Three years, an Instagram page, and more than 14 recipes; time to celebrate the Vegan Whisper’s first anniversary, that’s right, we’re turning one!
I figured the best way to celebrate would be to (finally) release a VW- tailored guide to transitioning to veganism, inspired by my own journey. Whether you’d like to cut off your animal product intake, adopt a plant-based lifestyle, or turn completely vegan, I’m releasing a guide just for you!
I am very proud and happy with my own lifestyle which rests on a particular mindset I carefully crafted throughout the years; it relies on flexibility, transparency, curiosity, and simplicity. As you’ll discover, I religiously think the most important advice I could give is that no book, no influencer, no blogger, or nutritionist, no movement, group, or trend, no parent or friend should draw the lines, conditions, and stages of your journey; YOU are the one that decides how when and why to do this, whether it feels right or not, what you’d like to gain from it, and how you feel about it.
My guide will include some personal tips and some interesting insights I wish someone had shared with me during my own transition. You can now find it as a section under “Lifestyle” in my Menu! I will be gradually releasing different sections – make sure to follow me on IG, or follow my blog to stay updated!
In the meantime, here is my journey towards veganism, which inspired the guide. Happy reading, and never hesitate to email or DM me for any inquiries!
How it started
Believe it or not, pre-2017, I barely ate any fruits!
My diet consisted mostly of meat, chicken, legumes, grains, and salad. I never liked fish except for the occasional grilled salmon, but really enjoyed cooking and eating stews based on meat and chicken, not to mention the incredible amount of dairy I had every day (from milk to Lebanese yoghurts and lots of Cheese Mana’eesh). My mom had to beg me to eat fruits; I only liked green apples and cherries, and those weren’t always easy to come by!
Whenever I met a vegetarian or vegan, I remember feeling admiration, respect, but for some reason, it wouldn’t stir any kind of motivation to adopt that lifestyle myself. I somehow felt detached from these people, like I was a different category of human, and these diets were not an option for me. I never held any strong opinions about plant-based diets, but I simply never thought about them much.
Flash-forward to March 2017, when diet culture was still a thing in my life and I wasn’t as aware as I am now of its highly toxic nature; I had a friend who offered a 2 week ‘detox’ program with 24/7 tips and support that involved going completely vegan and gluten-free for 14 days, including 2 juicing days (which to be honest I really enjoyed! I would love to do these again).
Mother’s day was coming up, and I decided to offer my mom that program to lose some weight, and experience what it would be like. Now obviously, that meant having LOTS of veggies and fruits (as much as we wanted actually), which didn’t sit very well with my taste buds at the beginning, but this was a challenge, and I thought it would be fun to try it out.
Story short, the whole experience was absolutely life-changing. First off, I had never felt better in my body than during these 14 days, I rekindled my flame with fruits and seeds, I started to appreciate spices and different flavors more, and my whole outlook on animal products just shifted completely. From having them as a major player in my food consumption to completely not even wanting to consume them anymore; this is where it started.
I then decided to try and maintain a sort of plant-based lifestyle; the benefits of that ‘detox’ program, including better sleep and less-painful periods, completely convinced me to set a plant-based lifestyle as a goal.
Being the moderate and control freak that I am, I decided to take it slow.
It took me 6 months, from the day I decided I wanted to be a vegetarian, to actually become one.
How it went
I set myself the goal to only consume meat or chicken 4 days a week for around a month, then 3 days a week for another and another, until I felt like reducing that rate to weekends only.
Honestly, hadn’t I done so, hadn’t I listened to my body and allowed it to get accustomed to a new lifestyle that was completely different than the previous 20 years, I don’t think it would have worked out. Which is why I think that the advice I give you in the guide is incredibly important, and I urge you to consider following it if it sounds convincing enough for you.
Then one weekend, I was heading down to a BBQ birthday, and on the way, I told my best friend: “You know what? I think I’m ready. I’m gonna go two full weeks, starting tonight, without any meat or chicken, and after that, I’ll see how I feel”.
Guess what, these two weeks turned into three years, four months and counting!
I just kept going with “one more day” two weeks after that BBQ, until “one more day” wasn’t even necessary.
That Christmas, I was offered my favorite kind of meat, and I wanted to have it, but the moment it touched my lips, I was immediately disgusted, and put it away. That was the moment I realized I was a vegetarian, and that cravings or the appeal of meat and chicken were purely psychological, linked to moments of happiness, comfort, and warmth.
