Why did I go veg?

Recently I was selected, along with 11 other food and nutrition folks, to be a Featured Health Editor for FoodBuzz’ new sub-division, HealthBuzz. HealthBuzz is your go-to-guide for healthy living from Foodbuzz partner bloggers. 12 credentialed Featured Editors and over 200 specialized Contributing Editors curate their latest and greatest posts on Diet & Nutrition, Recipes, Specialty Diet, and Fitness. Each month, one Featured Editor takes over a topic, from kids’ nutrition to healthy snacking. July is my month and my topic is a familiar one: vegan diets. Over the month of July, I’ll be writing some informative and hopefully educational posts on vegan and vegetarian diets. To start off, I thought I’d share my story of going veg almost six years ago. Stay tuned for some posts about getting enough protein in your veg diet, foods that seem vegan (but aren’t), and some vegan meal and snack ideas.

Five years ago I switched cold-turkey (pun intended!) from a meat-eating to a vegan diet, literally overnight. I found it opened my palate to so many new foods and flavors and it was a time in my life when I really started learning about food, cooking, flavors, and the health benefits of plant-based meals. Sure I had just spent the last four years studying nutrition and getting my Registered Dietitian credentials, but this new way of eating really opened my eyes…and mouth. I adopted a veg diet primarily for health reasons and a good challenge, and it was an experiment I wound up sticking with. But I actually found it to be a simple swap for me since I already was a big fan of fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains, and since I was lactose intolerant, I didn’t do dairy anyway! Experimenting with new vegan recipes really got me cooking in the kitchen, too. I always liked cooking, but now I love it. It is such a fun creative outlet for me.

When people ask me why I chose to go veg, I tell them it’s because I feel better eating this way, and I love how it has expanded my food and health knowledge. I will never tell them why I don’t eat animal products but rather why I do eat plant-based. As a Dietitian, I counsel meat-eaters, flexitarians and everyone in between, and keep an open mind – personally and professionally – about all ways of eating. So instead of focusing on why one might not eat meat, I focus on the benefits of eating more plant-based foods.

I also try to stay away from using the word vegan as much as possible, for a few reasons. I have nothing against the V word, but for starters I really can’t say I’m ever 100% vegan – I will eat birthday cake at a celebration if someone made it with eggs and butter (but won’t use either if I make it myself), yes I have had pizza in the past six years, and Funk just loves those soy nuggets that have egg in them so they have a place in our freezer. I cook and bake vegan, but I can’t (and don’t want to) give up the occasional sushi dinner. I also don’t think I need to label the way I eat. I eat foods that make me feel good. They just happen to mostly be plant based and void of animal products for the most part. I just eat. And I love to educate people by telling them what I do eat, instead of what I don’t.

10 Comments

  1. Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your story, Janel! As a dietitian, my story is very similar. The more creative I got in the kitchen and the more I learned about nutrition, I found myself cooking up yummy veggies dishes. Looking forward to working with you on Healthbuzz and trying some of your veggie recipes!

  2. Janel
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Trish! And right back at you. Last night’s HealthBuzz chat was so fun!

  3. Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Great post! And I love your focus on telling what you “do” eat rather than what you “don’t”. Such a great way of looking at it. I’m still working on my family and trying to do more plant based meals throughout the week – somehow my RD credentials don’t carry much weight around the house! 😉

  4. Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I’m so excited for your month! I love that you say what you DO eat, not what you DON’T eat. I’m not a vegan, or vegetarian, but I’m all about fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc, etc so can’t wait for some new recipes!

  5. Janel
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Emily! I’m excited to have this HealthBuzz month!

  6. Posted July 6, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    I love the way you don’t tell people why you don’t eat meat. I state to folks that I am vegan-friendly. I still have to try meat products because I am a professional Chef. I cook vegan at home.
    Like you it has opened me up to a world of flavors, colors, and excitement in my diet. Vegan potato Salad from yesterday rocked!
    Thanks for posting, I’m looking forward to more from you.

  7. Tinka
    Posted July 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I have the exact same thoughts with using the term vegan. We are only human after all and I’d rather enjoy birthday cake then segregate myself because of the rules of veganism.

    Thankyou

  8. Posted July 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I love your food philosophy and I’m practicing a similar approach with my cooking/eating practices and the “v” word. 🙂

  9. Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Great blog. I feel you sould stick with the ‘Veg Friendly’ image on all matters you write about as a new authority on this subject since some of your food is not even vegetarian-much less vegan- i.e. Sushi. Best of luck on HealthBuzz-I look forward to hearing about your journey~

  10. Janel
    Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comment Sonja! My blog is not a vegan blog, nor do I follow a 100% vegan diet 100% of the time (as I mentioned in the post) which is why you’ve seen a sushi post, and lots of cheese from my Italy posts! However I prefer a majority plant-based diet and love sharing recipes about it. With HealthBuzz I was chosen for the vegan month because I do have the knowledge about vegan diets to share, and I hope you find my information helpful!

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  1. […] I know I promote a primarily plant based diet, and haven’t had a bite of chicken, beef, or any other animal with legs in almost 6 years, nor do […]

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