been a nagging voice in the back of my head so I decided to start slowly eliminating meat from my diet.  For the last year or so I was eating just chicken or turkey at dinner time. Occasionally, I’d have bacon or a burger.  Not often.  Steak or pork maybe once a month.  I still ate eggs on occasion and dairy (specifically ice cream, butter, sour cream, and milk in my Starbucks only)  despite the inevitable breakouts it caused on my face.  Hey, I was an ice cream addict…  It was worth a zit or two, lol.

Fast forward to February 2.  A week before this day, I opened up to my husband and my dad that I was seriously considering quitting meat, dairy, and eggs and going full on vegan. They both answered me with the infamous, Really??   Yes, really. In the coming weeks it will be done.  On the night of February 2, as I researched what would soon be a huge decision in my life, I came across a Youtube video titled “Best Speech You Will Ever Hear.” It was a speech by vegan activist, Gary Yourofsky. I listened to him intently and before it was even finished I vowed I would NEVER eat dairy, eggs, or another piece of dead animal flesh again.  I no longer wanted to personally fund the cruelty that happens in that industry or let the byproduct wreak anymore havoc on my body.  In that moment, there was no question.  I was vegan.  Immediately after the speech, I watched Cowspiracy.  I learned not only is the consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs killing animals and our bodies, it’s killing our planet.  Animal agriculture is NUMERO UNO in killing our planet!  Please, please, please watch ALL of the documentaries I’ve listed if only just to educate yourself.  You DESERVE to know the truth.  You owe it to yourself to know the truth.

vegan-veggies-forks-header

Photo Source: aetherforce.com

22 days in…  I. Have. Never. Felt. Better.  It is night and day.  The first 3 days or so sucked ass.  Yes, I said ass.  Detox is real ladies and gentlemen.  Exhaustion.  Headaches.  Bloat. Gas.  Mood swings.  Frustration.  All of that at once.  But by the end of the first week my body had cleansed itself enough for me to feel the incredible difference.  I still get a little moody because it takes a while for your body to heal completely.  I make sure to get enough calories every day which mostly consists of organic fruits and vegetables more than anything else and I drink plenty of water throughout the day.  Because of this, I haven’t experienced any cravings for anything I have given up.  Not one.  It doesn’t mean I won’t, I just haven’t yet.  Most people lapse because they under eat therefore they crave and go back to what they know.  You have to consume more because the calories in fruit, veggies, and other plant based foods aren’t as dense as those in meat and dairy.  I’ll explain more about what I eat in part 2 or 3… not sure yet.  I feel lighter.  I’ve already lost 3 pounds in less than 3 weeks with minimal exercise.  I’m energized after I eat now instead of tired and sluggish.  I sleep better and more deeply instead of fighting insomnia.  My digestion and elimination, which is something I’ve always had issues with, has improved immensely already!  My skin is brighter and I look more fresh and awake without makeup.  I could go on and on and this is only the beginning.  I’m excited to experience all the changes to come.  I’d also love to share them with you if you are open to hearing them.

So there.  That’s why I made the change.  In part 2, I will answer all the questions I’ve been asked over and over.  I have half a mind to refer anyone who asks them to these posts from now on!  I’m kinda sick of answering them!  Especially since some want to argue with me over my answers about something they’ve never researched.  I answer with facts and I am often met with answers based on emotion and habit.  It can be quite frustrating.  So Again, I implore you to watch the documentaries I mentioned even if you have no plans to go vegan.  Do it for the knowledge.  Do it in case someone you love decides to make the transition so you can be more understanding of why and have productive conversations about it.  Trust me, they will absolutely appreciate it.  You never know… your own child may choose to go vegan one day.  My recommendation is that you start with Gary Yourofsky’s speech and begin the process of “taking the blinders off.”  I say all of this out of love for not only you, but for our planet and for the animals that are affected by our unnecessary everyday choices.  Thank you for reading and be well.

Love, Nevelyn Pearl

p.s.  Please leave a comment with any questions or statements you may have but please be respectful.  No need for disrespect or to call anyone out of their name.  These types of comments won’t be published.  I moderate all of them.  I understand that people have different views but let’s express them respectfully.

I’m no doctor or nutritionist.  I try my best to get all of my information from credible sources.  This is just me telling you my story and what I’ve learned in hopes that it can be of some benefit to you.  Also, I am not yet 100% vegan. There are a lot of changes that I will have to make and those changes take time. Right now, my focus is on my diet but I am also looking into switching out all of my daily products for ones that are cruelty free and I will no longer be purchasing any leather, wool, or silk.  I will dive deeper into this subject in later posts.

Feature Photo source: https://holistichealthliving.wordpress.com