Ready to Give Up Meat And Dairy? Here’s What It’s Really Like To Be Vegan
“It’s the best thing I did for my body.”
We’ve likely read about people who have chosen to follow a vegan lifestyle, including mom and yogi Amanda Griffin-Jacob, singer Geneva Cruz, and actress Yasmien Kurdi. We are aware that vegans like them are under a type of diet that excludes dairy products, meat, eggs, and other animal-derived food, and that many who go vegan make the change for health reasons. But what exactly is it like to be living a day-to-day vegan life? What adjustments did they have to make? What benefits are they now enjoying? Here, women tell us how they started, what made them commit, and how veganism changed their lives.
What made you become a vegan?
29-year-old Charrie became vegan when she was fresh out of college. “I was 21 when I became a vegan, so malapit na mag-ten years, ang tagal na pala!” she shares. “I’ll be honest, I decided to try veganism back then because I wanted to lose weight for my physical appearance. Hindi na ako magpapanggap.”
Charrie was living an unhealthy lifestyle. Like most university students, her everyday meals consisted of fast food takeouts and instant noodles. “When I graduated, I gained a lot of weight, I was breaking out, talagang ang sama ng pakiramdam ko lagi.”
She read about veganism in an online forum and decided to research more about the lifestyle. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun, wala naman talaga akong balak maging vegan. Sabi ko, sige i-try ko lang muna na puro gulay lang ang kakainin ko, tingnan natin kung aayos pakiramdam ko. Sinubukan ko lang talaga siya.” After following the vegan diet for 6 months, Charrie decided to commit to it.
For 25-year-old Angel, it’s only been two years since she became vegan.
“I was initially a vegetarian for 5 years, started when I was 18 years old. It was a pretty big change for me, because when I was younger, I used to eat burgers every day,” she shares. Unlike vegans, vegetarians may consume animal by-products like dairy and eggs. “When I became vegetarian, I still [ate] a lot of burgers, just healthier versions now!”
Angel switched from being a vegetarian to vegan because she felt that she did not really crave animal-derived ingredients anymore. “After being vegetarian for years, hindi na ako masyado kumakain ng eggs and other food from animals, so I completely switched to veganism.”
How did veganism change your life?
“Mas healthy ‘yung relationship ko with food,” says Charrie. “Dati kasi, talagang madalas ako mag-binge eating, ngayon na-co-control ko na siya kasi mas aware ako sa kung ano ‘yung pumapasok sa system ko.”
“Not a lot of people will understand but it’s the best thing I did for my body,” says Angel. Through her transition to veganism, she found herself researching more about nutrition and wellness, and doing her best to live life the healthiest way possible. “I learned to be disciplined. I learned to appreciate plants more, I learned to appreciate and love animals more. S’yempre, I learned to take care of my body better.”
Charrie’s skin also cleared up when she started eating plant-based food. “Nag-struggle ako with acne when I was in college, kaya natuwa talaga ako na gumanda ‘yung skin ko nu’ng naging vegan ako.”
Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“Ang pinaka-struggle sa pagiging vegan for me ay ‘yung kulang ako sa protein talaga. S’yempre kasi walang meat or eggs sa diet ko, madalas hindi ko na-re-reach ‘yung protein intake na kailangan ko,” shares Charrie. She takes vitamins and supplements to help make up for the nutrients that she lacks.
“Sometimes when I go to family events, I see steaks and meat-based meals that all look so yummy,” shares Angel. “But thankfully, there are [now] burger patties, sausages, even nuggets that are plant-based! Most of the time, this is what I buy whenever I crave that ‘meaty’ taste.”
Read these tips before transitioning to veganism
Ready to try veganism? Before you make any big lifestyle changes, it’s best to do your research. “You can’t do something without fully knowing its benefits and risks. Yes, veganism worked for us, but you have to research first to know if it will work for you,” explains Angel. “Ask yourself if you’re ready to embrace both its pros and cons.”
Charrie recommends taking it slow. “’Wag mo biglain ‘yung katawan mo. Kapag masyado ka nang nahihirapan to the point na naaapektuhan na ‘yung daily activities mo, kailangan mo pakinggan ‘yung katawan mo.” If you do decide to try a vegan diet, give your body ample time to adjust. Don’t do a complete 180 in one day!
Lastly, “seek the guidance of a professional,” Angel suggests. “Seek advice from doctors, from Registered Nutritionist–Dietitians, because they are the ones who can answer your concerns and help you with the transition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, because this is your health we’re talking about.”