But don’t you miss…?

I know there are a lot of misconceptions out there about the vegan diet. Like how it is depriving, too restrictive, or that I’ve had to “give up so much stuff.” I don’t see it that way at all. But I will admit, I have shared those opinions before I knew what I know now.

  • I’ve actually added more foods into my diet than I have given up.
  • I eat more of a variety now than I used to and I definitely get more use of my kitchen appliances.
  • I’ve cooked more recipes than I ever have before.
  • Did I mention I feel the best I EVER HAVE?! I have more energy (no longer fall asleep on the couch at 8), my workouts are better, my mood has improved, I sleep better, feel more peaceful, and have nearly perfection digestion.

I became a vegan for my health (first) and it has definitely done it’s part.

I know this is not true for everyone. I could see where a really picky eater, someone with food allergies, or other challenges would have a hard time with a vegan diet. For some people, they just like a food too much to give it up and I understand. But it is still possible if you feel led to do so. You just have to put in a little work — experiment with different foods and cooking methods, talk to lots of people in the vegan community (I can recommend a few), and even mess up from time to time. But the rewards, for me, are so worth it.

I have gotten a lot of questions about my vegan diet over the past 2 1/2 months, from family, friends and strangers. One of my favorite ones right now is:

“But don’t you miss (cheese/yogurt/eggs/etc)?”

The short answer is no. Since cutting out dairy, I have had almost no stomach issues (occasionally, I overdo fiber, ha ha). People rarely ask me if I miss meat (since I wasn’t a big meat eater to begin with, I guess). So let’s just address everything else:

Cheese – I always had a love/hate relationship with cheese because while I felt that it met my protein and calcium needs, it almost always led to an upset stomach, especially when consumed in large quantities (i.e. on pizza). I don’t think I knew that is what it was at the time, I even blamed it on veggies, fruit and beans for a while.  I eat a lot of those things now and it doesn’t happen. Hmm…

I did go through a few phases where I thought I might be lactose intolerant in the past so I guess in the back of my mind, I did know what was causing it. I do not try to “replace” cheese in my diet with a vegan-friendly option either. I just don’t want it, period.

Yogurt – Before transitioning to a vegan diet, I had yogurt just about every day. My favorite was Greek because of its thickness, high protein content and low sugar (if you stuck to plain). I thought I would miss yogurt a lot and I even tried a few non-dairy yogurts for a while but they are just too sweet and contain too much sugar for my tastes. Occasionally, I do miss Greek yogurt, but not the way it made me fart feel.

Eggs – These by far have been the easiest thing to live without. For me, they were always forgettable anyway. I used to incorporate egg-based dishes into my weekly breakfasts (and sometimes dinners) but almost always found that despite their “gold standard” protein content, they did not fill me up as well as a nice bowl of oats. When I ordered them at restaurants they made me sick (too much butter or oil). So why bother?

However, eggs have been the hardest thing to get around in so many products (seriously, egg whites are in everything). But it’s getting easier over time. But, there are so many egg alternatives out there that I don’t worry about not using them in baking.

Butter was not a problem for me because I never really used it much anyway and I have discovered Smart Balance Light which is much healthier and vegan too. There are also other brands out there like Earth Balance, so there is no need to worry about not having butter.

I’m not going to do in depth with honey, since no one has ever asked me if I miss that (ha ha). But I don’t use it at home and I try to avoid it in products as best I can but sometimes I just don’t worry about it. That’s more of an ethics issue anyway (I’m becoming more sensitive in this area but still have a lot of learning to do).

[Note: There are other animal by-products, like gelatin , rennet and casein, that I keep an eye out for but mostly they are not an issue in the foods that I eat.]

So, that’s my story!

Vegans: what was the hardest thing for you to eliminate from your diet? What do people ask you about it?

Non-vegans: If you’ve ever thought about trying a vegan diet, what has held you back?

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About Sarah Frankel

I am 29 years old and a resident of Louisville, Kentucky. I've been married to my husband Josh for 6 years and we have a 5 year old beagle named Suzie. Four years ago, I changed my eating and exercise habits, dropping 70 pounds and gaining an entirely new life. I took up running in September 2007 and became vegan in October 2009. I am constantly striving to improve my life so that I can live it to the fullest! I hope you will join me on my life journey.

