Twelve months ago, if anyone would of told me I would go vegan(ish), I would of said ‘WTF’, yet in the past six months, my mindset has changed completely. Firstly, the reason I say vegan(ish), is because I am vegetarian, moving towards veganism. I don’t eat meat, eggs, milk, but have the odd occasion over the past 6 weeks or so had a small amount of chocolate and crisp that contain milk (yes this did cause me to go on a guilt trip). I have found having a vegan lifestyle a challenge, mostly because I simply wasn’t prepared, and the times I have not planned or been prepared are the times I have failed, but I continue with my vegan aim. However, I am now learning more about vegan friendly products and foods.
I don’t believe anyone changes overnight, I believe seeds are planted, these seeds grow, often without you realising, before you make a change. These little seeds, some seemingly insignificant on their own, can be the catalyst to making a change. After some reflection, I have realised the following 5 events / occasions were when those seeds were being planted for my vegan journey:
Catalyst No. 1 – Healthy eating
I made a decision earlier this year (2018), that I wanted to eat healthier, I started doing smoothie’s and generally eating what I thought were healthy foods, organic grass fed meat (whenever I could) and goats milk kefir, wild caught salmon etc. I started my ‘healthy eating’ in January and started to gain weight because I thought I could have as much ‘healthy’ food as I wanted ………. WRONG, I was having up to 4 smoothies a day, not as meal replacements but as drinks in between meals, using lots of fruits including avocados, berries, bananas etc., most of these fruits once blended increase in sugar, yes it is natural sugar, but it has higher calories. I was also having Natures Path Nice and Nobbly Granola as a snack, I just have to squeeze in here, this granola is the best I have ever tasted, which by the way, I could not tolerate (because of the oats). I was using lots of honey (before my vegan days), and baking peanut butter cookies etc. What I didn’t realise is, yes whilst these are healthy, they can become unhealthy if you don’t use in moderation, lesson number 1 learnt!
Catalyst No. 2 – Forks Over Knives
Realising I had much to learn about healthy eating, I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary about healthy eating, this planted the first seed (no pun intended) for a plant based diet. It was watching this documentary that made me realise we really don’t need animal foods in our lives, either for survival or health, in fact, we could be healthier without eating animal products. This was a bit of a revelation for me, although I knew of vegetarians and vegan’s I had not really delved in to the impressive health benefits of a whole food plant based diet.
Catalyst No. 3 – My Dog Dying
This was probably the most significant seed for me, my dog’s premature death (age 3) shook my world. Having never owned a dog before, I didn’t even consider the emptiness his passing would leave, this really was life changing for me. This led me into watching You Tube videos of dogs, funny ones to start with to cheer myself up, then animal rescue videos, which made me cry but warmed my heart, then dogs and other animals rescuing and helping other animals and people. This made me realise, just like people there are some very special animals out there, these videos are magical to watch and helped to restore my faith in there being a reason why we are all here, including animals.
Catalyst No. 4 – Earthling Ed
From watching animal videos, I came across a video by Earthling Ed, called ‘You Will Never Look at Your Life the Same Way Again – Eye Opening Speech‘ I am not going to say much more, just watch it and then you will start to question the world in which we live. This video really changed my mindset and made me want to educate myself about what is really going on. It was this that led me to Catalyst No. 5.
Catalyst No. 5 – Earthlings
Be warned, the documentary ‘Earthlings’ is one of the most horrific things I have ever watched, it is not a gruesome horror film. Although, it is real life horror for tens of millions of animals, animals that feel pain and fear, that do not deserve to be treated the way they do. Oh and don’t be fooled by the ‘grass fed’ produce, these animals eventually meet the same barbaric fate as the rest of them. Earthings is the most shocking thing I have ever watched, whilst I had always avoided watching anything to do with animal slaughter (like most meat eaters do), I felt I needed to know the truth, and so I watched. I watched through floods of tears, on occasion I even shouted at the screen Noooooooo! Such was my disbelief in how cruel so called humans can be. Watching this, whilst haunting, gave me a completely new appreciation and respect for ALL living creatures, creatures that deserve to live free without unnecessary pain and suffering afflicted by us. One thing that really struck me, is the emotions animals feel, similar to our emotions, love, fear, and maternal instincts. Whilst this documentary is extremely difficult to watch, I urge you to watch as we should all know the truth, no matter how painful. If you watch this and don’t change in any way, that is absolutely fine, at least you haven’t buried your head like I did for so long. I also watched other documentaries after Earthlings on Netflix.com and YouTube.com these include ‘What the Health‘, ‘Cowspiracy‘ on Netflix, and ‘Dominion‘ on You Tube amongst others.
Things are changing, be part of that change!
Whilst there are more vegan options out there, we are the consumers who can and should dictate what food is produced. Vegan options are extremely limited in some places, if I have to eat whilst I am out by either picking something up in a shop for a quick lunch or a pub lunch, it is not uncommon for me to only have one or two options. This is really not good enough, there is strong evidence that points to a plant based diet being one of the healthiest diets, read The China Study so why are we bombarded with unhealthy choices? It could be resistance to change, profits or both, who knows.
Vegetarian or vegan are two words that seem to offend some people, before I was vegetarian, I would rarely try the vegetarian / vegan option in a restaurant. I assumed they would taste weird or by ordering them would put me in the ‘weird camp’. I was wrong, now some of the best food I have eaten are vegan. I would like to see more people not necessarily turning vegan, unless they are ready to, but open your mind and try some vegan dishes, you may be pleasantly surprised. The benefits of this, is that they are often more healthy and your choice of one vegan dish, can save unnecessary suffering. I have read recently one vegan in effect saves the lives of 198 animals per year, most of which are bred to be enslaved for produce and slaughtered. I have not researched the truth in this because numbers don’t matter, as long as I do my part and no animal suffers or dies because of me. This illustrates that the little choices we make do matter, your choice matters.
Veganism is a social movement, change is happening right now as we speak, some corporations are responding to demand, there has been a huge increase in plant based milks for example (well they are delicious), and other vegan products, even ‘Greggs’ the bakers (UK) has announced they will be doing vegan sausage rolls. I feel hope, hope for the future of animals, the environment, people’s health, hope that farmers will change what they farm, as demand grows, supply will meet it.
In my diet and lifestyle change, my soul is feeling purer than it ever has, nothing else has ever felt so right, I seem to be seeing things and people for what they are. One day, I believe the ‘Kind’ in ‘Mankind’ will be well deserved!