There are many stereotypes that come to mind when we hear the word “vegan”. You may have imagined that this means eating only lettuce and carrots, or you may have thought of hippies hugging trees. But vegan is someone who tries to exclude as much as possible the consumption of animal products in all areas of his life. This includes food, clothing or any other type of activity that may involve animal suffering.
Veganism is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle.
I never thought I would become that person and I didn’t even plan it, but two years ago I (and my husband) decided to change our lives after watching a documentary.
Some time ago I began to become more aware of my diet and began to worry about how food can influence my health, both physical and mental. On this journey I ended up testing various types of diets and even some “magic” recipes, such as that famous bullet coffee. I tried Low Carb, which proposes to reduce carbohydrate intake, as the name suggests, and also the Ketogenic diet, which has a minimum intake of carbohydrates and is rich in fats. I even felt good - at least better than when I didn’t care about food - but I wasn’t sure what impact these diets would have on my health.
So in one of my searches I found the documentary What the Health. Many people on social networks were reporting that they stopped eating meat after watching it, and that’s what happened to me too. After watching I knew I needed to change something and so I became vegan.
People often tell me that I’ve made a radical change. And it was, not because of the difficulty, but because it changed my life completely. Overnight I eliminated from my diet anything that contributed in any way to animal suffering.
So, as many people are curious and ask me what it’s like to be vegan, I decided to talk in this article about some things that change when you adopt this way of life. I’m not trying to persuade you to make the change, I just want to show you what happened to me when I became a vegan.
You’re gonna talk a lot about it
When you become a vegan you need to be prepared to answer a series of questions whenever you eat with people who are not familiar with this lifestyle. The main one is “why?”. In my case the answer is compassion, health and sustainability - in that order.
Compassion because I don’t think it’s fair that a sentient being, capable of feeling sensations and feelings consciously, just like us humans, needs to die to satisfy a simple desire of my taste. Making this choice means not believing that one life is more important than the other.
Health because the quality of the food we eat directly affects our body and mind. The consumption of vegetable and whole-grain foods offers more nutrients, antioxidants and fibers, which has many health benefits. Research shows that people who strictly eat vegetables are less at risk of chronic disease and better nutrient intake. Making this choice is an act of love for life.
Sustainability because livestock is extremely destructive to the planet. It is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, is one of the main causes of land and water use, deforestation, destruction of wildlife and extinction of species. Making this choice is an act of love for the planet and all the beings who live on it.
Your mind will open to new information
When I made the transition I learned a lot. I spent months studying about this lifestyle, read books, watched online lectures, watched Vegan YouTubers and many documentaries. I discovered when watching the documentary “Cowspiracy”, that to produce a hamburger 3,000 liters of water is used and that is equivalent to almost two months of bathing - not counting the amount of medicines, hormones and transgenic foods that the cows ingest and go to your body when you eat them. The breeding of animals for food is responsible for 55% of the planet’s water consumption. Over 45% of the world’s usable land is used for cattle and more than 91% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is due to animal agriculture. There are also studies that suggest that if we do not change the way we consume fish, by 2048 they will be extinct.
What I mentioned only environmental factors, watching “Earthlings” I saw the cruel reality to which our society submits millions of animals every year for the exploration related to food, clothing, research, entertainments and like. Just for our pleasure. These were the most impressive and I usually say that is the main reason that keeps me vegan. I do not want to be a part of this cruelty and I do not want to pay someone else to do harm to these innocent and conscious beings. I still get confused when someone says they love animals but still eat them.
Watching “Food Matters” and “Forks Over Knives”, I learned how current food (too much sugar, salt, animal fat, pesticides, transgenics) is destroying humans slowly, turning them into a slave to the pharmaceutical industry. These documentaries show how a plant-based diet is the best way to fight heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. I could write pages and pages about everything, but I’m not going to dig deeper now.
Along with all this new knowledge comes anger, frustration and confusion. How does everyone not know this information? Why did not I know? Why does no one see? And why are we not taught this? If you are vegan, you know this “drama”.
You will discover endless possibilities and several new flavors
Change your food: this is the best part and the easiest part, believe me. My taste changed completely, I started to consume a lot more grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and started to feed on new products: vegetable milk, tofu and various combinations - vegan food is much tastier and “happy” than “dead”! I started testing new recipes, and learning to cook a lot more and better. But if you do not like it, today there are many possibilities and vegan options out there.
My expenses, contrary to what people think, has not increased. With what I bought meat, fish or chicken, for example, I now buy many fruits and vegetables (mostly organic), whole grains, legumes, oilseeds.
What about proteins? “If I were to earn a coin for every time someone asked me that question, I would be a millionaire!” For some reason, one imagines that the source of proteins is only of animal origin, which is not true, the nutrients come from the soil. So if cows eat plants and plants provide cows with all the nutrients they need, why should we assume that meat is the only source of protein? Plants are surprising sources of protein and are easily absorbed by the body.
As for iron deficiency and B-complex vitamins, just choose certain foods. If you can count on the help of a nutritionist, better yet. The only thing you may need to supplement is vitamin B12, which is not actually found in any plant food. This is because it is produced by bacteria, which are ingested by animals in water and food.