Posted on December 9, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. cookingforaveganlover

    I have people constantly ask me do you miss (fill in the blank with animal product/by-product) and the truth is NO! I miss various dishes and things but it’s more that i wis there was a vegan version or readily avaliable one such as vegan soft serve- i don’t miss the dairy version but wish i could find the vegan version near me.

    I seem to mostly get the “oh you can’t eat that can you” line and it’s like yes i can eat it – but no i choose not to. That’s one thing i find many people don’t understand that veganism isn’t a diet where you restrict yourself from things- it’s a choice not to eat animal products because of health, animal rights, environmental, ect reasons.

  2. Hi Sarah –

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news all of the time, but Smart Balance is not vegan.

    It contains Whey, which is the liquid that separates from the milk solids during the process of making cheese. It also contains Lactic Acid which can be from and animal source or a vegetable source, and since it’s not listed it’s safe to assume it’s animal derived. And finally, it has Vitamin A palmitate which is another ingredient that is often animal derived, and since it’s not specified I wouldn’t trust it. Regardless of the latter 2, Whey is definitely not vegan.

    Earth Balance is the only vegan margarine that I’ve been able to find locally.

    • Smart Balance Light (only that one and not the others) does not contain whey. As with the other things, I have not become that strigent yet but perhaps I will try the Earth Balance next time. Thanks!

      • Hey Sarah –

        Sorry, I didn’t realize that Light was vegan. The only Smart Balance they sell in my local store all has whey in it, as I’ve hoped several times in a pinch that I’d be able to use it since I have to go out of my way to buy Earth Balance.

        I’ll keep my eye out for the Light varieties!!

      • No worries Carrie! I’m glad you brought up lactic acid and the other ingredients because those are definitely ones I want to research a little more. I can’t remember where I found SB light but I’ll keep an eye out for it. I hear you, they have Earth Balance at my Kroger but it’s $3.69 (while SB is usually around $2).

      • The Smart Balance Organic is vegan also…

  3. great post!!!
    i agree 100% i do not miss any of those foods i used to eat. I love everything I do eat now!! I just think of all the wonderful, wholesome, delicious foods I CAN eat! and i feel amazing when eating vegan! i don’t need as much sleep, i have more energy, and a lot of the guilt that can be associated with eating is taken away. I don’t feel like this is a restriction diet at all!
    thanks for the excellent write-up!

  4. I’m vegetarian, and I haven’t been able to pull of being vegan. What’s holding me back is absolutely cheese. I love cheese so much. All kinds of it with everything. I rarely use milk, and could easily give up eggs and butter, but cheese……mmmmm

  5. thank you for this post! I cut out dairy 4 years ago but just went vegan a little over two months ago. Red meat is actually what I miss most, if anything, but you are right….I have added more to my (now more balanced) diet than I have taken away. I will remember to say that next time someone asks me if I miss “fill in the blank.”

  6. cookingforaveganlover

    yeah Smart Balance With Flax Oil (regular and light), Smart Balance Organic and Smart Balance Light are all vegan- they do not contain whey or fish oil like other smart balances

  7. cookingforaveganlover

    the lactic acid in SB is from beets – lactic acid can come from plant sources

  8. cookingforaveganlover

    “Smart Balance® Organic Buttery Spread
    This all-natural, certified organic, 79% vegetable oil Spread tastes and cooks like rich butter, but is 100% vegan.” http://www.smartbalance.com/ButterOrganic.aspx

  9. I consider myself flexitarian but my diet is mostly vegan. I say that because certain dairy foods I love are really hard to give up. I LOVE eggs and they meet my protein needs easily which is great because I don’t have a lot of time now a days. I also allow room for the occasional ice cream treat or grilled cheese. but thats about it. IF i do have dairy, I can only have ONE serving per day and usually go a few days before having another one. dairy was totally the culprit for my abnormal bowel movements that plagued me my entire life. i also had mysterious stomach pains that have gone away since adopting mostly vegan diet. i still eat occasional fish, etc. I try not to be too strict on special occasionans, eating out and with my family. it works for me and my family 🙂 and i’m happy with the way my body feels right now

  10. I think giving up dairy would be hard for me but not meat…I don’t even keep meat in the house. I only eat it when I eat out or if I cook a meal for my family.

