Since making the decision to give up all meat, dairy, and eggs, I have repeatedly heard the statement, "I could never give up meat (or cheese, eggs, milk, etc.)." Sometimes it is hard for me to believe that it has been six months since I have had a hamburger, pizza with "real" cheese, or a barbecue sandwich. Yet strangely I have not missed the things I gave up because I have found so many good nutritious and surprisingly delicious alternatives that I have not felt deprived. Sure, I get the occasional craving for chocolate, but even that craving can be easily satisfied by non-dairy alternatives, such as Enjoy Life chocolate chips or Oreo cookies (yes, they are vegan).
Being a vegan has not been so much about "giving up" the things I used to love but rather embracing a new normal and finding out that there are so many things I can now enjoy without guilt. The only things I have "lost" by giving up meat/dairy/eggs are 25 excess pounds, bad cholesterol numbers, frequent headaches, chronic acid reflux, and ignorance about the adverse effects of factory farming on our bodies, our planet, and the animals who share it with us.
I have gained so much more than I have lost. I have gained an awareness of animal suffering I never knew existed and an appreciation for our environment, as well as a sense of urgency to do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint. In addition, I have discovered a whole new world of foods and a new way of eating that benefits not only me but the animals whose lives are saved every time I choose not to eat them.
Embracing a vegan lifestyle has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has been challenging at times but I have learned to adapt by looking for vegan options at restaurants and making a few simple changes in the recipes that I share with family and friends. Sometimes I have had to eat before attending a gathering, but the benefits have far outweighed any inconvenience in doing so.
As we approach the holidays the one thing I wish for is that others will educate themselves (check out some of the documentaries and resources posted here), make the connection between animal abuse and meat consumption, and embrace a vegan (whole food plant-based) lifestyle.
For the animals, the environment, and better health,
Copyright 2016 by Dee Dee Wike and Joy Wike. All rights reserved. www.feelingveggiegood.com