In the past i used to think veganism was restrictive, or for me it would have been restrictive… i didnt want to give up meat or dairy and if i did i didnt think i would be able to eat enough or get the right amount of energy or nutrients. Now i think differently. Before going vegan i made a list of all the things that i could eat and all the different options and that list just keeps growing and in all honesty its just creativity that limits you. Of course i do also need to write that i know i live in a very good country and city where there are alot of vegan options and fake meat/alternative dairy options, so i know i am priviligied in that sense. Not to mention that i can also afford to buy fake meat and alternative dairy options if i want to, so once again i am lucky and priviliged, as i am aware that in many other countries that is not the case. Or that vegan options cost double or tripple as much as the meat/dairy options (which they do in sweden as well).
I also need to add the fact that because i enjoy making food and baking as well as am aware about nutrition it makes getting enough energy and nutrients easier for me compared to someone who only knows how to cook eggs or pasta and knows very little about nutrition. Then it can definitely be hard to get enough energy and nutrients if you dont know how to cook or have no creativity with food. But i can say that even if you have high energy needs its not impossible to reach those energy requirements with a plant based diet, and in my case it means eating alot of nuts and nut butters daily as well as adding coconut oil to oatmeal or lots of sandwiches with vegan butter and cheese to reach my daily energy requirement.
I personally believe that a plant based diet is only restrictive if you make it restrictive. There are so many options you can eat and plant based/vegan eating DOESNT necessarily mean healthy, a reason why vegans can be protein deficient or lac nutrients is because they live off of pasta and noodles or just potatoes and oreos and of course that isnt healthy for a person and that type of diet is lacking alot of vital vitamins and minerals which a person needs. So dont mix a vegan diet with a healthy or weightloss diet as that isnt the case…. but of course being VEGAN and just eating plant based isnt the same thing. One is a diet change, the other is a lifestyle change.
What i thought i would mention however is how veganism can be restrictive in some ways (from experience) and how it affects my social life.
As mentioned earlier, luckily i live in a city which has alot of vegan cafe and restaurant options, however at times when you are with friends or family you might end up just going to a random cafe where they dont serve vegan options and dont even have the option of alternative milk options so you end up with a black coffee or tea. Which was the case for me this weekend. It is not fun to sit at a cafe with family and sit there with a black coffee 1) because it reminds me too much of my past and 2) because friends and family can find it awkward. At first i felt a little down as there was nothing else i could order, but i just figured i will go to the store and buy food later – no big deal and i dont want to have to make a fuss and make everyone find a new cafe when they just wanted to eat a sandwich and drink some coffee. THIS type of situation can make veganism very restrictive and if you are recovering from an eating disorder this is the type of thing you want to avoid. If i didnt believe in the ethical reasoning and motivation behind my choice of being vegan then i would have ordered something just to “fit in”, but instead i knew i would eat something afterwards. But when you are recovering you dont want to be put in those type of situations where you feel restricted or like you cant order something. This segment might be written alittle bit messy but i am trying to formulate my thoughts and hopefully you understand. Basically saying that yes, veganism in situations like this can be restrictive because in my case during that scenario there was nothing i wanted to order – i could have, but because i choose to not eat meat or dairy due to the animal suffering behind that food i didnt want to order it.
But moving on…. does veganism affect my social life?
Mostly no… there are 2 other vegans in my class so when we have class events or get together as a group it isnt so strange that some people have meal boxes with them due to allergies or even because some are on diets or other reasonings. Or that there are many different options i.e gluten free, lactose free, vegan etc etc People eat differently and i find that my class is very accepting of that and its not so strange and i dont find myself being judged either. But also when we have talked about getting together as a group of friends to make dinner or bake or things i have just suggested that i can bring my own vegan options or that i can buy some vegan butter or milk and its nothing strange with that as i dont want it to be an inconvenience either. For example i was going to have a taco evening with friends and i said i would bring soy meat, however the taco evening was last Friday when my mum came to visit so i couldnt go anyway. But i dont find that veganism holds me back in my social life or getting together with friends – i dont want to let it affect my social life either. However i do sometimes feel judged or like i may be an inconvenience when it comes to group meals. For example today i was talking with some people about making a christmas brunch together but then there was one person who was like “what can you even eat… its all meat and eggs and dairy”. And it shocked me a little to get such a negative response and like the person didnt want me to join, and maybe that was the case. But instead i just informed her of the things i could eat, for example i can eat bread with vegan butter and i can eat soy meat balls or make my own beetroot sallad or fake meat as a “ham” etc Of course they were all talking about salmon and ham and eggs and rice pudding and things like that, so i’ll see whether the brunch actually happens or not, but i would like to join and bring my own vegan options and amaze my friends and the skeptics with the vegan options, hahaha!!!
Luckily i have friends who are understanding of me being vegan, but i do understand that if your friends or family arent understanding it can exclude you from events because you seem like an “Inconvenience” to join for dinners or going out to eat, and that is such a pity and i think those type of people are close minded and not the best types of friends. But you shouldnt isolate yourself or make yourself feel excluded, instead join different events and bring your own vegan options if you have to. No point avoiding social situations just because you wont eat the same as others. However if you find that this type of behaviour would lead to you feeling isolated or restrictive then a vegan diet might not be the best for you. Because your mental health should come first and if you feel that veganism will restrict you then it might not be right for you…. even if i wish that it was right for everybody, its also about being strong enough in your beliefs and not letting yourself feel restricted or losing out on life/social events because of your beliefs!!!
Anyway, a very long post but i just felt i had to write these out and share them with you 🙂
What are your opinons or thoughts on this? Or maybe you have your own experience of these things to share?