Community: Forum: Health & Healing

Vegan Health & Nutrition Discussion Forum

Hi everyone-

over the past 8-10 I was living in SE Asia; while there I naturally eliminated most meat and dairy from my diet. I moved on to Australia and decided to keep up with most of my new food choices of no meat or dairy. I did so not so much mostly just to see how a change of diet would make me feel. I am a believe now after much research that a plant based diet is the way to live ( I knew that before but it's hard to come by sometimes).

All of that being said, with the choice to go vegan not being a moral one or a strict diet I started but have rather started to adopt, I have very anxious over a lot of the food choices I start to make. At this point I eat a 90-95% percent vegan diet. I may eat a piece of fish every other week or a cookie/ slice of cake here of there.

I am slowly tasting or eating foods that I haven't had in a long time to see how they taste to me now or make me feel. When I do this I feel like I'm "cheating". I feel like I have to hide if I want to eat a vegetarian pizza or a slice of pizza with meat for all that matters.

I didn't wake up and decide to become vegan one day, let alone do while living in a foreign country across the world! I don't want to have a bad relationship with the food I want to or choose not to eat. I surely can't be the first person that has experienced this? It's not even so much "cravings", as I know there are great vegan subs for most foods, it's more about what I'm allowing myself to eat... and maybe why??
I'm just looking for some encouragement or advice. Thanks!

Responses (8)

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 10/10/15 04:09:55

    If you feel the need to taste animal foods and see how they make you feel, it doesn't sound like you have total faith in what you are doing as a vegan or maybe you have a lot of worries about whether you are meeting nutritional needs etc. How do you feel when you don't consume animal products for a while?

    I did not feel the need to go back to eating animal products at all once I made the switch, but I was very strongly committed and ready by the time I made the decision to go completely vegan. What helped me was to really soul search why it was and is so important for me to be vegan. I read many books on ethics and vegan philosophy, from Carol Adams "The Sexual Politics of Meat" to Peter Singers "Animal Liberation" and many others. I even found books with a religious view on veganism and so on. I read about environmentalism and world hunger and no matter which way I looked at it, being vegan to me was the best way.

    I also focused on what I COULD do and eat as a vegan and what was enjoyable to me. Focus on the positives, not what you are trying to avoid. It is not about personal purity or perfection. It is a different lifestyle, a way of life that requires daily conscious decisions about how you live to best reflect compassion, the least amount of harm to others, respect for all sentient beings etc. You learn to cook and create new foods with plants and it becomes so rewarding when you discover all the ways to enjoy plant food.

    Do not be too strict with what to eat as a vegan. I see so many people preach about how oil is bad, sugar is bad, grains are bad, cooked is bad, soy is bad...Try to stay away from that. Eat to be healthy, sure, but don't try to be perfect and cut out so many foods you are totally deprived. Educate yourself on vegan nutrition and best ways to meet needs that also allow for enjoyment of food. Look for objective resources that are unbiased and not preaching a certain style of vegan eating.

    And if you are not ready, you are not ready. Live as a vegetarian for a while or pescetarian. If that is more sustainable to you in the long run, it is still better than nothing at all. It is not all black and white. You don't have to pass a test and it isn't about whether you belong in a club. For some, a gradual approach works best. If you get the "see I told you so" attitude from omnivores, just tell them it is something you are experimenting with and exploring and that you haven't given up on being vegan. However, if you find your guilt is that you are giving in to cravings and is not really about whether animal food can provide something plant food can't, find some vegan treats and indulge in those! :)

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    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 10/10/15 05:06:26

    My personal health was the reason I became interested in vegetarianism in 1975. I soon learned that animal agriculture is generally not good for the environment and wastes incredible amounts of land and water, and therefore contributes to human hunger around the world.

    But when I learned about the extreme cruelty involved in consuming flesh and milk products, the non-humans animals involved became my primary motivation.

    By 1980, my business cards said, "All Animals Have Feelings, Respect animal life."

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Thalassa4 at 10/12/15 19:46:35

    You're essentially changing part of your food culture. This is easier for some people than others. Some people, the especially stubborn ones, actually do themselves a lot of harm because they will not change one thing they eat, no matter if the doctor tells them they're gonna die...then there are people on the other end of the spectrum whom for going strict vegan seems as easy as making an ethical decision. ..I wonder if those people are very intellectual, to the point of ascetism. I'm not criticizing them, I'm just wondering what makes them different from most of us in the middle.

    It has been a process for me, I can go a couple months of being a strict vegan, and I had to learn how to even approach it to really re-commit to it after basically not knowing wth I was doing when younger. Now I've read a ton more of information, watched documentaries, learned substitutions and products, and feel a much deeper ethical reason because of what is happening to the environment, also being reassured of health benefits now by medical professionals, rather than being warned of long term harm, has helped me a great deal.

    In Southern California there's a whole vegetarian and vegan culture, which makes both restaurants and health stores much easier to find. I'm not saying it's "normal" here...what seems to be more normalized in California is the whole grass fed beef, free range eggs organic thing. I know that's better than nothing, but I personally believe it gives some people a delusional sense of proportion especially about the damage all cattle farming is doing to our planet. I have to grit my teeth and smile when someone says they can't live without steak, which is my cue to prompt them to eat grass fed, at least. But why do people think they can't live without steak?

    I am pretty sure I understand. I have cravings and have made mistakes, and felt guilty after like you. If it's flesh you crave, try to up your iron intake, and also make some savory meals with mock meats and vegan gravies. If you are previously anemic, a supplement might be temporarily needed until learning to balance non heme iron sources in your diet.

