When I used to hear the word "Vegan," my mind always conjured up a STOP sign. All I saw was apples and celery sticks and some nuts and rice—really, what the heck did vegans eat? Where did they get their protein? We're only alive once, might as well enjoy it! But bacon is so goooooood!
Actually, I was never a fan of bacon even when I was a quote-un-quote carnivore. No, I went for what I thought were “basic” things like cheeseburgers, chicken, and fish. In fact, I even gave up red meat a few months before going vegan because I thought doing that alone would benefit my health immensely. It didn't do much.
As someone who struggled with her weight her entire life, I was always searching for the latest, most-innovative and often quickest way to be healthier and lose weight. I would “go vegetarian” every once in a while as a way to "reset" my body. But I'd revert to my old meat-eating and dairy and egg-using ways so of course, nothing would really change.
At the time I decided to go vegan, I was already in a transition period in my personal life. Like many people, I was just trying to figure out the best option for me and my body. Around this same time, I began seeing some buzz about a new movie—"What The Health?"—that really delved into the realities of what consuming animal products can do to your body. After viewing this film, I began seriously considering a plant-based lifestyle, and not just as a diet to drop el bees.
The movie really explored some nitty gritty facts about the food industry, some I knew and some I didn't—some just made me outright gag. The entire time I watched it I thought, "This has to be exaggerated. It can't be real.” But after I finished the film, I couldn't shake off this feeling. I'd always been one to "follow my heart," as cliche as it sounds. I decided then and there that because veganism was something I'd never tried, I had nothing to lose. I had to try it. So I set my mind to it. My dairy-loving, egg-eating, pepperoni pizza salivating mind.
I attempted to go vegan almost cold turkey, having already cut my meat consumption down the few weeks leading up to the decision. But I found that was not realistic for me. So for a week, I ate vegetarian while doing all the research I could from all the best sources I could find about the subject of veganism and plant-based eating. The more I read about it, the more I realized I was being given the opportunity to stop contributing to a cruel business. And as an added bonus? I could feel better on the inside and improve my overall health and well-being. It truly sounded like a win-win to me.
After compiling all my research and finding grocery stores near me that carried the foods I wanted, I began—with the intention that being vegan would always be indefinite. I didn't want to set unrealistic goals for myself this time or be disappointed in myself in case I couldn't follow though. But the entire time, even early on, I truly felt this wasn't another diet, this could really be a lifestyle change.
I was shocked to discover the vegan options there were—Doritos, pretzels, ice cream, to name a few—that deliciously took the place of the brands I had been eating. I didn't feel deprived at all, and my love for animals kept me motivated.
Two days passed, then three and four. Before I knew it I i was four weeks in and still going with no intention of turning back to animal consumption.
The date is now October 2nd 2017. Officially, I have been vegan for 25 days, and before any meat-eaters ask: no, I do not miss ANYTHING. I get plenty of protein in beans, lentils, and much more and eating out is actually a lot simpler than people may think.
As someone who has had a rocky relationship with food her entire life, switching to a plant-based lifestyle really opened my eyes to what I was putting into my body. It made me far more cognizant of the products I'm purchasing and to which companies I decide to invest in. Flavor is no longer my number one concern; now I look for companies based in ethical practices for both animals and humans. It is just another added bonus that cruelty-free products are really very delicious.
I was a meat-eater, dairy-lover, and scrambled-eggs-connoisseur for twenty-six years, aware of the cruelty in the food industry, but perfectly content to live alongside it as a reality because I thought giving up the way of life I always knew would be too difficult and inconvenient. However, going plant-based is actually one of the simplest and quickest things a person can do to make a big change today. And the best thing about veganism is that it isn't a fad or a cult or a scam; it is an amazing way of life with instant gratification and it thankfully only seems to be gaining more attention.
When I made the decision to be mindful in every aspect of my life, I realized that most everything—illnesses, mood, even sleep—really all come down to what I put into my body. Something I thought would be only temporary has so quickly and easily become a part of who I am and I couldn't be more grateful.