My journey towards a vegan lifestyle began as a child when I started to understand the difference between food that is grown versus that which is born. I love animals and was immediately put off eating meat. That said, I was very young and in a meat eating household didn’t realise I had other options.
That was until I started secondary school. Determined to demonstrate my independence, I announced to my parents that I was becoming vegetarian. I didn’t know much about nutrition or cooking, but I’d seen veggie options in the supermarket and met a handful of vegetarians, so I knew this was achievable. It was, although I didn’t have a very varied diet and typically I just swapped out meat for veggie sausages or burgers.
After about 6 years, I started to focus more on nutrition and all the information around me suggested that reintroducing meat was the only way I could ensure I’d get all the right nutrients. I now know this to be untrue!
I tried to numb my mind to the fact that I was eating animals again and would tell myself it was ok if I only bought high welfare meat. Of course, I was only trying to make myself feel better and eventually I decided I needed to get off the fence. Either I was pro animal exploitation and suffering or against it, and against equalled vegetarian.
Throughout this journey I’d never really spared a thought for dairy and eggs. They were natural, healthy, a by-product which caused no harm, right? So I thought, until I watched the documentary Vegucated. Vegucated follows a group of meat and dairy eating New Yorkers as they adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. The documentary really opened my eyes and challenged my view of the vegan lifestyle. Immediately, I felt that I needed to qualify all this new information, if only to put my mind at rest that going vegan was unnecessary and extreme.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and the more I researched the more compelling the argument for a vegan lifestyle became. For the first time, I began to understand how harmful animal agriculture is to our plant, how animal products severely impact human health and how cruel the dairy and egg industries really are. I knew then that I wanted to go vegan, but I was daunted by thought of eliminating all animal products, including those in clothing from my life.
I started making small changes quickly, like drinking plant milk instead of cows, but the full transition took a few months. In December 2016, I signed up for Veganuary and told everyone that I was going vegan for a month in the New Year. The daily emails from Veganuary with tips, recipes, and support were so encouraging that by day ten I knew there was no turning back!
The transition has been so much easier than I had imagined. There are so many new vegan products on the market, food labelling is improving to highlight what’s vegan, and restaurants are adding vegan dishes to their menus all the time. I’m still learning and discovering new vegan products and brands, but I’m really enjoying the journey. I feel healthier, and knowing that I’m having less impact on our environment is encouraging. My only regret is not doing it sooner!
Fulltime vegans still only represent a small proportion of the population, but with so much access to information in the 21st century, people are becoming increasingly well informed and making new choices about their lifestyle. Whether you care about safe guarding the planet for future generations, your own health, animals, or all three, I believe some part the vegan lifestyle resonates with everyone.