Hi Healthy Ashley readers! I’m excited to be guest posting while Ashley is off cruising with her boy—they both deserve the break! My name is Ryan and I’m the girl behind Greens for Good, a blog about healthy living through a vegan-based diet. If you’ve been following Ashley for awhile you know that it was a lunch with me that got her to try veganism back in July, and I couldn’t be happier for her and the positives it has brought to her life! I do want to clarify that I’m not some mind-changing, lifestyle-advocating, wonder woman who goes around preaching veganism to people. I guess I tend to lead by example, keep my mouth shut about it for the most part, and if people are interested and ask questions, I answer them. Ashley happened to be very interested and if nothing else, I was enthusiastic about veganism toward her because I LOVE THIS LIFESTYLE!
Do I think veganism is for everyone? Well, there is no “yes” or “no” answer. I will tell you that I think everyone could certainly benefit from a vegan-based diet (if done correctly), but I’ve never thought this was something I could push on to other people. I think it’s only a diet that is going to work for someone who wants it and knows why he or she wants it.
I have these opinions for very specific reasons. A year ago I would have never thought someone could love a diet that is restrictive on what you can and can’t eat like veganism is. In fact, I hardly knew what veganism meant, let alone how it could be successfully implemented into my lifestyle. I wasn’t interested in veganism, I avoided vegan blogs, and, quite frankly, I would have gotten pretty defensive if you’d told me I had stomach issues because I was eating animal products. I did what I could to ignore something that was new or different from how I knew to lead my life. No one could have ever forced veganism on me and gotten me to like it by doing so. I know that for a fact. Instead, I had to be initially exposed to it, make my own inquiries, do my own research, and come up with my own mission statement, if you will, for why I wanted to change my lifestyle. It had to be my idea! But, aren’t most successful changes like this anyway?
My point is, I’m not here to push veganism on you. Instead, I want to discuss a sort of phenomenon I, and others I’ve spoken to, experienced when becoming vegan. It seems completely the opposite of what you would expect from a seemingly restrictive diet, but eating vegan has provided an overwhelming sense of freedom for me. It was amazing to me how declaring one way that I was choosing to eat could liberate me from having to make a decision between too many calories-this and too much fat-that. It completely streamlined my way of eating so that I could naturally make healthier decisions. I’ve eliminated much of the unhealthy stuff by default, so it actually is easier for me to make great food decisions now. That’s the first way I’ve felt liberated by veganism.
A second way is quite simple and it’s just that: simplicity. I get to avoid more than half of the grocery store! Do you know how freeing that is to not even have to consider looking at half of the grocery store? I love it! Instead I get to focus on all of the new fun food I’ve never seen or tried before. I’m also saving time and money.
A third way is feeling like I’ve entered an entire new world of things that are just waiting to be tried and discovered. I’ve tried more new foods in the last 6 months than I did in my entire life previous to that, and they all serve a purpose in fueling my body. How great is that? Simple, unprocessed foods for energy and life-sustenance. I’ve been discovering new ones left and right and it is so much fun! Because of this, I’ve never felt deprived. It’s actually always been quite the opposite. I think there are a superfluous amount of things waiting to be tried and I’ll probably never get to taste them all with the time I have!
A fourth way is that by becoming vegan, I’ve had to learn how to fuel my body nutritionally. I’ve had to learn what it needs to be efficient, not just what I can survive on like before. Because of this, I’ve realized there’s not some mysterious way of eating that only nutritionists or people who come up with fad diets understand. Nutrition is simple: eat a balanced diet with foods that make you feel great. Just knowing this makes life a lot easier. I don’t labor over counting calories or grams of protein or milligrams of calcium. If I eat the way I know I’m meant to eat, I don’t have to think or worry about those things. And that is freedom.
My fifth and final way that I will mention is just the declaration of being vegan itself. When it comes to eating vegan, there aren’t many grey areas. It’s either an animal product or it isn’t. I either choose to eat it or I don’t. In my head, there’s no in between because if there was, I’d always be finding an excuse to reason that one piece of cheese isn’t going to kill me or hurt the cow it came from. I have my set boundaries and I do not knowingly cross them. Not having to worry about the grey areas of a diet is definitely freedom!
None of this is meant to be an opinion of how I think you should or should not eat. This is how I personally view my vegan lifestyle and is also based on the liberating experiences other people have discussed with me. I know it seems like backwards thinking when you consider the restrictions vegans are faced with, but to me, veganism is freedom from the complicated world that now surrounds food.