I’ve been wanting to share my personal story to veganism with you guys for a while but never had the courage to do so until now. I was a bit hesitant to publicly share my imperfect story in becoming vegan. But guess what, adopting a vegan or an all plant-based diet is not about being perfect; it’s a lifestyle change. A lifestyle that embraces a different journey for each one of us, one that I have very much enjoyed.
In my FREE plant-based eBook I begin by talking about where you are today in your transition to veganism and encourage you to be perfectly okay with where you are today. We all start our journey at a different time, a different pace, and a different reason. Do what feels right to you without feeling the need to pressure yourself into knowing all about vegan nutrition. I certainly didn’t know everything when I first started and that’s okay because as I continued through my journey, I learned so much more than just how to plan my meals to be nutritionally adequate.
My journey to veganism is not perfect and it definitely doesn’t look like a smooth, straight path. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I began my journey back in 2008 when I was a junior in college (that should be an easy hint for my age!). It was a simple pamphlet that I was given that made me aware about this lifestyle. The pamphlet was all about factory farming, depicting heartbreaking photos about the meat and dairy industry. I felt hurt and disappointed that I was contributing to factory farming by what I was consuming. It was this pamphlet, further research and YouTube videos that made me want to change how I ate – and quickly!
However, something in me wasn’t quite ready to make a complete change to a vegan lifestyle. How do I begin? What would I eat at my college’s dining halls? How would my family react when I break the news? Who can I turn to for support? I had more questions than I could possibly find answers to. So, I did what felt right to me at the time; something that felt manageable. I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
But I still didn’t quite feel like I was doing much for the animals, after all that is the number one reason for why I choose to transition to this lifestyle. So, I gradually started to omit certain foods out of my diet: dairy products, eggs, and lastly honey. This was a slow transition and through this journey it made me feel like a hypocrite. How could I care about animals so much and still have certain animal products present in my food? It was the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer that changed my whole perspective on veganism. It was this book that made me realize that being a vegan was THE better lifestyle for me.
And boy, was I a happy vegan! I was enjoying cooking with different foods I’ve never tried and truly embracing the abundance of vegan cuisine. But after falling to a dark time and being diagnosed with clinical depression, I questioned my year-long dietary pattern. In addition to not having the full support for this lifestyle, it made me question whether I was doing this “right” and whether I was eating nutritionally sound for my overall well-being. So I stopped being vegan and I say this with great remorse.
Having animal products never quite felt right to me ever since. I knew and know that this is the better lifestyle FOR the animals. My husband (boyfriend at the time) always knew I had a big heart for animals and with his support, I became a vegetarian once again. It wasn’t until we both visited the Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA that made us both become vegan. He has been the support I always needed to have a sustainable, vegan lifestyle. He understands why I choose such lifestyle and trusts that with my expertise in nutrition, I prepare nutritionally adequate meals for us. We love the lifestyle we have adopted and we now get to enjoy, together, such a rewarding and compassionate way of eating.
As a dietitian, I can tell you that you can survive and thrive on a vegan diet given that it is appropriately planned. After all, my diet was never the actual cause for my depression. A whole, plant-based diet is even appropriate for all stages of the life cycle such as during pregnancy and infancy. We just have to ensure that we eat a variety of foods consisting of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, other plant-proteins, and supplement with a Vitamin B-12 or fortified foods containing this vitamin.
You can be a vegan! Whether you can transition overnight or through gradual baby steps, your transition is a personal journey. It’s okay to go at your own pace and with my story as an example, it doesn’t have to be a perfect journey either.