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. Warning: this is 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 then told everyone to "NEVER READ THIS BOOK". Apparently, that really stuck with me and I 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 6 years later when I was 19. And when I finally read the book 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. But 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 off the meat industry. 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. 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 training 6 days a week for olympic weightlifting 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.
On December 26th, 2013 I ate my last meal with meat and then went fully vegan. I went vegan without preparing, meaning I didn't research recipes, find any meat alternatives or really have a plan, which was a big mistake. The first month was really tough, I had to learn to shop and cook differently and I wasn’t sure where I could eat out.
I slowly started to figure it out but at the beginning, I bought a lot of Gardein products which are soy-based fake meat that tastes really good but is quite processed. They are awesome for someone transitioning to a vegan diet and I still have them every now and then. I started to find recipes on Pinterest which is a great free resource and also online vegan blogs like Oh She Glows. Oh She Glows has come out with two vegan cookbooks that everyone should have because they are incredible, I’ve never made anything that I didn’t like.
Once I got into a routine and was eating properly I 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. I didn't have any negative side effects when I was eating properly.
So what did my family and friends think of my new vegan lifestyle? I was living at home at the time but I usually made my own food because my parents didn't really understand, they made fun of me and didn’t support it. 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. If you were wondering, my training 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. I don’t want to be pushy about my values as a vegan but I’m always happy to share!
As my vegan journey continues I have found that being vegan is so much more than what I 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. I am trying to lower negative impacts 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 still learning and how we can make better choices together.