Earlier in the year I made the decision to finally commit myself to living off a plant-based diet.
I did not take this decision lightly, and having already made quite a few changes, such as swapping dairy milk for almond milk, and incorporating lots of quinoa, beans and lentils into my diet, the alteration in lifestyle felt more like a gradual change than an immediate eradication of certain foods.
I didn’t start thinking about nutrition and what I put into my body at all, until about this time last year, when I began exercising on a more regular basis and feeding myself with foods that actually made me feel good and not lethargic or lazy.
Just as I didn’t used to give health a second thought, I wasn’t giving meat a second thought either. Like most people in the world, I’d been brought up to have any reservations I might have had about eating animals, knocked out of me by society and culture. Our TV adverts desensitise us and although I have always claimed to be an animal lover, enjoying a good burger or a full english breakfast was just more important back then, than any ethical qualms troubling me.
So months down the line…what have I noted?
1. My skin has completely cleared up
I used to struggle badly with acne on my forehead and chin, but since adopting this lifestyle, my skin is better than it’s ever been.
2.My immune system is POW POW POWERFUL
I’m not thinking I’m indestructible here, but I can say that since making the change, I’ve fought off bugs much more quickly and ceased to get colds as often as I was doing.
3.People think it’s odd
If you’re considering going down this same route, just be prepared for lots and lots of questions because as a vegan you are in fact, a minority. Most people are just curious but know that you will face a lot of fire too; words such as “extreme” “over the top” “weird” “obsessive” are some common ones to expect.
4.Becoming a culinary prodigy
Believe it or not, I only learned how to make a meal other than toast at the age of 19. I could microwave yes, but the stove, the oven, the grill (Ha! These things were like the equivalent of airplane controls to me). Eating a plant-based diet forces you to make time to prepare and cook your meals. Now it’s a miracle if I’m not using the grill, stove and oven all at the same time.
5.Becoming the “awkward” one
I love going out with friends and family for meals- in my opinion it’s one of the greatest ways to bond and socialise! However, in places like Manchester, where plant-based meal options are limited, I often found myself feeling quite awkward and uncomfortable as I tried to work out with the waiter something appropriate for me to eat. At present however, I’ve learned that there is nothing wrong with being particular and people can think what they want as I chat away to the waiter. I’ve even resorted to ringing up most places prior to dining there and asking in advance what they can make me.
I was very apprehensive before I adopted this lifestyle, mainly because I’d been sucked into believing in the raging, angry, animal rights activist stereotype that vegans are wrongly presumed to be. Granted, there are extremists in every kind of lifestyle, whether it’s to do with diet, religion or philosophy BUT, the majority of plant-based foodies I’ve experienced are just really supportive and compassionate. Most have no problem being in restaurants that serve meat and don’t blow up every time their friends order a cheese pizza or a steak. Being VEGAN is not at all about standing outside Burger Kitchens and chanting abuse at customers, it’s not about being perfect and making no slip ups and it most definitely is not about judging others for their decision to eat animal products.
It is in fact about learning, compassion and acceptance that everyone has the right to live the way they wish.