My back story:
From a young age, I’d lived by a western diet. I would eat a healthy range of foods including red meat, fish, poultry, dairy and lots of vegetables. Your parents don’t provide you with food as well as the uncensored story of how it came to your plate, that would be far too grotesque. I’d always been given meat substitutes such as Linda Mcartney and Quorn alongside meat, but when I was 7 years old I began to think further about what meat was and I made the personal decisions to eat more meat substitutes and stop eating red meat. I still loved eating chicken and fish, all-be-it that I didn’t have to prepare it myself, and this was something I kept up until January 2016 (19 years old).
I had just arrived back to university ahead of my January exams, I lived with 4 other girls but it was only me and Fenella (one of my BFFS) in the house at the time. We spent all of our work breaks together and we got talking about veganism, a within a couple of days talking about it we had agreed to try it out together cold turkey.
Since being at university the only times I would eat meat pre-veganism would be out at restaurants, because I, like many other people in our society, was ignorant to the true cost of what I put on my plate and I had successfully disassociated the meat we ate and cooked, from the animals it came from.
Becoming vegan with Fenella enhanced my change massively and I can honestly say that I couldn’t have done it without her. She encouraged, supported, and motivated me. She kept me accountable and also cooked vegan meals with and for me! If I ever slipped up or became frustrated about an opinion or particular issue, she was and is always there instantaneously whenever and for whatever, to make me realise I’m not alone. For me vegansism isn’t an easy ride but it has changed my life and me completely. I have experienced a change in brain chemistry, I now appreciate, acknowledge and immensely care for the animals and the expense they pay unwillingly for us.
One of the worst parts about living by a vegan diet is the category that you are put under. With categorisation comes stereotypes, which makes you vulnerable to criticism and negativity. There seems to be an undeniable disliking towards Vegans and their opinions. Whilst I can appreciate there are extreme vegans that suffocate people with their views, the majority of vegans are just try to do their best by the animals and environment. Those closest to me have criticised and been keen to mention any slip-ups that happen, irrespective of the circumstances for them, be that sheer practicality, possibility, social pressure, or just longings for some dairy milk! What I feel gets forgotten and I’ve grown tired to explain is the sheer effort, imagination and dedication that goes into this lifestyle. On average we have around 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 snacks, all of which have to be free of meat, eggs, dairy, fish and any other animal derived product. Making this decision can mean people want to pull you down for and dwell on one bad decision made out of a hundred good ones. I’m only human, mistakes are natural! What isn’t affected by mistakes however, is my passion for veganism, it is a huge part of my life and I don’t see that change anytime soon, regardless of the slip ups and views of others.
Since turning vegan I have learnt the true meaning of compassion towards animals and I can genuinely say that I will never see animal products the same way. This decision has changed my life in so many ways, I have never been so happy. I have never been an unhappy person but I noticed a dramatic difference in my mood and energy, I am so excitable and positive which enhances my life in so many ways. I feel so healthy physically too, with my diet naturally toning and improving my body, all whilst doing something morally right.
Since my transition my boyfriend (an avid meat-eater) has looked into vegetarianism and veganism further, completing a meat-free week and pledging to be vegan or vegetarian 2 or 3 times a week. Changes like this are what keep me motivated to continue with my journey. Encouraging others who were once determined to stick to their diets to become more open to exploring, understanding and appreciating the positive future of Veganism.
For me, I couldn’t keep living by ignorance is bliss anymore. Things such as videos on social media showing the pain animals endure, or going to farms and claiming to ‘love animals’ yet showing them anything but love because of my selfish desires to taste nice things. For me it was obvious that it was time for me to make the change and I felt very ready to do so. I am incredibly fortunate that I have easy access to vegan foods which made it even more obvious to me that it was simply nonsensical to not make the decision.
Personally I am not going to dwell on many negatives to do with veganism but some things I noticed at the beginning of my change, was extra bloating whilst your body is becoming accustomed to the change in foods and learning how to digest them. Just remember that this is temporary and soon you will be reaping the MANY benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.
Obviously you could see veganism as something that requires a lot of sacrifice and requires you to be very strict on yourself. For me, the trick is to do one big vegan food shop at the start of the week. That way, you have all the food that you are going to eat in your cupboards, if it is not there, you simply cannot eat it and this will definitely help you get used to plant-based food full time at the beginning of your transitions. Out of sight, out of mind. I really believed this made it easier for me to stay on track with my eating at the beginning of the transition and eventually you stop craving the foods you once ate because your body becomes entirely satisfied and healthy from the food you are filling it with. Why would your body crave anything else? For me, when I look into my cupboards decisions what I am going to eat, I never think ‘oh gosh this is so hard veganism is so restrictive’ instead I think, ‘I have too many options, can I have more than one dinner?’. I never feel like I am missing out with foods, I don’t crave or even notice that I am eating plant-based now and it has simply become second nature to eat and buy plant-based foods. The possibilities for vegan meals are endless, I am going to write a blog post of my favourite vegan meals (on a student budget) soon, so watch this space for that!
The list of positives I have experienced since going vegan are endless but here are just a few:
- Skin clearing up
- There is ALWAYS a substitute
- Positive body changes such as loss of fat
- Positive mental attitude
- Less bloating after meals
- Carbs are your bestfriend
- No cravings
- More energy
- Fuller for longer
Slip-ups for me, are rare but natural. The further I fall in love with veganism the less frequently they happen. However this does not prevent others from wanting to scrutinise your fails or mistakes and I think this comes with giving yourself a label like I have. I wish that everyone could be supportive of those trying to make a positive change and instead understand when they make mistakes. In my opinion even a small change, for example someone cutting out dairy and meat once a week, is a positive difference and this should be celebrated. We are all human and if you slip-up here and there, don’t be knocked down and think less of yourself, think more of yourself for making the changes for the sake of those animals who cannot help themselves. Try not to let your mistakes discourage you and throw you off track, get straight back on and remember what an amazing decision it is and how it has changed your life for the better which, in turn changes the lives of so many helpless animals.
In this blog post I have generally stressed the importance of Veganism due to my motivations of ethical reasons for animals, but if this does not motivate you, which it totally fine, think about other reasons such as environmental reasons. We simply cannot carry on destroying our planet with the resources used to feed and farm animals, you do not have to be a scientist to understand the serious affects that C02 has on the environment, which comes from the overproduction of Beef from cows. Do your research and I am sure that there will be something that motivates you to make the change, what ever the reason, well done you.
Veganism is easy when you believe in it and you feel passionate about the cause. With research and dedication I confidently believe that it can change your life for the better just as it has mine. Veganism is a journey and not a destination so fear not if not everyday is perfect, just stay motivated and what you give back to the world will provide you with an inner satisfaction and deeper understanding to the world.
I was very aware that I did not want to take the ‘pushy’ approach that most vegans are labelled with today (and I hope I succeed with this!?), although I fear that this is generally an unjust term often due to passion being mistaken for aggression. However, I hope I have increased your awareness to some reasons to be vegan and have given you a deeper understanding to what it is like to be vegan. It is genuinely the best decision I have made and it has changed me for the better. I’d love to hear any feedback in the comments or hear about your opinions on veganism and whether this has influenced you some to consider veganism more.
Until next time!
Megan x x