Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Vegan Diet 101: The First Year as a Vegan

I am celebrating my one year anniversary of being vegan today and I can't help but think about how far I have come. It hasn't been a perfect journey. There have definitely been some crazy moments when I doubted myself and the plant-based lifestyle, but it has been a rewarding and challenging year. I received mixed reactions initially and I didn't deal with those in the best way, either. I was either defensive or trying to convert everyone into vegans right on the spot. I learned that isn't really the way it works. You can't control anyone's life or diet except for your own. I've really learned this the hard way and now I am proudly sharing my story with all of you.

The first few days and weeks were rough, but here's a quick recap to show you what pushed me to change, how I did it, and how people reacted.

Day 1 - February 12th, 2012
I went to a birthday party for the little girl that I babysit every week. She had turned three and I took a photo with her (see my "before" shot in the link to the left). I was surprised by the way that photo turned out ("That can't be me!"), but I shrugged it off. On the way home, it started to sleet a little bit and I called my husband to see what he wanted from Whataburger. I opted for the A-1 Thick and Hearty. Once I got home, I unwrapped it and gazed at the smashed and messy burger on my plate. It was dripping with sauces, had strips of bacon and a melted piece of cheese on a couple of patties. I set it down after eating half of it and literally felt sick to my stomach. This was the first wake up call in the event that changed my life forever.

Day 2 - February 13th, 2012
I had been dreading this day since I knew it was my yearly appointment at my gynecologist. As I weighed in and they moved the bar over a couple of times on the scale, I frowned as she measured me at 155 lbs. I had gained 35 lbs. since high school and in those seven years, the weight slowly added on. I came home that night and watched Forks Over Knives for the second time in a few months. This time it would stick with me and I knew I needed to make the change. I finished the movie, walked into my pantry, and then proceeded to purge it of all the processed and unhealthy foods. We nearly had nothing left in the apartment once I was finished. I left the cow's milk, cheese, butter, bacon, and meats in the freezer since I didn't want to push my husband into this lifestyle. (Luckily he joined me and is a HUGE factor in my success!)

Day 3 - February 14th, 2012
Although this is probably the first official day/meal I had to consume that was vegan, I count the day prior when I had my awakening as my true anniversary date. As I left the apartment that day, I pulled up to the gate and the staff were giving everyone a doughnut and carnation. I grabbed the doughnut and set it on a coworker's desk who I knew would love it. I literally laughed as they gave it to me, since they had no clue what I had decided the night before. That drive to work with the doughnut sitting beside me was probably the toughest ride I have ever had. I kept quiet at work about my decision for fear of how my coworkers would react.

Weeks 2-16 (Mid-February to Mid-June)
After a while, I started to share with close friends and family that I had been avoiding animal products for the last couple of weeks. There were mixed reactions. Here's my favorites (can you smell the sarcasm?):

  • You'll be malnourished!
  • You won't get all of the nutrients you need by cutting out meat!
  • You don't have to cut out animal products. You just need to eat things in moderation!
  • Why would you do that?
  • Where will you get your protein?
  • What can you eat on your diet? 
  • Why are you on a diet? (It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change!)
  • That sounds really dangerous. You shouldn't do that!
  • This is fine for now, but when you get ready to have kids, you have to eat meat!
  • When are you through with your diet?
  • Are you still on your diet?
  • I heard you're on a diet.
Weeks 17-52 (Mid-June to February 2013)
Once I received my bloodwork proving that my health was dramatically better than before, people started to notice I looked different. By this point in my journey, I had gained the support of many family members, friends, and coworkers, all of which were invaluable and vital to my success. I had lost nearly 20 lbs. by June and was finally feeling comfortable with my new lifestyle. The months after were amazing... I continued to improve my levels, dropped another 15 lbs., and started to inspire others with my journey. I also really began to start blogging here on The Little Red Journal about my changes. Although there were naysayers, I knew my life was starting to improve and didn't care to look back. This experience has been life-changing and it's shown me a path to more happiness, fulfillment, and provided me with a sense of direction.

Thanks to all of you who have joined in, stood on the sidelines, or cheered me on from afar. You've all witnessed something that I never thought was possible: I've regained my health, passion for writing, and above all, a sense of accomplishment. 

Are you interested in taking the vegan plunge? I'm here to help and can't wait to discuss it with you. Tweet @LittleRedJrnl, Facebook me at The Little Red Journal's fan page, or email me by clicking the envelope at the top of the right sidebar. 

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.


  1. Thank you so much for this and for being you. You've no idea how much you've helped me.

  2. WAY TO STICK WITH IT, Kelsey!! You look amazing, and I am sure you feel EVEN MORE amazing. Keep up the great work, and keep on inspiring others to eat with their forks! They will THANK YOU for it later. I love reading your blog, and I am glad to call you my friend!

  3. Congratulations on being Herbie of the Week! I love your story. Keep up the good work!


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