If you want to know more about food, in my profile on instagram. I like to post my meals and places with vegan options.
You can become healthier and have more energy
Eating everything your body naturally needs makes you feel incredible. I feel infinitely better eating meals rich in plant foods, this is because I opt for a food as natural as possible, as few processed products and I always prefer the simpler foods. And I never feel guilty either, because I can eat what I want and not harm any animal or even myself.
My mood is better, my health has improved and it is rare for me to get a cold or the flu, since my immunity has increased a lot. Being a vegan allowed me to learn a lot about what our bodies need and gave me a true understanding of health. Before being vegan for example, like most people, I thought we needed milk to get the calcium. But calcium is found in almost all plant foods, and by consuming a plant-based diet, it’s easy to get enough and that source is much better than any that comes from dairy products.
And for those who practice sports, there is nothing to worry about. Many vegan athletes have overcome in various modalities. I have been practicing crossfit for more than two years and and I’ve had my best performance ever since.
Perhaps one of the most visible differences in my life after turning vegan has been the incredible mental and emotional benefit. Never thought that what you choose to feed your body could make such a big difference in mood and happiness. I can say without hesitation that the last two years of my life have been the best so far. Of course there are other factors that contributed to my happiness, but I believe with all my heart that the most important thing was veganism.
You will begin to reflect on other choices in your life
The study not only led me to learn about veganism, but it also made me think about all the problems that affect our planet. What is causing climate change, the consequences of large industries, mainly animal husbandry, but also the fashion industry and high consumption of disposable products.
This new quest to combat consumerism introduced me to minimalism. I have changed a lot on this point, my joy is not possessing new things, today I am happier removing things from my life. I avoid shopping at fast fashion stores and become a conscious consumer with food, fashion and beauty. I want to help people and the planet with all the shopping and all the decisions I make.
Veganism will help you focus on the things that really matter
Warn people that you do not eat more meat, this is the worst time. Whatever the argument: sustainability, animal abuse, health, none of them will make you a respectable and informed person. It is difficult to go against most people because either they are making jokes - always the same by the way - or they think of you as annoying for arguing not using animal derivatives. Of course there are those who believe in and are interested in the whole philosophy, but they are few.
This made me move away from people who did not understand the choice of my lifestyle and thought it was extreme. At first I felt strange and that I did not “fit” anymore, due to other people’s opinions and criticism, but now I am comfortable with being strange to some people because I am happy with my choice. I stopped worrying about what others think of me and anyone who has something negative to say is not worth having around.
Veganism has given me something greater to concentrate my energy, today I feel that I have found my purpose, which is to contribute to make this world a better place, spread the vegan message, to be a good example trying to live a life that does not harm other living beings, our planet and become the best version of me. It’s great to know that every decision of a meal I make will have a positive impact on the planet and will save some animals - or many.
How you relate to people will change
Aside from the jokes and criticisms, when you become vegan everyone immediately becomes a dietitian! People will tell you all the time that “your food is very restricted” and it is not, it’s just different. They will ask you questions like “What do you eat?”, “What about proteins? and calcium? and the iron?”, “Oh, that’s why you’re so thin”. I do not blame them, they are repeating what they have heard and learned all their lives. At first I felt uncomfortable, some people are very indifferent and claim that they can not live without meat - hi? I am here, alive. My answer was to study and inform me to know how to answer each question very well.
But I’m also lucky to have wonderful friends and family. Even my meat-loving family accepts my new lifestyle more than I ever could have imagined. Already on the first weekend, after making the decision to be vegan, I went on my father’s birthday. He is a convicted carnivore, all meals in his house have meat. But was pretty fine, always have the basics available, like rice, vegetables and salad. My father was one of the most understandable people, he did not criticize me and whenever I go to his house he tries to make a different food. Another time I went to a friend’s house for a “burguer night”, and even though she was not vegetarian or vegan, she was careful to make bread, burguer, sauces and even vegan “cheese”.
There are no words to express how much this means to me. This shows that, no matter what their thoughts on veganism, they care enough to look for and learn a little more about this type of food. Of course, this is not always the case, so you just have to be prepare and besides to what people usually think, no, I am neither hungry nor willing! The relationship with food changes, it is no longer a food that I see when the person is eating a dead animal or derivatives. All I can see is suffering.
About eat out of home, it may be a bit more difficult, but this forced me to discover new and great places. I always get out of my comfort zone, and I am aware that this is more important than momentary pleasure.
And most importantly, you will be contributing to a better world
The most difficult of all was realizing that not everyone wants to be vegan. Some people know the harm that eating meat can cause, but just want to chose for the “easy” path. But I know I inspired some people to change some of their habits and it was already worth it.
Choosing not to consume products from exploited, raped or dead animals made me feel better, more aware, healthier and happier. I feel that I am doing my part, even if it is an ant job, because I understand that each person can contribute to change the world and nobody is insignificant when it comes to something bigger. All the positive changes started with some people taking the first steps and then many others following those steps.
Feel invited to embrace this new life and ethical awareness, which will make you live more and better and move you to a more compassionate, humanitarian and sustainable world.
And if you are already vegan, vegetarian or in the process, tell me here how your transition was or if you identified with some of these changes. :)
If you want to know more reasons to become vegan click here!