No hyperbole intended…But it’s true. I have been vegan now for about 1 and a half years, and I am still learning new things every day. I am in no way, shape or form the ‘perfect vegan’ and I think that’s what makes this whole life style so exciting. So if you have ever thought about trying it, even for a few weeks or a month, here are some things that helped me make the decision and, most of all, stick to it!
1. My health
Anyone who really knows me will know that I have always had problems with my stomach. Countless trips to A&E, meetings with doctors and at one point I even tried alternative medicine practises to diagnose what my problems were. My stomach would cause me so many sleepless nights, from intense pain to constant discomfort for weeks at a time, but since going vegan these occurrence are few and far between. While I still do not have a definitive answer as to what the issue is (IBS? Hormone imbalance? Endometriosis? Chronns? Food allergies?) there is no doubt that switching to a plant based diet has helped lessen the symptoms dramatically!
Furthermore, my health in general is way better. I sleep better: I no longer wake up feeling tired and slugish, or wake up multiple times at night. I have more energy to do things: Recently I’ve started hitting the gym at 6am, heading to work for 9, rushing around all day until 5pm and then still having the energy to go for a long walk in the evenings before I cook my dinner and settle down for the night. I’m also a better runner, in that I feel my body is less achey after a hard gym session, my legs don’t feel as heavy when I run, and while I’m still not at my ideal level of fitness, having a stable plant based diet has undoubtedly helped me along that journey.
Furthermore, my diet is better because, quite frankly, most junk food isn’t suitable to vegans. Next time you go to a shop, pick up a bag of sweets, or a chocolate bar or even a can of soup and you will see that they almost all contain some sort of milk ingredient. Due to this, no matter how good that chocolate cake may look, when you have learnt all that I have about the diary and egg industries, the cake really doesn’t seem worth it at all. When I want to buy quick and easy food now (such as ready meals or microwavable foods), I have to really think about the food I am buying and normally, if I have to think that long about it, I don’t really want it to begin with! Plus, with all of the amazing alternatives being created every day, I am still able to enjoy all of my favourite comfort foods but in a way that causes the least amount of damage to our planet.
2. My appreciation for food
Now this may just be me, but I swear food tastes so much better now I’m vegan. Also, food just looks nicer. Every plate is bright with colours, smells amazing and tastes so much richer than any meaty meals I had in the past. Even when I was vegetarian, food didn’t look as inviting as it does now that I’m vegan. Now this may be simply because I am eating a much more varied diet of fruit, vegetables, tofu, lentils and nuts (to name but a few) but I just feel that vegan meals look so much more inviting than other diets out there.
I also have a better understanding of food. I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food, but since going vegan I feel I have gotten to understand food, nutrition and even my own body more. I am almost at the point where I can work out the exact food that it is craving, to the point I actually look forward to coming home and having a huge bowl of carrots and broccoli, or a nice cold smoothie. I now understand that calories are not necessarily all there is when it comes to food: Peanuts may be high in calories, but they are the super good fat that I need to get through a morning, and while bananas may be high calorie, they are the perfect way to stop my sore muscles from aching at the gym. Food not only looks and tastes better, but I also no understand how to nourish my body and how to eat in a balanced and healthy manner.
3. I feel like a better person
Now I am in no way saying that I am a better person when compared to others: I don’t think meat eaters are barbaric, or all a bunch of idiots, just as I don’t believe that all vegans are angelic activists. I feel that I am a better person when I look back at how I used to be as a person, which I think also shows how I no longer try to compare myself to others or try to appease other peoples desires: I am living my life in a way that is ideal for me, as an individual. I am able to live my life knowing that I am acting in a way that fulfils ME, that fulfils MY needs for MYSELF and allows ME to be the kind of person I wanted to be growing up.
I have always loved animals and the environment, and even though I went vegetarian at 16, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I finally started to understand the gap in my logic: I love animals, yet would cause them pain and suffering just by eating eggs. I am against oppressive and exploitative practices, yet still drank milk every morning with my tea. I feel as though I live a life that is now in line with all of my beliefs and that in itself is a very empowering feeling.
Now I’m not saying it isn’t tough sometimes: vegan junk food may be hard to find on a daily basis but it is not exactly impossible to find. Crisps, vegan chocolate bars and now sorbets and ice creams are all becoming more and more readily available, to the point I am probably eating more food than half of my friends! By understanding my food more, I now understand the difference between nice sugar (oranges, apples, kiwis etc) and bad sugar (vegan cakes, soy milkshakes, plant based candy) so that now when I want chocolate, I know that I really want chocolate, rather than just because it was convenient.
Still not convinced?
I am in no way saying that this should be a snap decision, as just with every lifestyle choice, it can be done wrong. The good thing about living in this day and age is that information is at the end of our fingertips no matter where we are and I believe veganism has taught me the importance of self-education. There are hundreds upon thousands of vegans in the world, and most of them are very lovely and encouraging individuals. Join a facebook group of vegans to get inspiration and motivation, follow vegan youtubers for yummy food ideas, google the animal agriculture business and learn about the industry on a deeper level than it’s advertising campaign. There is so much information out there that I know for a fact that I will NEVER know everything there is to know, but that’s what makes this entire life style so much more exciting. If in doubt, I find this little quote always gets me through:
Dumbledore always came through with the nuggets of wisdom
If you guys have any questions then by all means ask away and I will be more than happy to help…or at least point in the direction of someone who knows more!