Next time you’re in a restaurant, try ordering a burger without meat, cheese, or the bun.
That’s what Sarah Roach does, and surprisingly several others.
The proper term for those people is not lunatics, but vegans. It’s growing and popular trend that is sparking some serious interest among the health conscious.
The decision began when Roach gave up gluten, along with her sisters and mother a year ago.
“To me, I was always healthy, and then basically I ended up reading the wheat belly diet last summer. My mom read that and we both decided to cut gluten out and we lost a bit of weight, and we both felt a little better about ourselves,” said Roach.
If you’re unsure of what exactly a vegan is, it’s a few notches up on the vegetarian scale.
Not only do vegans not eat meat, but they also cut out all animal bi-products from their eating habits. No dairy products no eggs and no seafood.
“I had no money, I had nothing,” said Roach. “I just kinda thought I’m too poor to spend $17 on meat, and was like, okay people do it, whatever. So, I just researched it and justified it and watched a couple of documentaries.
“My mom just began buying the vegan replacement for stuff in our house and so all summer we ate vegan. Apart from when we were guests in someone’s home.”
Roach said the most difficult part of being a vegan, is that it’s still viewed as “weird” and “unnatural.”
“I noticed a huge difference, I even lost weight,” said Roach. “The only thing that gets you ever is social situations, that’s it.”
Roach said people still don’t understand what vegans are all about, and still tend to judge.
“It’s just so weird that it’s looked at like ‘oh you’re eating healthy?’” Roach said. “I don’t want to always be defending the world of vegans. People are like, ‘why are you doing that? where do you get your protein?’”
Morgan Hicks has been a vegan for six months and said the most challenging aspect of her lifestyle change is the judgment she receives.
“The most frustrating part is when people judge you for making that decision and not being educated on what it is and what you can do for the earth,” said Hicks.
Hicks made her decision based on a more ethical background.
“It’s not about losing or giving up anything. It’s about feeling harmonious with myself and every living thing on this earth.”
Hicks also noticed the health benefits of her switch. She said she lost weight that was gained through consuming salt, MSG (monosodium glutamat) and fatty foods.
“I went to the doctor to make sure I was still healthy because my mother was skeptical and my cholesterol and blood pressure were one of the best my doctor had seen,” said Hicks.
Roach said her decision to be a vegan has actually simplified her life in many ways and opened up a whole new way to cook food.
“You don’t have to think about your meal at 10 a.m.,” said Roach. “I can make a meal in 45 minutes, that’s decision to eating.”
Roach said her favorite vegan meals are spaghetti squash and curried chickpeas and rice.
“I eat a variety of different foods, I make smoothies almost every day, I live basically microwave free, make almost all my food from scratch and have found all new uses for avocado, chick peas and tofu,” said Hicks.
Ryan Dunphy said he tried being vegan after being a vegetarian for several years, however he wasn’t able to attain the amount of protein he wanted to gain muscle.
“I’m working on building muscle and I was having a hard time getting enough protein to add the muscle I wanted to,” he said.
Dunphy said the experience was beneficial for his health overall, and was an easy switch from being a vegetarian.
“It was a good experience and I felt really good, it even aided in my weight loss incredibly and was not hard to be vegan at all.”
Laura Michaud is 72 and her husband is 75, they have been raw vegans, limited to no cooked meals, for nearly 10 years. She currently teaches vegan cooking and lifestyle to her clients.
“It’s a choice that you make; it’s giving up not just meat but everything really, dairy, and sugar. We found things that are much better instead and have learned to cook all over again,” said Michaud. “ I love it now, and my favorite thing is cooking.”
Michaud said the decision to be a vegan means adopting a new lifestyle and understanding that it takes time.
“You have to give it time, you can’t give up after three months,” said Michaud. “Make up your mind and go with it.”
Veganism also means learning more about your body, how it works and what it needs to sustain itself.
“It’s knowing your body, knowing when you and what your body needs,” said Michaud.
Roach said she could always eat whatever she wanted without consequence. She said becoming vegan has been a positive decision for her and her body.
“I always loved being able to eat whatever I wanted,” said Roach. “[Switching to vegan] all made sense in so many ways, when people ask me why are you a vegan, I can never answer the same thing because its not one reason at all.”