Neo - "Why do my eyes hurt?"
Morpheus -"Because you've never used them before."
In January 2017, after 39 years as an omnivore, I decided to try Veganism. I'd always enjoyed Vegan meals in the past and had admittedly grown bored of my diet which consisted primarily of chicken and fish, as my goto sources of protein - seasoned and cooked in all manner of ways to make them more interesting and appealing. My main reasons for trying a Vegan lifestyle were due to my growing awareness of animal agriculture practices and finally stopping to question for myself why we ate certain things, rather than continuing to blindly do so any longer.
I was unquestionably apprehensive, cautious and cynical about the experiment let alone it becoming a permanent lifestyle change. I also had all the same questions I now get asked myself...
Where do you get your protein?
To my complete surprise at the time - from plants! I now easily consume 200g of protein a day from various plant sources.
Can I get all the nutrients I need just from plants?
Aside from B12 which I take a supplement for - and which is routinely supplemented into animal feed - I consume a nutritious rich diet from fruits, veggies, grains, beans, and legumes.
Won't my diet be boring?
Again to my complete surprise, I now enjoy food more than I ever did before. Not only is there more variety and colour on my plate, I also indulge in a few Vegan Junk foods from time to time, which are tastier and lighter than any of their non-vegan counterparts and don't leave me feeling heavy and bloated like those with animal-based ingredients did. With over 70,000 edible plants on the planet, eating the same 3 dead animals is both unnecessary and illogical to me.
I decided to make a commitment and promise to myself that I'd try to eat Vegan for one week - just one-week mind - and if it felt right for me, maybe I'd consider transitioning fully over the course of the next year. My intention? To adhere to the lifestyle as closely as I could, but should I make mistakes or crave something I would not beat myself up or deny myself - This wasn't going to work otherwise. I needed to want to do it, not have it feel like a chore I resented.
The first few days in, something surprising happened, my energy levels increased dramatically. Undeniably, I felt better than I could ever previously recall - No more feeling heavy and sluggish after I'd eaten. Though I quickly found I also felt far hungrier, concluding I would need to increase my volume of food to compensate for the calories I was suddenly not eating. The other change I noticed was the unwanted flatulence I was experiencing. I asked a Vegan friend about this at the time and she assured me it was simply my body adjusting to the change and it would soon pass - Thankfully she was correct and after about a week it stopped completely.
As my first week neared its end, I realised the thought of eating my usual omnivorous diet again filled me with dread and so I decided to extend this Vegan trial for another week - Just to give it a fair chance of course. With complete ease, I found this became a month followed by another. During this time I further researched all I could about animal agriculture, health and the environment. Then, something in me just clicked as I was faced with undeniable truths. In addition, I found I had also fallen in love with food again and my palate had drastically changed in such a short time. More than anything I realised I felt lied to - all my life - by school, the media, my family and all those I'd previously listened to concerning diet. Now that's not to say everyone was guilty - like myself, people simply act on what they are told themselves. But the brainwashing, lies and disconnect I now saw the industry and associated benefactors actively promote became evident and the truth of it too sickening to stomach and support any longer.
I had originally promised myself twelve months to transition in full but the truth is it only took me a total of eight weeks, during which time I slipped three times. Once through personal choice (Sushi) and twice due to a frustrating lack of Vegan options being available (Chicken and Cheese wrap / Minced Beef and cheese-filled Pitta). Each occasion acted as a confirmation I no longer enjoyed the animal-based products I used to and left me wishing I'd never ever consumed them at all - The final time actually made me very ill as my body immediately rejected this poison I suddenly fed myself again.
With a Vegan lifestyle in place, I started to find I felt more at peace with who I was and life in general, as my actions were now in alignment with my ethics - I no longer contributed to the abuse, exploitation and unnecessary mass slaughter of animals I claimed to care about. I was finally aware and admitting of the devastating effect it was having on our planet and able to make a positive difference moving forward. As a bonus, my own health was better than ever. Looking back, I now see I was such a hypocrite, justifying my choices with pointless labels (Organic, Grass Fed, Free-Range, RSPCA approved, etc...) and arrogant opinions (Animals are here for us, we are the superior species, circle of life, etc...) enforced by marketing tools used to detract me from the truth of my own lies and ultimately serving to ease my guilty conscience.
Veganism has now become an integral part of my life and presented me with ethical decisions to make on a day to day basis. Following the truth of our hearts, makes decision making far easier and ethically positive. The simplest comparison I can give when trying to describe 'Veganism' is that it's like choosing the 'Red Pill' in The Matrix. You're eyes are opened for what feels like the very first time - You see the horrific truth of all going on around you, which has somehow become 'normalised' by society - It's quite sickening in truth. At that moment you realise there is no going back because you would be lying to yourself and why would any of us truly want to do that?
Each day I want to learn, evolve and utilize information I didn't know before, in a positive and productive manner. I want to help others see the truth of their own choices and live healthier, more compassionate lives too. Animals are here with us, not for us and the pain and suffering we have exploited them to and continue to oppress them with, simply has to stop! The truth is heartbreaking and we would not tolerate this kind of injustice to our children or any other race or gender - So why do we turn a blind eye to animals? Exploiting and killing animals is killing us and killing the very planet we live on. We all have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and our home. We can all start to make a difference, by choosing to leave animals off our plates three times a day and not continue to fund these largely subsidized industries any longer.
Below are a selection of videos I've found incredibly helpful regarding Vegansim - They cover 'Ethics', 'Health', and 'The Environment'.
“No living being deserves to be the slave or the property of someone else... Since when was it extreme to not want to harm animals? When did that become extreme? What’s extreme is saying we love animals and we are against animal cruelty while we pay people to mutilate and torture and slaughter animals, for foods and products we don’t need. That’s extreme.”
- James Aspey