Veganism is loved by many, but frowned upon by most. I was that majority before I adopted the lifestyle myself. I never thought that eating a plant-based diet was a sustainable way of living. To be completely honest, I always believed that vegans were skinny, malnourished, uneducated hippies! I can see why I, and many others have drawn up that perception of those who follow the vegan lifestyle. Pop culture plays a huge part in this miss-conception. TV shows and movies often portray vegans and vegan food in a negative light. For example, in a scene from Gossip Girl (which I have watched 3 times in full btw), Serena and Blair make fun of hippies with dreadlocks, Blair follows up on the mockery with a joke: “Maybe we can get a jump start on your veganism – have some celebratory seitan at Angelica Kitchen? Serena replies: “I can’t imagine anything better . . . or grosser!”
We are all influenced by what we listen to, read and watch – no matter how much we may deny it. References such as mentioned from Gossip Girl – fuel the pre-conception that vegan food is plain, un-appetizing and ‘gross’! Veganism is not often perceived as a healthy or sensible idea when referenced to, within the realms of pop-culture. Therefore, it is no surprise that the majority of people think of it as an extreme and unnecessary movement.
When I began educating myself about the benefits of the lifestyle, all pre-conceived notions of plant-based-living diminished. I couldn’t believe some of the life-changing effects that people were experiencing as a result of adopting a wholefoods vegan diet. I wanted to know more! I researched and researched. I watched documentaries about veganism. I listened to podcasts back to back for hours on end. I read vegan magazines. I followed vegan blogs. I invested so much time in learning as much as I could about the benefits of this plant-based lifestyle.
It is obvious when you transition that you are going to come across your nay-sayers and the most negative people ever! Just remember; these individuals are being influenced by outside sources. Their thoughts on the subject are more than likely not their own, but molded by the hands of TV shows, movies, radio interviews and newspaper articles. Their frustration towards your decision is often created by their own realization that killing sentient creatures is murder, no matter what lives such animals have lived (free range chickens– still murder!). They are obviously going to argue their own eating habits – as you will. Their argument simply won’t hold up in the long run!
My life has changed in so many ways since becoming a vegan. I was one of those nay-sayers. I resented and looked down on anything that did not represent my own way of life, and everything that I represented. I was the embodiment of negativity! Here are some examples of how my life has changed for the better since I have adopted a plant-based lifestyle. I have included vegan food relativity, and issues which may seem in no way connected with it, however; I have found the lifestyle to be almost like a spiritual journey of realization and self-healing. As a result, I have reaped the rewards in all aspects of my life. Here are some of the changes that I have made to my life since becoming a plant-based eater:
- My diet has adapted to be completely whole-food plant based. I eat little – no processed or refined foods (particularly refined oils and sugars). I purchase foods in their purest possible form. I find that eating this way is extremely nutritious and my body thanks me for it.
- I cook almost every single meal that I eat myself. Before I went vegan, I relied almost entirely on my mother’s cooking, or on convenient, store-bought meals. I ate out very regularly (between 4-5 times a week) and I hated cooking! I could not be more the opposite now. My boyfriend and I eat out once a week currently. However; I actually prefer cooking my own meals! We use eating out as a way to connect after a busy week, or as a way of celebrating something. Keeping restaurant meals to a minimum really makes us appreciate them even more.
- I set aside specific time for each and every meal. I allot about an hour of my day for each meal. If I am rushing, I will prepare my food before hand- but I will still make sure that I have at least 40 minutes to sit down, relax and enjoy my food. I try to just be present in the moment and be grateful for the food that I am enjoying. Breakfast time is specifically important for me. A good breakfast carves the way for a successful day. My boyfriend and I always make sure to have our breakfast together, it is just a special moment of every day for us to enjoy in each-others presence.
- I eat SUPER slowly. As said above, it takes me an hour to eat most meals – I chew every single bite well and this really aids in my digestion of food.
- I rarely snack! Since going vegan, my meals have become considerably larger – as a result, I stay satiated for longer. I am often so full between meals that I can’t even think about snacking. I eat 3 meals a day – Breakfast, lunch and dinner. One snack I absolutely love however, is; medjool dates! Their high sugar content makes them the perfect fruit snack, especially after dinner.
