A few months ago my best friend suggested going vegan for a month. My eating habits lean towards clean vegetarian most of the time so I figured it wouldn’t be that hard. Boy was I wrong!
As someone who makes ethical food choices and avoids restricting food (unless there is a physical reason to do so), restricting my food to this level has been more of a mental challenge than a physical one. Even with my busy and active schedule, my energy levels have been fine and I haven’t found any issues recovering from my activities. I also haven’t noticed a change in my mental capacity; what has changed though is my desire for foods I don’t normally eat!
Prior to starting this experiment, I don’t remember the last time I ate cheese; since starting this month of veganism, my brain has told me every day that I want cheese. Thankfully, these aren’t physical cravings (like I sometimes get for DQ Blizzards), but just the fact that “I can’t” means that “I want”.
This experiment is teaching me that, just like when we were children and someone told us we weren’t allowed to do something, when we put restrictions on ourselves, all we want is what has been restricted.
My overall philosophy on food is to eat good, healthy food that is enjoyable, but don’t deamonize “treat” foods.
If you don’t find healthy foods enjoyable, begin by making small transitions, not massive overhauls; and avoid labelling foods as “bad”. When we set strict rules, deprivation follows; and deprivation leads to binging on what has been placed off limits.
If I’m trying to adjust a recipe to make it healthier, I start by substituting one ingredient; if that works, I’ll try substituting two ingredients the next time. This can be done with a recipe, a snack, a meal, a day, a week…wherever you start is perfectly wonderful! It’s all about starting the journey to a life-long, sustainable change.
As for me, I will continue this experiment until February 6. After that I will be back to my normal food habits: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” (Michael Pollen); “I’m a human, I eat food” (Alannah). When I do eat meat, I try to select healthy, local, organic/wild meat. And I will do my best not to binge on everything I currently “want” because I know I actually only want it because I “can’t” have it.