  11. people always pick at me because being a vegan means i took out so much of “good regular” foods.
    eh, wrong.
    i too have added so much more!
    i love my soy yogurts, grains, veggies, and all the varieties that come with them!! nuts, nut butters;) fruits.. oh, i can go on. and I FEEL better too!!
    things I’d say I miss on occasion are goats cheese, and salmon.

  12. Great post!
    I found this very interesting to read. I am currently a ‘vegetarian’ but do consume eggs, limited dairy and occasionally eat fish / seafood. The big thing that I would “miss” would be yogurt and cheese, if I did go vegan.

  13. This is such a great post! I wish all my friends and family could read it 🙂 I am semi-vegan but occasionally eat fish/seafood. I couldn’t have said it better, we really do add so many great things to our diet. All of the great foods that make you feel good too. I’ve had a lot of fun since going semi/mostly vegan. I love trying all the new recipes and am creative with my food. I’ll admit that I miss cheese the most but have found some decent alternatives.

  14. After being vegan for almost 4 years, I don’t really miss any of the foods I gave up. What I do miss, is going out to breakfast for a plate of pancakes or french toast, both of which contains eggs or dairy at most places. I miss being able to go out with friends and not have to worry if a certain restaurant will have something on the menu for me. I guess I miss the eating experiences I used to have, but the benefits of veganism definitely outweigh these experiences for me. Does that make any sense?

    • Absolutely! I guess you could say I miss ordering pancakes too and it is hard to navigate restaurant menus at times. So I guess the more “care free” times are missed by me as well. But like you, I think the benefits outweigh that big time. Thanks for commenting!

  15. I am currently a flexitarian. As of right now, I could not think of life without eggs or fish. I tend to eat more fish than eggs, but I love eggs with a passion. The only way I could give up fish is if the waters became too polluted. I can do “vegan” days, but giving up these two is what stops me from converting. I also believe that there is nothing wrong with eating different forms of meat. Most animals in nature eat other animals. The fact that animals are being raised in horrible conditions and being fed a “garbage” diet is absolutely unacceptable. I think this is one of the many reasons people turn vegan.

  16. Yea! I’m glad the package made it to ya alright! I’m just catching up from yesterday’s post too…I definitely prefer my vegan mac & cheeze made from scratch, but the boxed stuff comes in handy for a quick week night meal. I think the funny aftertaste is the green lentil flour they use to make it gluten-free….it’s almost reminescent of a sort of Indian food-taste.

    As for what I miss the most, I’d say cheese. Even though I now actually like vegan cheese subs better than dairy cheese (for real! I know that’s strange), I miss the meltiness of mozzarella on a pizza.

  17. Cheese – simply because when you are out and about it is hard to get food options which don’t include cheese.

    Also, I prefer not to eat sugar it is very difficult to eliminate sugar when you go vegan if you are buying readymade vegan products (soy yoghurt etc) as they all contain high amounts of sugar.

    Other than those I have found going vegan (from an avid meat eater) has been suprisingly easy. I am just about to take another step and eat organic…I will see how that goes!

  18. Hi! Great blog post. I just switched from veg to vegan 2 months ago and I don’t regret a THING! My weakness has always been cheese (hence the website name). But I have found a TON of great cheese alternatives that has more than satisfied my cravings for a creamy, savory treat!

  19. wow this was a great post! ive always wondered about being vegan, always thought about trying it out-because i have IBS issues. It would be so hard for me to give up yogurt! i eat it atleast once a day!

  20. I have been having a lot of issues lately. (heartburn, stomach pains and etc.) So I have been trying to cut back on dairy but I love greek yogurt and will miss it so much. I guess that’s what holds me back. But blogs like yours give me so much inspiration for vegan meals. I am definitely trying to incorporate more of them into my diet.

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