Recently, I’ve witnessed two main reactions to vegans.
- Ew! Why would you do that? Now you will only eat salads. Get back in your hutch you rabbit!
- BUT WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?!
I’ve mentioned the second one a few times but it reminds me of Helen Lovejoy on The Simpsons. “Think of the children. Won’t anyone THINK OF THE CHILDREN”. Anyway, moving on.
Obviously, it’s important for anyone, whether you eat meat or not, to be attempting to eat a balanced diet and hit all of our important food groups. However, is that all it takes to be healthy?
For years I’ve struggled with issues relating to stress, anxiety and depression and this is hardly uncommon within our society. Upon reflection, I realised that the vegan communities and discussions I’ve been involved in rarely mention mental health, if at all. Are we so busy trying to look after the planet that we’re forgetting to look after ourselves?
This post is entirely based on my experiences but I’ve taken some time to think about what being healthy means to me.
Don’t be scared
Contemplating the volume of changes you could potentially have to make to be a vegan (cruelty free, plant based, plastic free, recycled, recyclable, zero emissions) can be overwhelming. If you try to digest all information at once, it is likely that we will find you hiding in a corner eating Oreos and crying about the palm oil. However, it’s really not necessary. Changing the odd lifestyle choice here and there is all contributing towards your overall goal. Keep taking small steps, whether it be changing to cruelty free foundation or recycling a little more often. It is all progress that you can be proud of.
Old habits die hard. You may come home from work and dive for the custard creams before your tea. A visit to an old friend may lead to cow’s milk in your cup of tea and you are too British to say anything. Maybe you still have that vegetarian Quorn in your freezer that contains milk. It would be a shame to throw it out. Quite frankly, if it’s the Quorn Nuggets, it would be downright criminal to waste them. Learn to forgive yourself for blunders. Life is all about the learning curve (for a vegan I am getting super cheesy).
Take some time for yourself
This is important for everyone in life. Life gets busy and stressful. I definitely enjoy putting the ingredients list occasionally and picking up a book. As fun as it is scanning through the allergens in bold, the storyline isn’t great. Self-reflection may also be a helpful tool for new vegans. By thinking through the activities of the day, you can think of what you’ve enjoyed, what went well and, if anything, what would you have changed? I often do this with our meals. It really helps thinking about which lunches/dinners have worked the best and I would make again.
The worst part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m no hypocrite. I’ve had a gym membership for months which I never go to. I’m basically subsidising cheaper memberships for others. Aren’t I kind! However, it doesn’t have to be so bad. For me, I own a demon in the form of a Springer Spaniel. Giving Ozzie regular walks is necessary for him and a great form of exercise for me.
It doesn’t have to be a gym. It can be classes, dance (even if you need a couple of vodkas first), sport, or park run if you fancy freezing your butt off on a Sunday morning. Any of these are a great way to reduce stress and you’ll feel much better once you’ve done it, I swear!
I get that B12 is important. However, the odd burger or pizza never hurt anyone. Search round your local community and find vegan-friendly restaurants and let someone else do the cooking for a change. This will also give you some inspiration for your meals at home. Meeting your friends and trying new plant-based meals is a great way to boost your mood.
These are just a few ways in which I believe it is important to stay healthy. Would you add anything? Let me know in the comments.
The Confused Vegans