    Pizza is a problem for me. I have no problem melting Daiya on veggie dogs, or even on a BBQ chickpea pizza, but when I crave a very specific type of pizza - Margherita - I think vegN cheese is ruining the pizza. You can say well don't eat that pizza, but people have bad days and are put into challenging situations, and may have learned eating certain foods as a coping mechanism, and that's a very deep problem in the persons psyche to address, especially since dairy apparently does have a pseudo comforting effect since it's breast milk from a mammal, people actually get addicted to dairy.

    So there are some possible reasons. It is a process for a person to change in any way, many people do it gradually, the idea though is to stick with it until you get the hang of it...like learning to ride a bike...don't beat yourself up, acknowledge that tomorrow you'll try your best again. That's all any of us can do.

    Besides, by even being a part time vegan, over the course of a lifetime, and greatly reducing animal products, you are still helping heal the world more than someone who still eats mindlessly, or someone who tried being veg for two weeks and never tried again because they had a craving or didn't know the right tools for cooking and nutrition.

    I think money sometimes is an issue, or perhaps people who have limited access to certain items, find it more convenient to be lacto veg instead of strict vegan. Apparently money shouldn't stop a person, there are ways to do it on a budget, but again people are human and have lifetime habits or circumstances that challenge them.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 10/13/15 04:47:52

    What makes vegans (though there's no such thing as 100%) "different" than most people?

    More knowledge? More compassion?

    "People at the other end of the spectrum whom for going vegan is as easy as an ethical decision"?

    Choosing the vegan lifestyle IS an ethical decision...whether one's primary reason is personal health, the environment, world starvation or the suffering of billions of our non-human neighbors.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Thalassa4 at 10/13/15 17:02:51

    Look, some of us are pragmatic or realists, and some people have a lot of compassion or awareness and knowledge, but that isn't a magical answer for most people.

    I think more strict vegans need to understand that. I really like Joaquin Phoenix, because he gets that, he's a realist, though he's been vegan since childhood, he's realistic about fundamental life challenges that people have.

    Honestly I think saying you're more compassionate or knowledgeable is very self righteous, sort of like people who go to church and never drink or have premarital sex. Well good for you, you're not very physical, but you have other flaws/sins.

    There are people who have eating disorders, who have issues with emotional eating, who have a harder time ignoring cravings because their talents and gifts are physical.

    That doesn't mean they can't eventually go vegan permanently, but perhaps people who act like it's easy for everyone actually lack compassion for other humans in a fundamental way, ironically, and are actually stopping the vegan movement by being too extremist...I personally welcome any improvement from humane/organic to strict vegan.

    There's a difference between a person who gives up without trying, and a person who just makes mistakes or has challenges.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by Thalassa4 at 10/13/15 18:13:16

    Lest you think I'm just being defensive and dismiss me, or the OP, or any lacto veg or almost veg...think of the world in real results. That's how I think. I'm not an idealist. Idealism has its place, but we will see real results with pragmatism. ..that's the same motivation that inspired vegan chefs to make faux meats and stuff that tastes like our cultural food with animal products. ..it's pragmatism. Let's apply this ideal to reality.

    That's why Christianity in its true form works. Why do even non-Christians like Jesus? Because he loves you anyway, but sincerely wishes you'd do better. ..honestly I think that attitude has the most effective results, other than mass education and normalizing and implementation of veganism...the attitude that actually works is "I wish you would do your best"...all but the most [censored] of people respond positively to that...conversely, people respond with self righteous unrealistic ideals with rebellion, anger and self destruction. We see it through false religion, let's not repeat it with veganism.

  • Report Abuse

    Posted by ahimsa32fa at 10/14/15 06:19:09

    You asked a question and I responded.

    I suggested two answers with two questions. Just how does that make me self-righteous?

    I ate meat for three decades before I began to move to a better diet in 1975. It took me ten more years to finally stop using any dairy products. For most of us, becoming a vegan is a progression of steps, a learning process.

    In 1975 I was not aware of all the health implications of consuming animal products, or the huge impact what we eat has on the environment and the waste of resources. Most importantly, I was not fully aware of the suffering of non-human animals caused by our food (and lifestyle) choices.

    Do my efforts at sharing any knowledge and wisdom I may have make me "self-righteous"? As a classroom teacher and lecturer and in articles, essays and books I've always given people credit for any efforts to make this a better world.

    Would you have me be more "moderate" in my approach?

    I've met most of the Phoenix family, including River before his tragic death, and have great respect for them. But I also have respect for meat-eaters when it comes to other issues. No two people on Earth have the exact same beliefs and values, and I believe this is a good thing. If everyone thought exactly as I do, how could I learn anything?

    I hope your reaction to my comments doesn't have anything to do with the fact that my studies in Religion have led me to atheism, does it?

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    Posted by mirandaearthchild at 01/30/16 16:16:08

    Ive been vegan for a year, however I fell off the rocker for a couple months and hated myself for it! I said I was doing it to avoid family feud and stuff during the holidays cuz my family on my husbands side doesn't agree at all with my choice to be vegan! but I was also depressed and stressed, and working through some stuff that made it very difficult to eat healthy, long story. anyway, I got past it went back to being a passionate healthy vegan, and I wish I could say I'll never do that again, but I'm lonely human and I sin!
    I never ever will think that eating and murdering animals for food is ok in any way for any reason! just thought you'd like to know your not alone…I still have cravings for bad salty crunchy foods that happen to be animal meats. BUT I realized that I love the seasonings and breading and sauces, NOT the meat its self! =] if the meat was plane and just meat, I would never crave that!

    also a thing that always helps me is to watch/read what animals have to go through in order for us to eat them! then I stop craving it immediately!

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