Maz De Roxas, an entrepreneur, CEO and Founder and a Finance professional, has been a vegan for 10 years now. And with this veganism lifestyle becoming more and more popular these days, we thought we’d interview her to address many questions that non-vegans have and get a veteran’s advice. For anyone looking to experiment with a vegan / vegetarian diet, Maz offers some helpful insights and tips. Here we go!
How long have you been a Vegan?
I wish I knew my exact vegan anniversary. But I remember I tried being a vegetarian first, it was on & off during high school but I always ended up eating meat again. Then I tried again after a few years, I had been vegetarian for a while, but it was the summer break of 2012 that I finally decided to go vegan.
Was there a particular event that drove you to become a Vegan?
My reasons for being vegan have changed and evolved over time. When I first became a vegetarian in high school, it was just a diet and a way to lose weight. I was really a fat kid back then.
But as I started learning about veganism and animal rights and started reflecting on my own life experiences over the years, I realized that there is no way I could ever be anything less than vegan. Animal rights, health benefits, environmentalism… they are all connected and I am still learning.
How did you transition into veganism?
It’s all about discipline. You have to stick to your goal.
Some people, like myself, find it easier to quit cold turkey. Others take their time and find their own pace. Whichever way you operate in your day-to-day life is what’s best. Before I went cold turkey, I researched for years, watched documentaries, read so many articles. I would encourage you to visit your closest natural foods store and buy a few vegan items you have never tried before. Then, I would advise purchasing vegan cookbooks to try out a few recipes yourself. I would also do a restaurant search and invite some of your friends out to a vegan restaurant. Once you taste how delicious the food is, it becomes a lot easier to picture your life without animal products.
Do you get proper nutrition eating vegan? How do you get enough protein ?
This is one recurring question in my life about veganism. Before I went vegan, I didn’t care about what nutrients or vitamins I was getting. Now as a vegan, I’m more aware of what’s in the food I’m eating. Protein is the first thing people seem to mention when you’re vegan but so many foods have it, not just meat. The same applies to calcium, it’s not only in dairy products. You just have to do a little research to find out what foods have the vitamins & nutrients you need.
I get most of mine from tofu, soybeans, kale, chickpeas and flax seeds.
Vegans get more than enough protein, which is what athletes are most concerned about. If you look up vegan athletes, you will notice a long list. Mega-marathoner Rich Roll, Olympian Carl Lewis, figure skating champion Meagan Duhamel and David Carter are some iconic figures, just to name a few.
So, yes. The health benefits of a vegan diet are well-documented. Eating animals and animal products is actually unhealthy. But if you decide to go vegetarian or vegan, tell your doctor. You may need a B-12 supplement, for example, or iron.
Have you personally noticed any health benefits from maintaining a vegan lifestyle? (For example, more energy, better sleep quality, weight loss, better mental health?)
The most important thing, besides health, that I noticed change within me as I became vegan was mentally – and the growth that came with it. I was very young and I became disciplined to change. I blossomed with education. I became more curious, more determined to find out more about life.
I also learned how to eat better for my health. I don’t get sick, and I am very grateful to veganism for that.
What is people’s general reaction to you being vegan? Have there been times when it was difficult for you to explain it to someone because they were so against it?
Most people are confused why I would choose to not eat meat, dairy and eggs because they’re so delicious. I agree that they taste good but I can list just as many vegan foods that taste as good. I have been surprised at how many people are genuinely curious about it and want to know more. I don’t mind answering questions or having conversations with people who want to learn about veganism because I love sharing my experience and knowledge I’ve gained over the last 10 years. Of course there are people who try to argue with you about how veganism isn’t good for your health long term or how you’re not actually making a difference in the world but once it gets to that point in the conversation, you know nothing you say is going to change their mind so I usually just let it go. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing regardless.
What do you like about being a vegan?
I like how I feel. Before I was a vegan, I was always tired. Now, my energy is boundless; I actually do not require much sleep at all and still wake up with the same energy. If your diet is balanced in all the right nutrients, you will notice this instantly. For some, stomachaches were reduced quite quickly. For others, their skin cleared up and their hair grew longer and stronger.
Also I like that although it is a small part to play, I am doing what I can for the environment and for the animals I adore so much. That being said, eating out with people who want to indulge in a steak does not bother me whatsoever, it is their choice and I have mine. I just really love kale.
Is there anything else you would like to say about this choice you’ve made?
This was the moment that was really pivotal for me, but there were obviously things going on unconsciously that influenced me prior to that. There are now several main motivations for me. One was the increasing concern I have about the climate emergency, and the fact that the science continues to report worse outcomes, as does the physical evidence in front of us, we’re just not taking enough action. What’s been in the back of my mind is what more I can do personally to tackle the climate crisis.
Being vegan has stretched me in a good way. I’m still learning about it and transitioning.
I’ll leave you with some insightful quote by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau: “May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, those who have no choice.”
What would you recommend to others interested in a vegan diet, or reducing their animal product intake?
Well, take your time. It doesn’t always have to be a binary choice and don’t beat yourself up if you find it difficult at first. Do at least think about the consequences of your food choices. Before you start doing something new, you have to educate yourself. Allow yourself the space and time to learn more. Veganism is truly a lifestyle of abundance. But more than that, it’s a way of living that aligns your actions with your values — and nothing feels better than that.