The Vegan Post – Why I chose it, why I enjoy it & why I still love you if you don’t.

There have been a lot of questions surrounding my recent switch to a vegan diet, from both my online and offline friends. It wasn’t until Stacey asked me a question about some of my favorite recipes that I decided to just sack up and write this post. This is the dumbest thing, but I’ve been putting this off for 6 months because I know the term ‘vegan’ can just set people off in a hurricane of meat and dairy loving rage. The way some vegans act superior and think they’re more healthy/ethical than everyone else just rubs people the wrong way. I totally get that. I mean, if you’re going to treat everyone who eats meat and dairy like they’re idiots, of course they’re going to want to punch you in your soy-loving face.  I felt the saaaaame way (still do at times).

I’m not going to get into the ethical side of veganism because frankly, that’s not why I do this. I’m in it more for the health benefits and because bottom line: it makes me feel great. Not that I condone the killing of innocent animals, but you know, most people eat them and will continue to do so forever and ever. I’m not going to change that by getting all preachy and up in everyone’s face.

ANYWAY. I’m always nervous about talking about personal stuff on here which is absolutely ridiculous because this is a personal blog. Soooooooo now that you know I’m not going to shake my head and tsk, tsk you if you eat a burger, I’ll move on.

On May 1st of this year, my grandparents, parents and I started a strict 6 week eating plan called Eat to Live. We read the book and followed the guidelines and recipes to a T. Eat to Live is something you do when you want to ‘reset’ your health… at least that’s the way I looked at it. The info is backed up by all sorts of science-y evidence-y things and I liked that. I appreciated knowing that I wasn’t going to shrivel up and die in my salad plate because OMG WHERE’S THE PROTEIN!? (don’t worry, I still get pleeeenty of it). The changes we all saw in ourselves were pretty freaking crazy. For one, we ALL lost weight. Between the 5 of us, we lost about 100 pounds. My grandpa lost 14 pounds THE FIRST WEEK ALONE… what a bad ass! In addition to the weight loss, we all had positive changes in our skin, energy levels, cholesterol and overall health. Side note: I’m normally an Aleve popper. I took them for my bad cramps and headaches and just sort of felt like they were the only thing that was ever going to help. During Eat to Live, I didn’t need those stupid things and it felt awesome. I still got my normal period cramps, but they were much more tolerable. I was taking in more water and my headaches decreased. Other little aches and pains just weren’t there anymore. In seeing how simple this way of eating could be and how quickly it can reverse health and weight problems, my mind was made up that I was going to stick with it after the six weeks were up.

So from there, I gradually brought back some of the things that eating plan didn’t allow (small amounts of oil and salt and some more of the ‘healthy fats’ like avocados) and I continued eating mostly plants from there on out. And when I say ‘plants’, I’m not talking JUST salads. I would go insane and no doubt off myself with something large and pointy if I just ate salads all day. There are tons of awesome vegan recipes out there and I don’t feel limited or deprived of flavor or fullness at all, which still surprises me. I expected to be bored out of my mind and I just couldn’t even imagine what you could possibly cook that wouldn’t allow meat or dairy. After all, DAIRY WAS MY LIFE… you all know this. I lived on cheesy pastas and dips and practically bathed in cheese while I was pregnant with Jack. For people like me with an affinity for cheesy goodness, there are still dairy-free options if you’re in a chips and dip sorta mood. There are also some bomb diggity desserts. Vegan junk food, oh yes. It’s some of the best stuff out there. Not that it’s good for you just because it’s labeled “vegan” or that you should eat those kinds of things all the time, but it’s nice to have the option. It makes you feel like less of a hippy.

So far, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds and I… I feel so aliiiiiiive. For the very first time. (P.O.D.? Anyone? I know I’m not the only one who listened to them back in the day when it was too embarrassing to admit it). I think the key to this diet and the reason I haven’t fallen off the wagon is that I don’t think of it as a diet. I don’t get obsessed and stress about it. I’m pretty strict with myself, but I don’t make myself miserable. I aim to eat mostly plants and other whole foods — that’s it. If I go to a birthday party and they’re serving my favorite flavor of cake, I’ll let myself eat a small slice, but I just don’t consider myself a  failure at that point. That slice of cake was just a treat and I don’t have to quit everything and go eat a gallon of ice cream because I deviated from the diet (which is what I used to do). That’s pretty true of most healthy eating plans I think and that’s where most of us go wrong. Amy put it best in one of her health/fitness posts on her blog, Just a Titch:

Don’t label food good or bad. I think it’s easy to make food very black and white, or “good and bad.” If I label something bad and then choose to eat it, it’s very easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of “I’m a bad person” and get down on myself. Instead, I try to think of food as a choice. However, as I preach to my students, choices have consequences, and in this case, those consequences show up on the scale or in feeling icky when I exercise. Thinking of it that way makes me much more likely to make a healthier choice.

