Over a year ago I started a 30 day vegan challenge. My main reasons for doing the challenge were a curiosity of the health benefits and because my sister challenged me to give it a try. For the entire 30 days I did not eat meat, dairy, eggs, or anything containing animal by-products. As I researched recipes and vegan- friendly restaurants, I quickly learned about animal welfare and the environmental consequences of the meat and dairy industry. By the end of the challenge, being vegan was not just about health and being competitive, it was for moral and ethical reasons too. I wanted to limit my support of factory farms making it an easy decision to continue.
For the first few months I continued my strict vegan diet; however as time went on, I slowly started to become more lenient. I still ate completely vegan at home and if there was a vegan option when I was out I would definitely do it but I enjoyed dessert at Christmas and at friends’ birthdays and other special occasions. Things changed for me this past summer though. I started considering myself a “flexegan” aka a flexible vegan. I still ate vegan 98% of the time but I just couldn’t turn down the occasional summer ice cream. I also went on a trip to Canada’s east coast with my boyfriend and had to try one of the famous lobster rolls at Dave’s Lobster in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
I spent a solid few weeks stressing about what my dietary “label” was and how to “define” my diet. I want to limit my support of factory farming so for me it is an easy decision to not eat beef, chicken, or pork. I do however come from a farming family and grew up on the standard meat, potatoes, and vegetable dinners so my decision to not eat meat has been a bit of a transition for my family. I have started incorporating eggs into my diet on occasion for their nutritional benefit and because brunch is just so hard as a vegan! I actually have a friend of a friend who is vegan except for brunch. I also love seafood and realized that I do not have to forbid myself from eating something I love and that is also so good for me.
It took awhile to come to the realization that I don’t need an official label. Although, I technically don’t fall into the category of vegan or vegetarian or even pescatarian, it is perfectly okay. There are no food police so there’s no need to feel guilty or be called out for “cheating”. This is why I’ve really gravitated towards the term flexegan. Our overall goal is to limit our intake of meat and animal products while still enjoying life to the fullest, including the occasional ice cream, omelet, and poutine.
I think the most important take home message is that we should really try to focus on reducing our overall meat and dairy consumption not only for the sake of the environment but for our health in general. I won’t bore you with the facts but if every Canadian ate one meatless day a week it would go a long way towards helping our planet. So I’m asking you to give it a try! Incorporating protein, carbs, and healthy fats at each meal will ensure that you feel full and satisfied. One of my favourite vegan meals is a mexican fiesta bowl where I combine brown rice, black beans, avocado, corn, peppers, sweet potatoes, and salsa- it’s so yummy! If an entire day sans meat sounds a bit too overwhelming, start with a Meatless Monday tomorrow until dinner! Eat breakfast and lunch without meat to start and see how you feel!
Feel free to contact me or comment below for more tips and recipe ideas! :)
Lots of love,