What I Learned Being Vegan for 1 Year

It’s been about a year since I adopted a vegan lifestyle. In the beginning, it was challenging. However, once I got over that phase, it’s been a transformative experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Don’t worry, I won’t get all preachy about why you should turn vegan to and how that’s the solution to every problem on Earth. If you want my opinion, feel free to comment below and I would love to give you my thoughts.

In this post, however, I will just walk you through my experience of being a vegan for about a year now. Personally, for me, the experience has been mostly a pleasant and convenient one.

So, if you are on the fence about trying out a vegan lifestyle, and you want someone to talk you out of it, this is not the right post for you.

On the other hand, if you are someone who genuinely wants to go vegan, get a cup of coffee and read on. This post just might be the dose of positivity you need to get started on your vegan journey.

Why Did I Go Vegan?

I don’t really have a magic story about my introduction to veganism.

It was one of the more classic ones: go into a YouTube rabbit hole learning about factory farms, animal abuse, and the behind-the-scenes of the food industry.

From there on, I went ahead and educated myself on the topic. I read a few books, listened to a few podcasts, and read a few research papers on how veganism can heal someone’s body and the beautiful planet we live on.

Everything I learned, convinced me that this was a lifestyle worth pursuing. I went cold turkey and did a deep cleansing of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Since then, I have never looked back.

I will write another blog post in the future, outlining all the resources that helped me on my journey and going into more detail about how it started.

In this post, however, I will mostly detail the things I learned being a vegan. Spoiler alert: Most of it, if not all, has been tremendously positive.

You Look at Food and the World Differently

I never really stopped for a moment and thought about everything that had to happen the food I am eating arrived on my plate.

A lot goes on behind the scenes. When it comes to meat or dairy, a lot of those “behind-the-scenes” can be extremely cruel, to both animals and the environment.

Learning more and more about this, really changed the way I look at food. Of course, I still want my food to taste good. However, I don’t want that at the expense of exploitation, abuse, and cruelty.

I came across this quote somewhere in my research. I am sorry I cannot credit the source, but if you know please let me know. It’s something along the lines of:

Are your tastebuds more important than the life of another sentient being?

This really hit me hard. I don’t think it will be a hyperbole to say this quote totally changed the way I looked at food, and life in general.

Your Tastebuds Adapt Very Quickly

I have eaten meat my whole life — especially chicken.

I couldn’t picture one meal without chicken. Just ask my mom about it. It used to ruin my mood every morning growing up if my mom told me that we didn’t have chicken for lunch that day. I would make excuses not to have lunch that day, eat out or just order in.

I did anything and everything to make sure there was at least some kind of meat in every meal. Why wouldn’t I? They tasted so damn good!

When it came to fruits and vegetables, I had the opposite reaction. I did anything and everything to NOT have them. They just tasted so bland all the time.

That’s what I thought the biggest problem would be. Meat, chicken especially, just tastes so good. Does that mean I won’t enjoy food anymore? The truth couldn’t be further from it.

Yes, the first week or two, the food did taste a little bland. However, that changed real quick!

I never knew meals without meat can taste good. In today’s hyper-connected world, you can find amazing vegan recipes. Not to mention, the myriad of alternative meats you have available now in various parts of the world.

I replicated most of my meat-based meals with their vegan counterparts. It was fun to learn, explore and eat!

You just need to give your tastebuds some time to adjust to the new normal.

You Lose Weight FAST

I would be lying if I said, getting healthier was not one of the driving factors for me going vegan.

I read about the myriad health benefits that come with a plant-based lifestyle. Yes, you have to supplement a few things, like your vitamin B12s, but on the whole, you tend to get healthier.

I wasn’t really overweight when going vegan. My BMI was a little higher than I would have liked, and my body fat percentage was not something to be proud of. However, as I said, I wasn’t overweight.

The moment I turned vegan, I started shedding pounds so quickly. I wasn’t eating less food. If I am being honest, I was eating more meals with a bigger portions. I was still losing weight.