Which brings me back to why I do this — it makes me feel great. I don’t want to shove this vegan thing down anyone’s throat or get preachy, which I’ve found to happen very easily and sometimes without me even realizing it. You tend to talk about things you’re excited about or something you’ve had success with, but with that eagerness to share your experience, you can easily start acting superior. THAT is what I’ve feared most. But now I’ve written this scary post and it actually wasn’t that bad. Bring on any comments or questions, just please don’t punch me in my soy-loving face or I might ugly-cry.

P.S. My favorite vegan recipe blog of the moment: The Vegan Stoner. The author makes these cutesy drawings of all the ingredients in the recipe and it’s just plain fun.

52 thoughts on “The Vegan Post – Why I chose it, why I enjoy it & why I still love you if you don’t.

  1. I love this post! As a vegetarian in the south who struggles to eat out or even with family, this really is motivating me to eat vegan more often. You don’t come across as preachy or obnoxious, just as happy and lovely as usual. :)

  2. Vegan Stoner is the best! Some of the recipes are so quick and easy. Though I always cheat and use real cheese instead of the vegan cheese.. so I guess that negates the vegan-ness. Oops :)

  3. i totally get it! i could live off of veggies..love em!
    not a big fan of meat anyhow!
    but being a dairy farmer/beef farmer’s wife..lol..i think i would get some meany stares!

  4. Good for you for coming out and being proud to admit what your diet has become. I’ve been vegetarian (occasional sea food though) for several years, including through my pregnancy, and so many people don’t understand how you can give it all up, let alone stick with it and birth then nurse a healthy baby. Believe it or not there are lots of healthy fats and proteins that don’t come from animals! Love this.

  5. Jane: Thank you! I’m glad. And I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be a vegetarian in the south, haha! My family is from Mississippi… I totally get it!

    Steph: Isn’t it awesome!? You were the first friend of mine to go vegetarian and I’ve always admired it. It really isn’t too bad!

    Michelle: I actually didn’t breastfeed for more than 3 weeks. =/ I’m not sure about what your baby needs at that critical time, but now I’m interested and will check into it!

    Tristan: haha! I bet the looks you’d get would be pretty hilarious!

  6. Hi Morgan – Just saw your comment on my Hunger Games post, what a great post about the whole vegan thing! I’m so glad you wrote it – we definitely need people like you to write and talk about it in this non-threatening way so people don’t think we’re all weirdos.

    That’s so awesome your whole family was on board in getting healthy with you, congrats.

    Luckily I didn’t get too much grief for being vegan while pregnant – I was vegan before, during, and after, and am still breastfeeding at 7 mos., have had no problems, and my girl is completly healthy and actually huge for her age…

  7. Congrats on going vegan and loving it!!
    I grew up eating meat, then went veggie and off and on vegan the last two years..dropped 10 lbs right away!
    Lately I’ve been eating meat again and dairy but I don’t feel good doing it (health wise..i think dairy makes me asthma worse..plus I gained that weight back) so I want to give veganism another try.
    Your post encourages me to do so…I want to take the plunge again! I’m sure I’ll feel fabulous!

  8. Hey Morgan! I think this is a great post. I love your enthusiasm and your approach to this lifestyle makes it very inviting. I am inspired….like, truly. I hope I can continue to learn more from you because I want to be healthier and feel great too. Thanks for writing this. I don’t think you’re a scary Vegan at all!! =)

  9. Congrats on losing the weight! You make it sound so easy. I’ve been interested in becoming a pescatarian. I would try becoming a vegetarian but there’s one little problem.. I hate vegetables lol. Do you plan on sharing any recipes? Also, did your weight loss stem mostly from your change in eating habits or did you also exercise?

  10. I think its awesome. This summer, I did a cleanse where I was essentially vegan (with also no sugar, gluten, alcohol, or caffiene) and I lost 20 lbs when I used that to kick start eating healthy. I fell off that way a few weeks ago and have been feeling like crap again. I need to go back. Its so true…it really does make you feel better (well, the no meat/dairy/processed sugars and gluten, for me!)

