why becoming a vegan was the best thing i ever did

this month, it will be one year since my husband and i became a couple of veg-headed vegans. i know it can be a controversial issue, and so i encourage you to read the reasons on why we decided to make the switch in the first place. today though, i only want to share with you why it's been the best decision of our lives. the results that we've experienced from the change is undeniable. tomorrow, i plan to share with you why i believe it is also incredibly easy. stay tuned!

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you can read the reasons why we decided to become vegan, but in short, here's our story. we decided to be vegetarians about 7 years ago, a decision we made in efforts to avoid the antibiotics and hormones found in meat, for promised health benefits, and to do something to alleviate the horrid practices of factory farming and environmental distress. several years later, we realized that we were relying heavily on cheese, milk and eggs, especially when we ate out. in our case, that meant that about 90% of the dairy we were consuming was not organic and came from who knew where. there we were, still eating antibiotics and hormones, being unhealthy and supporting the factory farming business of dairy cows and laying hens (which are absolutely terrifying, ask if you want more info!). so we made the switch, here's why it was the best decision i ever made!

just to clarify, we don't take supplements and don't believe you should need to. we eat a well-rounded, balanced diet full of incredibly tasty and nutritious things

1) i haven't gotten sick now for the longest period of my life. it's been one year with no sickness, woo hoo!
2) i feel better than ever. my energy is up and my eyes are bright.
3) i'm more eager to wake up and get going in the morning. seriously! i have felt a decrease in my 'sluggishness'.
4) i'm more focused. i have found a noticeable difference in how focused i am and how much more productive as well.
5) my skin has finally cleared up, completely. i'm off all of the creams my dermatologist had me on and use no particularly special routine for my skin for the first time in my life.
6) my fitness has improved. i feel better when i run and have seen quicker results in my endurance than ever.
7) my body odor has decreased. not sure how to explain this one, but it's true. better breath and no need for deodorant.
8) my nails and hair have gotten stronger and prettier.
9) i have a sense of responsibility about my lifestyle. like i'm making a difference in my health, my future health and the health of our planet.
10) i've lost weight. not much, but 7-8 pounds, effortlessly.
11) i love cooking vegan! no spoiled dairy, no germy meat. i haven't had to disinfect my kitchen in a very long time.
12) my digestion is better and noticeably healthier than it was before.
13) i love being a part of the community. it's (mostly) filled with inspiring, supportive and truly lovely people.
14) i have less headaches. i used to get frequent headaches and occasional migraines, and haven't had hardly any at all this year.
15) as soon as we cut out all the fillers (meat, cheese, eggs) our diet expanded tremendously. there are so many grains, beans, fruits, veggies, nuts, sea veggies and seeds that we never had tried before!
16) my allergies have gotten better. again i can't really explain this but studies agree that cutting out dairy and meat can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
17) we save money. we don't waste as much money on eating out (though it is easy to eat out if we want, i'll tell you why tomorrow!). and we don't buy as many snacks and unhealthy filler foods at the store.
18) reduced PMS symptoms. something about eliminating dairy does this!
19) i'm not as sleepy in the afternoons. i haven't felt the need for an afternoon nap in months and months.
20) we've increased our awareness of the foods we put into our body. each food makes us feel a certain way, and we've become much more aware of it.

i will say that many of these benefits weren't noticeable right away. it's something you have to stick with. i lost the weight after 6 months, my skin cleared up after 10 months. but, i started feeling better almost instantly. give it a try, but be prepared to stick with it for amazing health benefits down the road.

tomorrow i plan to share with you why i also believe that it's incredibly easy. stay tuned!

gotta question? comment? are you a vegan? do you have any benefits you've experienced? please share them with us in the comments section! i'll 'meat' you there. :)

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  • Love this, thank you for sharing. I’m not a vegan but have recently cut out a lot of dairy from my diet. My skin almost instantly cleared up!

