March 2nd 2017 was the day I decided to try veganism for a month. It was originally going to be March 1st, but I had a box of Hotel Chocolat salted caramels in the fridge that I really wanted to eat so I pushed it back a day. Somehow, that was a whole year ago and I’m still vegan, and more passionate about it than ever.
I thought that today I would write about the ways that veganism has affected my life over this last year, including health, friendships and ethics!
I’d never really been someone to question my personal ethics and morals before I went vegan, however this has changed DRASTICALLY. I’ve become a lot more socially and politically aware of issues that affect both me personally and also on a wider scale. I find joy in educating myself on current events and issues and am a lot more confident in standing up for what I believe in. This has been one of my favourite changes as I have enjoyed working out where I stand on different subjects, and also being able to articulate this opinion to others. However, this change also had a darker side as it really meant pulling my head out of the sand, and becoming fully aware of a whole lot of injustice in this world that I had previously ignored. As one of my reasons for veganism is that ALL animals deserve respect and love, then I had to apply this to my entire viewpoint of issues. In the same way you can’t be a feminist without being an intersectional feminist, I believe it is wrong for vegans to not care about the myriad of human rights issues plaguing us when they are capable of caring so passionately for another species.
Friendships and relationships
Veganism has done nothing but good things for my friendships. It has brought me much closer with an amazing group of girls (the vegan bond) and hasn’t turned anyone away! I’ve found a lot of friends have come to me with questions about veganism or reducing their meat consumption and it makes me so happy to be able to help out. In terms of romantic relationships, I’ve been single the whole time I’ve been vegan (not related lol) but I have found that I don’t think it is a big factor in a relationship, in fact many guys I’ve spoken to have been interested and wanted to try it or learn more! Vegan guys are known to be an incredibly rare breed, unfortunately.
Disclaimer: Health was definitely one of the least influential factors in my decision to stay vegan. It is well proven that a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in animal products (i.e. a vegan diet) has many long term heath benefits such as lowered cholesterol and therefore better heart health, lower levels of obesity (and related conditions such as type two diabetes) and lowered risk of developing obesity related cancers, hormonal cancers and also cancers of the digestive system such as bowel cancer. However, I think it is misguided to pursue a vegan diet for the sole reason of reversing or preventing a health condition, as these things have many contributors and cannot be predicted. On the other hand, choosing a vegan diet for overall better health and quality of life is fine.
I have found that my skin is slightly clearer in general, although I still suffer from seasonal cystic acne that veganism does nothing for! My hair and nails are healthy, and my nails are the strongest they have ever been (they previously would split and break easily) and grow crazily fast. My immune system is where I have felt the biggest difference, presumably from the abundance of fruit and vegetables in my diet now. I am able to shake off colds within a day and haven’t (touch wood) come down with anything so far this winter! As a climber I have found my protein intake completely sufficient for muscle growth and recovery, and my stamina when hiking is also very good. One key problem I have found with veganism is a tendency to lose weight very fast, which I have always done with a fast metabolic rate, however it is now more evident and acute. Travelling has made this more evident when I haven’t been snacking as much, and it is key to remember that a plant based diet is far less calorically dense than the standard Western diet so more food does need to be consumed to maintain weight. I also struggle with eating enough fats now that I don’t eat dairy, so my hair and skin gets pretty dry if I neglect this food group!
There are many ways veganism has affected my lifestyle. I have become more conscious of my environmental impact and have begun trying to cut down on packaging waste. I have become more enthusiastic about eating out (something I previously hated) due to excitement about trying new vegan options and non-chain eateries. When travelling I now do more research about the availability of vegan food or the ability to self cater. I have found it fun trying to learn the names of allergens in the different countries I have visited! My overall mood is happier and I feel more at peace with the world around me.
One of the biggest changes I’ve experienced with veganism is the range of foods I will now eat! Before I was quite a picky eater, but now there’s very few (vegan) foods that I dislike! Foods I used to hate but now love include: mushrooms, avocado, dark chocolate, tofu, olives, and almonds!
Veganism has also made me evaluate my dislike of some animals, specifically those on more than four legs. Previously I would think nothing about getting the vacuum out, but now I’m a firm advocate of the old cup and paper method and don’t mind the odd creepy crawly having a wander around the house!
I know this post was probably quite boring but I enjoyed thinking about the ways that veganism has changed my life over a year! Here’s to many more years of compassionate living.