Today marks my vegan anniversary, having made the decision to give up all animal products just after my birthday last year. However, today is also the day that I will be reintroducing fish and eggs to my diet.
I went vegan for about 80% ethical/environmental reasons and 20% health. Morally throughout the last year I have felt fantastic, living a life free of harming animals. However, physically things have not been so great.
Unless I am consciously eating protein powders and products like quorn vegan ‘chicken’ pieces and soy products like tofu every day, I feel noticeably more tired and weak, especially when exercising. This has been highlighted every time I go away and am unable to eat the same diet I do at home. I have found that, like many people, soy products do not really agree with me, but without them I really struggle to hit the amount of protein I would like to each day.
I’m aware of all the other foods that contain protein, and believe me I’ve tried loading up my dishes with beans and lentils, peas and broccoli. But you need to eat so much of these foods to come anywhere near what meat/fish/eggs/dairy provides, and I really wasn’t enjoying eating in this way nor was it making my body feel good.
I never had all the miracle effects that you hear about when going vegan, like drastic weight loss, acne clear ups and boosted energy, but like I said, I didn’t really go vegan for health reasons and didn’t actually have any of these problems in the first place. I was happy with my weight and energy levels, and didn’t really have any acne. If anything, over the last year I’ve begun to feel less confident in my body, and noticeably more lethargic which is the biggest worry for me.
I’ve also spent the last year constantly injured! I seem to always have a new niggle every time I go for a run, and although I know I’m injury prone, it’s never been this bad before.
I’ve been very careful with my diet, making sure I get all the macro and micronutrients in. This highlights something else I’m not happy with: supplement taking. Again, before I started supplementing my diet with a multivitamin which included iron, I was very tired all the time. Before I went vegan I never took any supplements and always felt great.
Ethically I believe the next few weeks will be pretty challenging for me as I still am aware of the cruelty that can happen when it comes to the meat and dairy industry. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to eating meat, but I really feel I need to make a compromise somewhere as I still need to put my own health first. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life taking supplements and drinking protein powder every day in order to have enough energy to partake in the exercise that I love so much. I’m not sure what will happen with dairy, I may reintroduce that too. I do know that where possible I will make sure that any animal products I do eat are from responsible sources, and will still enjoy eating lots of vegan meals of course.
I have huge respect for those who can go vegan and feel amazing side effects from it. I wish the same had happened for me. There’s nothing I actually miss at all, I’ve never felt tempted to eat animal products or craved anything. I just know that this is the right decision, albeit an incredibly hard one.
Hopefully those of you who disagree will be understanding, but I need to put my health before my morals right now.