Plantbased living

The gradual descent from omniovore to vegetarianism to full-blown veganism

My journey to plantbased living (or veganism) is maybe not a typical one. At least, it has not been driven by a desire to protect animals or the environment (although I do want to be part of animal and environmental protections), it has always been based on curiosity and a desire to learn more about plantbased food and living.

It started with vegetarianism. I don’t recall when I first heard about vegetarianism, where you don’t eat meat or fish, but still consume eggs and diary. My first reaction was being puzzled: How does one live without meat? It wasn’t a matter of not wanting to give up animal products, I simply had not ever considered how it was possible. Being raised on the Danish diet of “meat, potatoes, and brown sauce” I had a hard time imagining how a meat-free diet would even work. Obviously you cannot just cut out the meat and have just potatoes and sauce. So what do you do?

From the start, I should note that this journey into the plantbased world is not one I have pursued on my own. Together with my then-girlfriend (now wife) we have explored vegetarian and vegan eating and discovered a diet and a way of living that we both love and contributes to our health and balance of life.

We had both been pondering what vegetarianism was all about and ended buying a vegetarian cookbook that had a big section explaining how different plant foods can be combined to bring out the benefits of the other. We had all the usual beginner questions around protein intake, iron, other minerals, and this book had a lot of reasonable explantations and tips. Today I would consider that the book, although great at addressing all the newcomer worries, is not entirely correct in many of its assertions. It is generally not an issue to obtain all the necessary amino acids, for example, but the book puts a lot of effort into categorizing the different plant sources for different amino acids. For example, it suggests combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C rich foods to help increase the iron intake.

We began buying all kinds of lentils, beans, grains and other vegetables that we had never considered buying before. I tried making a habit of buying vegetables that I didn’t know how to cook to force myself to figure out what to do with it.I never bought daikin again after that first time Our repertoire of dishes that we knew how to put together expanded quite substantially in the beginning.

One of the early reflections about our dietary change, I had noticed that I felt lighter in my stomach. Any kind of constipated feeling I had had before had just melted away. I was happy with this feeling (we both were) and it fueled our curiosity about plantbased eating.

Our dietary change inevitably impacted our social life as well. We have discussed our dietary choice extensively with our families and friends (and others). We still do. I used to be quite nervous about having to inform family or friends about the kinds of food I was not going to eat, fearing that it would annoy or upset people. Plantbased eating for me has never been about making a point with others, it is about making a conscious choice about how I live and what I put in my body. Mostly, I have found family and friends to be supportive and accomodating, and I love them even more for it.

I have also had to acknowledge that making this choice in a way forces others to reflect on their own diets. The most common reaction I have had from people on veganism is undoubtedly “I could never give up cheese”.Some people say no eggs is a dealbreaker. Bacon is another common fixation. What I find interesting is that most often this reaction is not from me asking if someone would consider veganism but just a reaction to learning that I am vegan. I have literally been asked—a handful of times that I can recall—about my food and diet, responded that I am vegan and the first reply being “I could never give up cheese.” Thanks, I didn’t ask. I suppose this reaction could be meant as a conversation starter or a challenge of some sort, but that was never my read on it. These days my response is just “ok”. I don’t eat the way I eat to challenge others on how they eat, I eat the way I eat because it makes me happy and it feels like the right thing to do for me and my family.

I have come to respect how much food is part of someone’s understanding of themselves, their identity, their society and their part and participation in it. Sometimes, the reaction is like you suddenly discovering that your friend or colleague had converted to islam and you felt the urge to assert your christian allegiance. You are what you eat indeed, on a societal level as much as on a personal level.

The development from vegetarianism to veganism was a gradual one. The way I remember it now is that at some point we ran out of cheese and butter and just didn’t buy those things again. It may have been a similar thing with eggs, I don’t remember if we stopped eating eggs before or after diary products. I do remember which apartment we lived in when we did go full vegan, so I can infer that it’s more than ten years ago.

In those years the selection of vegan products in the stores has changed quite a bit.Except not many new vegetables have been introduced The market for vegan processed foods has grown to the point where now we can almost expect to find some assortment of vegan products in any given store. This was definitely not the case when we switched to a fully plantbased diet. I have mixed feelings about the more recent vegan products—on one hand, the fact that more vegan products are being created and marketed means

On a personal level, choosing a plantbased diet has helped me make much better dietary choices. I have always been fond of food and prone to overeating, and it’s easy for me to put on weight. An unforseen side-effect of a plantbased diet choice is that it helped me pause and consider all the foods that I would otherwise consume without thought.