  11. My family was vegetarian for quite awhile when I was growing up and only started eating meat again when I started dating the hubs. (Meat eating monster!) I honestly felt waaay better then. We have recently changed to eating much less meat than usual and its awesome. I love that you wrote about it. I didn’t know that total vegan could be so satisfying!

  12. First of all, congrats on your weight loss and that’s awesome you were able to go vegan.. I wish I had the motivation to do that! When I first read this though, I remember hearing a lot over the past year the dangers of soy (in relation to estrogen in the body) and was wondering your thoughts on it? Again, congrats on getting healthy.. so jealous!!

  13. this is a great post and you have a great, inspiring story. I’m really considering making a drastic change to my diet because my skin and energy level need some improvement.

  14. YAY! I’ve been wondering if you still do this. :)

    I am not strong enough to go vegan. I am a ‘cheegan’ – a cheese-eating vegan. ;) I tried being vegan for Lent, once, but I found I was eating too many fake foods, which I don’t like.

    As far as people thinking that vegans (or vegetarians) are snotty/high maintenance, I honestly think it’s more the person feeling insecure or defensive about their choices when confronting a person who has made such a (seemingly) radical decision. I have rarely (never?) actually met an annoying, in-your-face veg*n, but I’ve received plenty of crap (People Eating Tasty Animals, anyone? ;)).

    Rock on, Morgan!

  15. I like my meat, but I very much admire that you are doing what you are doing and sticking to it! I think that you don’t even really owe anyone an explanation so don’t feel bad if people make you feel that way. You’re awesome!
    P.S…. I read your blog in the morning with my breakfast and your posts make me laugh and choke on my cereal. You may kill me, Morgan.. you just may.

  16. Thanks for posting. I’ll have to check that book out. I started to eat vegan a year befor having a baby. After the baby I ate whatever was easy and available. Lots of non vegan food. Now I cook vegan but everything is fair game when we’re out. I would eventually like to return to a vegan diet. I felt great.

    Nice that so many family members were on board. Nice to have the support.

  17. Frugal Vegan Mom: Thanks for stopping by after I left that creepy stalker comment on your post, haha! It’s good to know that you had no problems during the pregnancy (if we decide to have any more kids) and that you’ve had such success overall.

    Aimee: No doubt you will feel fabulous! Good luck! You’re an old pro so you shouldn’t have any problems. :)

    Eileen: Thanks so much for that comment, sweet friend! I’m so glad the post was encouraging for you. If you have any questions, we can always meet up for coffee or dinner again. I’d love that!

    Diddy Bop: HA! Not liking veggies would pose quite a challenge, but it’s still doable! I’m actually planning on starting up a separate blog to document all our recipes and weight loss. You should see my mom’s before and after photos… NUTS! In the mean time, feel free to email me any questions or give me a list of normal foods you enjoy and I’ll try to give you some options. Pizzas, burritos, casseroles, soups… there’s a lot out there. Also, yes, exercise played a big role in the weight loss. I’ve been pretty consistent in my Zumba classes & bike riding 3-4 times a week. Nothing too crazy. :)

    Karri: Wow, 20 pounds is awesome! The sugar does make a huge difference. That’s something I didn’t mention in the post, but cutting that out helped a ton. Good for you cutting out so much and making it through that cleanse. I was just talking to my sister in law about how she would handle going vegan while still being gluten-free. It’s possible, but you just have to get a little creative, right?

    molly: The meat-eating husband is the toughest part for me too! I just keep sneaking him more and more veggies. :) I didn’t know you grew up vegetarian!

    Jennifer: Very smart. :) I’ve read a little about the estrogen/breast cancer-soy relationship and just try to stay away from it unless I have no other non-dairy option. I don’t know if they’ve proven anything either way, but it’s kind of a ‘better safe than sorry’ thing for me. Also, “My almond milk-loving face” just didn’t have the same ring to it, lol.

  18. I’m so inspired! The husband and I have been trying to be healthier…we call it a “diet” but really it’s a lifestyle change. I do need to lose weight, but mostly I want to feel better. I’ve given up a lot of things and it wasn’t too hard (surprisingly) but then I cheated a little one weekend and it was soooo hard to get back on the wagon, and now I am craving things like crazy! Aren’t there certain foods you just really miss??

  19. Sarcasm Goddess: TOTALLY. I find that when I have things I’m not supposed to have, I just start craving them even more (like you said). That’s when the vegan junk food recipes come in handy. ;) Good for you and your husband for making a healthy lifestyle change! When I started thinking of it that way and focused more on feeling better, I had better results than when I was just trying to eat to lose weight. It’s funny how that happens!

