why i stepped back from a vegan diet

Thoughts On Stepping Back From the Vegan Diet

Almost 3 years ago, I went completely plant-based. I had a weird dream about eggs, and decided that I was ready to make the leap towards a full vegan diet. In that time, I have expanded my knowledge on plant-based eating, tried some amazing copycat recipes, and also found a new love for creating colorful and whole-food meals.

However, I had not travelled extensively during this time due to COVID restrictions, so staying in my little veggie bubble was easy to do based on the fact we were mostly eating close to home.

This past March, we headed down to Puerto Rico for a little work trip and vacation, and I knew it was time for me to be lenient on my strict vegan diet.

Travelling to Puerto Rico changed my perspective on the vegan diet.
Photo by: Nic Carnazzo

I didn’t want to have anxiety around what I would be able to eat, and I wanted to embrace the local cuisine, which I personally think is a huge part of travelling and appreciating other cultures. Plus, I’m such a big foodie, so thinking about limiting myself when there was a whole new menu of possibilities wasn’t what I wanted.

I had veggie friends that travelled internationally, and when they came back, they completely disregarded their vegan diet, and, to be totally honest, I thought I was above that.

I told myself that I would stick to my diet no matter what.

That it was a standard that I needed to keep because I wanted to stay disciplined and not totally disregard the past three years of my vegan journey.

But here I was in Puerto Rico, staring down some fresh fish tacos and a creamy pina colada. And there was no way in hell I wasn’t going to take a bite. And there was no way that I would feel guilty about it.

So I set aside this pride I had and went with the flow while out on the island.

Becoming more lenient on my vegan diet helped relieve my anxiety about what I would be able to eat while on the road.
Photo by: Nic Carnazzo

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… I honestly don’t like meat. Even before turning towards a plant-based diet, I would prefer the side of broccoli over a big steak, and I always was curious about trying the vegetarian options when going out to eat.

And luckily, I was able to find vegetarian and, to my surprise, clearly marked vegan items at local restaurants.

While I did adhere to my diet when buying and making food at our AirBnB, I freed myself of anxiety when we chose to eat out (which was at least once or twice a day).

I had everything from local fish bowls to French toast, but I also had vegetable and pumpkin empanadas and veggie tacos that were advertised as plant-based.

I also wasn’t afraid to try Nic’s food, such as fish tacos, mahi mahi, and other delicious local recipes that contained fish and white meat.

It felt so good to not put that pressure to cling to the vegan label I had placed upon myself.

It was freeing.

Even though, for the most part, I was still working towards mostly plant-based eating habits.

Fueling my body is my main priority, but I also want it to be sustainable for the environment.
Photo by: Nic Carnazzo

Fast forward to coming home, and I just had a feeling.

A feeling that I needed to add something back into my diet to stay strong and healthy. I had gotten lazy with supplements, and looking back at some of the photos from Puerto Rico, I looked pale and thin compared to when I was eating animal products. The toll of 3 years of only vegan meals had finally hit me like a wall, and I no longer felt like this lifestyle was doing me a service.

While I still mostly eat plant-based meals, I have added in eggs to supplement, as well as the occasional dairy product on specific circumstances (along with a helping of Lactaid lol).

And when I say eggs to supplement, I mean that I’ve started to eat them almost every day. I love egg sandwiches and quiche and fried eggs, and I found myself resorting to “Just Egg”, a scarily accurate egg scramble replacement. This was not only expensive, but it also meant a good amount of plastic waste. I felt like I was stuck in this circle where I didn’t know what I should do.

Give up my vegan diet that I’ve built a brand on?

Continue the diet at the expense of heavy plastic waste and possibly my health?

What was the right thing to do here?

After going back and forth, I’m so glad I decided to jump back into a hybrid diet.

My hair has been growing like crazy.

My mind is less clouded.

I have more energy.

I’m more easily gaining muscle mass, which is much needed in my outdoor activities.

And I finally feel like I’ve reached a new equilibrium for my body.

But don’t think that veganism was awful for my health. I certainly shifted towards being more conscious of what I put in my body, which created a very good environment for giving my brain and body what it needed.

It was important for me to listen to my body so it’s properly fueled for my favorite activities.
Photo by: Ian Saunders

It’s important to note that we can change. We can change our diets. We can learn new things and adjust accordingly. We can also just have a feeling, and it’s important to listen, especially when it’s the body we spend our entire life in.

I don’t think I have to prove myself or explain my choices to anyone, but I wanted to share these thoughts in hopes of helping someone make the right decisions for their health.

You don’t have to feel pressured to contain yourself to one diet.

Eat plant-based one day.

Eat eggs some days.

Try a new Italian restaurant with buttery gnocchi and a creamy Caesar dressing.

Don’t feel like you have to contain yourself into one box. Listen to your body, and it will reward you.

Plus, we’ve come full circle back to part-time plants.

Your nacforadventurer and part-time plant eater,

AJ

One comment

  1. Awesome read AJ. Thanks for opening up about thus. I could feel the confliction in your writing, and recognize this must have been a challenge for you.

    Big kudos to you for not only evolving but sharing your perspectives on the fuel we give our body, and the environmental impact that has.

    Like

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