When I first went vegan I had NO CLUE about the backlash I’d get, it was like I was deciding to join a cult to some people. I really was not expecting it, and probably did not handle it all as well as I could have. But there are questions I get asked more than most, and for the sake of non vegans who are wondering, and vegans who might need a friendly response to what may seem like silly questions… here are my top 10 questions I get asked:
1. Wait? You stopped eating protein???
A. Actually, now I eat a lot of protein! Protein comes in all sorts of forms, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, and more. I also did not think you could eat so much protein on a vegan diet, but it turns out you can, and it is so much healthier! Your body has a much easier time digesting whole foods like veggies, rather than meats and dairy. There are so many benefits to eating plant based proteins, and it’s really improved my health and well being!
2. I mean you are just doing this for health? Not for any other reasons right?
A. Well it started out that way, but the more I read and educated myself on what goes on in the food industry, the choice to be and stay vegan became about many more reasons. If you’d like, I could recommend some great books/documentaries. It’s hard to grasp, and in the beginning I was so angry because I did not realize a lot of what was happening, now I feel informed, which makes the choice to stay and be vegan an easy one.
3. How do you live with out *insert food/drink* ????
A. I’m Italian, I grew up on cheese and meat and lots of fish. I was terrified the first day I decided that I’d go vegan. And I’ll admit, the first few weeks were hard, I craved a lot of stuff! But like all things I once thought would be impossible, staying vegan became easy and a part of my lifestyle. It did not take me that long to stop the cravings for animal products, and start craving healthy vegan foods. And now, honestly, I can’t even think about eating meat/dairy products, it really has absolutely no appeal at all to me. You have to keep in mind, that we pick and choose the foods we become addicted to. We do not naturally crave bad food, and our bodies were not equipped to handle those foods. If you want more information on the science behind that, check out “The China Study” it really helped me.
4. But we have incisors! We were meant to eat meat!
A. Well, I probably won’t be the one to convince you about how we were not designed to eat meat/dairy products… and would suggest picking up some good books on the subject. But really quick – look at your body and compare it to a meat eating animal. The only teeth that we have that resemble meat eaters are incisors, and really? They aren’t much to write home about. They are however great for biting through some tough plants! The rest of our teeth in now way resemble that of meat eaters, and is why when we do consume meat/dairy products they have to be cooked and processed to the point that they are like baby food, because our teeth were not meant to handle those food sources. Things like our finger nails? When is the last time you could rip through a live animal to tear it a part? Or go catch one with your bare hands, as you run through the jungle? Yes, we have come a long way in inventions, we have learned how to make killing animals easy, and factory based, so we don’t have to deal with the messy and hard parts, it’s packaged right there in the store. But that does not mean that we were meant to consume it. And it just doesn’t stop there, beyond that lots of things point to the fact that we are herbivores, the lateral movement of our jaws, our muscular lips, the shape of our tongue, the acidity of our stomach, the length of our intestines and many other factors!
For me, I quickly learned that the reasons why my diabetes and weight was not getting better, was in large part because my body was having such a hard time digesting the foods I was putting into it. Try it out for a few weeks and see if you start to notice a difference in the way you feel!
5. Once you reverse your diabetes and lose all your weight you will go back to eating “normal” right?
A. To me, now, this IS normal. I have never been so happy about making a switch in my life than this one. The way I was eating and the wrong information that I had regarding food was what got me into the mess I was in, so I can say with out a doubt that I will not go back to eating the way that was killing me.
6. What do you eat when you go out? What about when you travel? I eat out and travel and I could never eat vegan foods!
A. You would be surprised! I was also worried about this, but have been able to survive just fine. I look for vegan friendly restaurants a lot, I’ve found a lot of luck with ethnic restaurants (Indian/Japanese/Mexican) but can find something or request something easily in any place we might find ourselves in. I’ve even been able to eat vegan in gas station pit stops. My husband and I travel full time, and sometimes on the road, I have to have a snack or meal from a gas station! But every place we’ve been in (even the middle of nowhere ones) carry things like granola bars, fruit (or fruit cups),pretzels & nuts. It’s not ideal, but it will get you to the next meal!
As for restaurants try this:
- Japanese: SO much you can have! miso soup, veggie sushi, edamame, veggie tempura, noodles and veggies.
