More and more I hear about folks going vegan. Even a several of my friends, who I would have never thought could or would adopt a vegan diet, have for health reasons. This is something I don’t think I could ever do, even for weight loss.
What is a Vegan Diet?
On more than one occasion I’ve heard vegans arguing over what a true vegan diet consists of. Some say it’s the simple description I gave above. Others say it can include honey and eggs. Even more rarely, some vegans wear clothing derived from animals and eat seafood. To me, though, a true vegan does the following:
- eats no meat from any animal (ex: beef, pork, chicken, fish, shellfish, bugs)
- eats nothing derived from an animal (ex: milk, butter, eggs)
- wears and uses no products created from an animal (ex: leather, beeswax, silk, gelatin)
I’m still on the fence about the honey thing. This is because it was something I never considered until recently. I want to say I agree with it. However, I feel that if a person has an issue eating honey, they should also have an issue with using beeswax or even flowers. But that’s a story for another post.
Why do people go vegan?
Call me a purist. To me signing up for a vegan diet means you care about the welfare of animals. It means, you care about what you’re putting in your body. It shows you are serious about creating change in the world for the improved welfare of animals and possibly the food system, and are leading that change with your own commitment to banning products derived from animals from your own life.
Everyone doesn’t think like me.
People go vegan for several different reasons. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, as I didn’t become a pescatarian because I was worried about the welfare of land animals. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly care about this issue. However, I became a pescatarian due to health reasons. Therefore, I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on vegans, who define their diet for themselves. This is their choice, and it affects me in no way. I do, however, feel the need to give a bit of advice if you are thinking about adopting a vegan diet for weight loss.
Going Vegan for Weight loss
The number one reason diets fail is because they’re just that: diets. The way we’ve come to think of food is very different than we thought of it 100 years ago. Heck, for me it’s different than it was five years ago! That’s probably a good thing. Before losing 110 lbs, I thought like most people:
a diet was a temporary change in eating that led to weight loss.
This is exactly what a diet should not be. A diet is your daily way of eating. Therefore when you attempt to lose weight, you’re not just “going on a diet.” You’re making a lifestyle change. This takes time, just like it did putting on the weight. And that’s okay.
To lose weight effectively and keep it off, you have to make small lasting changes. Suddenly deciding to go vegan is not the way. Even those who adopt a vegan diet because they care greatly about the welfare of animals tend to do so slowly. Think about it, you didn’t learn to walk, speak, write in one day, so therefore you probably won’t learn to eat entirely differently than you have for your entire life instantly either.
I’m not saying going vegan is a bad thing. I am saying you should really consider what you’re doing and why YOU’RE doing it before you jump into it.
If you think you would like to become a vegan, do your research. Try it out by scaling back on the amount of animal products you are using. Do an inventory of what you use, so you know what you need to replace with vegan alternatives. Determine if this will be a realistic switch for you and if you think you can keep it up forever. If so, by all means, congrats on your new lifestyle change!
If you realize you’re only going vegan because you’ve heard the benefits of it are:
- weight loss
- improved general health
- life longevity
Think again. Vegans are no healthier than omnivores (the general population who eats both meat and plant-based foods) because they don’t eat meat or dairy. Vegans can still eat junk food. They can still get diet induced diseases like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), and high cholesterol. However, because vegans typically pay attention to what they put in their bodies, you see less vegans with these issues. This is a lesson we can all learn from. Fortunately for me, I learned how to incorporate the habits of vegans, while continuing to enjoy dairy products and honey.
Have you thought about going or have you recently gone vegan? Tell me why below and how you’re enjoying your lifestyle change.