Losing weight, making more money, drinking less alcohol, and more exercise are perhaps the top new year’s resolutions, but one new year’s resolution that I see popping up in many status updates on online platforms is the following: going vegan. More and more people are waking up to the animal cruelties that are committed to form the basis of many meals; others want to improve their health; and others choose to go vegan to lessen their carbon footprint. Whatever your reason is, in my opinion you can’t go wrong by going vegan. 🙂
There is one question that lingers in everyone’s mind when they make the decision to live a vegan life or at least follow a plant based diet. How to go about it? I asked myself the same question when I chose the vegan lifestyle in 2008. I had already been a vegetarian for about 6 years, and even so I wasn’t sure what I was embarking on.
I never cared about “missing out” on cheese, but I did care about chocolate. I am a chocoholic, and in 2008 there was NO vegan chocolate in any local store (I live in Los Cabos, Mexico). That’s the reason why I learned to make my own chocolates. I’m from Belgium, and when it comes to chocolates, I am very critical and demanding. You know our chocolates, don’t you? 😉 They are the best 🙂 Now, many vegan products are sold in local stores, including vegan chocolates, but I still enjoy making my own.
I’m getting off topic here. Or perhaps not so much, because when you decide to go vegan, you need to learn how to make your meals (and desserts) without using animals or animal products. That sounds much more complicated than it really is. It isn’t hard. I think that some of the things that puts people off is the misconception that making vegan food is “difficult”; that it’s a “sacrifice”, because you’re “missing out”; that vegan food is “expensive”, and that you’re “not getting enough protein”.
Then there are the doomsday sayers who always seem to know that one particular vegan who got sick, that one vegan who had a B12 deficiency, that one vegan who had to go back to eating meat because his or her body was “demanding” it. I have heard the stories too, but I have never met any of those rare afflicted vegans.
Let’s Get the Serious Stuff Out of the Way
Let me tackle those misconceptions that I listed above, but before I do that, I’ll just pass a small disclaimer here: I’m not a doctor, nor am I a nutritionist. However, I have learned a lot over the past twelve years of my vegan journey. I have read countless articles and books, done plenty of research, made and created new recipes, spoken to many other vegans, noticed my improved health, and I am confident that that is a strong enough basis to answer all your questions 🙂
I went vegan for ethical reasons, not for health reasons, although I am very grateful for my better health 🙂 It’s a nice bonus. myvegansausages.com is not strictly a health website, although most recipes I share are great for your health. I also recommend vegan ready-made meals, sausages, burgers, etc. Yes, vegan junk food exists and I love it 😉
It Isn’t Hard
So, this is the first misconception: making vegan food is “hard”. I understand where this is coming from. When something is new it often seems daunting. Last year, I took an online course in affiliate marketing, although I had no clue what it was about. All I knew was that I should learn it.
I was nervous, unsure, a little overwhelmed with all the new information, but every day I learned something new that I could put into practice. And guess what, today I can do what I didn’t know how to do last year: build a website, organize my website with menus, widgets, and plugins, add affiliate links, understand keywords and SEO when I had never heard of it before, use Google Analytics and Google Search Console. What does this have to do with becoming vegan? Everything!
Things only seem difficult – and I’m stressing, seem – when we don’t know much about them. My father had this saying: “what the farmer doesn’t know, he doesn’t do.” Once you do it, it all falls into place. So what if you have to replace eggs with bananas or a mix of flax seed and water, or apple sauce? Aren’t those nice, yummy replacements? So what if almond milk replaces cow’s milk? The cake will still come out delicious.
No Sacrifice Required
I never had the feeling that I was “missing out” on something. On the contrary, when I became vegan I was blown away by the savory meals I was having. Lasagnas, pizzas, pot roasts, shepherd’s pie, “lamb” burgers, mushroom stroganoff, eggplant carpaccio, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, burgers, sausages, soups, cakes, pies, ice cream, and I could go on.
Some recipes are easy and some are a little more elaborate; but when you think about it, some non-vegan recipes are sometimes pretty hard to make too or they can look like a long daunting list of things you don’t feel like doing. If difficult recipes are not your thing, then pick the short ones. Many meals can be made with few ingredients, and there are several good cookbooks that can help.
I have never been a cheese lover, even as a non-vegan, but that was mostly due to a childhood experience when a family member forced me to eat a big block of cheese I found disgusting. I ate it, gagging with every bite. That was enough to put me off cheese. Over the years I accepted mozzarella and goat cheese as the only cheeses I would eat cold, and I would have melted cheese in sauces, soups, and on pizza, but as soon as the cheese got hard and cold, I felt disgust come up and pushed it away.
