Becoming Vegan: 8 Things I Didn’t Expect

March 9, 2020

Posted in  Eating, Funemployment, Lifestyle, Wellness

I became vegan in August’19, primarily for reasons around health and values.

Health-wise I don’t digest eggs or dairy well, and values-wise, I’ve made the choice to live with the least amount of harm and waste possible.

Going vegan (ie, not consuming animal products such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fish sauce) was very much in line with both of these.

Right now I’m 80% vegan, a conscious choice which has allowed me room to:

  • Have occasional non-vegan meals with loved ones, like on birthdays
  • Indulge in dorayakis (very important) and
  • Not go hungry in situations where there are no vegan options

Nonetheless, going vegan didn’t happen overnight.

Despite extensive research to ensure I was making the change from omnivore to vegan in a healthy, mindful way, there were still a few things that surprised me.

These were 8 things I didn’t expect from becoming vegan:

The Good:

1. Smelling Better

Whether that’s morning breath or after a long day out and about, I generally smell better.

Okay so disclaimer: I haven’t asked my partner if he agrees on this one…

2. Weight Melting Off — And Staying Off

I don’t attribute going vegan entirely to this as I also exercise regularly and snack less, but it’s definitely helped.

Compared to when I was doing personal training with UP Fitness (where my diet was omnivore and controlled), weight melted off sooner.

And more importantly, when I’m not exercising, the weight doesn’t pile on as quickly nor as dramatically.

Without much effort, I stay around 55 to 57kg even after indulgent holidays, while previously I was rarely under 57kg and would easily go into 60s.

Weight isn’t the only measure of health of course, but it’s an easy one to illustrate this point.

Being vegan has introduced a very bearable lightness of being.

Indulged in this beautiful vegan meal at Narisawa in Tokyo!

3. Easier Cooking Clean Ups

Because I’m handling just veggies and not raw meats, cleaning up when home cooking is so much easier.

One knife (and board) to chop them all!!!

YAAS!!! #LazyCook1990

Also, I’ve been surprised by how much my love for curries has grown.

Amazingly tasty one pot cooking for the win! #SuperLazyCook1990

The Bad:

4. The Fatigue

I was surprised at how tired I was the first three months of being fully vegan.

A blood test in January confirmed my suspicions of having low iron and B12, common issues which any “problems with going vegan” google search will inform you extensively about.

As a teenager I frequently had low iron levels and so was quite familiar with the symptoms.

I’ve since gotten my energy levels back up by educating myself on plant-based sources of iron, making daily green smoothies and also taking B12 supplements.

I would highly encourage anyone to have a blood test done after 3 months of going vegan to have security that you’re in optimal health.

The Difficult:

5. Lower Standards in Taste

I’ve been very frustrated by how often the “vegan option” is an after-thought at most places when I eat out here.

It’s cool having a vegan option but if you’re going to put it on the menu, at least make sure it’s as decent as the rest of your food.

Okay, so maybe at non-specialty places, that’s to be expected.

But I find that even at vegan-only restaurants, the food is often disappointing.

It’s almost as if there’s an unspoken “well, it’s vegan, you can’t expect it to be as good“.

(No one uses that as a slogan on the menu of course)

After visiting tens of the “top” restaurants in Singapore for vegan eats and 99% of the time walking away unimpressed, it’s no wonder so many people think being vegan means depravation.

… 6. and Hence How Much Time I Would Invest in Cooking.

I call point 5 out as BS.

Being vegan should not mean compromising on the pleasure and enjoyment of food to align with my values.

But rather than just complain about it, I’ve decided to take up cooking classes and make my own food the way it should be instead.

It hasn’t been easy.

I’ve never been much of a chef save for the occasional toastie, but it’s been fun!

That said, not all vegan restaurants here are rubbish.

I did have genuinely enjoyable meals at Cure and Chef’s Table, both of which have menus for non-vegan and vegans.

And if you have other recommendations, please share! 🙂

Daikon can be a ‘Radishing Beauty’ when treated right.

7. The Amount of Education

There was a lot to learn about being vegan.

  • How to make healthy, balanced meals
  • Researching eating out options
  • Ingredients to look out for
  • Supplementing – yes or no
  • Symptoms of deficiencies

And so on.

Empowering myself with knowledge about nutrition was something I only went into deeply when embarking on a non-mainstream diet.

Frankly speaking though, this should be something to do on any diet.

No one eats well ‘by accident’ these days, with the majority of convenient food being laden with yuck, vegan or otherwise.

The Easy:

8. How Quickly Cravings Disappeared

I thought I would miss meat to be honest.

The smell of fried chicken used to be one my favourite things, but now I’m just like: Can’t-tucky that fried chicken.

After a month or so, the cravings just… went away.

Mac’s nuggets don’t make my mouth water like they used to anymore. #It’sMeNotYou

It was pretty interesting how quickly I adapted!

After 2 years of moving towards veganism, it’s still a constant learning process.

My journey started 2 years ago and hasn’t been at all linear.

It went something like this….

  • First I chose vegetarian options (ie, plant-based plus eggs and dairy) at 3 meals a week
  • To 1 vegetarian meal a day
  • Then fully vegetarian
  • Back to omnivore
  • Vegetarian again
  • Omnivore without red meats
  • Fully vegan in August 2019
  • and now settling around 80% vegan.

It’s been effortful but worth it.

I’m a lot happier now that my relationship with food is in closer alignment with my values.

However you eat, I hope you’re happy too 🙂

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to chat about trying out going vegan!

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I can’t promise anything life-changing, but I can promise lols, bad puns and honesty.

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