    • Great article, thanks for sharing. I have been contemplating going vegan for awhile now and just need that final push to commit 100%. Thanks for the informative article :)

    • I’ve been a vegan for several weeks now and I feel so much better about myself. I used to have severe premenstrual cramps but do not have any since going vegan. I haven’t had severe acne for a long time and this has cleared up my face even more. I run every single day and used to not run at all. I feel less bloated, less tired, and I have tried new foods that I didn’t know existed. This was the best change that I’ve ever made.

  • I made my first batch of antioxidant chili last night (vegan, gluten-free). It’s so yummy. I am going to try more vegan meals this week…stuffed spaghetti squash, black bean and yam roll-ups. :) Do you have a favorite vegan cookbook you can share with us?

  • This is so great! But I was wondering if I can get some suggestions? I am a college student living in Chicago and I eat all of my meals in our Student Dining Room (you have to pay for it, so it would be a huge waste of money not too). I would love to go vegan, but I think it would be really difficult since I am not buying my own food and have to work with what they have. Do you have any suggestions? Maybe ways to liven up a pretty pathetic salad? There is a local farmers market that I frequent so also maybe some essentials that I could pick up there to supplement?

    • hi katelyn! great questions! first up, i bet that the cafeteria is more ‘special diet’ friendly than you think. colleges tend to be more forward thinking when it comes to things like that, and there might be a way that you could ask to see what was vegan. if they seem to not be so friendly, you can still get around it!
      look for thinks like baked potatoes, pastas (without cheese!), any kind of bean, rice, quinoa and the like. i would guess there might be some kind of rice or legume (lentils maybe?) that you could layer on top of a salad and top off with whatever veggies they are serving. regarding the salad, try to think outside the box with toppings. look for cranberries, garbanzo beans, roasted veggies and nuts (or bring some nuts in from the farmer’s market!).
      some soups may also be vegan, like minestrone or bean chili. marinara sauce and pasta is also a good way to go, maybe topped with a veggie. you’ll have to ask, but i would say about 80% of bread is also vegan, and you can dip it into olive oil and or balsamic vinegar. does this help?

  • I can’t wait to hear about how you do eating out. Do you have any suggestions for meal planning to make sure you are getting the right nutrients and a variety? I seem to get stuck making the same time of things all the time:)

    • hey kristi! good question! i’ll have to think on a good resource for you, but in general we just try to vary out diet to the max. we always shop the farmers market so we mainly buy what is in season which helps force us to switch things up a bit. i’ll also make a point to try to pick something up at the store every time i go that i haven’t tried before, be it veggie, fruit or bean, etc. the bulk section at a health food store is great place to get ideas from (legumes, dried fruit and nuts, oh my!). at the end of the day, you wanna make sure you’re getting some fruit, dark green vegetable, and some sort of protein (mainly legumes) every day.
      this is also one of the reasons why i started logging my meals via the dinner ideas posts. i use it for myself all the time! you can check them out to see what a week usually looks like for us. :)

    • kristi, and regarding raw: i tend to eat a considerable amount of raw things, but mainly just by nature. i usually always cook our dinners, but breakfast and lunch end up being raw 8 times out of ten. fruit, nuts and smoothies mainly! i have a thing for hot food though, so i find that i still cook almost everything at dinner time, though we usually have a salad that is topped with anything i can get my hands on. :)

  • I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly a year now, for many of the reasons you were once one, as well. I have to say, I’m absolutely fascinated by veganism! I do have a question, though: I know that, as a vegetarian, I often find that social gatherings can be awkward. People often feel that they have to cook especially for you (even if you offer to bring a dish!), and eating out can sometimes be complicated. Vegan have even more restrictions; do you find them difficult/awkward to comply with in social settings?

