I Have Been Vegan for 10 Years. Here Are My 10 Biggest Takeaways…

One morning about ten years ago, I woke up and thought, “hey I think I’m a vegetarian now.” And that was it. A few months later I went vegan and I have never looked back. It wasn’t about animal welfare, I wasn’t concerned about greenhouse gasses (if I even knew what they were), and I hadn’t just watched any documentaries about diet-related diseases. It was just pure intuition.

At the time, I had no way of knowing what a positive role this decision would play in my life.

This momentary insight over a decade ago was the best lifestyle choice I have ever made, without question. Of all the changes and improvements in my life over the years, this one really stands apart as the most impactful.

I just realized that I passed my 10-year veganniversary (lol) this year, so I thought I would share what I consider to be the biggest benefits, observations, and takeaways of being a vegan for the last 3,650+ days…

1. The world has changed.

Can you even remember what 2009 was like? Forks Over Knives, What the Health, and Game Changers hadn’t been shot. The millions of plant-based book/cookbook bestsellers hadn’t been written. Even Dr. Greger of only had like 4 videos online.

Lewis Hamilton just won his first F1 title and definitely wasn’t posting #vegan #foodporn messages to his 13 million followers on Instagram (which also didn’t exist yet).

Restaurants and grocery stores had no knowledge, desire, or incentive to provide vegan options. The idea of Beyond Meat Del Tacos and Impossible Whoppers were laughable (maybe they still are?) and Veggie Grill was a single-location experiment.

What has happened in the meantime has been nothing short of a plant-based revolution. Compared with 2009, the nutritional world is completely transformed.

I mean, if you told me a decade ago that I could ask for non-dairy milk in a cafe and have the barista reply, “sure, would you like soy, almond, oat, hemp, rice, hazelnut, or cashew?” I would have thought you were crazy! 🙂

In addition to the practical benefits of broad access to plant-based food at restaurants and grocery stores, the psychological benefits are immense. As all marketers know, “social proof” is the biggest driver of action. So when your neighbor, your grandmother, and your favorite celebrity are all going vegan (not just those crazy hippie kids), it makes you take it much more seriously.

For me personally, I was able to make it work in those dark ages just as well as in today’s paradise, but my ability to spread this message and help others improve their diet has gotten dramatically easier and more credible in the last decade.

In retrospect, it is obvious that this was going to happen. The nutritional science was already well established ten years ago, it just hadn’t yet gone mainstream. The groundwork for this revolution was being laid in numerous ways, but people just weren’t ready. From my perspective though, having been vegan this whole time, it’s pretty nuts to step back and realize just how much the public consciousness has shifted in the last decade. We have a lot of work to do, but the signs are encouraging. Well done, humanity.

2. It’s a lot harder for those around me than it is for me.

Personally, eating a vegan diet has never been a big deal for me and I’m not at all vocal or preachy about it with others. I can’t remember one time where I insisted on eating at a certain vegan restaurant or preached to anyone for their dietary choices. Nevertheless, it has been a HUGE deal for some bigoted people with whom I have come into contact. When you go vegan, suddenly everyone in your life becomes deeply concerned about your diet – even more than their own. They have no idea what’s in their food, but they sure know what’s in yours!

A friend once called me selfish and egotistical for always eating “special food” … I’ve overheard several people criticizing me (in terms of my diet) behind my back … others have been obviously concerned that I may be malnourished and protein deficient … and not to mention the illogical yet pervasive ideas that real men eat meat, which I jokingly tackled in this article (8 Scientific Reasons Why Vegan Men Are More Manly) to a chorus of insecure men leaving me toxic comments.

3. Vegans have a secret club.

All the above might sound… awful, but it really isn’t. Making conscious choices in your life creates immediate clarity. The people who are wrong for you will leave. This is great. Just think – if you knew that someone in your life would viciously criticize and reject you for making a positive health choice down the road, wouldn’t you love to know that now? Wouldn’t you love to clear them out of your life, instead of continuing to invest in a mismatched relationship?

As with any conscious lifestyle choice you make, your relationships will become more extreme. Some people will hate you, some will love you, and you’ll clear out those people who think “meh” of you. That might seem difficult, but it’s an immensely positive thing.

Just as it can turn people off, it can also bring new people into your life who are much more aligned with your lifestyle and values. One of the greatest things about being vegan is that I’ve been able to connect instantly and deeply with other vegans who would otherwise be total strangers. It’s like a secret club where all the members are respected and appreciated right off the bat.

