1. Before Veganism Was A Trend
In 2019 the Economist declared it the year of the vegan. I had been vegan for four years at this point. I was vegetarian first for a couple of years, eating the odd bit of fish here and there. It was only after a trip to India at the beginning of 2016, I decided that animal products had to go.
I had met a friend there who had blown my mind with her story of how she had healed herself from illness. She contributed a lot of her healing to her diet. Her diet was plant based and mostly raw, and only whole foods. This fuelled my curiosity, and like the flick of a light switch I decided vegan was for me.
When I decided to become a vegan, it was still a bit of a swear word to some. People didn't really understand it, and I was constantly being asked ‘so what do you eat’. People would look at me in absolute horror, and just sheer bewilderment when I would utter the words 'I'm a vegan’. As I reflect back on my initial experience as I write this, it was quite tough for me in the beginning. Veganism was definitely on the rise, but it was still for the few and far in between.
2. Please Forgive Me, I'm A Vegan
Looking back there was a huge amount of resistance from family and friends. A couple of close friends were really triggered by it for some reason. To the point of being quite antagonistic about it. Family members would roll their eyes when I spoke about it. My mum would tell her friends ‘the vegan is coming to stay for a few days’. My identity as a daughter seemed to have been replaced by a vegan.
The jokes, and stick I took were hard at times and I remember being made to feel like an outsider. I was the odd one out. But, I'm quite a resilient soul, and I've always strayed from the main, teetering on the edge of outside. Alternative is deeply rooted in my genes. So any jokes, the nasty jibes just made me forge ahead stronger and more determined not to fail. Vegan was my choice for life.
3. Can I Please Have Something Vegan?
In the beginning of my journey into veganism I became very used to always calling ahead if I was going to eat in a restaurant. I wouldn't dream of turning up unannounced, vegan options on a restaurant menu were unheard of back then. Even with the forewarning of my dietary choice, I would invariably end up with a plate of random vegetables chucked together. I was never given what I would consider a whole meal, just odds and sods quite frankly. As a consequence eating out became a drain and something I avoided for a while, it was quite miserable.
A dinner invitation to someone's house filled me with anxiety. Again I would always have to ring ahead and ask for something vegan. I dreaded making this phone call. At the time I was uncomfortable doing this, I felt guilty for the inconvenience I may cause, I felt guilty for my lifestyle choice. Even worse, I was being made to feel guilty for an ethical choice.
4. My Reasons For Being Vegan Far Outweighed The Cons
Despite all the awkwardness that came with being vegan during that time, the benefits I was feeling far outweighed anything external.
My road to veganism had really been amplified by walking on a spiritual path. I had started meditating, becoming more conscious, and really connecting to my deeper self. As this grew and grew I naturally found myself gravitating towards more natural foods.
I wanted to experience the feeling of being free from animal products. I began to really feel how much better I felt free from animal produce. Everything was lighter now I was free from mucus forming dairy, my joints felt better, I wasn't as puffy in the mornings. My mind felt clearer.
As I learnt more and more about veganism I began to understand that we are ingesting the energy and the trauma of an animal or a fish as it is killed. As a compassionate being, and a conscious being I did not want to play any part in the sheer violation of these poor defenceless creatures.
I think so many of us are disconnected from our food, but once you change this, and begin to eat more consciously, your food choices naturally change.
5. So What Do I Eat Now That I'm A Vegan?
Initially as a vegan in 2016 there was very limited choice in the supermarkets. So much got cut from my diet in the early days. Soya milk was available, and coconut milk was relatively new and only available in certain stores. Butter, cheese, yoghurt were only really available as ‘free from/allergy’ they tasted pretty awful, and were filled with chemicals, so the only option was to stop eating them. Peanut butter and avocado became my butter, I learnt to get creative.
I had to learn to cook all over again. I would eat a lot of stir fries, buddha bowls, and noodle dishes. It was simple food only at the start. It wasn't long however before things changed. Supermarkets began offering different milks, cheeses, coconut yoghurt and so on and so on. Plant based food ranges were soon being launched, and the vegan world changed.
6. Veganism In 2021
Fast forward to 2021 and I'm in awe of how far we have come and how amazing it is to be a vegan in this time. Choices are off the scale. Chefs and cooks are becoming so clever and inventive with ideas. We are living in a world where there is absolutely no need to be consuming animal products.
Once again I love going out to eat, that enjoyment is back. Eating out is easy, everywhere these days seems to have at least one vegan option on their menu. I live in London and the rise of fully vegan restaurants is on the up too.
Family members respect and admire my decision these days, even the antagonistic friends realise the importance of eating less meat and dairy, and comment on how right I was to go down this road.
You're not a social outcast anymore. Of course there is still resistance from farmers etc., their livelihoods depend on us continuing to eat dairy and meat. However most people can see we absolutely need to be cutting down on our consumption.
Despite the increase in vegan options, I became vegan because I wanted to eat more naturally. So I'm very mindful of what I'm consuming. For me it's more about eating whole foods rather than processed foods.
It’s also important to remember that veganism isn’t just about food, it’s about animal cruelty in the form of our cosmetics, cleaning products, clothing etc. This is something that I have gained greater knowledge of over time, initially I'll admit it wasn't my priority. Yet again it's another mark of how far we have come, so many products carry the vegan stamp making it easier and easier to follow this path.
7. My Best Choice
I have so much respect and admiration for people who went vegan many years before I ever did. Their journeys must have been really tough. I take my hat off to those courageous people, their continued dedication has led us to where we are today.
My initial journey was a little difficult, but I still had it very easy compared to the many before me. I'm so proud of myself for what I have done, there's never a day I regret my decision, I just get more and more passionate about it. I really encourage anyone to try it!
Neitiv Guest Blogger | Founder of Livingjivawell
It's a brilliant time to be vegan, there is nothing whatsoever to lose, only so much to gain.
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