- I eat a ridiculous number of bananas. Honestly – I must have eaten about 800 euro’s worth of bananas this year. Before I went vegan I only had about one every two weeks!
- I have considerably lessened my alcohol intake. I used to drink between 2-3 times a week! I used to think that I actually had to drink alcohol to have a good time. I spent a fortune on it. I also used to get the worst hangovers ever, and a whole day would be wasted from them. I still drink alcohol occasionally, but it doesn’t have a primary hold on my life. I prefer to spend the money on going for a delicious meal, or spend the time by going on a late-night adventure.
- My skin is pre-dominantly spot-free. I never had bad skin before I went vegan, however; I did find that I would get random breakouts (3-4 spots) every now and then (usually after a weekend of bad eating or binging). I wash my face every morning when I wake up and every evening before I go to bed. I also wear little-no makeup which no doubt keeps my skin in better shape than before. Eating a no-saturated-fat diet has reduced my spot ratio to almost nothing! I do get one or two every couple of weeks – but I put that down to nothing more than hormones.
- I no longer worry about how much food I intake. Before I adopted a plant-based diet, I tracked my calorie intake and I predominately ate very small meal portions. Eating a whole-foods plant-based diet allows me to no longer stress about how calorific my meals are. Knowing that I am eating good-quality, healthy and nutritious food is enough for me. Eating this type of food also allows me to eat in abundance, yet still retain a slim physique with minimal effort!
- Regular trips to the toilet! I suffered with really bad IBS before I went vegan (last summer I went 7 days without going to the toilet!!). No doubt, this was primarily due to a lack of fibre in my diet. Since becoming vegan, this has never been a problem for me! In fact, it is quite the opposite. As a result, I never experience bloating (If I do, it’s short lived) and I rarely suffer with tummy aches.
- My hair grows like wild fire. I swear! It is actually ridiculous how fast my hair grows now. I have to get my fringe cut once every 4-6 weeks because it gets so long. I’m not complaining though, I love the long and shiny look it has.
- My mood towards life in general has changed considerably. This is probably one of my favourite changes about myself since I have made the switch. Every member of my family can definitely vouch for how much more of a happier person I have become. The foods that I am eating are healthy. My body is healthy, and this healthiness has also had a positive effect on my mental health! Of-course I still have my bad days (who doesn’t), but my way of dealing with them is realizing that they are a bad DAY. Not a bad week, not a bad month! By confining that mood to just one day, I save so much energy and time which would otherwise be wasted on a meaningless upset.
- I have learned to appreciate every single day of my life. I am so grateful for the fact that I woke up this morning healthy, alive and feeling amazing.
- I have accepted the body that I am in, and I have learned to love it! I often find myself slipping into old self-body shaming habits – wanting thinner thighs or bigger lips. To counter-act these thoughts, I think about how grateful I am to have walked my dog today, grateful for the gift of movement and mobility. I think about how the most attractive people are the people who show love for themselves. Self-love is so important, and it is an element of life that I thankfully adopted when I went vegan, and it manifested itself as soon as my boyfriend entered my life.
- I have learned to rid my life of those who aspire to bring me down. Surrounding yourself with those who support you whole-heartedly, is an incredibly influential key to success.
- I have much less interest in material things. I value experiences over items. I no longer buy hundreds of euros worth of clothes every month. If I am going to invest in clothing – I will save up, buy a more expensive, long lasting, striking item and wear it over and over again!
- I have learned to completely disregard what onlookers think of me. I don’t like to follow trends, or go with the grain. By abandoning this social constraint, I truly feel that l have been able to embody my true self.
- I have met my soulmate – he has shaped my world view and I could not appreciate a human soul more.
Becoming a compassionate and caring soul as a result of veganism, has shaped me into the human that I am today. My heart is so open to the creatures of the world and the wonders of life which are present on earth. This love that I have formed for our planet, and this positive energy towards it, has bounced back to me in more ways than one. I truly believe that you get back what you give out in life. Positivity towards life, creates a positive life.