- Chinese: Veggie and tofu noodles or stir fry
- Mexican: I’ve had the best luck with Mexican! Bean and veggie fajitas, salsa, guacamole, corn tortillas, big veggie fajita salads.
- Italian: Pasta with tomato sauce (be sure they don’t add cheese) with lots of veggies!
- Indian: There are so many great options, just be sure to make sure the sauces don’t have milk.
- American: Honestly, this has been the hardest one for me! But generally I can get a Mexican or Italian dish, or even a big salad if I have to.
- Irish: Another hard one. The last time I went to an Irish place I ended up getting brown rice and a big side of veggies with oil and vinegar. Keep in mind that most places will be more than happy to come up with something for you.
Afraid or embarrassed? My husband has a TON of food allergies, and every time we go out to eat, he has to tell the waiter he is allergic to certain foods. If you are hesitant at first to say you are vegan, and you don’t eat any animal products, just tell them you have a sensitivity to dairy/meat products, so you can’t have anything that includes it. The bottom line: don’t be afraid to ask!
7. Doesn’t your family have a problem with you going vegan? What do you do about a get together? My family would just make fun of me!
A. I would say that those who really care for you are not going to have a problem with you going vegan. But I have found, that often it can be threatening to a lot of people that you have gone vegan.and I think it’s ‘s hard for some people to see you making changes, even those who are close to you and love you. They might even feel judged by you, because you are, to them saying they are eating poorly and you are not. A lot of my close friends and family were very supportive, and I had some that had/have a very hard time with it. For those who do, I lay low, I don’t say much about it, they can see how I’m changing, and many of them have been around through the worst of my diabetes, there is no getting around that going vegan saved my life, so I feel, for me that it speaks for itself. As for a family get together , I have learned to either go out to eat, or bring a dish that is super tasty and impressive . There have been a few times where my husband and I skip out before the big meal. Being Italian, I grew up and family meant food gathering, I have had to really change my mind set regarding that, and now would much rather spend a few hours on a hike, or playing games, watching movies, than a few hours eating! Make family less about food and more about being together!It was hard to do this at first, but we are loving making family get togethers less about food.
As for the making fun of you part? I’ve had my fair share of it, and it’s not easy… However, know that they may feel threatened or judged, and do not know how else to respond. Know that that they still love you, and deep down want what is best for you.
8. But if meat/dairy was SO bad wouldn’t my doctor/the government/the food industry tell me?
A. Smoking. It used to be endorsed many doctors, the government and the consumer advocacy groups as something not only safe, but healthy. I would just encourage you to really do your own research, don’t let someone else tell you what is best for YOUR body. You have to keep in mind that a lot of times there are many other motives behind telling you how and what to eat. The first thing you might want to try is going on a diet where you do not eat any foods that are advertised. Let’s face it,broccoli is not getting much air time! The meat/dairy industry is a huge one that makes billions of dollars, and they spend billions trying to get you to eat their products. Do you really think they have your best intererst at heart?
9. I am going to eat a TON more meat because you are vegan! How do you feel about that?
A. Well, that’s kind of sad. It’s like telling someone who is quitting smoking, or giving up their alcohol addiction that you will smoke 10 times more or drink ten times more. But really? I don’t think you will do that, you know better!
10. Don’t you get bored??? I mean what do you cook?
A. I have to say that going vegan has been the most fun I’ve had with cooking in a long time, and trust me, I LOVE cooking! Going vegan is an adventure every day in new foods, new food combinations and tasty creations! There are so many fabulous vegan and raw food recipe books, that you could cook a new meal every meal for years with out repeating something. Have fun with it! Try making one vegan meal this week and see what you can come up with! The possibilities are truly endless!
11. But going vegan didn’t really help you that much, you could have done something else to lose weight and turn your diabetes around, right?
A. I tried every thing. And when I say every thing, I mean it. Every single book suggested, every nutritionist, every single diet/work out you could possibly imagine I tried. Going vegan was the only thing that even made so much as a dent in my health, and rather quickly. I was off of insulin with in 3 weeks of going vegan, and I have not found any other way of eating that has come close to that kind of result.
In the upcoming weeks I am going to expand on all of these and add some tips, recipes, and resources, so stay tuned if you want some more in depth answers for yourself, or for someone else !