Growing up the youngest of 4, I accepted early on that many of the decisions about my life would be made for me, from what I ate and wore down to what music I liked. Maybe it was because my mum, a strict Glaswegian, already had a good routine with my other siblings, or just because I’ve always had quite an easy-going personality.
However, I was 8-years-old the first time I asked my mum if I could be a vegetarian. Looking back now I can’t recall what triggered the decision, although I distinctly remember feeling uneasy about hatching chicks in our classroom as part of a school experiment and I was always disgusted by the thought of eating peperami – the salami sausage snack that seemed to appear in every lunchbox.
No one in my family had ever been vegetarian or vegan, in fact, I don’t even think I fully understood what a vegan was at this point, I just knew I didn’t want to harm, or eat, animals anymore.
Unfortunately, my request was denied although I was allowed to ‘give up’ eating fish, something I dreaded every dinner time. Looking back now I think serving it to me was more painful for my mum than it was for me as I pushed it around my plate continuously.
Finally when I was 23-years-old, living away from home and working in Manchester, I was able to make decisions around my diet for myself and transitioned into a vegetarian overnight. By this point my eldest sister was also vegetarian, and while we were aligned on our views of giving up meat, we were coming to it from very different angles. She had become fascinated with health and wellness while I was still concerned about the treatment and welfare of animals.
From the moment I declared myself a vegetarian, I never looked back, it seemed to come so easily to me – perhaps because it was something I was always desperate to do.
Like many people, I was vegetarian for a while before I considered veganism, taking the time to research both the realities of the dairy and egg industries. While I was initially inspired by documentaries such as Cowspiracy and Vegucated, it wasn’t until I was living and working on a farm in outback Australia (as part of visa requirements) that I decided it was time to embrace a fully vegan lifestyle.
My whole life I had suffered with terrible skin, and was prone to tonsillitis and strep throat, but I feel like my health improved almost instantly and I stopped catching whatever cold or bug was going around. I’d also never been a fan of cooking, often relying on late night takeaways, but suddenly I felt motivated to make my own food, working with herbs and spices, challenging myself to recreate plant-based versions of the meals everyone told me I’d miss. More than anything, I was much happier.
My personal vegan journey has been a positive one and I’d highly recommend everyone giving it a go, especially at a time when going vegan has never been easier or more accessible, I promise you won’t regret it. The Vegan Society has loads of resources and recipes to help kick start your vegan journey today.
RELATED: Stephanie's Vegan Journey
November 2015, two days before the Thanksgiving holiday, I was on Facebook and opened a link to a high-speed pork slaughterhouse. The pigs were being boiled, scrubbed, etc. prior to death. Plus, there was this visible awareness in their eyes as they entered the queue for processing…I am still haunted by the squeals and screams of these pigs and meat came off of my personal menu as of that instant. To the horror of my family, the ham I purchased for the Thanksgiving meal, I could not bear to cook…I did make the turkey and trimmings, but the ham stayed frozen. At this time, I became vegetarian. I quit meat, but continued with the dairy and eggs. I started actively researching animal treatment and ethical choices in food consumption. (I made note of health and environmental concerns.) I read books, blogs, watched videos, and read scientific studies. By Christmas of 2015, I had made the choice to become vegan in my eating habits. Over the next 6-7 months, as my research continued, I converted to a fully vegan lifestyle- eschewing animal products as well as products/companies that support animal testing in all aspects of my life- my housecleaning, beauty routine, etc.