How I Got Fat Living With a Vegan

Couscous, red pepper and sundried tomato hummus, avery beast beer

Spoiler Alert: This post actually has much less to do with veganism and much more to do with how good my own brain is at tricking itself.

Veganism itself is something I’m still learning a lot about. From an ethical point of view I fully support it. From a nutritional point of view I’ve learned enough to see that it’s still entirely possibly to get all of the nutrients one needs as a vegan and that overall it can actually be much healthier. However, from the point of view of my taste buds, I do still struggle with the idea of being a vegan myself.

I will say, though, that almost every vegan meal I’ve had has been delicious, and sometimes much better than the meat-heavy dishes others are having. Despite all of this, I somehow actually started gaining weight after moving in with a vegan. How is this possible?

What is a Main Dish?

I grew up very much in a culture that had main dishes and side dishes, and almost without exception the main dish involved, or most often simply was a meat. Steak with potatoes and veggies. Salmon with rice and asparagus. And on, and on. As I learned to eat more healthy myself, this is very much the model I followed – a large protein main course and some healthy vegetables to go with it. This is almost exclusively how I learned to cook and be healthy.

So when I start thinking about planning a vegan meal – despite the fact that I know how delicious they can be – I hit what I can only describe as a mental block. My normal strategy for planning a meal is choosing a main dish (read: meat) and the building sides around that. This is so much the case that I have trouble conceiving of what a main dish is without meat.

Because my brain tricks me into not thinking I’m having a meal unless there’s this main dish, I find myself unable to get started in cooking a meal and just eating junk food instead.  I am slowly making progress here, but it’s been tough. Gradually I’m started to redefine in my mind what a main dish is, but my brain has been extremely stubborn about this.

On Compromise

The other decision I made, which I thought was a really great example of compromise at the time, was that when at home I would mostly eat vegan, and when eating out where it was easier to get separate dishes, I would eat meat.

Can you figure out where this plan went wrong yet?

This has turned into an excuse to eat out more often, and eating out is almost always less healthy than eating at home.

Conclusions

My brain is really good at taking things that should be good for me and finding ways to make them into bad habits. I haven’t really gotten fat, but I have been eating worse – and if I don’t reverse this trend, I probably will start putting on weight. But I’m recognizing the patterns, and that’s always the first step to correcting them.

I realize that I need to stop letting my brain trick me into eating worse and instead take advantage of the awesomeness that is living with a vegan.

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