What I learnt Being a Vegan during Lent
Happy Easter my loves!
Here is a general post, an update about my life at the moment and I also wanted to share with you that I had been on a Vegan/Plant-based diet in preparation for Easter during the Lenten season. As I publish this post, I am about to devour a delicious Polish Easter breakfast which consists of a wide range of healthy and delicious salads and let’s not forget Makowiec. I have not had any sweets or chocolates in the past month and a half and I am honestly looking forward to having a food coma today. #YOLO right!
Easter in Poland is celebrated with great fervor. Today is all about the Easter Eggs, I don’t mean the Kinder Buenos or other chocolates with hidden surprises, but the actual eggs. Easter baskets are prepared and taken to the church to be blessed and breakfasts are the main meal of the day celebrated with other family members. There is a huge spread of salads and cold cuts, along with the items that were blessed in the Easter Basket. I will not go too much into details as there are many other blogs out there that describe the Polish Easter rituals in detail.
What I would like to write about, however, is my diet during the 56 days leading up to Easter. Since a young age, my sister and I always used to eat only vegetarian dishes during Lent. We would “sacrifice” eating meat and all types of candy for 45 days leading up to Easter. Being an 8-10-year-old, that meant a lot of self-motivation and determination. My parents tried to convince us at times to eat meat, but then that’s what parents do. We would always have a vegetarian meal every day anyway as in our household meat was eaten mostly on weekends or festivals.
Long story short, last year after having watched multiple Youtube videos and the ever-growing popularity of Vegan diet I wanted to dive in. Lol, that did not go well with my boyfriend or his parents and in the end, I caved it to eating eggs and dairy. Even though deep down it made me sad, I knew that I had to try it for myself, I wanted to know what this lifestyle entailed. My father has taught his kids one important life lesson. As I recall he often told us- ‘Never tell another person what he can or cannot eat. All food is good and you must always be grateful that at least have food on your plate’. This year as Lent was approaching and as part of my New Year resolutions, I made it very clear in my mind and to myself that this time I would not give in to any pressure whatsoever. I wanted to try it for myself and see what it’s all about. I wanted to live the healthy meat free, dairy free lifestyle and prove to myself that I can survive without meat.
I must admit the days went by very well. I usually cook my own meals and rarely go out to eat. If I do it would be to a food truck next to my office building. It’s a hard fight to resist not going back to meat as once again societal pressure kicks in and people around me start to think I am some sort of psycho for passionately wanting to try something new. Each year since moving to Krakow, I do a couple of health tests and a blood test(morphology) is included. I noticed with my doctor a pattern, I have the same consistent results each time. I have a low Haemoglobin count, which means my body produces low Red Blood Cells, which in turn could lead to Anaemia. After comparing my 5-year results and my general health condition, I became Vegan for almost two months. I consulted with my doctor and she told me to just try to double my plant-based protein intake, to replace that which are easily available in red meat or any meat in particular. I threw caution to the wind and went ahead anyway. Not even my boyfriend or his family could convince me otherwise.
Here is what I learned in the last few days of being Vegan:
- It is not as hard as it seems.
- People are going to wonder if you have lost your mind. Yes, that is true, as humans we all have our opinions on everything someone else does.
- Socialising becomes difficult. Unless you live in isolation, which is not the case, sometimes going out with friends might be hard we have to think of places that serve some form of Vegan on their menu.
- You find yourself constantly reading labels in supermarkets (in Polish, with the google translator on your phone).
- You begin to doubt your willpower. The toughest part was defending my stance on the matter, naysayers get louder, but one must drown out the noise.
- You think about the environment and animals more consciously. I love my Cat and so I dedicated this time to him, eating consciously.
- Vegans or at least most people I have encountered, try to push Veganism down everyone’s throat like its going to solve all the worlds problem. Which it may to some extent. But there is no need to force people. Just lead by example.
- Some friends when hearing the word Vegan will refuse to accept some sweets or food that you offer as a sign of probable resistance to give in, to this strange concept.
- If you have basic cooking skills and tonnes of Indian spices stacked up in your cupboard, then you can ‘Indianise’ all your Vegan meals and eat healthy, delicious and spicy meals at the same time and not feel guilty on missing out.
- Not all food tastes and cravings can be substituted. I tried a tofu burger and thought it was tasty, it was not the same as a normal beef burger. The struggle at times was real, but I did not want to put it up on a pedestal.
- The fact that I did not eat meat or dairy products for almost 60 days, in the end, is so satisfying.
The key takeaways:
This for me was a great and successful experiment. My friends and I met up the other day and we all discussed eating healthy, making healthy choices each day. My friends are even now having a mostly vegetarian diet on day to day basis and reserve meats for the weekends. For me, I will go back to eating meat, but I will be more conscious, I will say NO when I don’t want to or if someone tries to force me otherwise. I will continue to do more research and educate myself on cooking good wholesome meals and the internet is full of these days that it cannot get any easier.
I might get a lot of negative feedback after posting this, but it is just my observations. In the end, eating meat or not, does not make you a better person in terms of character. What matters deep down is your love and compassion for all life forms, even for those that do eat meat. Never judge or deny a person of any forms of food or sustenance. Live and let live. And to all the meat eaters in the world, reducing intake of meat will not kill you. Eating a more healthy plant-based diet gets you the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. My only personal advice would be to have compassion and eat more economically.
Wish you happy holidays with your loved ones and see you in my next post.