A HUGE part of my progress was getting informed; learning more and more about the impact of cattle on the environment, global health (hi 2020), realizing what was really lying in my plate (ie. animal carcasses), and exercising the mental association between the juicy steak and where it actually came from. I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT for your transition it is to work on that association. As I mention later in the guide, an enormous part of finding meat and chicken flavorful, good, and nutritious, falls on culture, the industry, and propaganda. You want to flip that switch in your brain, so get informed!
Another crucial part of my progress was specifying WHY I was doing this. I think that for every vegetarian/vegan, there is a driving factor, that ultimately, at least in my personal humble opinion, will lead to also adopting other motivations towards plant-based diets.
For me, it started with the impact of the industry on the environment and global health. Next came animal abuse as I had just adopted my baby June: a constant reminder of the hypocrisy of adoring a pet, and ignoring the lives of pigs, cows, hens, ducks etc., and finally came the health factor.
Around that summer/fall, my brother found out he was intolerant to dairy, and I realized I might have been too, so I did the test, which came out positive [Disclaimer: these tests are NOT 100% reliable/accurate]. I knew I wanted to transition to veganism one day but I wasn’t ready to do so then, and so I only reduced my dairy intake, until that January 2018. I was virtually surrounded by vegan athletes, doctors, and vegan nutritionists who helped me realize the harm the dairy industry inflicted on the animals, as well as the products’ very negative impact on my body. I was completely sold when I understood that being a vegetarian in our days isn’t enough to change anything really, since dairy farms feed the meat industry as well.
When I say it’s life-changing, I am not exaggerating.
1. Bye Bye Iron deficiency!
I had lived the first 20 years of my life with a scary and painful iron deficiency, and I was constantly told to have red meat, so that’s what I did, and it wasn’t enough. I spent my teenage years with an Iron IV (which burns a lot) for around 2 hours twice a year. It was an absolute nightmare, but since supplements wouldn’t be absorbed, we thought it was a biological problem.
A year into vegetarianism, and around 9 months into veganism, I had my blood tested; and the 20 year old “4” that made me cry on my results suddenly turned into a “62”. I also cried, quite a lot.
My iron levels didn’t only rise up from the dead, they actually became normal.
A lot of acquaintances tell me they suffer from iron deficiency under a vegetarian/vegan diet, and I am planning on writing a post about that because in my experience, the fact that I was dairy intolerant, and didn’t know it, used to block the iron absorption. Studies show that dairy could be inhibiting iron absorption anyway – so that might be a reason why vegetarians are having a hard time with iron!
The minute I stopped having dairy, my body started absorbing iron, and with no IV, no supplements, just plants, my iron levels boosted up.
This of course will be different for every person, which is why the “Learning Experience” section in my guide is super super super important.
I’ve never been more in touch with my body and what it needs. Whenever I crave something, I notice that the nutrients in it are ones that I haven’t had in awhile. My body just speaks to me. It’s like I unblocked its airways or something.
3. Hello Flavors!
Any other vegans out there noticed their taste buds developing?? I used to absolutely loathe garlic, cinnamon, and turmeric. And suddenly? Can’t live without them. It’s almost as if they started tasting better.
4. Do meat-eaters know what’s out there?
I never knew that we had so.many.things.to.eat. From the different types of scpices, seeds, and mushrooms, to Kombucha. No meat-eater I know has as big as a variety of fruits, seeds, grains, legumes, sauces, spices, and just flavor combinations as the vegans I know.
5. It’s SO MUCH FUN.
Experimenting with food is amazing as a vegan. Just trying to recreate the comfort you used to feel with meat/chicken-based stews, but cruelty-free, will not only satisfy your taste-buds, but also satiate a curiosity you never knew you had.
6. I sleep better at night.
Knowing that I’m doing the best I can for my planet, the ecosystem, my community, my body, looking at my cat like I would any other animal in the world; I just know I am doing my best, and it feels so good.
7. Bye bye Acid- Reflux!
Acid reflux is also a monster that’s followed me literally since the day I was born. And nothing, and I mean nothing made it go away, well, except cutting-off dairy.
8. I know so much more stuff
From learning about the ecosystem, to animals’ fascinating personalities, to different combinations of food, to the negative impacts of the vegan industry, this whole journey is nothing but a learning experience. And that, to me, is incredibly enriching.
That journey OFFERED me so much It FIXED so much. It EXPLAINED so much. It TRANSFORMED me, my body, my perception of the world around me, my values, and mostly, my kitchen. Thinking of hopping on the Plant-based train? Stay tuned for the Vegan Whisper’s Guide to Veganism!