Hello and welcome back to another blog post!
Today I wanted to share a bit on my journey with food, transitioning to a plant based lifestyle and finding my happy place. So settle down, grab a cuppa tea or coffee, as this is most likely going to be a bit of a long one!
"Lets start from the very beginning, a very good place to start".
Right are you ready for a shocking fact? I've never eaten meat. Like ever. Not in my entire life. Why and how, you might ask? Well here's the story. My mother became vegetarian when she was 14 years old. She loved animals and hated the cruelty with which they were treated in order to be put on a plate, and so in a family full of meat eaters in a time when vegetarianism wasn't very popular, my mom stopped eating meat. When my sister and I were born it was only natural to her to raise us on a vegetarian diet. She was never strict about us not eating meat, but we were so aware of animal cruelty from a young age that we never actually wanted to try it ourselves. Honestly, as a kid I was completely creeped out by the thought of eating meat, like how could you eat another being? And all the blood? It really grossed me out - no offence to any meat eaters!
So this was how I grew up, on a vegetarian diet, not eating meat and it never really seemed like a big deal to me, it was just my normal.
Growing Up and Forming My Own Opinion.
As I said, I was always very aware of animal cruelty and environmental issues from a young age, but it wasn't until I was about 12 years old that I started forming my own opinions and doing some of my own research. I started realising that a lot of these issues were worse than I thought and I also started to connect the dots. I started seeing that all of life was connected and that nothing stood in isolation, everything depended on everything else.
This is when I first became aware of veganism. A lifestyle that seeks to support life and live in harmony with the planet. Vegan meant transitioning to a plant based diet that cut out all meat and animal products. Sure, I had never eaten meat, but as a vegetarian one does still consume animal products such as dairy and eggs. I remember my initial thoughts considered it to be rather extreme, and to be honest my mother wouldn't let me go vegan when I put it to her. This was when veganism was still a rather unpopular thing and not many people knew about it. Restaurants didn't have vegan options and plant milk didn't exist in the aisles of shops.
The Penny Dropped.
I was about 14 years old and we were watching a documentary on plastic pollution (which for some reason I cannot remember the title!). And that was when the penny dropped, though it dropped in a slightly different slot, as I didn't intentionally transition to a vegan lifestyle. Instead I started going plastic free and veganism was the by product of that. Looking at my diet and what I ate I realised that most dairy and animal products came packaged in plastic and so I slowly started to eliminate them from my diet, and then decided that transitioning to a vegan lifestyle made the most sense. By this time I was no longer the 12 year old kid that listened to her mom and I decided that I could make my own decisions and if I wanted to go vegan my mom couldn't stop me. My mom and I like to joke and say that my transition to veganism was my "teenage rebellion" as that is probably the only time I've ever done anything that my mom didn't approve of (though she soon transitioned to a vegan lifestyle as well and has never looked back!).
A Few Complications.
As some of you might now, if you've read my previous post on this topic, this was around the age that I started to develop anorexia, a restrictive eating disorder. This was a very dark time in my life and my relationship with food was extremely unhealthy. I cut out a lot of foods and looking back on it now I realise I sometimes used my being vegan as an easy way to avoid certain foods like dairy. That is not at all why one should transition to a vegan lifestyle, it is NOT a diet, it is a way of living, and I'm so glad that I see that clearly now.
A Saving Grace.
As much as I may have used veganism with the wrong intentions during my eating disorder it also played huge role in my healing and the journey to where I am today. Veganism is so much more than not eating animal products, it's about playing a supportive role in the circle of life, it's about living gently on the planet and not causing harm or cruelty. It's about being mindful and conscious of our actions. And once I started doing some research into it I began to become filled with a greater purpose. By following a vegan lifestyle, I wasn't just supporting myself, I was supporting life. The greater picture. The thing with eating disorders is you can become very wrapped up in your own world, in your own head, where everything kind of just revolves around you and how you look, where's veganism was about so much more and that's what kind of gave my the power to start looking beyond myself and stop listening to these dark voices inside me. Veganism gave me the motivation to heal and get better, so that I could do the things I wanted to do and fulfill the purpose that I have.
My Happy Place.
Today I am so grateful for the decision to go vegan. Sure, I had a few bumps along the way and I probably didn't respect it in the right way at times, but it has shaped so much of who I am. It has given me so much appreciation for the food on my plate, it has put me in touch with my choices, and it has given me the power to make a difference everyday. It has taught me so much about the world, the truth behind animal farming, the effects our food has on the planet and on our bodies. It has given me a passion for nutrition and health something I never thought much of. And most of all it has taught me to embrace life, food and myself. It has given me my happy place.
This is my story and each individual is so different and so unique. I'm not saying that my way is right and I'm not forcing anyone to go vegan. In fact a vegan lifestyle or diet might not work for everyone, and that's okay. I just want to share a passion for the planet, for life and for the well being of all of that, including ourselves. Whether this inspires you to make your own transition to a vegan lifestyle, reduce your plastic waste, or just add a few more veggies to your meal, I really don't mind, as long as you have found a little bit of inspiration to start thinking differently and making small changes that feel right to you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post,
Wishing you all the joy in the world!