Let's start off with a short back-story. Prior to becoming vegan, I was vegetarian for twelve years, and 'omnivorous' for six years prior to that (from birth). I grew up as an adamant animal lover, which naturally led me to my decision to become vegetarian once I discovered where meat comes from. I was six years old when I made the choice, and was lucky enough to have a supportive family. You can read more about my transition to vegetarianism here.
My switch from vegetarian to veganism was ignited by a short YouTube video I watched about meat, dairy and egg production. Previously, I'd never put much thought into what egg and dairy production could involve - like many others, I naively thought eggs and dairy came from happy chickens and cows on happy farms. I never considered the idea that animals are not ours to use or exploit. I was a pretty awful vegetarian anyway, occasionally consuming gelatine and other 'sneaky' animal by-products. I was under the impression that the animals were going to die anyway, so not eating them wasn't going to change anything (silly, I know). I was very naive then, but I know better now. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of the video that inspired my transition to veganism, so I can't link it here - but there are various other similar videos available around the web. Earthlings is a popular (and very effective) example.
As a vegetarian, I cared deeply about animals, but was completely disconnected from reality. I knew the very basics - meat comes from dead animals; but I didn't think about the consequences of supporting egg, dairy and other animal by-product industries. All I knew was that I didn't want to eat dead animals, because to me, eating living beings was wrong - and it still is. Now, however, I know that exploiting animals in any way, shape or form is wrong as well. I'm very thankful for that initial YouTube video I watched, because it pointed me in the right direction. It led me towards a world of wonderful vegan resources and information I'd never seen before... the sort of information you'd rarely find in mainstream media.
"Veganism has opened me up to a whole world of new information, possibilities, opportunities and knowledge."
Now that I'm vegan, my life has changed in many ways - 95% of which are very positive. The only negative aspect stems from my heightened awareness. I now know of horrors I could previously never have imagined, and that's sad as hell. Sometimes I can't help but cry and mourn the lives of the millions of animals who lose their lives each day. At least now I know I'm no longer directly contributing to this horror.
But let's focus on the positives - of which there are plenty. Veganism has opened me up to a whole world of new information, possibilities, opportunities and knowledge. Stuff I'd never thought or known about before.
Here are just a few of the many ways my life has improved since becoming vegan.
I found a new love for cooking
As a vegetarian, I never cooked. Ever! Since I was a high school student living with my family at the time, I suppose that isn't all too surprising... but I simply had no interest in cooking at all. In fact, I despised it. Any food I did prepare was either microwaved or toasted, and it was always really basic, bland stuff.
As a vegan, my outlook towards cooking has completely changed. I love it now! I've only just emerged into the wonderful world of food preparation, but I've already made everything from pasta bake to mac 'n' cheese to enchiladas. They're not the fanciest meals, I know, but I think it's pretty good for someone who was previously limited to making toast and peanut butter sandwiches.
"Since becoming vegan, I've also discovered a wide variety of new foods that I never even considered eating before."
Since becoming vegan, I've also discovered a wide variety of new foods that I never even considered eating before. I appreciate food and enjoy eating it much more than I used to. Eating out at vegan restaurants is always an amazing experience - there are so many different and interesting foods to try. As a vegetarian, I would always pick the same basic meal (usually only hot chips or wedges) whenever I ate out, but now I'm always keen to try new things and customise meals to suit my taste.
My health improved
As a vegetarian, I never had any serious health problems. I ate relatively well, but never made any particular effort to be especially healthy. I was incredibly unfit, constantly lethargic and suffered from regular migraines (which is a genetic issue that can't be cured completely through diet, but becoming vegan has definitely helped). I ate way too much crappy snack food and drank way too much crappy soft drink. I lived a very sedentary lifestyle, rarely went out in the sun, and slept for most of the afternoon.
Now, as a vegan, I'm still not the healthiest person in the world, but I've experienced vast improvements. I wake up earlier, I make a greater effort to ensure I'm getting all the vitamins and minerals I need, and I've started exercising regularly. Now that I'm making a real effort to eat healthily, I feel much more motivated and inspired in general. I'm eager to prove to my non-vegan family and friends that a compassionate lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle.
When you think about beautiful beings like this little one being harmed, it's much harder not to be vegan
I realised how easy veganism is
Like many others, I used to think I could never be vegan. As a lover of flavoured milk, chocolate, cake, ice-cream and other dairy-laden desserts, I couldn't imagine living a plant-based lifestyle. I thought vegan eating was really difficult and that you'd need terribly strong willpower in order to eat such a 'restricted' diet. How wrong I was!
"As a vegetarian, I thought vegan eating was really difficult and that you'd need terribly strong willpower in order to eat such a 'restricted' diet. How wrong I was!"
Since becoming vegan, I've realised just how easy it is. There are vegan substitutes for absolutely everything - even foods you totally wouldn't expect, like shrimp, oysters and calamari. There are several 100% vegan restaurants in my area selling burgers, pasta, noodles, rice dishes - anything I could ever want! There's even a fully vegan grocery store, as well as several online stores providing cheap and easy delivery.
In fact, I find veganism even easier than vegetarianism ever was. With vegetarianism, blurred lines lie between which food products are acceptable and which aren't. Some vegetarians eat animal by-products such as gelatine, carmine and insect-derived shellac; some don't. With veganism, there are no blurred lines. It's simple - if a product contains animal-derived ingredients of any kind, don't eat it. Easy!
I developed a positive outlook on life
Despite now knowing about the horror that goes on behind the scenes every day in the world of food production, I now have a more positive outlook on life than ever before. That's because I know I'm doing good. I know that change is coming. More and more people are becoming vegan. Vegan restaurants, cafes and stores are popping up all over my city and around the world. More vegan substitutes are available than ever before. Animal rights awareness is growing rapidly. Mainstream media is starting to promote veganism. Times are a-changin'!
Now that I'm vegan, I feel like I have a purpose in life - and that purpose is to do the very best I can to make the world a better place for whoever's left behind when I'm gone. People, animals, the environment - veganism does good for everyone and everything. Through my blog, I'm spreading the word about our movement so more and more people can get on board.
"Vegan restaurants, cafes and stores are popping up all over my city and around the world. More vegan substitutes are available than ever before. Animal rights awareness is growing rapidly. Mainstream media is starting to promote veganism."
If you're not vegan and you're looking for a way to improve your life and the lives of others, you should definitely consider making the switch. This post barely begins to describe the hundreds of ways that veganism has changed my life for the better. If you want to find out, try it for yourself. If you're vegan already, spread this message - spread positivity. Everyone deserves to reap the benefits of the vegan lifestyle; for the sake of humankind, the animals and our world.