    • hey genevieve! wow, another great question! (y’all are awesome!)
      we try our very best to make things as least awkward and difficult as possible. i’ll usually invite people over to our house for dinner or just insist on bringing a dish to someones elses house. we want to be low maintenance! most of our friends love the food though, so they have no problem with it. eating out has also been easy for us (more on that tomorrow).
      we often don’t like to discus our diet, because we don’t want to make others feel like we’re judging them or disapproving of them somehow. it inevitably always comes up though, and we just try to be open minded about everyone elses eating habits. we always find though that they are usually very interested and really respect us for the decision, so it all turns out good!
      at the end of the day, if a little bit of awkwardness is still there, it’s worth it for us. we try to be easy, but we’re changing our lives here. we’re going to live longer, be healthier and preserve our planet as much as we can. if it comes with a little difficulty, we figure we’re prepared for it. :)

  • I have found the same benefits. yay! But I live in a small southern town with no near whole foods or farmer’s market, any tips?

    • hi lyndsey! you should be able to find most anything you need at your local grocery store, though having a health food store nearby definitely helps. have you checked to see if any local farms offer a csa box? do you have any interest in gardening yourself? i have lived about 70 miles from a health food store before and just went once every two weeks and did bulk shopping, freezing things that i could to make them last longer. though not an awesome solution, you can order some things through amazon’s grocery like almond milk and more. maybe worth looking in to?

  • Thanks for the great post! I have considered going vegetarian for many reasons health and evironmental reasons but I also really don’t like most meats! My struggle is with my family…my husband would be very supportive but I have a very picky daughter and getting her to try new things is extremely difficult. Any suggestions for that would be helpful!

  • I went vegan for 21 days while I was doing the Kris Carr Crazy Sexy Diet. It was literally the best I’ve ever felt. Then the holiday’s happened. But now I go days without eating meat or dairy and I really don’t miss them. Juicing and making smoothies are great!
    Cheers everyone!

  • So, 10 years ago I was vegetarian for 2 years. During that time I was 25 lbs heavier than I am today, exhausted all the time and sleeping 12 hours a night. As soon as I started eating meat again the weight dropped off in 3 months and I started feeling ‘normal’ again.

    I thought it was maybe becuase I was young and poor and not eating the right kind of vegetarian food, so just a few months ago I tried again. This time I went Vegan for 2 weeks. I was eating lots of veggies and fruit, quinoa, beans, rice, nuts, seeds, bread etc. .. The first week I didn’t notice much change, then the 2nd week it started happening again. I was constantly exhausted and by then end of two weeks I had already put on 5 lbs! I decided to stop right there and switch back to eating meat. (Small amounts, all free range, organic, no hormones etc) and after a few weeks I started feeling normal again.

    This being said, I totally 100% respect the choice to be Vegan, but I do not think it is the healthiest option for everyone. Everybody’s body chemistry is different and since this event I’ve heard several accounts of people who have had similar experiences to mine.

    Anyways, that’s my reason for NOT being Vegan. I try to eat only the good local organic meat from the farmers market or local food co-op and I only eat small amounts of that anyways. I don’t really drink milk and rarely eat cheese. I think it’s OK to eat meat as long as you do it responsibly.

    How vegan are you? What’s your stance on honey, leather and gelatin products like shower gel?

    • hi shayna! thank you for your input!
      eating vegan is certainly not for everyone, and i don’t think it needs to be. though i can’t say why you would have had these effects, it sounds like you are listening to your body and doing the right thing. i have always been a big supporter of eating local organic meat and dairy, and it seems like you are doing that- so kudos to you!
      though i have heard of this happening once or twice, my experience has been that most people feel better being vegan. it’s important though for each of us to listen to our bodies and then act from their in the most sustainable way possible.
      how vegan am i? (funny how their are different ‘levels’, isn’t it?) i eat no meat, dairy or eggs of any kind. i do however eat local organic honey. i buy no new leather, but have a few things left from my ‘past life’ that i don’t believe i need to throw away. i don’t eat any gelatin or buy things that contain it. that said, i could be more vegan, have a more refined diet, be more healthy and be in better shape. i’ve got room to grow! :)

  • I’m a pescatarian and have been for over 4 years now. I actualy didn’t mind eating meat, for me it was too upsetting to think about factory farming techniques and I didn’t want to be contributing to that as much. I’ve toyed with moving to Veganism, but I really struggle with recipes and I’m not the best cook in the world! Would love to hear how you eased into it and got going originally without relying too heaviy on carbs. I imagine like any change the initial shopping, getting your pantry stocked can be time consuming but then it gets easier?

