Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ April 2017

Making the Switch:  The Journey to Becoming Vegan

By Sondra Katz

Have you ever thought about going vegan?  I don’t cook; I’m into convenience.  I became a vegan in February 2001 after I heard a former attorney for the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) describing the process that animals for our dinner table go through; he asked if that is something you would want your pets to go through.  That did it for me.  I don’t eat or use products where the animals are killed.  So I’ve been going along pretty much vegan with a bit of dairy now and then; I have never eaten animals since 2001.

I do have to admit I wasn’t eating a lot of meat before I became vegan.  Since I haven’t used an oven in decades, I was only eating meat at restaurants and a lot of chicken (as in the cooked whole birds you get at the grocery store).  I had started eating more salads and vegetables because there was one summer Giant had its salad bar on sale for 99 cents per pound (yes, that was decades before now) and that was about all I ate.

When I went vegan, besides more vegetables and fruits was the addition of more bread.  It’s very filling and that and soy products really helps.  As the years went on, there seemed to be more and more vegan (along with vegetarian) products on grocery shelves.

You should get checked after becoming vegan that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals — as well as protein and fiber — you need.  This is all done with bloodwork.  You may also want to get a diary app that lists all of this for the foods you eat and, after several weeks or a month, discuss this with your doctor.

About five years ago I noticed I was having a problem (you don’t want the details) and got to the point where I thought it was a food allergy or intolerance.  Wheat and soy were the top two foods I was eating and I thought I’d try going without wheat first, which turned out to be the problem.  Again, it was a little tough at first to go without wheat, but I managed and, again, as time went on, there were more and more gluten-free products.  A lot of them are pretty bad but there is enough that is pretty tasty.

Eating out with others is the only time it’s been hard.  Many don’t think they would like vegan or even vegetarian restaurants.  In a lot of “regular” restaurants, I usually can get gluten-free with the food being cooked in gluten-free pans but it can be hard to get sides — much less main courses — that are vegan so I do give in and allow butter.  I have found Asian restaurants are usually the best for vegans, even if they also serve meat.  If you are gluten-sensitive, make sure the sauce is cornstarch (not soy) as very few have soy sauce that doesn’t contain wheat (costs more).

Because I still ate a lot of food, including sugar, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in November.  That was a real wake-up call.  After researching what would help, I almost totally changed my diet.  (I also was supposed to increase my exercise amount but I haven’t quite done that yet.)  I again turned to being totally vegan but I took out all processed foods; now I only eat vegetables (that I eat raw, microwaved, or steamed), fruits, and nuts.  The only processed food I do have is a vegan mayonnaise that I use as salad dressing.  The other part of this diet is to measure out what I eat and record it in a diet diary app.

The last thing is to eat only when I am hungry.

By doing this for several months, I have lost nearly 30 pounds and the diabetes reading is now normal.  I realize that it can be hard if you are cooking for others but, if you have Type 2 diabetes, give this a try and ask others to be sympathetic.  I also am now strict about eating at restaurants and check the menu ahead of time.  If I can’t find something (I have plenty of salad at home), I eat ahead of time and just go to socialize.

Check out websites and apps which provide plenty of recipes, especially if you do cook.  I’ve even tried new vegetable and fruits I never had before!

Searching “easy intro to veganism” will produce a number of articles that will help you with the transition.  Then search for “easy vegan recipes.”  This will get you started.

Whether you want to try veganism for health or ethical reasons, you may just find you are enjoying what you’re eating and finding new foods to try.   ■

   © 2017 NFCCA  [Source:]