It wasn’t some crazy weight loss though. A very healthy few pounds every week.

Your Energy Levels Skyrocket

I will admit, this was the most surprising one for me.

I was under the impression when going vegan, my energy levels would suffer. Where will I get the energy if I am not eating meat?

One of the most common arguments my friends used to make when I was going vegan was that I was going to get malnourished. Where will I get my protein from? How can I survive on grass??!

The reality couldn’t be any more opposite than that.

A vegan lifestyle skyrocketed my energy levels. Every single day I woke up feeling lighter, fresher, and ready to take on the world.

Throughout the day, the energy levels never really see-sawed or dipped. It was consistent.

I slept better, felt better, and could easily focus much longer than I was used to. I am sure it was my diet. I realized how important it is, what you put inside your body.

After all, food is fueled for your body and brain. So it makes sense why a change in diet would affect my energy levels so drastically.

Your Social Life Might Suffer a Little Bit

Depending on your social circle, friends, and family, it might get a little bit difficult.

I went vegan in San Francisco. I was blessed with loads of vegan restaurants. A few of my friends were also vegan or led a plant-based lifestyle. They totally understood where I was coming from. It was easy for me.

Then, I moved to Toronto in the summer of 2022, and it got difficult. Very, very difficult. Moving countries is never easy. I didn’t have my own place, which meant I wasn’t cooking.

I had to rely on what my hosts cooked, and of course, I didn’t want to add to their troubles. Even when going out with them, it was difficult to go to places with vegan options.

I even went to some Boba stores here that did not understand the concept of non-dairy milk.

It of course didn’t help either that a lot of people close to me never really took me seriously when I went vegan. They always saw it as a” phase”. Like any other phase, it will pass — that’s what they thought.

I don’t blame them. I understand why they would think like that.

Because of that, some social settings became a little tricky to handle. However, people who really care about you, and want to be around you, understand where you are coming from. It might take them a little time, but they will understand.

Less Eating Out and More Home Cooked Meals

Depending on where you live, you might or might not have a lot of restaurants with vegan options.

For me, it was easy. Both San Francisco, and most of Toronto are very vegan-friendly.

However, I do understand in most of the world, it’s difficult.

Even though it’s not too difficult for me to get vegan food here, I still prefer cooking my own food at home. I do go out to eat during weekends, but the majority of my meals come from home-cooked or meal-prepped food.

If you are going vegan, I would recommend mixing it up. Do go out to try out new vegan restaurants. You might love them! Or they might give you ideas to try some new recipes at home.

Overall, YES, you will find it difficult to eat out like you always used to. That gives you the opportunity to cook at home, which is healthier anyway, and less strenuous on your wallet.

A New Lifestyle. A New Identity

For me, going vegan wasn’t just a new diet I was trying out.

It was deeper than that. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s a new identity.

Having gone vegan, and learned so much about the world around me, I can’t really look at the world the same way again. There are things bigger than myself that I have started caring about. I don’t think it would have happened otherwise.

Going vegan has turned me into a kinder person, no matter how sassy that sounds. It did. Going down the rabbit hole of learning the terrible terrible things that are done to animals just to satisfy our tastebuds, has made me realize the horrors that go behind the pack of chicken breast I used to go get every Sunday (sometimes even twice a week).

I started looking at milk differently, eggs differently. It makes my stomach churn seeing “veal sandwiches” and “veal pasta”.

That’s what I mean by an “identity change”.

You look at the world differently.

Sometimes it can get difficult, absolutely yes.

However, having been vegan for a year now, I love it! It gave me a new identity, a new purpose, and a hell lot of ambition to make this world a better, kinder, and safer place for all human beings, animals, and the beautiful planet itself.

There you go, folks!

That’s a little bit about my vegan journey so far.

I really hope to write more about this given how passionate I have become. If you enjoy writing on this topic, please comment below or just reach out to me.

I hope this added value to your life and gave you a few things to think about.

Thank you for reading : )

Irtiza Hafiz