How going vegan changed my life

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:

Image result for dumbledore quotesDumbledore 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! 

T xxx

 

 

We are all animals

Throughout history, films have always had an impact on society: In most cases, they act as a platform for social commentary by highlighting issues within society, usually in a very subtle manner.

One film I have only recently seen has highlighted all of the issues that we are now seeing in modern day society. This film won Best Animated Picture at the Academy Awards 2016 and I am still moved by how well this cartoon highlighted the issues that we see in society everyday. Zootoptropolis (or Zootopia as it is sometimes called) highlights very common issues that are very rarely seen in these type of films: ignorance, prejudice, social class and racial stereotypes were all hidden under the pretence of predators vs prey in a society where animals of all shapes and sizes live together harmoniously.

This film doesn’t hold any punches: It is fun enough for children to watch it and still see the message in a lighthearted manner, while adults watching it are hit square in the face with how real the issues are. Watching the film, it struck me how it is essentially the same old story of Us vs Them. In society there always seem to be two sides that are fighting over very old, ignorant and stereotypical issues.

In this film, the main character is the adorable Judy Hops, the first ever bunny cop. She herself is one example of how you as a person can fight stereotypes, as throughout the film she is called ‘cute’ because she’s a bunny, and people assume that she is too sweet and too meek to ever make it as a real police officer in the big scary city of Zootropolis. She highlights the use of language when talking to other animals and how we should all think about our terms of reference before we open our mouths.

 disney disneyedit zootopia kp animationedit GIF

The film also highlights the way in which people can manipulate our prejudices towards people that are different to ourselves. In the film, (spoiler alert!) some prey animals want to infect all predators with a toxic plant that causes them to resort to aggressive and carnivorous behaviours. Throughout the film there is the underlying concern that all prey animals have that the predatory animals could very easily eat them if they wanted to, despite the clear fact that animals have evolved beyond this basic instinct. While it may not be seen as realistic, it helps to show how our own stereotypes of how people have behaved in the past affects how we think they are going to behave again: For example, there is the racial stereotype that all Chinese students are super smart or that all black people are ‘thugs’ or ‘ghetto’. There is little evidence to suggest that any of these are actually true, yet we are all exposed to these stereotypes on a daily basis, usually unknowingly. This is highlighted more in the film when Hops realises that even though she meant well and thought she was being PC, by assuming there is a ‘them’ and an ‘us’ she offends one of her newest friends.

Image result for zootropolis gifs so theres a them

I don’t want to go on about this film and its underlying components because I know this isn’t normally what I write about. But in recent times, with all the horrid stories we are hearing at the moment about Muslims being terrorists and the sexual harassment women have to deal with on a daily basis, this film made me think a lot about how we are all viewing each other. If a simple animation made for children can highlight how dangerous and how corrupt this type of thinking is, then why can’t a society see this? All in all, this film is wonderful. It’s funny, it’s silly, it’s sweet and it has some wonderful life lessons that people of all ages can learn from. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it…it may even help you see things from another perspective, and that is always a useful skill.

This may appear to be too insightful for a review on an animated Disney film, but I found it to yell loud and clear that while we all may be from very different walks of life and no matter how complicated our history may be, we are all animals and we are all equal. We can only move forward and build a society where all are welcome, all are equal and all we do we do in harmony.

Image result for mean girls bake a cake Mean Girls yet again with the truth…

What films have spoken to you guys? Has there been a film that made you rethink your priorities?

Much Love people 🙂

T xx