Hi everyone! As you can tell, this post encompasses a huge part of my life: veganism and eating a plant-based diet, which my one year anniversary on the lifestyle encouraged me to write. I don’t remember my first completely meat – free day, but I know it was in early September 2015 and I still can’t quite believe that I’m doing something most people can’t fathom – because #mmmbacon (the sarcasm is strong, lol) and I’ve found it unbelievably easy. The hardest part is not whipping out my anger management issues whenever that avalanche of questions rolls towards me every time I tell someone I’m vegan (‘Where do you get your protein?’ ‘I don’t understand how you can give up cheese’ ‘But…but…lions eat meat!’). I’m not making this post to be super preachy and propagandise veganism (perhaps another time, hehe). I want to talk about my personal journey: what finally made me turn vegan and kinda how I did it. I will try and keep this short and sweet however as I have a tendency to ramble, a part two could present itself as a possibility.
So, around two or three years ago I was one of those typical meat and dairy obsessed skeptics – I found veganism and even vegetarianism ridiculous, convincing myself life without animal products was impossible. I discovered Freelee the Banana Girl on youtube and thought she was insane. After all, veganism hadn’t yet gained popularity and those who didn’t follow a standard diet received immense scrutiny.
Fast forwards to late 2014/early 2015. I was going through one of the worst periods of my life because I had relapsed with my anorexia (I will talk about that in a different post in more detail when I become okay with the thought of my whole college potentially finding out), also developing severe exercise addiction. Most of the time I thought there was literally no way out, and every night I went to sleep hoping to die due to the misery brought about by my illness. 75% of my diet must’ve consisted of animal-based proteins because I was petrified of eating fat and carbs, the latter in particular. I spent 90% of my time reading about food and diet and exercise on the internet so of course, I stumbled across veganism. High carb low fat veganism to be specific. This time I fell in love with the idea because of how happy the community seemed, how they ate as much as they wanted with no restriction, no excessive exercise and remained healthy both in the physical and mental sense. I considered it, but for the wrong reasons – it seemed like an easy way to stay skinny while eating as much as I wanted thus I’m glad I postponed veganism because my motives would’ve been problematic. Anorexia is literally defined as a fear of weight gain, and gaining weight is what I desperately needed to do. I needed to ensure I didn’t die before attempting a drastic change in my diet
Fast forward to around July 2015. I had made amazing progress thanks to a very good psychologist (cost us a lot, but some prices are worth paying) and my own decision to improve. I ate a lot more, I gained weight and I was slowly returned to exercise after a ban from my doctors was lifted. I was so much happier and steps away from being recovered but still faced a major obstacle, which was the carb fear/protein obsession and obsessive calorie counting. Calorie counting was required in the early stages of recovery when I needed to ensure a consumption of 3500-4000 a day and that’s difficult to do intuitively but as my weight stabilised I still couldn’t trust my body and metabolism. As I had become a lot better at identifying my problems, as well as solving them, I looked for ways to obliterate the last traces of my eating disorder. High carb low fat veganism ended up coming to mind and after weeks of internal debate and research I decided to give it a go. As expected, it terrified me as the transition required drastically reducing my protein intake but I kinda had to because my kidneys were at the end of their tether and a bone density scan divulged the inevitability of osteoporosis in the case of failure to alter my macronutrient ratios. So to summarise, I needed to introduce more carbs into my diet for medical reasons and I thought I might as well go vegan to do something amazing for the planet simultaneously. It was a win-win solution.
Within a week I went from eating 500g of chicken a day to eating no animal products, with carbs making up 75-80% of my diet. Unlike one often hears, transitioning doesn’t have to be a gruelling process spanning over two months. For some people it might – it’s very individual – but I had to do it quickly because I was frustrated and ill and fed up with that part of my brain which reiterated ‘carbs make you fat’. My mum remained skeptical about the no meat, no dairy aspect but supported the decision upon witnessing my health improve and my obsessive calorie counting conclude. I had so much fun with trying out new foods. For once, I saw food as an energy source rather than a means of weight control. It was no longer a number.
Initially, as my reason for going vegan revolved around health, I knew little about the meat and dairy industry, the ethical side of of things and the environmental impact of eating a standard diet but as I did more research and talked to people I inherently familiarised myself with how one becomes a better person by giving up meat, dairy and eggs. It’s usually the other way round: someone goes vegan because of the animals and then reaps additional health benefits, yet yours truly always has to be unconventional. Your reason for going vegan is individual, the act matters more. Even if your motive is weight loss or health or the end of a weird protein obsession, you’ll still be helping the planet as a side effect of making the change .
And the rest is pretty much history – as mentioned above, this isn’t a detailed post about my eating disorder or recovery but I recovered very soon afterwards. The first couple of days were definitely the hardest as my body adjusted to a whole new diet and I explored Waitrose beyond the meat counter. Now, I barely notice I’m vegan. It’s that easy. I just eat whatever I want, whenever I want and that just kinda debunks the whole myth of having to dedicate your whole life to food. You can if you want to, and even base your career around veganism. But in a Western society, a substitute for everything is available and you can just live your life as normal, saving animals at the same time. Or maybe I’m just a very weird vegan, who knows?!
Anyway, sorry for this longer-than-usual blog post: believe it or not, this is a concise summary of my switch to veganism and I will be making more posts about it for sure – the benefits, the ethics, tips, recipes. I hope you all enjoyed reading it and please do have a little chat with me in the comments. Are you vegan? If not, are you considering it? Any thoughts are welcome – I love free speech almost as much as avocados!
Love, Maria xoxo