Why I'm not 100% vegan
Every single individual is unique in his or her own way. This manifests itself in each person's unique look, different ways of thinking, and how his or her body reacts to different factors. When it comes to diet, I've found that there is no all in one solution that is fit for everyone. Similar to how we lose weight with different types of diets depending on our body type, the way our bodies retain nutrients may cause us to eat different varieties of food. With that in mind, I've been asked many times on my channel about my views on being vegan, whether I am vegan, or if I'm not vegan, why not make the switch? Those questions inspired me to film a video about my story and opinion on going vegan, why I think it's important, but the unfortunate reality for me at this moment in time. Feel free to watch the video, where I also prep a plant-based pasta, but if you'd like the juicy details, it's also available for you in text!
I became vegetarian in summer of 2016, shortly after a trip to Switzerland and Germany. It just so happened that I lived with a vegan couple (Shia and Hanno from Wasteland Rebel) for a few days whilst visiting Germany, and the conference I was at in Switzerland exclusively served vegetarian meals. I became accustomed to eating no meat, that my body felt strange when eating meat again after the trip. Thus, the end of my global travels gave me a kickstart in feeling comfortable about eating a plant-based diet, and I decided to move forward from that day with a vegetarian diet, with the aspiration to go vegan at some point later if it worked out.
Some reasons why I went vegetarian
Health - High cholesterol runs in my family, and I became conscious of this as soon as I took my first blood test. I thought that eating less meat and animal products would be beneficial in helping to lower those cholesterol levels, considering that bad cholesterol comes from saturated fats found in animal products.
Environmental - If everyone on the planet went without meat for one day per week, we could reduce emissions by an estimated 1.0 gigaton per year. That’s equal to taking 273 million cars off the road. Meat production today takes a hefty amount of land, resources and water in comparison to vegetables in fruits. If we were all a bit more conscious about eating less meat, we'd be able to lower our overall impact on the planet.
Ethical - Factory farming is a nasty subject. The way animals are treated in these farms is often quite disturbing, and even if you aren't vegan or vegetarian, many of these meat production practices are simply unethical, and also damaging to the surrounding communities and the environment.
Unfortunately, my vegetarian and plant-based tendencies started to take a toll. Within two years of being a fairly strong vegetarian and opting for as many plant based meals as possible though, I noticed a surprising lack of energy in my body - I often felt faint when walking, and would have to hold onto someone in order to stand up. My family urged me to go to the doctor, and after a few blood tests, I found out that I was deficient in quite a few nutrients, including B12. B12 is only found in animal products and some fortified cereals, but I was getting very little of it, which was also a cause of my severe lack of energy. I was advised by my nutritionist to take B12 vitamins immediately to make up for the lack of it in my body.
So before you decide to make any drastic dietary changes, if you can, check with your doctor or a nutritionist. I made the mistake of jumping the gun without doing my research before going vegan. Unfortunately, a majority of foods produced today lack proper nutrients, so I've been advised to take the following vitamins by my nutritionist.
Vitamin B12 - The main nutrient I was missing from a vegan/vegetarian diet.
Vitamin D3 - Important if you aren't outdoors a lot (I was often in the office), and helps to absorb B12.
Iron (Ferrochel) - I happened to be lacking in iron, which is extremely important for females, especially due to menstruation.
So for now, I'm on a journey to take care of my health and energy levels with small doses of animal products here and there. I've accepted the fact that at least for this season in life, that I'll have a tough time going completely plant based, but I can still opt for a majority of vegan/vegetarian meals in light of the reasons shared previously. I love this vegan pasta recipe from Buzzfeed Tasty which I mentioned in my video, and I think there are so many great, creative veggie based recipes out there that are deserving of being a main course. For this particular recipe, I actually decided to bake the 'meatballs' in the oven instead, and used a few different ingredients than the actual recipe, but was overall inspired by that yummy looking video on Tasty's website!
If everyone in the world opted for a few yummy, plant-based meals during the week, we'd make a huge impact. As I mentioned in the video, "try to be the most sustainable version of yourself...[by] taking care of your health and the planet, and trying to maintain a balance between those two." An honest and conscious individual that is trying to do his or her best for our future world is truly the most impactful thing we can do right now.