This makes sense because this one simple dietary choice says so much about the qualities of this person. Immediately, you know that they are much more likely to be:

  • Courageous enough to put their values into action
  • An intelligent free thinker who makes their own choices
  • More conscious and spiritually aware (see #7)
  • Someone who values their body and wellbeing
  • Empathetic enough to value and appreciate life
  • Healthy and energetic
  • Happier and less stressed

Don’t those people sound great?! Obviously people who are not vegan can have those characteristics too (and vice versa) but it’s a quick filter to find some really great people who are likely to share a lot in common with you.

This has definitely been the case for me. I have no prejudice against non-vegan people (everyone is on their own journey), but this is why much of my social circle is now vegan. It would be really hard, for example, to have a relationship with someone who isn’t part of the club… vegan girls are just instantly so much more attractive 🙂

4. I eat a much wider range of foods (and appreciate them more).

One of the biggest ironies of going vegan is that you’re cutting out entire food groups and yet somehow end up eating a much wider variety of foods. Huh?

The reason is, there is like 10,000x more diversity in the edible plant kingdom than the factory-farmed animal kingdom. Compared to 10 years ago, I probably eat a 5x greater variety of foods.

Once you’re in the mindset of being a plant eater, a whole new world of variety opens up. You find new recipes with strange-sounding ingredients like nutritional yeast, dandelion greens, champagne mangos, adzuki beans, oyster mushrooms, quinoa, wakame seaweed, and so much more.

Not only is this fun, but it’s also really good for you. Our bodies were designed to eat a ton of biodiversity because each has a different balance of vitamins and micronutrients that we need for optimal health.

Just as important, I also began to understand and become mindful of the foods I was eating rather than taking them for granted. This led to so much more positive feelings towards food, and it’s rare that I eat a meal now without feeling immense gratitude for the nutrition and flavors, and the larger harmony of nature that supports these plants.

5. It has made my character stronger.

I think it’s dumb to play those “what if” games, but I shudder to think what my life would have been like if I hadn’t switched to a plant-based diet. I can tie so much of my positive character development to this one decision.

Putting aside the huge benefits of both health and career (i.e. this blog would have never been started), going vegan made me a better person in numerous ways…

  • I am more capable of thinking for myself and making independent decisions rather than just following some pre-set social norms.
  • My views of the world have expanded. I care so much more about contributing positive solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, and reducing suffering for humans, animals, and our planet.
  • I feel more confident and in control of my life – I know I can take positive steps to improve my life and follow through with them.
  • I have a greater sense of compassion and empathy. This is obviously true for animals, but for humans too. I find myself much more empathetic to other people’s situations and needs.
  • I feel much more capable of being assertive because I have more experience defending my positions and standing up for my dietary choices.

I would suggest that if you’re looking to revitalize your life and grow your character, there is no better starting point than diet. It’s an “easy win” that will improve your confidence, clarity, and awareness so much that everything else will become easier.

6. Exercise is now fun.

This was both an immediate and long-lasting benefit. After I went vegan, I felt like I could just run forever. Within months, my speed, endurance, robustness, and recovery increased dramatically – but also my enjoyment. That look on most runner’s faces (something between constipation and terror) was a thing of the past. Running became so smooth and effortless no matter how many miles I was logging.

Every year since, my endurance and enjoyment have both increased. Today I love running more than pretty much anything else. Next year, as long as my ankle ligaments behave themselves, I hope to do my first 50-mile ultra.

For endurance sports especially, veganism is like a superpower, and that’s why such a high percentage of ultra runners and triathletes are plant-based. I just don’t know how non-vegans can compete.

[Update: I just watched Game Changers on Netflix and it does an awesome job of explaining this. If you’re curious about this topic of plant-based athletic performance, that documentary is a must watch!]

7. Spiritual awareness?

Surprisingly, this was the most obvious shift in my pre/post vegan life. Almost immediately after making the switch, I felt a pronounced energetic upgrade. I don’t know what to call it other than, maybe, spiritual awareness?

What specifically caused this is a mystery to me. Maybe it is some kind of physical energy boost from a cleaner diet? Maybe it was the lack of ingesting suffering multiple times a day? Whatever the cause, this increase in pure awareness was like taking off sunglasses I didn’t know I was wearing. Everything got brighter and clearer.

This shift was both internal and external. Inwardly, I felt so much more intuitive, clear-minded, and centered. Outwardly, the world felt so much more alive and I could notice the energy patterns around me more easily.

