First of all, let’s clarify what veganism, vegan mean. Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes apart from meat, dairy products, eggs and all other animal-derived ingredients. However, veganism is not just about a different kind of diet, it is a way of living which refuses, as far as is possible, all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Why did I decide to try the vegan diet?
To begin with, one night, I had a really interesting and long conversation with one of the other European Voluntary Service volunteers about how our way of living, including our eating habits, are influenced by the consumer society approach and how much is against sustainability. Next day, on a lazy Sunday, I watched two documentaries. The first one, Earthlings, was about how humans behave and exploit animals in different scales like food production in factory farming systems, animal experiments or clothing. The second documentary, Forks over Knives, showed how our diet effects on our health and the great benefits of the plant based diet in comparison with everyday meat eating. So, all together, I chose to try a new experience and be vegan for health, environmental, and ethical reasons.
My experiences about…
… Eating habits
As for changing my eating habits, it was not a big struggle for me, moreover, I enjoyed to discover different kinds of recipes, spreads on my bread. But honestly, I wasn’t a heavy meat-eater before, I think I consumed meat products only 2-3 times a week. I do not really like milk, so the change was not drastic at all. In addition, my food shopping procedure/process became even easier and faster, because I knew which shelves I can approach directly and which territory of the supermarket was not worth to go. Although, going out to a restaurant or having dinner with friends can bring the feeling of being excluded. Unfortunately, if you go to a regular restaurant in the Czech Republic, your choices to eat something as a vegan are french fries or bread which are not that imaginative options.
About the expenses, many of my friends told me, the vegan lifestyle is expensive, but I didn’t experience this phenomenon at all. Nevertheless, we have to admit, that these plant or soya based products are quite expensive considering that they are made by cheap vegetables; but honestly, buying quality meat products (not the cheap liver paté) and cheese is even more expensive. So, for me the vegan diet is quite wallet friendly.
… Energy level
Let’s see the effects of veganism on my energy level, as it is a crucial part of vegan lifestyle. I always did some sport in my life, nowadays I prefer to run at least every second day. What I could observe during my running sessions that the warm up took a bit more time, but I could make longer distances easily. I do not know what is the biochemistry background of this phenomenon, but it is definitely an interesting new experience. I could also see that the skin of my face became nicer, smoother and I could also get rid of my annoying belly without making any effort. So, I dare to say, for me veganism had a really positive impact on my health.
… Environmental impact
As for the environmental impact, I am not sure that vegetarianism obviously has less impact on our planet in comparison with eating meat, because cheese production has still even bigger environmental impact than consuming chicken or fish. That’s why, if we really feel committed to reduce our ecological footprint, leaving behind cheese and dairy products can be a good solution to reach that goal.
All in all, I really enjoyed this vegan experience, the discovery of the greatness of plants, vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and legumes. It was simply good to take my health into my own hands and I am encouraging you to try out the same to promote a more human and caring world, while not being judgmental of others.
by Judit Suveges
Vegan food URL: https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRO4Eu5cUWGnvUxBS4El4c6bHRPB0PgRg1eNmKFMpE9OBA9PZ0Z
What vegans really eat URL: https://thediaryofabibliophile.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/vegans1.jpg
Sports and vegans URL: http://veganenjoy.it/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/la-dieta-vegetariana-un-elisir-di-lunga-vita-Vegetariano_dieta_salute_vita_malattie_cardiovascolari.jpg
Vegan Environment URL: http://livinggreenmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/vegan-info.jpg