I am very excited to be sharing the story of how I became vegan and all the struggles that came with it. I get asked a lot of vegan-related questions every day so I hope this answers a lot of them. It's quite a long post so you might want to grab a snack.
So you know when someone tells you not to do something and it makes you want to do it even more? Well, that is how my vegan story began.
When we were in Grade 7 my best friend Semele read a book called Skinny Bitch and after reading it she went vegetarian and told everyone "NEVER READ THIS BOOK". That sentiment really stuck with me and I also thought, "how could a book be so bad that it would make you stop eating meat?". I didn't read the book right away I actually didn't get around to reading it until I was 19. That's how much Semele's "never read this book" statement stuck with me. Anyway, I read the book and my life was pretty much turned upside down.
I feel like all my life I was told not to eat certain things because they are bad for you but no one really explained why. This book tells it like it is and exposes all the nasty chemicals in things like Splenda which I have never used, thank goodness. I think the most intense part of this book was the testimonials from people who work in the slaughterhouses and that is what really turned me. Everything in the book was so eye-opening and it exposed me to so many things I did not know about the food industry and food in general. I had never questioned the way we were eating when I was growing up and just continued to eat that way because that's how I always have but I never knew what veganism was or that it was an option for me until I read this book.
At the time I read this book I was an Olympic Weightlifter training 6 days a week and I was concerned that going vegan would affect me as an athlete. I did more research and read about the successful vegan athletes and Olympians and decided that I was going to do it. I remember telling James (my boyfriend) that I was thinking about going vegan after reading Skinny Bitch which he then read and said: "I guess I am too" (There is now a men's version of Skinny Bitch called Skinny Bastard).
On December 26th, 2013 we ate our last meal with meat and then we went fully vegan. We went vegan without preparing ourselves, meaning we didn't research recipes or find any meat alternatives or really have a plan, which was a big mistake. Our first month was really tough. We had to learn to shop and cook differently and we weren't sure where we could eat out. We lost a lot of weight really fast and I lost some muscle mass.
We slowly started to figure it out but we bought a lot of Gardein products at first which are soy-based fake meat which tastes really good but are quite processed. They are awesome for someone transitioning to a vegan diet and we still have them every now and then. We started to find recipes on Pinterest which is a great free resource and also online vegan blogs like Oh She Glows. Her first vegan cookbook came out the year we went vegan which was great for us! I definitely think everyone should have her cookbooks because they are fantastic.
Once we got into a routine and were eating properly we started to feel great. I can't remember how I felt eating meat vs. being vegan but I do feel a lot cleaner, if that makes sense. James also said he was less sluggish, had more energy, and felt better all round. But we generally didn't have any negative side effects when we were eating properly.
So what did our family and friends think of our new vegan lifestyle? I was living at home at the time but I usually ate at James' house which is a good thing because my parents didn't really understand, they made fun of me and thought it was stupid. They didn't offer to cook vegan options for me and I didn't really expect them to. I think that people were shocked but mostly curious and asked the standard questions like what do you eat, where do you get your protein, etc. Lot's of people were also judgemental. It's funny that people find it easy to judge other people's choices without looking at their own eating habits first, which are generally not very good. I didn't tell the people at my weightlifting gym that I was vegan until much later because as I guessed, I was told that a lot of vegans are malnourished and that it wasn't sustainable for me as an athlete. It's sad that people don't believe that I'm capable of ensuring that I get enough nutrients in my body and am eating all the right things. My training also wasn't affected by changing to a vegan diet.
Fast forward to today, three and a half years vegan. I never thought I would identify as "vegan" it had been such a mysterious thing to me before and I sometimes still have trouble telling people that I'm vegan. I like to think of myself as a quiet vegan, unlike those memes where the first thing a vegan will say when they meet someone is that they're vegan.
As our vegan journey continues I have found that being vegan is so much more than what we eat. It's also about what's in the products we use on our bodies, what we wear, and also how our everyday choices impact the world. You would be surprised at how many animal-derived ingredients are in our products. A company called Arbonne was introduced to me not long after going vegan and I was amazed because it was the first company that I had found that was all vegan, cruelty-free, and didn't put a lot of nasty chemicals in their products. I fell in love and almost exclusively used their products for a long time. I'm now discovering that there are more companies like this and it's so much fun to try their products and find out what else is out there.
My reasons for going vegan are still the same but as I keep learning more my reasons have also expanded to include sustainability. We are trying to lower our impact on the world and I want to move my blog in that direction. I want to show and educate the modern person, vegan or not, how we can buy cosmetics, amazing clothes, and everything else that we love and make a positive impact and not harm animals in the process. So not only will you look amazing but you'll feel amazing knowing the choices you made were well-intentioned and meaningful.
I'm definitely trying to embrace my veganism more and I'm not pushing a vegan lifestyle on to anyone. Ultimately, I just want to share everything I've learned and am learning and how we can make better choices together.
I would love to hear your thoughts and questions - Please leave a comment below!
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