    Fabulous to hear how great youre doing though – its definitely encouraging to see someone else enjoying it!

  • Yay! I love this! It’s funny how sometime you just need a little reminder to do the right thing. I’ve been vegetarian about 4 years and feeling great, but I know that cutting out dairy will make me feel even better mentally and physically. Thanks for posting this, it’s really inspiring,

    Did you have a hard time cutting out cheese? Any tips about that? I just really love cheese!

  • Bonnie, perfect response for Shayna. Every body is different, and you should respect what your body is telling you. My aunt was vegetarian for a few years and then went vegan for a few months and noticed that her body did not take to it, her nails were brittle and skin tight and dry and other symptoms she just couldn’t explain. Trust me, she was eating very well, does not drink alcohol and does drink plenty of H2O. It just isn’t right for every body-type/person. Respect the signs your body gives you, as well as the earth……if your mind is open then you will see all of the correct signs. But you do have to have the open mind to even start searching….. wow, this could become a monthly column! I personally have not tried vegan eating habits, only vegetarian, that is why i’m excited for Bonnie’s post tomorrow..i need an easy way of cooking/eating….. Looking forward to the suggestions…

  • thanks, Bonnie…no csa boxes around here but I haven’t thought about amazon before. will try:) Can’t wait to hear more from you!

  • Thanks for everyone who has commented. For myself, I’m in mid-60’s and got a cholesterol report last Feb. that was starting to head in the wrong direction. So I did some reading, and decided to cut out the animal products. Maybe this is something that I was ready to do, because I am not missing cheese, dairy, meat or chicken at all. Never feel deprived, and have enjoyed spending time learning about grains and tofu and other ways to eat. I will have the review of the cholesterol in late February, but was thinking last night, even if the numbers don’t show improvement, I probably will continue with this dietary path. My occasional fall-off-the-wagon item is a piece of salmon or some maguro sashimi.

  • Good for you. I stopped using deodorant about ten years ago when I cleaned-up my diet. I am not vegan or vegetarian, but my husband and I will not eat foods that are package, and if we don’t know where the food came from. When that happened I felt better. Also, I do one day a week of just eating raw foods, which does wonders for me.

  • This post and the next one inspired me to give veganism a try, and so far, so good. Someone mentioned dry skin, etc. — about five days in I got really bloodshot and red-rimmed eyes and had to wear my glasses. (I normally wear contacts.) My eyes just seemed so dry. I did some online sleuthing and found someone else mention it on a vegan forum and that their solution was coconut oil — it has saturated fat that your body might be missing from the lack of animal products. (The sat. fat in coconut oil is supposedly better for you though.) I got some the next day and it went away. I don’t know if it was a fluke, but thought I’d mention it. Thanks for the substitution suggestions! That’s what’s really made it possible for me so far.

    • hi sarah! i’m so happy to hear it’s going well! i haven’t heard of this issue before, but i’m glad to hear you got it figured out. :) i also just recently discovered coconut oil (i’m sure i’ll write about it soon!) and we have been really loving it. though i’m not certain, i would guess that getting your omega 3s might help as well (think flaxseed oil, walnuts and avocado). anywhos, thank you for sharing, i’m sure it will help others! xox

