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Vegan Iceland - Vinyl Cafe

My First 730 Days as a Vegan

“Wow! Being vegan must suck! What the hell do you even eat? Let me guess, you just eat lettuce and carrots all day? You’re basically a rabbit! Haha!”

Well, the past two years flew by. Today (January 10th) is day 730 of my plant-based journey. Yup, I consumed zero meat, dairy, gelatin, and all other animal-related products for two straight years. So I figured I would write a long post about what I think about all of this now, along with some rants, and mix in a list about some of my favorite vegan memories thus far.

I’ve heard all sorts of comments and opinions while doing this experiment, but none of that stopped me. When I have an idea in my head, I usually get obsessed with it. I become stubborn and do tons of research and try to get others on board with it. This was no exception.

I tried other “diets” in the past, but it was really hard to stick with them for the long haul.

Being overweight was never really a problem for me, so going down this vegan route wasn’t to lose weight.

The Paleo / NSNG (no sugar no grains) idea seemed cool several years ago, but I felt like I was cheating all the time. I was sold right away when I first heard about it, but over time I kept wondering if this made sense.

The whole story about why I gave veganism a try can be found here and here, but the short version is: I just wanted to try something new and see if I could actually do it.

Lifestyles Over Diets

I’m an extremely curious person and I like experiments. So two years ago, I tried it for a day, then a week, then a month, then 100 days, then six months, then a year, then I didn’t see any reason to stop.

“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!” That phrase is so cliché, but it’s kinda true. I’ve never looked at it as a diet. It was literally a short term experiment that I just never stopped.

When I hear people say they just started a new diet, I know that they have a specific goal they are trying to reach, with an end date in mind, and this is a temporary thing. A band-aid if you will.

The main reason to start any sort of diet is usually to lose weight. While that’s a good idea for many people, that should just be a byproduct of your new habits, not the main reason.

Just like following your dreams or passions, you should focus your time doing things you love, because you genuinely enjoy them. And not doing it for the money. If you love what you do and put in consistent effort over time, you will make it work, and the money will follow. You might not get super rich, but nobody needs to be super rich.

Back to diets, they are stupid. They are creative marketing ideas that usually give hopeless people good news about their bad habits. Example: “Eat all the bacon and cheese you want, and I promise you’ll be living your best life!” Most people are either delusional or depressed the whole time they are doing it and plan on returning to their normal lives sooner than later, so they can get back to eating/doing whatever they want.

Change your habits and live a healthier life. Call it a lifestyle if you want, or just say that’s the way you do things, but figure out a healthier approach to life doing things you actually enjoy, and do that. And be consistent. Consistency will help you reach your goals in basically every area of your life.

Always Exploring, Forever Weird

With that said, I legit enjoy being a vegan, or a plant-based person or non-animal-eater or whatever you want to call it. I’ve been all over this country as well as several foreign countries around the world, and I’ve found exciting vegan meals in every single place.

Oh ya, to answer the doubters in my opening line, I EAT GOOD SHIT. Seriously, whatever your favorite foods are, I can show you photos of vegan versions that I’ve eaten. I eat pizza, tacos, Chinese takeout, pasta, sloppy-joes, mac-n-cheese, sushi, cupcakes, and basically everything you eat. Yes, occasionally I eat salads too.

Anyways, one of the main reasons I love travel is exploring. This also means exploring new restaurants and trying new menu items that I’ve never even heard of. I’ve definitely expanded my horizons when it comes to food over the past 730 days. I’ve tried things that I never in a million years would have tried in my old life. I used to be so picky.

My meals are pretty simple and basic when I’m eating at home, but when I travel, I try just about anything that’s vegan. I will eat out 1-3 times a day and I scout out any 100% plant-based restaurant. I visit a lot of vegetarian restaurants that have plenty of vegan options too. I also like finding the seemingly non-vegan places that either have only a couple vegan options on the menu or zero obvious options, in which case I get creative and find a way to make something vegan. I’m essentially a problem-solver in all aspects of my life.

Sure, sometimes I look like the weird guy, or the complicated picky eater, or a hippie, or a liberal, or a thousand other titles. But I don’t care. This isn’t about other people. This is what I want to do, for me.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I thought this would be a healthier way to live, so that was another reason to adopt this way of eating. And while there are plenty of ways to be an unhealthy vegan, I think most of my choices are on the positive side of the scale.

Animals Have Feelings Too

I’m also someone that has always said I love animals. I didn’t start this with the animals as a priority, but I definitely thought about it before I started, especially while watching some pretty horrific documentaries. The longer I live this lifestyle though, the more I care about the animals and can’t imagine eating them again.

Some people will put various animals into different categories though. Like dogs and cats are pets, and pigs and cows are food. While some species are both, like fish and birds. I see them all equally. I’m not here to piss you off or change your mind, but these are all living, breathing creatures that can obviously feel pain, and I can’t bring myself to harm them anymore, even through a third-party that kills and processes it for me without me witnessing it.

I’ve also found myself buying cruelty-free everything. When there are two options on a shelf (that are basically the same thing, just different brands) and one tests on animals and the other doesn’t, why would you choose the former when the latter is about the same price and doesn’t cause harm? Seems like a no-brainer to me, at least it does these days.

So many people say they love animals, yet they eat them every single day. So many people say they love animals, but they are avid hunters. So many people say they love animals, but they are wearing fur and leather all the time. Seems hypocritical to me, but who am I to say? I’m no better than you or them. I ate and did whatever I wanted for over 34 years. We all learn and react differently to things at various stages in life. And some never do, or don’t want to, and that’s ok too. To each their own.