It also extended to nature. Hiking through a woodland and feeling the harmony of the birds, grasses, sunshine, soil, air, water.. it’s all so alive. This is something I never would have even noticed ten years ago, but is now one of the things I appreciate most.

I don’t even notice this as often anymore because it has become so normal, but the effect is definitely still there, and it has enhanced my ability to appreciate life immeasurably.

8. I got better at cooking. Obviously.

Before I went vegan, cooking was a cool idea. I thought it would be nice to someday learn how to cook something. I think I even tried to follow a recipe one time…


On a vegan diet, cooking more of your own meals from scratch is inevitable. True, there are more and more ready-made vegan meals available now, but it would still be nearly impossible to eat vegan without knowing how to throw meals together on your own.

Since the default SAD (Standard American Diet) no longer applies to you, you’ve got to take control over what you’re eating on a daily basis. That often means much more cooking – and also more awareness of exactly what you’re eating. Both are super positive side benefits of a plant-based diet

I may have taken this idea a bit farther than some, but that’s really the entire mission of this whole business – to help you find new things to cook so that a plant-based diet can be both sustainable and delicious.

9. Losing weight is easier than gaining weight.

On a whole-food, plant-based diet, it is nearly impossible to overeat. Why? Because the calorie density of the food is low enough that our stomachs get full right when we’ve had enough calories. On the other hand, if we eat processed oils, sugars, and animal products, we could fit more than a day’s worth of calories in one stomachful. Hence, most people end up overeating without noticing.

The low density of plant food is like nature’s built-in guardrail that allows us to fill our stomachs with real food without ever overeating. It’s kind of like stomach-stapling without the staples…

I didn’t start particularly overweight, but I wasn’t very lean either. I had probably an extra 15 pounds of bulk that I have since lost. BMI isn’t super accurate for me because I’m quite tall and thin, and I run endlessly, so healthy for me is always going to be lower than average, but I started at about 21+ and now I’m stuck at 19. Month after month, year after year, it never budges.

That’s the weird thing – the unintended weight loss happened pretty quickly (within 2-3 years). Since then? My weight never fluctuates outside of a 2-3 pound range. I eat as much as I want of any whole plant food without even thinking about it, and I exercise as much as I want, but my weight never changes. If anything, I have to remind myself to eat more throughout the day to keep up my weight.

This can be frustrating when I occasionally feel like, “ah I’m too lean, I need to bulk up and add a few pounds of muscle!” I’ll lift weights and try to eat hundreds of extra calories, but after a month of “hard work” I might gain 1-2 pounds. Bah. There are plenty of vegan bodybuilders though, so this may be more about my natural physique than my diet. Ultimately, this kind of weight stability is good for metabolic health so I’m not complaining.

10. Veganism is boring.

It may be surprising (especially given my career) but I pretty much never think or talk about veganism. To me, it’s old news. I rarely think of it as a subject worthy of conversation or debate.

In terms of “spreading the message,” maybe I am a bit jaded, but I have never convinced anyone to change their diet. Ever. It’s a lost cause. If someone tells me they’ve gone paleo in order to eat clean and get healthy, cool. Oh, and you tried going vegan but were “so tired” and it just “doesn’t work for your body.” cool.

In my mind, veganism is such a settled issue. Literally all the research (and all major health organizations) recognize that a plant-based diet is super hella effective at everything, for everyone, so what is there to talk about? Either you’re onboard or you’re not and nothing I say is going to change your mind. If anything, my example has done a lot more than my words to help others become more veg-curious.

While I try to answer people’s questions and be supportive, I just don’t think of veganism as a “thing” anymore. It’s not a cool, new, trendy, interesting topic. It’s not a curiosity or a fascination or something that makes me special. It’s just the only logical thing to do, and therefore, quite boring.


As I reflect on these 10 years and these 10 takeaways, one thing really stands out to me…

The major selling points of a plant-based diet are personal health (it has so much power to reverse and cure dietary diseases that are killing more people than anything), animal welfare (it’s horrific), and environmental benefits (a huge proportion of greenhouse gasses and ecological harm are related to animal farming).

What I find so fascinating is that those towering issues didn’t even hardly factor into this list. It’s not as if I made a personal sacrifice and lived a lesser life in order to achieve better health and do my part to make the world a better place. No. A plant-based diet has expanded my life in dramatic ways. It is for those reasons, even more than the larger issues, why this has been my best decision of the last decade.