  • Hi Bonnie & co.
    I love the conversation that’s happening here. Bonnie, I’ve never seen someone so passionate and educated about her own eating choices be so open and accepting of others’ choices – it is truly inspiring. I’m happy that you’ve found your path and it’s working for you.
    Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents about coconut oil and fats in a vegetarian/vegan diet – coconut oil is incredible for you, especially if you are participating in a vegan or low- animal fat diet. From what I’ve read, MAKE SURE you are buying cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil, or the health benefits will have been lost in the refining process. It’s usually the more expensive of the two, but extreme diet choices require a bit more $$ sometimes, unfortunately. Coconut oil can go in oatmeal, smoothies, and you can bake with it!
    If you want to incorporate more coconut oil into your diet through cooking with it, try making this oil blend:
    Mary’s Oil Blend:
    I cup of coconut oil, gently melted
    1 cup of expeller-expressed or cold-pressed sesame oil
    1 cup of extra-virgin olive oil

    Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.
    Recipe from –

    • oh thank you, ariel! i did buy the cold pressed (and most expensive, eek!) while at the store, but knew i needed to learn more.. i will definitely be trying this recipe as well!

      question: what do you like to cook with for med-high heat, like sauteing?

  • I actually use that recipe for a lot of my sauteing, coconut oil and sesame oil have high-ish smoke points so it usually works out. Also, I’ve never noticed a “coconutty” flavor when using that recipe for savory meals, so don’t worry about tainting your food with a tropical flavor :)
    Hope this helps! Thanks for getting back to me. Miss ya!

  • I love this posts and saw it via your “Best of 2012.” I’m vegan too and can agree with all of the above. I too haven’t gotten sick, my energy level skyrocketed, gave me more focus (like you said), my skin is clear (and even my hair is shinier), and my nails are thicker and grow faster. I too used to get headaches and now I don’t. It made me love cooking too. I didn’t love it before, didn’t even want to do it. Now it sparks something inside me. :) Just really I agree all around with you and then some. Really great post, thanks for sharing!

    Cheers, Aubrey

  • Hi,

    I have recently made the switch to veganism as well. After a month, I noticed that my skin improved, I had more energy, and I just felt happier in general. I used to really love pizza, so I’ve been struggling with how much I missed it. I decided to eat pizza (with cheese) on my birthday after being strictly vegan for two months, and it tasted so weird to me and made my stomach really upset! I’m not going eat dairy again. It made me feel gross! Becoming vegan was one of the best choices I’ve ever made for myself.

  • Its interesting to read about vegan on a site that is called “going back to roots”.
    Adam and Eve were vegans . Only after the fall ..or some prefer to say flood , God (or men decided) it was that humans are to consume animal meat .
    Adam and Eve lived hundreds of years …Would anyone eat own pet? Would anyone eat any “food” if they had to kill with bare hands? Ok…not everyone cares…but would anyone eat meat if they read how many times during life time it was exposed to illness. or how much antibiotics it had, how much amino aids to gain weight …and that’s making ill, antibiotic resistant ..and obese …Vegan is the only healthy way of living.
    I think people have all kinds of physical and mental problems mainly because of wrong diet .
    If all humans lived only on all the good things growing on Earth that God graciously created …any government would go bankrupt ;) …considering benefits of their regulations of food and medical industry …
    …and we all would be healthy ,happy and with no side effects :)

  • Lovely post Bonnie. Same results happened here. Also, Elena’s post above is on point. Anyone who truly delves far into his/her self, Spirit, and God knows that eating animals is not what was intended. Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work!

  • I am late, but @Shauna… That was detox. You’ll never feel better if you run back to meat and dairy when this happens. For subs ppl it happens immediately for others, it takes time to occur. That’s your body releasing toxins. Peace.

  • Hi Bonnie! I just took the vegan plunge this past week. And I’m so happy I did! I’m curious about what you eat to avoid taking supplements, particularly B12. Thank you!

    • brandy – yay for you!! we eat a lot of nutritional yeast which i believe is the only plant based source for b12. we add it to scrambles, grits, pizza, sprinkle it on salads, make sauces from it etc. it’s ‘cheesy’ and delicious!