Yes, I ate animal products probably every day for most of my life. You will still survive that way. You can live a long life either way. But one day I decided to learn more about why I was eating the way I was and wanted to try another option. Turns out I can keep living my epic life without animals being involved. I feel fine and see no reason to stop. Maybe I’ll do this forever, who knows.

But again, I’m not going to force anyone to do what I do. I would agree, I’m an odd individual, I probably have some faulty wiring. Other people’s decisions rarely affect me. If someone is curious and has questions, I’ll tell them everything I know. I’m not the world’s leading expert on health or nutrition, and I never pretend to be. But I do have real-world experience that I can share. Which is basically the whole point of this website.

I’ve found that when you try to force someone to do something, that usually causes them to ignore you, or hate you, or to rebel against your cause. Me yelling at someone for eating a beef burger isn’t going to solve any problems.

But if I continue to live my life, doing what I enjoy, sharing my stories, a percentage of people will notice the benefits and begin to question everything they’ve been told their whole lives. They might reach out to me, they might try some vegan options on their own, they might surprise themselves, or they might take on their own experiments.

Again, I don’t know if humans are supposed to be eating this way. It’s not for me to decide that, and living in this society/country/planet might suck if we didn’t have choices. Of course having tons of choices and confusing information on both sides of any argument is overwhelming and can cause stress, but I love living a life full of freedom. You’re free to do whatever you want, and I’m free to do whatever I want. This path works for me, so I’ll keep doing it.

Too Many Good Times

Switching gears, I want to share a few of my favorite things from this two year (and counting) journey. I’ve been to a lot of places, ate a lot of things, talked to a lot of people, and had a lot of fun along the way. So here are 10 random things that come to mind:

  1. Finding out my favorite place to eat is extremely easy to eat at as a vegan (Chipotle).
  2. Going on my first European trip and finding all sorts of vegan options in Reykjavík, Iceland, a place I never would have expected to have anything for vegans.
  3. Having my family and friends try various things and actually enjoy them. It’s like watching one of your favorite movies with someone who’s never seen it, and getting to experience it all over again in a new way (and hoping they enjoy it too). While I don’t personally know anyone that has gone 100% vegan after hanging out with me or talking to me, it’s still cool to see others trying new things on their own and sharing it with me. My family has even cooked up vegan options several times and it’s never expected but it’s definitely appreciated.
  4. Another Iceland story on a different trip: finding vegan burgers, hours into the middle of nowhere, in a small fishing village. If you can find something vegan in one of the most remote areas of the world, you can basically find something vegan anywhere.
  5. Learning more about myself and strengthening my self-discipline muscle. If I can do something for 730 days straight, I believe I can pretty much do anything. And I’ve since started plenty of other experiments and daily habits.
  6. Following a couple amazing international vegan restaurants on Instagram for over a year and then actually eating at both of them in person last year. Vegan Junk Food Bar and The Dutch Weed Burger are two popular vegan joints in Amsterdam, and these places are exactly how I’d do a restaurant if I ever decide to create one (I’ve honestly thought about this many times).
  7. Realizing there are so many vegan options in Dayton, Ohio. People around here are usually shocked when I start listing all the places.
  8. Finding this amazing pizza place in Paris. It was so good that I ordered more to go and ate it back at my Airbnb that night, and I think for breakfast the next morning before my flight. Now that I think bout it, I’ve ate way too much food and still ordered more to go plenty of times. Haha
  9. Eating at the same late night noodle place in Miami like four times on a short trip to South Beach. On one of my last visits, the worker was like, “Man, you are here like every day. You work at the tattoo shop down the street, right? I’ll give you the Miami locals discount!”
  10. Meeting some of the nicest humans ever. From my experience, the owners/workers at 100% vegan restaurants are literally the kindest people alive. They seem to love going to work every day, they have a great energy about them, they believe in what they do, and they are contributing towards one giant overall mission. Another reason why I think it wold be amazing to open up a plant-based food spot: getting to hire these types of people, work with them often, and bring in customers who are the same way. Maybe one of these days…

Maybe You’ll Give it a Try

When I first started eating this way, I never thought I’d be writing about it two years later. Crazy how time flies. I haven’t posted a ton on this site just yet, but I’ve been documenting everything since the beginning. My plan is to put out one new post every week, and to release them on Fridays. Of course I might throw in some extra posts as I feel necessary.

I also have another site called The Ran Plan, and I “plan” to release posts there every Monday. That blog is geared towards my overall travels, as well as my written thoughts on life, being a creative, and random stories along the way. Basically everything else I want to write about that isn’t specifically based on my food, because those stories belong here.

Lastly, I have a podcast called Risk Without Regret. This is mainly focused on entrepreneurship, taking risks, and having more freedom in your life. I share my stories, I interview all sorts of people that are cooler than me, and there are tips and ideas to help others figure out ways to find happiness in life and work. I took a “brief” hiatus, but there are 50+ episodes already published over there. New episodes are coming every Wednesday, and you can find them on all the podcast apps, as well as listen right on the website.

Ok, back to food porn (clearly you can see I do too many things). I appreciate you reading through all of this. If you ever have any questions about veganism or need recommendations for cool places to eat around the world or need anything in general, leave me a comment, or send me an email, or reach out to me on social media. I love having conversations, and obviously I enjoy writing, so I’d love to hear from you. Helping others is one of the most rewarding things to me.

Above all, I hope this website gives you some guidance in your journey, whatever that is. Maybe you’ll think of me the next time you’re sitting at a new restaurant in some random city, and you’re staring at the menu for way too long and still can’t decide what to get. Maybe you’ll be adventurous and try that vegan special. Maybe you’ll be nervous. Maybe you’ll like it. Here’s to another 730 days. Cheers!

Dayton Ohio Vegan Food - CJ Chan
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