Choosing a Vegan Diet
January 10th, 2017 by Ariane Bilodeau
I’ve always been an animal lover. That’s why I don’t contribute to animal exploitation through my life choices and consumer habits. But I wasn’t born vegan, or even vegetarian. I was born into a family who thought, like many others, that a healthy diet should contain a certain ratio of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Our diet was healthy, but not really veggie-friendly.
Starting a food blog with a vegan friend in 2013 encouraged me to include more and more vegetable protein in my diet and opened up a whole new world of culinary possibilities for me. Nut cheese, sprouted/fermented foods, cassava, chlorophyll, amaranth, agar, nutritional yeast… so many delightful discoveries in so little time! I didn’t want to call myself as a vegetarian, but over time my grocery basket contained less and less animal products. Ultimately, volunteering for a farm animal sanctuary in Ontario made me realize that I could not call myself an “animal lover” while still consuming animal products – I was simply unable to live with this contradiction anymore. The transition went very smoothly for about a year. I gradually learned what being vegan meant and implied, without putting any pressure on myself, and I was starting to question and change my consumer habits. Slowly but steadily, I became a vegan.
In my day-to-day life, things are not more complicated than they ever were. My habits have changed, indeed, but I’m doing what I’ve always done: planning meals and making well-rounded grocery lists, cooking with seasonal/local ingredients, avoiding gluten and processed foods. I simply replaced animal protein with plant protein. The plant-based world is filled with protein – many people know that we can find some in legumes, tofu, tempeh (a tasty bloc of fermented soy beans) and nuts, but many ignore that various grains, oilseeds and veggies are also great sources of protein, on top of being packed with other nutrients and vitamins. I’m not spending time calculating my protein intake and trying to consume all essential amino acids to create complete proteins every time I chew on something. As a matter of fact, the myth on “incomplete” plant-based protein was busted by a few recent studies, which concluded that protein-combining at every meal is not necessary. Therefore, my approach is fairly simple: I strive for variety in every meal I make, and in my diet as a whole. When I eat buckwheat porridge in the morning, a bit of tofu and veggie stir fry for lunch, and a rice and bean burrito for dinner (with tasty and healthy snacks, such as fruits and nuts, in between), I’m confident that I’m getting enough protein and nutrients. And my blood test results confirmed it over and over! Every week, I take B12 supplements (an essential vitamin that is not naturally present in most plant foods), but even then – I was taking some to correct a deficiency even when I was still eating meat! I’m not overloading my stomach with as much heavy and acidic food, which helped me regain an energy level I thought was long gone. My weight is stable, and I rarely get sick.
In a nutshell, I feel better than ever and I would not go back to my previous diet for anything in the world. The plant-based diet is full of colours, flavours and possibilities… and I have just begun to scratch the surface! My second veganiversary is coming up – to celebrate, I plans on cuddling with my cats while sipping on a hot cup of tea, as simple as that.
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 1 tbsp. matcha powder
- 1 tsp. liquid chlorophyll
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- Agave or maple syrup (to taste)
PHOTO CREDIT: SAME RAVENELLE