Now, that disgust is gone, and I use a lot of vegan cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, and manchego. In fact, before I was vegan, I learned to like cheese again in Mexico. I enjoyed the local cheeses that came from the farms. Now, I really enjoy the vegan versions on pizzas, in sauces, soups, croque monsieurs, quesadillas, and anything else I can come up with.
Is Vegan Food Expensive?
Back in 2008, yes, it definitely was. I am not going to deny that. Many ingredients that I needed had to be imported, because I live on a peninsula in Mexico, and man, those products often turned out to be really expensive. That’s when I learned to improvise with meal creations and changing some ingredients for others. Over the years, though, while veganism became more popular there was an increase in vegan products, and as a result prices became more accessible. That was my experience in my hometown, but when I check products online, they also have good prices.
I am a teacher in Los Cabos, and believe me, teachers in Mexico do not make much money … I have been vegan on a low salary for years, and I have no complaints about food expenses. I do not agree that vegan food is expensive. It is true that some brands are high priced and some are not, but the same can be said for non-vegan products. I am pretty sure that there are some expensive cow burgers out there. In fact, I saw a menu of a burger restaurant a few months ago (to check if they had veggie burgers 😉 ) and the meaty ones cost between $15 and $20US … The veggie one had a similar price. So, I walked away.
Some things are still expensive though. A baker at our local organic market sells delicious, homemade bread, bread rolls, and cakes, they are simply to die for, so good! Vegan, gluten-free, tomato bread, olive bread, ciabatta, and much more, but the prices … seriously, one loaf of bread – as delicious as it is – costs an arm and a leg at that guy’s market stand …
So, in conclusion, I would say that regardless whether food is vegan or non-vegan, prices depend on brands, whether products are imported or not, and on location. There are probably more reasons, but all in all, I do not spend an exorbitant amount of money on food, and I love food. In time, you’ll probably learn which store offers better priced products, which one does not, if it is better to order online, etc. Remember, it’s a journey 🙂 During your journey you make your discoveries.
One More Bonus
Yes, health, you guessed correctly. How much does the average person spend on medication? Let’s say, meds for indigestion, acid reflux, colds, heart medication, meds for the liver, asthma, allergies, and more diseases. I am not going to list them all, but what always baffles me is the knowledge most people have about medication.
When one of my dogs had a small issue a few months ago, a neighbor told me to give him this and that, rattling off those long names of pills that I didn’t even know, and I notice this with many of my friends and acquaintances. They know so much about pills, because they spent years taking them … I have no clue about medication and their names or what they can do (I just use aspirin or Advil if I have to) and I am grateful for that.
So, my point is, as a vegan your health improves drastically. You will notice it. You will feel more energetic, and after a while your body will also start craving different foods that are much better for you. It is what happened to me. All that money you used to spend on medication can now be saved or spent on more enjoyable things, like food, gifts, and what-have-you. So, there you go, you end up saving money. 🙂
The Protein Myth
You get enough protein as a vegan. There is a lot of plant based protein in nuts, seeds, beans, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, oats, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, soy, tofu, tempeh, seitan, papaya, edamame, green peas, amaranth, soy milk, wild rice, chia seeds, nut butters, peanut butter, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc.
The meat industry has made it their business to sell us a need for animal protein, so when someone goes vegan one of the first questions they always get is “where will you get your protein?”
The above mentioned plant based foods not only contain protein, but also other nutrients, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants, etc.
Lentils, for example, provide protein, fiber, iron, folate, manganese, and antioxidants. And they taste good!
What about vitamin B12? Many bloggers claim that this particular vitamin can only be found in meat, and that vegetarians and vegans suffer a B12 vitamin deficiency. Well, B12 can also be found in nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is not yeast like you know it; it is sold as flakes or powder and it has a nice, cheesy flavor. It is often used for pastas and pizzas, and it’s also great for mashed potatoes, tofu scramble, sauces, etc. It is a source of all the B vitamins, including vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
I’ve also noticed that some vegan milks (such as almond, soy, rice drinks for example) may sometimes list vitamin B12 among their ingredients. It’s best to check when you buy them.
Fun fact: did you know that a vitamin B12 deficiency is also prevalent among non-vegans? It’s not as typical for vegans as one might think.
If going vegan is your new year’s resolution for 2020, good for you, go for it! In this article I shared some links to some of my other articles that cover vegan cheeses, cookbooks, burgers, hams, sausages, soups, chocolates, and facts about vegans. If there is anything else you would like to know, please ask in the comments below.
Wishing you all the best for 2020 and much success on your vegan journey!