What about you? If you’ve been vegan for a while, do you have any similar or different experiences?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below!


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  1. Interesting read Andrew. I enjoy your writing and find your recipes easy to follow, wholesome & tasty. I was a bit taken back by your last takeaway..”Veganism is boring”. When asked the ever-popular question “why are you vegan?”, I do bite my tongue to avoid spewing out animal slaughterhouse torturous practices. For me, it is a balancing act in recognizing the opportunity for meaningful discussion. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Judy! I appreciate that. It’s definitely a balancing act when talking to others. I’m happy to answer other people’s questions and all that, but it’s boring in my own life because I don’t even think about it anymore.

  2. Good article! Had to nod several times at various parts as I too have been critiqued, look down upon and basically ridiculed for being vegan… and the worst ones are people who have been vegan and are pescatarian now… uff. One has to just remain quiet … ur right their journey! And also true is that vegans are a secret club far more gentler… 🙂 rather be in this club too. Good to know that one is not alone with the same thoughts and you have verbalized them well. Thank you. Wishing u a merry Christmas!

    • Hey Jasmin, thanks! It’s great to hear that you resonated with my experiences. Yes, I’ve found that staying quiet and leading by example is usually the way to go… Merry Christmas! 🙂

  3. This is a really great blog article. Thank you for expressing your (and my) feelings, observations and opinions. We have been vegan for 20 years now!!! and I would totally agree with everything you have said. We love the variety- Monday nights, Mex, Tuesday nights, Asian, Wed. Greek, Thursday either German or French Friday always Italian. The possibilities are endless and always enjoyable. Yes, I do spend more time ib the kitchen,but that is also a big creative opportunity as well.

    • Wow, 20 years is pretty epic! When I talked about the vegan world being different vs 10 years ago, it’s REALLY different than 20 years ago! Themed weeknights? I’m coming to your house for dinner, haha 🙂

  4. Good article Andrew, I agree with some of the things you mentioned above and can relate to some of the things as well.

    I did try going vegan for a long time, mostly because of some health issues that more or less forced it on me and then when my health got better, I was able to add more food back into my diet and I ate some meat to see what it would be like and to see if I could handle it again, unfortunately, it was my undoing once I tasted meat again I liked it enough to want it again, so needless to say I am not vegan, though I do have meatless days still once or twice week.
    I did learn a lot of things while I was vegan tho, I learnt that eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to cut out meat all the way, just eat it in moderation is all.
    I also learned that plants are good and not so bad, I also learnt to cook more healthy

  5. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for your article, I’m not much of a writer but I had to respond to your article. For me the vegan diet was the missing link, I’m in my sixties and am only discovered the vegan diet 3 months ago. My search for excellent health goes all the way back to following Adele Davis, and other health gurus over the years plus the ongoing trial and error method. I’ve always exercised with weights and done cardio and I’m sure this was the biggest part of why I’ve been healthy. Recently I found out I had some plaque build up in my arteries and my doctor wanted to put me on statins which I refused so he referred me to a natural path Doctor who recommended the vegan diet as a solution to stop or reverse the build up in my arteries, that was 3 months ago and I had no problem making the transition except for all the people who wanted to save me from this diet. The added benefits have been more energy, better sleeping, weight loss, complete reversal of BPH, better memory, and lots of power at the gym and a greater enjoyment of cardio and my body in general, like I said before the vegan diet was the missing link to my attempts to build a healthy body, thanks again for your encouraging article.


    • Craig, that is awesome to hear. I really appreciate you sharing your story – I feel like a vegan diet is the missing link for many many people and I’m really glad to hear that it’s working well for you!

      All the best,

  6. Ahhh this is the BEST! So many things I could relate to here! I will be vegan for 10 years on Halloween. It’s been a wonderful journey. Love your recipes and all your creative endeavors – thanks for sharing all you know and try and think so generously!

    • Hi Angela, almost 10 years, that’s awesome! Congrats. And thank you – that really means a lot. I’m so glad to hear that you appreciate my stuff, I’ll try to keep it coming 🙂

  7. The only food I am certain is super valuable for me is milk kefir = affects me in a spiritual level, as well as physical. That would be off limits in a vegan diet but not in my vegan diet the only exception to which is…. milk kefir, HOME MADE. Ah, the joys of preparing it, culturing it, waiting… the fermentation! Experiments with second fermentation. The sour taste… which like the bitter taste is somewhat more rarely enjoyed. Ah….. wonderful wonderful blessing.

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