We often get asked if we’re vegan. The short answer is no — by definition, we’re not vegan.
In this post, we’re sharing why we technically aren’t vegan + give a more in-depth look at our nutrition choices, so that you can make your own informed plant-based considerations for yourself.
Ethically, we align with nearly all of the vegan principles. We only purchase cruelty-free products, we’ve rescued + rehabbed 4 dogs + donate to shelters monthly. We’ve also taken in 2 pigs slated for the slaughterhouse + we consume a plant-based diet mostly.
That mostly is what separates us from true veganism.
We don’t love labels when it comes to nutrition in-particular because we strongly believe diet needs to be individually-tailored + individually-adjusted over our lifetimes.
We have had an eventful 11+ years of investigating health together. That’s a story for another post, but, in general, we’ve committed to being open-minded, to reading both sides of any argument + trying what works for us individually + then as a family.
After lots of trial + error, we’ve both realized that we actually don’t function best on a 100% vegan diet.
We consume mostly organic fruits + vegetables.
At first, we thought that meant straight-up salads all the time － which sounded aggressive － but we were up for the challenge initially, so that we could fit the vegan definition. We remember feeling like dinosaurs maw-ing on leafy greens + having a sore mouth from so much chewing.
Then, we heard about green smoothies. That sounded gentler, but the color still weirded us out.
For our first green smoothie, we thought we could wing it + just throw ingredients in a blender until we saw the right color. Turns out, a smoothie made that way tastes absolutely terrible. Don’t wing it.
Our gateway green smoothie was the Dan’s Apple Pie smoothie from Simple Green Smoothies + we’ve created a few of our own favorites since then. Smoothies are our hack for nutrition: jam-packed with more fruits + veggies than you can reasonably chew in a sitting. Win-win!
Next, we went onto creating quinoa-based salads. Our first one was quinoa with sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds + kale. We were able to use quinoa, pasta + potatoes to help us feel as full as we were used to feeling when we had been consuming red meat.
Those quinoa/pasta/potato dishes were undeniably so much easier on our stomach. We didn’t get the meat sweats after dinner. What we felt from quinoa was a satisfying, gentle fullness.
Listening to Your Body’s Cues
That satisfying, gentle fullness led us to pay more attention to how we were feeling before + after meat vs. plant consumption week-by-week. Not all food symptoms can be felt right away — some have delayed onsets — but this gave us a general idea of what felt right + what still felt off.
This is where we think veganism can get a bad rep. You can 100% get all of your daily necessary protein from plants easily — you do not need to get your protein from meat + dairy — but if you’re not getting the right daily nutrients + listening to your body’s cues, then you’re becoming deficient + have to deal with the consequences of that.
We stuck with eating mostly plant-based, but when we’d add a “treat” of a real burger into the week’s meal plan, we’d polish it off + immediately regret it. We started to naturally dislike how our bodies felt after consuming red meat. Add in a couple of Netflix documentaries about meat consumption + dairy production + that was an easy cut for us. No deli meats, no red meats + nearly no dairy.
Your gut will reset itself when it’s given the optimal nutrients. Once that happens, the gut gives you much clearer messages about what it wants to have + what it doesn’t want. After a few particularly devastating bathroom visits post-burgers, Kevin actually made the no-red-meat + limited-dairy decision first.
If you’re considering a plant-based diet, commit to listening to your body during the transition. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.
There’s a difference between an indulgent craving + a nutritional need.
Here’s a deeper look at what makes us not vegan.
We eat out.
We’re not above going through the Wendy’s drive-thru + getting a spicy chicken sandwich with fries + a Coke.
We try to only do this if we’re without any other readily available healthy + fresh plant-based options. When we opt for the drive-thru option, we savor every bite + slurp of that crap without guilt.
Side note: If we’re going for real specifics here — we’d actually go to Wendy’s for the spicy chicken sandwich, to Burger King for the fries, + then to Taco Bell for the fountain Coke because that Coke freestyle machine tastes like watered-down sludge + if we’re gonna indulge, we want the real sludge.
We try to find dairy-free ice cream + pizza options if we’re going out socially, but we don’t go as far as refusing to eat or leaving a place because they don’t offer those options.
Maybe someday we will, but life isn’t just about us right now + we’ve made our peace with that. When we have hungry toddlers with very sensitive feeding windows, we don’t choose the option of being highly selective + that’s okay.
We don’t eat soy products.
Not all plant-based people or vegans consume soy products, but many do choose to.
More than 90% of soybeans in the US are genetically modified, but even the organically-grown soybeans have their challenges.
We won’t get into the specifics here, but choosing to consume the soy-based products — like tofu — that are readily available in the US (as opposed to what’s available like in Asia) comes with what we would consider health dangers. Your source matters.
We use local honey.
We choose to use local honey as natural medicine for our devastating seasonal allergies. Nothing else besides over-the-counter medicines work for us + we don’t want the synthetic ingredients in our bodies.
Neither of us are in a time in our lives where we can sleep off the associated migraines + go without any intervention, so using honey is our best organic solution right now.
We consume fish oil + eggs.
We choose to take fish oil supplements daily + consume eggs a few times per week for the omega-3 fatty acid benefits. When we consume omega-3’s, we find that we’re more focused + happier than when we don’t.
Most Americans are actually omega-3 deficient, which could partially explain our higher rates of depression, anxiety + other mental health disorders.
We choose to consume a piece of small fish — like salmon — every other week because we believe in the importance of variability in vitamin sources.
We know that there can be too much of a good thing, so we diversify our vitamin sources just like we do financial investments.
How about you: how do you identify your nutrition choices?
What else would you want to know about nutrition from us? How can we support you best? Share your queries in the comments below!