Three years ago, I was the chick who was totally, absolutely, completely sure I could never be vegan. Vegetarian? No sweat; I did it for years. But forgo cheese, milk, butter and eggs? The idea seriously shattered the boundaries of my comfort zone. I thought it was too "extreme," too over the top and WAY too difficult.
Needless to say, things changed. Like so many vegans I've met, I woke up one day and realized I couldn't justify my lifestyle anymore. if I loved animals as much as I said I did, how could I possibly participate in exploiting them? I couldn't.
So on January 1, 2014, I went vegan and never looked back. Now, the only regret I have is that I didn't board the V train sooner. It's better, easier and more awesome than I ever imagined.
All in all, the transition has changed my life, and here are eight of the ways it's made things so much easier:
1. I discovered the joys of cooking.
My mom is a chef, and I used to be a major disappointment in the culinary capacity. I didn't cook and I sure as hell didn't enjoy cooking. But once I went vegan and was forced to abandon most standard prepared fare, I entered a whole new world of edible adventures. Now I LOVE coming up with fantastic new foodstuffs, and I'm a whiz with a food processor. Apparently, plants were the culinary muse I needed.
Like a chef recently told me about his transition to veganism, "I have never cooked more creative than I cook today." I second that. Plus, cooking veggies is fun and easy. Who knew?
2. I feel better.
I feel lighter, more energetic and basically way more like a superhero than I used to. Plants rock my world, and my body clearly loves them.
3. I don't get sick anymore.
Not one sniffle, cough or cold since I took the plunge. I'm saving so much money on OTC congestion meds.
4. My digestion has drastically improved.
I used to have "issues" with my inner workings (to put it delicately). Laxatives used to be a standard addition to my daily routine. Now, my insides work like clockwork. Fruits and veggies are my friends.
5. My eating disorder issues have disappeared.
For years I struggled with compulsive overeating, sugar addiction — even bouts of bulimia. Since I opted into a whole foods, plant-based diet, however, my relationship with food is no longer dysfunctional. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full — no more bingeing on sugary, processed junk. Honestly, it feels like I've been sprung from food prison. (I'm no doc, so please seek professional help if you need it. This is just my personal experience.)
6. My skin has cleared up.
A few years ago, my epidermis underwent an unpleasant shift. Adult-onset acne hit me hard. I tried antibiotics, peels and all kinds of other treatments, and while some have helped more than others, a whole foods, plant-based diet has been a key factor in turning it around.
7. It's helped my depression.
I've suffered from the deadly D-word since I was 14, and while I've implemented all kinds of tactics that have helped me overcome this debilitating condition, my diet has made a major difference. Seriously.
8. I feel good about my choices.
Life is short, and personally, I'm all about making every minute count. For me, that means living a meaningful, purpose-driven existence, and embodying compassion, kindness and love. Eating a vegan diet has helped me to embrace these very values, and that's EVERYTHING to me. I walk around with a lighter heart these days, and that's made everything easier.