Today I thought I would write about my vegan story. I find reading other people’s experiences with going vegan really interesting, and love watching videos on the subject on YouTube, so I thought I would add my own perspective.
When did I go vegan?
I changed to eating a vegan diet on March 2nd 2017. That means that when I am writing this I have been vegan for just over three months (not long, I know). I had done a ‘trial week’ of veganism the week before (during February half term) where I had tried some vegan recipes and products to see if I could stick with it. At first my plan was to be a dietary vegan (consuming no animal products at all, including honey and products derived from animals) however, I quickly realised that ethical veganism (applying vegan ideals to all areas of life, such as not using products that have been tested on animals or contain animal products (e.g. beeswax) or wearing fabrics that come from animals such as wool, leather and silk) would suit me better. This was a slower transition as it required more awareness and conscientiousness when consuming new items, which isn’t something I do much of anyway, rather than just switching overnight.
Why did I go vegan?
I initially told myself that I would go vegan for 30 days. This had been one of my new years resolutions at the start of 2017 so I knew I would try it at one point! After giving up chocolate for 30 days in February, I figured there was no better time as I had already given up what I thought would be the hardest item! I had also just become friends with another girl at college who was vegan, and after finding this new ally (and vital support system in the first weeks) I guessed I was ready to take the plunge.
So that was my reason for going vegan, however my reasons for staying vegan are primarily to do with animal rights/ welfare and the environment. Although I have felt health benefits of a vegan lifestyle (primarily an improved immune system) and I am aware of the long term benefits, this has never been the primary motivator for my decision. After I began to educate myself on veganism, through the internet and documentaries (Forks over Knives and Cowspiracy) I realised that I felt so passionate about this issue that I would never go back to consuming animal products, or using items made from animals or tested on them.
How did I go vegan?
I have seen many people talking about the different ways of transitioning to veganism, from cutting down on animal products slowly, or crowding them out with vegan alternatives, with different options ranging from one mealtime to 2 years. For me, I went vegan overnight. However, something important to note here is that I had been consuming a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian diet for the last 10ish years. Also, that I have an incredibly stubborn nature and when I make up my mind to do something, it gets done. I prepared myself for switching to a vegan diet by doing some research beforehand, both on recipes to try and on important nutritional information such as plant based sources of protein.
After this, it was a day-to-day learning journey of finding new foods I loved, vigilantly checking the ingredients list (honey, I’m looking for you) and treating myself to the growing amount of ‘accidentally vegan‘ junk food on supermarket shelves. It is all about balance after all…
What have I learned?
I have learned to push past the boundaries of my comfort zones, through trying new foods (mushrooms, courgette, aubergine…) or asking a waiter or shop assistant if they offer a vegan option. I have learned that compassion for animals shouldn’t be selective, and I’m learning to show kindness to every animal I come across, from the spider or fly in my bedroom, to the baby mole stuck in a pathway, or the curious cows in a field. I have learned that although we have come a long way in improving animal welfare and equality, we still have many long, slow miles to go. I have learned that despite my fears and expectations, saying ‘I’m vegan’ is more often met with curiosity rather than mocking.
I have also learned more about myself, such as my personal ethics and morals (things I’d never thought about in depth before) and the issues that I am passionate about. I also thought more about who I want to be as a person, and the mark I want to make upon this world.
I hope that through sharing my experience with veganism, I may inspire someone else to live a more compassionate lifestyle.