  20. First, thanks for the shout out.

    Secondly, I think that diet is so personal. SO PERSONAL. I think you have to do whatever it is that works for you. It sounds like being a vegan is working, and that is what’s most important.

  21. diets never work because the changes need to be a lifestyle change and its great to see that you’ve been able to make that change and feel good about it long term. while the vegan thing isn’t for us (because OMG i wouldn’t be able to afford to keep my husband fed!), i’m glad its worked for you!

  22. I am so glad that you wrote this post. It was inspiring. It’s nice to see people openly talk about their health choices. :) Love your blog. :)

  23. You have such a great attitude about this! I’ve thought about it before, but I’m not sure I could commit to never eating meat again. I have cut back, however.

  24. question: are your children eating vegan as well? I struggle with making diet changes because Im not sure how to incorporate it with my girls and how it works especially with young children who seem to be encouraged to heavily drink dairy at age one

  25. Love this post!

    I’m not vegan, but I make a great effort to reduce my meat eating and to consume whole foods (I eat one serving of fish/turkey/chicken a day; I haven’t been able to completely eliminate it because of the husband, haha). Anyway, I totally agree with what you’re saying: the food we eat is a choice and when you’re excited about feeling great, it is hard to not tell everyone about it. It can be hard in certain situations (ex – at work when they order in pizzas for lunch and I tell them politely I don’t want any. WHAT?!?! We have cheese pizza; you don’t have to have toppings! Um…that isn’t the point. I like toppings. I just don’t want greasy pizza because it makes me feel terrible the rest of the day), but in the end I don’t feel guilty about it because I know that I feel better because of the choices I make!

    So glad to hear you’re having success! :)

  26. I’ve been toying with this same idea for health reasons too. Not sure if I can completely give up dairy but I am willing to try and like you said “treat” myself every once in a while… which works since I am a cake decorator and how can you trust a chef that doesn’t eat their own food? My favorite blog for vegan and gluten free recipes is http://www.ohsheglows.com. Angela is amazing! good luck! :)

  27. Sooo… I’m glad you wrote this. I recently watched Fork Over Knives and I have really been considering a vegan diet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time…. :)

  28. My husband aka my personal chef (lucky me), loves cooking vegan/vegetarian. Lately he’s been on an Asian food kick. We live near china town and my hubby goes there and finds amazing tofu and soy based items and some crazy looking vegetables too lol. There is a fo smoked ham which is delish! Even the texture is right not like tofu. I, like you, love dairy but i stopped because my son is sensitive to it while I was nursing. But now I am 15 lbs lighter then my pre-preggo weight. We are not strictly vegetarian but we make a considerable effort to eat healthy, more greens, veggies and protein, cutting out heavy meats for the most part and fried food. Never felt better. Keep it up mama!

    One question though, don’t you ever crave a burger? What do you do? Sometimes I just need that, IDK maybe it’s just me.

  29. *sigh* I’m trying to decide if this was divinely posted for me, lol! I’m at my highest weight ever, about 130 pounds overweight, and miserable. But I must have missed the line to pick up self-discipline because I have NONE. As I type this I just changed into my one pair of non-elastic-waist-pants that fit. I admit that I want to try the eating plan you did/are doing, but I’m scared! Does your hubs and kiddo eat the same as you? Or do you make them non-vegan versions of what you’re eating? or? My other concern is the costs of the vegan foods. We live in a very rural area and the only place we have to buy food is a super-walmart (not kidding). Any encouragement you could offer would be greatly appreciated :) I’ll quit rambling now ;)

  30. Being Vegan means you don’t consume any animal products, and that’s not only food! It’s also clothes and other every day products.

  31. way to go!! I have started eating whole foods only and I feel fantastic! It baffles me how I got so off track. And like you said, its not a diet, its a lifestyle. Great post!

  32. Hi

    I really admire you for doing this, but a vegan diet can deplete your body of important nutrients. I recommend you read Protein Power by Dr. Eades and The vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. I can’t recommend them enough.

  33. There is an awesome Raw Foods coach in Fresno named Judy Nelson. Let me know if you want to find out more – her group was a huge help to me in 2008 when I was sick. She is vegan, too.

  34. Also the rice cheese they sell at Von’s/Safeway (I got it at Kings Canyon and Clovis) is really good – it melts great and you can’t tell any difference. I use it and so does my husband, even though he’s a meat eater.

