Friday, 4 January 2019

Veganuary 2019: Why I Became Vegan

This is without a doubt the first question that I am asked whenever I reveal to my unsuspecting conversationalist that I am indeed vegan, you know, after they have expressed their deep concern for my protein intake of course...
My standard response to this is just, 'Oh you know, animals, health, the usual', but recently, I have been thinking to myself, what exactly was it that made me decide to give up what was previously a major part of not only my diet, but my life? It certainly wasn't because it was so accessible and easy or even trendy, because seven years ago to say that you were vegan was akin to saying that you ate your cornflakes with apple juice on. I was met with confusion, and the occasional look of what can only be described as utter horror - I know, quite unbelievable to think in 2019 with even Gregg's getting on board with veganism! So it is unsurprising that my once enthusiastic and almost evangelical answer has become increasingly short and defensive.
So I am going to use Veganuary and the incredible hype which exists around it this year to take this opportunity to wax lyrical about my motivations, so, I suppose with that I best begin.

I have been vegan since the age of about 16, after trying for many years on and off to become a vegetarian, with this often lasting little over 24 hours I am ashamed to admit. I think that the issue was that I never really wanted to do it before then. If I ever gave it ago, it was utterly half hearted. More of a fleeting fancy, something done on a whim just to see what it was like, but I put no real effort or thought into it, and subsequently I failed. But let's be honest, I was destined to fail when the only vegetarian things that I had in the house were a packet of salt and vinegar crisps and a box or two of microwave chips..
It really was all because of a single documentary: Earthlings. I remember contemplating watching it for months, after hearing so many people talk about it, but had constantly put it off. Eventually I gave in to curiosity and goodness me it was one hell of an experience. I felt a little traumatised to say the least and horrifically guilty for the way that humans treated animals, and I didn't even manage to get through the whole thing. In some ways I wish that I hadn't watched this documentary because it really wasn't very pleasant, but then again, the reality of the situation isn't very pleasant, and it was then I decided that if I wasn't comfortable with the reality of the meat and dairy industry, then I really shouldn't be supporting it.

It was as simple as that. I had become aware of the realities of the industry and began immediately doing further research into the whole situation, exploring whether it was meat that I wanted to give up or the whole animal farming industry. Ultimately I (along with my horrific lactose intolerance) decided that veganism was the answer for me.

Initially there where quite a few slip ups. Ingredients that I had never heard of, with countless e numbers concealing insect origins- I'm looking at you e120! But these kind of things are inevitable, and you have got to take them as what they are, accidents and things to learn from.

So let's fast forward to now, 23 and a bit of vegan veteran (yes I am aware of just how cringey such a term is). So why have I stayed vegan? Well, ultimately I feel significantly healthier than I ever did eating meat and dairy, my skin and hair are in better condition than they ever where, and if I'm honest, I simply  love being vegan.
I do get frustrated sometimes when my boyfriend is munching on a pack of freshly baked cookies, and I can't, or when my Mum is eating what where my favourite sweets of all time, a bag of Haribo Starmix, but realistically I'm not that bothered and I tend to go and get myself a bar of chocolate to make myself feel better, so the frustration is short lived. Plus, I am blessed with a lovely boyfriend who will go out of his way to take me for vegan cake, doughnuts, and other deliciously sweet things just so I don't feel left out! So I really can't complain, because who else gets that?

So that is my story. It isn't overly exciting, I didn't have 'The Call' or some life changing pinnacle moment, I simply realised that I no longer felt comfortable with something that I was part of and chose to remove or at least distance myself from it, like I would with anything in life.

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