So a month ago I decided to become a vegan. No, I take that back; I don’t want to subscribe to any labels…. a month ago, I gave up eating dairy. I realise that veganism is much more than not eating animals or animal products, it’s a complete lifestyle choice and I’m not quite there yet.
This isn’t a decision that I’ve taken lightly. I first went vegetarian around ten years ago but even before that, I never felt comfortable eating meat. When eating from a bone all I could see was animal and if I got a piece of gristle while chewing, I couldn’t finish my meal. I was always queasy when eating meat and could best get through a meal when it was disguised as something else or covered in a sauce. I didn’t question it though because it was all I’d ever known. Back then, being a vegetarian wasn’t as widespread as it is now and restaurants were not very accommodating, all stuffed peppers or mushrooms, ugh, I lasted a year, then ate a steak.
Then almost three years ago, on New Years day, I tentatively gave it another go, putting zero pressure on myself; just to see how I felt with a limited mean intake. From that day, I never knowingly ate meat again (there was that one time that a restaurant put bacon in my omelette…..). It was easy. It was obviously the right time for me because I have never once missed it and finding suitable replacements has never been an issue – there is so much more on the menu for vegetarians these days.
I always knew that the dairy would follow at some point but I didn’t have a plan as to how or when. Like with the meat, when eating eggs I often felt queasy and couldn’t think about where they came from, but I relied on them a lot after I gave up meat and I couldn’t visualise what I would eat if I couldn’t have an omelette. Then one day, about 6 months ago, I just decided to stop eating them. Again, it was easy. It took a little adjustment to find alternatives to my quick and easy omelette or poached eggs on toast but now I don’t even think about it.
Veganism still seemed a little too out of my reach though. My family struggled with the fact that I didn’t eat meat or eggs (my Mum tried to feed my tuna for months after I went vegetarian and my grandma cooked by breakfast in bacon fat the first time I went round post decision), how would they cope if I went the whole hog? Then out of the blue, my sister went vegan and nobody batted an eyelid. I went to my Mum’s house for lunch and she dropped in the conversation that she’d made pasta sauce because my sister isn’t eating dairy. That was it, no snide comments or fanfare; it was that easy. My sister paved the way for me and after that, it felt easy.
Later that week I watched a documentary that I’d had saved for a while “What the Health,” and my mind was made up. I couldn’t un-see the horrifying things that I saw in the film and from that day I haven’t touched dairy. Interestingly once the decision was made, veganism was all around me. Yoga Girl did a podcast with vegan activist James Aspey that same week and vegan recipes were appearing out of nowhere. Since then I’ve watched and read more about the effects of animal production for the meat and dairy industry (on the animals, the environment and eating meat and dairy on the human body) and I am sure beyond doubt that this is the right path for me.
I thought that I’d be limited in what I could eat but that hasn’t been my experience at all. In fact the past month has been an experiment to find out just how much I can still eat. I’ve found dark chocolate with no diary, vegan coconut chocolate pots, vegan jelly and ice cream…did you know that lots of crisps are vegan friendly? And just because I could, I’ve been eating THE LOT. Honestly, I’ve been like a kid in a sweet shop.
I didn’t do this to loose weight, I just knew it was the right thing to do…. but I thought loosing weight would be a side effect, a bonus. Not so; it turns out that eating crap as a vegan is the same as eating crap on any other diet. Instead of dropping the pounds, I’ve been gaining. Because I’ve given up the dairy, I have been less restrictive in other areas, so I’ve been eating a little more (OK a lot more) bread and crisps and sugar; stuff that I’d usually avoid or be moderate with. I guess I’ve been figuring out what works for my body now that I’ve changed my diet again.
Now, the eating of all the foods has slowed down and the last week or so, I’ve gotten back into a better routine. Already I’m feeling the benefits! Like I said, my weight hasn’t changed really, it goes up or down depending on how much I eat, but my skin looks great, my hair is shiny and I have so much more energy. Interestingly, since I made this decision, other areas in my life have also changed for the better. I’m now doing yoga at least once, mostly twice a day and my morning routine now includes, meditation, writing and yoga; yep, I’m writing every day for the first time in ages.
Like with the vegetarianism, this just feels right for me and it has been so easy. I put this down to me doing it at the right time and for the right reasons. My family have been fine, they are used to me now; and my diet has been full and varied. I’m so excited to see what’s next for me. I feel like the older I am getting the better I feel and I am sure that the best is yet to come.