Plant-Based Transition FAQ #2: Was it hard?

After a long hiatus, you are reading part 2 of the series I started on my transition to a plant-based diet! Brief refresher: the first part of the series covered why I transitioned, and now I’m going to answer another common question I get- was it hard?

In terms of being expensive or accessible- most people have this misconception that all of a sudden, I could only shop at Whole Foods and eat at exclusively vegan restaurants-- not the case. After deciding to go plant-based, my mom continued to joke that I was “made in Kroger,” because of my frequent trips to scope out “10 for $10 deals” on Larabars and Silk yogurt. Plus, despite that people are soooo sleep on Atlanta’s vegan restaurant scene, I could definitely still find things to eat at my favorite “omni” restaurants like Desta’s or Thai Restaurant of Norcross.

It also helped that one of my greatest friends, Rahkeen, had been vegan for years. He went out of his way to bring me different treats and cooking essentials like coconut oil, vegan kimchi, and goji berries. 

I actually began cooking and baking more than ever- and found a love for it. My pseudo-sister Nhi watched Cowspiracy with me, so we began the plant-based transition together- using some of Rahkeen’s gifts to whip up vegan deliciousness. Whether on my own, with Nhi, Rahkeen, or my actual sister Nancy- we chef’d up meat & dairy-free versions mushroom Alfredo, cheesecakes, key lime pies, cornbread, stir-fries, Mac n cheese, lasagna, cinnamon rolls, lotsa stews and chilis, and my pretty popular banana bread.

I will admit though, being plant-based was and still is a test of patience and conviction for me.

These are some of the things I hear most often and the responses I have (in my head…when I’m feeling sassy). 

Plant Based Pet Peeves

  • "There’s no way you can survive like that!”
    • So... I guess we’re going to ignore the lives of people and entire cultures that never have/will choose to eat meat. 
  • "You can’t eat anything!”
    • Given that I have no allergies, I can eat about anything anyone else can- I just don’t want to eat meat.
  • "I can’t eat that; it’s vegetarian."
    • Plant-based diets are just about as inclusive as it gets.
  • "Man I couldn’t do it." 
    • Most people just don't want to do it. Very few people who've said this to me have actually tried or got a doctor's note saying they're protein deficient.

The hardest part was probably family outings, or even at home. It wasn’t hard to turn down the food itself. However, the frequent guilt-trips with people insisting that I eat meat to be part of the family- despite knowing that I’ve made a decision that makes me happy, was unpleasant.

This definitely gets better with time, as my momma eventually started whipping up animal-free goodness like this veggie stir-fry.

All in all, I’ve found that a plant-based diet is typically cheaper than an omnivorous one and I can still enjoy several options eating out. On top of that, I have and incredible support system, and try to stay aware of my nutritional needs. At this rate, I’m happy and don’t see myself reverting back from being plant-based. 

Plant-Based at Baseball Games

Thought vegans couldn't take part in some of the greatest "joys" of baseball games? That is, biting into a warm and salty protein sandwiched between white bread and wrapped in foil on a hot summer day?

Well you thought wrong! Did y'all know the new SunTrust Stadium in Atlanta offers vegan hot dogs, sausages, and burgers?

I didn't!

That's why when my brother and I came to watch the Atlanta Braves play the New York Mets at the new SunTrust Stadium, I was extra by some standards, and brought this incredible "Mandingo Style" Yoshi Wrap from Tassili's Raw Reality.

If I had given the stadium more credit and checked out the Stadium menu beforehand, I would've seen that there are a solid number of vegetarian options that will make plant-based fans feel just as "All-American" as the next- with hot dogs, sausages, and burgers that has confirmed as vegan!

PETA put together a handy list of Plant-based Friendly Ballparks. Don't worry if your city isn't included. Atlanta's SunTrust Park may have been too new to be on the radar at the time, so my hometown wasn't included either. While I don't regret the fresh deliciousness that was my veggie burrito- my fellow fans weren't fond of the seaweed wrap. At the end of the day, I will do me and you should do you. If you're not a fan of processed foods anyway- many ballparks let you bring in your own food! Otherwise- check your local stadium's menu to see if they also have plant-based versions of the classics.

My brother and I being derpy on the bus-ride to the park.

My brother and I being derpy on the bus-ride to the park.

Plant-Based Transition FAQ #1: Why I Became Plant-based.

While I try not to be obnoxious about my plant-based diet by unnecessarily proclaiming it every time I sit down at a dining table, people eventually notice that I always choose the vegan option, and 3 common questions ensue:

  1. Why?
  2. Was it hard?
  3. Do you feel better?

In this post I'll cover:

1. Why?

Short Answer:

Too many documentaries

Long Answer:

In high school, a friend sent me a short viral video called the Hidden Face of Food (WARNING: the video is graphic and gruesome). I told my mom that my little teenage heart could not take the guilt after learning about animal cruelty, and that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. 

Her reply: You will eat what I cook.

Fair response at the time for a single mom raising 2 kids working 70+ hour weeks and trying to maintain her sanity. And hey, mom’s cooking is 🔥, so I got over it.

In college dining halls, I had a new flexibility to choose what I ate. Emory University had great options for vegans and vegetarians in my opinion, with a whole section of the cafe dedicated to plant-based meals. 

That’s not where I gravitated initially though. My Freshman year, I ate everything in sight.

Gradually, red meat started losing its appeal, and I got pretty tired of grilled chicken. So, I owned the “pescatarian” title for a while. It was a sweet spot for me, because while my meals were plant-based, I felt like I had options when eating out, and still enjoyed a lot of my mom’s cooking.

After college, the documentary that did it for me was Cowspiracy. After making delicious and muy cheesy zucchini noodles, my friend Nhi and I took the next proper step in a sleepover, which was choosing a movie on Netflix. 

Cowspriracy came up as one of the top Netflix films, so we watched. 

Throughout the process of becoming more “woke” in college, I learned a fair share about institutionalized structures of oppression, and the ways in which I as an individual could inform others about/fight those structures while advocating for marginalized communities. 

This movie reminded me that very similar structures surround food! I hadn’t realized growing up that Got Milk advertisements, public school food options- even the supposedly one-size-fits-all food pyramid didn’t necessarily have my health as a primary concern. 

I identify as a fairly gullible person, and I am working on it; but It tripped me out how much of my life, and the lives of so many people have been shaped by motives that are not as simple as I thought they should be when making large public health decisions. I thought the motive was always as straight forward as: optimizing people's wellbeing to live healthier and happier.

Cowspiracy explores how the interplay of government, nonprofits, and the private sector can, and have resulted in deviations from that motive. I also watched Forks Over Knives, Fed Up, and Soul Food Junkies- all of which I recommend, and which confirmed for me that I wanted to set upon a fully plant-based diet aka vegan, although I do have honey occasionally.

In my next posts, I’ll cover two more common FAQ’s:

  • Do you feel better?
  • Was it hard?

Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!