I agree with what others have said. Take it in steps and eat mostly unprocessed foods. That's the whole trick to sticking to a vegan diet. Processed foods sneak unneccessary animal products in there and you really have to read labels carefully and know the different names for animal ingredients. There are books and lists online of what to look out for. I'm in the process of switching from vegetarian to vegan myself. I've been vegetarian since I was 12 and recently have been leaning more and more toward veganism and making more of an effort to eliminate all animal products.
As for people critiquing your food choices, it's pretty much unavoidable with some people who know you are vegan. It's weird. Vegetarianism is pretty acceptable these days. I think it's honestly in part due to the fact that being vegetarian can cover a lot of ground - anything from just eliminating beef (some people consider this vegetarian) to being nearly vegan. Now, being vegan is pretty limited on meaning since a vegan is someone who doesn't consume any animal products at all. There's not much wiggle room there. Though I do get some judgement on my veggie diet from people I know (heaven forbid I show up with anything that even resembles a meat product), I know I'll face a lot more critique being vegan. For the most part, I just don't tell people that's my goal. I mostly just call myself vegetarian and leave it at that. I also tend to not tell people when I'm trying to lose weight for the same reason. I've found the ones who really make an issue of what I'm eating usually do it the loudest when I'm eating something really healthy and I think it boils down to the fact that they know I'm making a good choice and they know that the cheeseburger in front of them isn't such a great choice. Just a personal observation.
Good luck with your transition! It's worth it! And just remember that every step in the right direction is still leading you on the right path, even if you stumble along the way.
"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." -Mahatma Gandhi
The real "trick" to being vegan is to eat as much unprocessed and made-from-scratch foods as you can--there's no question about whether an apple or broccoli or brown rice has animal products. And there are some excellent cookbooks out there. :p Online and in lots of books you can get a list of animal ingredients to avoid. "Animal Ingredients A to Z" is the nice slim one you can take to the grocery store if you need to. But really, transitioning to veganism is a process. Even 6 months in I forgot to read the ingredients on some crackers and they ended up having whey in them (it's been 2 years now). Soo, you read ingredients, ask questions, cook yummy vegan food and do the best that you can. Nobody can be 100% pure--making an honest effort is what matters.
There is a lot of support on the web these days. Lots of vegan food websites and the authors of Vegan Freak also host a forum where you can ask questions. There's another blog called Vegan FAQ http://veganfaq.blogspot.com/ which can be helpful.
You'll have to decide your own level of comfort on the vegan lifestyle. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect (I'm a perfectionist too so I feel your pain). There are animal products in tires, for goodness sake! I do the best I can and just try to be honest with myself--that's what's important to me. I tried to give up cheese many times but wasn't able to do it. Ironically it's been easier for me to be vegan than try to eliminate cheese from my vegetarian diet.
Good luck. The animals will thank you.
current weight: 179.0
Fitness Minutes: (4,871) Posts: 16 12/7/07 11:42 A
Jac, I'm vegetarian with no plans to become vegan, but I think you're doing the right thing--listen to your body, and not what others have to say. I've been veg for a long time now and am in a community with a lot of meat eaters and have come to get used to the mocking. I know what I'm doing what I believe in, and people can listen or they can laugh but it doesn't mean I'm going to have a piece of steak!
If I do eat meat of some sort (I'm Jewish, and twice a year at major holidays my mom makes chicken soup and my sister makes these wonton-like dumplings called kreplach), I usually get sick later--my body just can't handle the animal fat, and quite frankly, I'm glad.
Fitness Minutes: (28,703) Posts: 7,704 12/6/07 4:52 P
Thank you all. This helps with my motivation definitely. I guess I can only do my best. I have the perfectionism problem though. The reason for my vegetarianism is that I have never been able to eat meat without getting sick. Even the broths started getting to me. I feel like going vegan will help with my energy levels. I get very very tired when I eat too much egg / cheese, but it doesn't make me physically sick like the meat does.
I'll just continue to let my body call the shots and do the best I can otherwise.
I'm in the same place you are. Going veggie was really easy for me, but I'm finding the vegan hurdle a hard one to climb. I'm reading a book right now called, "Vegan Freak". It's all about how to go vegan and how to overcome the stigma. Hopefully, it will be what I need.
I understand your frustration. I have been vegan for one year this coming Jan 1st and was vegitarian for only a couple months before that. I just went into it cold turkey so to speak. I read labels and do my best but every once in awhile find out that something I've eaten or used wasn't vegan. At first that really bothered my sense of perfectionism but now I just do my best and read what I can and don't worry about it all too much. I suppose it all has to do with the reason you become vegan in the first place. For me it was the enviornment. So I try everyday to work at making the smallest footprint on this planet and everyday there is a new challenge and I know I will never be perfect but there is a lot of satisfaction in living better... step by step.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Gandhi
Fitness Minutes: (17,317) Posts: 6,453 12/6/07 2:37 P
I say just go for it. It's not that hard. It just takes a little effort. The most important thing I can tell you is, the people who critique you can jump in the river. You're not doing it for THEM. It's something you are doing for YOU and what they think doesn't matter.
When I first began eating as a vegan, lots of people criticized me. I was so angry that I almost decided to give it up. But, I didn't. I stuck with it. I encoruage you not to give up either. You can do it. Just stay focused.
~~ Will ~~
~~~~If you're looking for a blessing, try being a blessing to others! ~~~~
Vegan is not that hard once you are used to it. You just have to really read labels. As far as giving up Milk products and eggs. I recommend reading "A China Study" to understand that we all need to give up casin (animal protein) to be healthy. I I eat fruits and veggies, non-glutin grains and beans. So have no problem know what i can eat. I only eat no more then 10% fat now that is a challenge to eating out as vegan is easy nofat is hard to find. Also I do low fat. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Fitness Minutes: (28,703) Posts: 7,704 12/6/07 2:23 P
OK, so I've been doing a ton of research and am a pretty strict vegetarian (no gelatin, etc), however I do eat cheese and eggs. I've been a vegetarian since birth and have become more strict with age (I used to be OK with gelatin, chicken broth, etc. - anything that didn't look or taste like meat) Now, I would never eat anything with meat broth or gelatin.
My frustration is that every time I think I'm doing it right, I find out that something I've been eating has a meat product (i.e. vitamins or yogurt with gelatin). I'm afraid to go Vegan because I feel like people will critique everything I eat and sometimes there's just no way of knowing everything that's in something. For example, the veggie slices of cheese have a milk ingredient, it's not called milk or dairy on the package - so how would you know? Does anyone else have this problem, or has anyone been a vegan long enough to have passed this hurdle?
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