  35. I’ve just started reading the book. And I hear a lot about the six-week plan, but not much about after the six weeks. After you complete the six weeks, then what? How did you know what to add back? You mentioned you added back a few things…. was coffee one of them??? :)

  36. Felicia: I’m reading it right now, actually! I like it so far… a lot of great info!

    Lily: How awesome to have your own chef! And congratulations on the weight loss/health changes. As far as the burger cravings go, I had them a lot more at the beginning. I’ve never been a real meat eater, so giving that up has been easier than say, THE CHEESE.

    Amy F: I see the dilemma with the area you live in. I do remember watching the documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (GREAT, btw), and one of the men who went on a juice fast was able to buy all his produce from Walmart. It worked out to be $14/day for him, but he was juicing which requires a LOT more fruits/veggies than you would need to eat in a day. I’m not sure about the one near you though! I live in California’s central valley, so it’s very easy to access fresh produce and the cost is pretty low. I’m lucky in that sense. As far as Justin and Madeline go, they are eating healthier, but haven’t cut out all meat/dairy. When I do make vegan versions of normal staples (pizza, for example), they usually can’t tell the difference. :) Shoot me an email if you have any other questions!

    Lucy: Yes, that’s true. As I said in the post, I’m just eating this way for the health benefits. :)

    Vicki: Thanks! My mom and I have been getting more into raw lately and we love it. I’ll have to look up Judy. And the rice shreds are my favorite too!

    Meghan: That’s great! I’m so excited for you!

    MiMi: The book talks more about what you can add back into your diet later on, but it basically allows you a small amount of animal products per week (the specific amount is escaping me at the moment…), as well as cooking with oil, the use of salt and foods high in ‘good fat’, like avocados. The six week plan is basically a low fat vegan diet, whereas now, I don’t worry about the fat at all. It’s nice, really! I eat as many beans and avocados as I want now. :) And yes, I still drink my coffee. I don’t load it up with sugar like I used to though.

  37. Great blog and loved your article on being vegan. I am always working on ways to improve my health and always appreciate a post that does too.

  38. Hey Morgan –

    I didn’t read all your comments so if this is a question you already answered, SORRY! I am intrigued by this Eat to Live Diet so I skipped over to the website for more information. Curious what your vitamin routine looks like and where you’re getting them from (if not from the Eat to Live website?)

  39. Good for you Morgan! But I have to ask… where on earth did 50 lbs come from on you? Either way, the fact that you feel great is all that matters.

    Veganism/Vegetarianism always seems so appealing to me, but then I think about giving up cheese and sour cream and all of those other dairy products and I change my mind. Did you crave those things a lot when you made the switch? And do you still?

    I’m going to check out the vegan blog right now!

  40. I love that you’re vegan now! I already followed the blog thinking we had quite a bit in common and now ever more-so. Keep up the great work!

  41. So do we get to see before and after pictures? I went and bought the book and I am scared about how much sense it makes to me. I am going to read the entire thing before I jump onto the band wagon though. Want to know as much as possible about it, so that I don’t fail miserably in a carton of ice cream.

  42. Thank you so much for writing!

    You know how when, like, your kids want cookies for breakfast, and you won’t let them because you love them and you know something they don’t about what’s good for them? They get mad at you, but you don’t care because you love them. Or sometimes a friend will be in a bad relationship (or have food in her teeth :) and it takes a true friend to speak the truth about the situation? In these situations we recognize that honesty comes from a place of love.

    I kinda feel the same way about your (and others’) veganism. When you can speak up, even though your voice shakes, about something that can help someone, you are expressing love and respect. People may respond with defensiveness and irritation, but that doesn’t make you wrong. It takes serious integrity to do what’s right by someone even if they don’t appreciate it (at first). So much like being a momma, huh?

    So I’m kinda mad at you for not saying something sooner, and for being so apologetic about sharing information that could help!! Own your decisions, girl. And don’t apologize for speaking the truth!

  43. How am I just seein this?! I feel like a bad friend… Also thanks for linking me (though I’ve been considering deleting my blog). I’m really inspired by reading this and I want to start eating better rightnowthissecond!!!

  44. ok… so you had me hooked at the lost 50 pounds part ;) you look awesome! i’m pregnant now with my second and am already planning on how to get the pounds off post-pregnancy! my question for you is… have you found it to be expensive going vegan? that’s what i’m concerned about… we have a grocery budget and i’m afraid it would explode if we made this change! let me know what you have experienced… thanks!! :)

  45. Write more on this. I bought “Eat to Live” and am on Day 12. I’ve lost 6 lbs so far. But have started to “cheat” with coffee and sugar. I need more motivation and recipes. Can you share your “Go To” recipe for a great lunch or dinner. Maybe give us a sample grocery list.

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