ETA: This page is mostly about my vegan journey – I will soon be adding a page dedicated to vegan resources where I will gather useful links regarding vegan healthy, animal activism, and general topics of interested to vegans or those who are curious!
Every time it comes out that I eat plant-based foods only, I have to ready myself to explain my reasons, because people seem intensely curious about the why and how. I figured, therefore, it would be best just to blot down on the page what exactly goes through my mind when I get grilled for information.
It may sound shocking, considering I blog vegan and make a fuss all round about different ingredients and replacements and all the wonders that come with transitioning to a plant-based diet, but I am not actually out to be a protest vegan. That is, I don’t like to feel as if I’m lecturing to others or making them feel bad about their life choices and what it is that they consume. Yes, I’d love for everyone to be vegan (because it is amazeballs with options and endless possibility), but I suspect I live in the wrong country for that! In fact, I may even be on the wrong side of what is deemed the “boerewors [sausage] curtain”, where food and identity are so strongly bound that any comments on animal-based products seem to strike deep into the soul. Instead of rolling my eyes or gagging violently at the dinner table or around a fire, I’ve learnt to simply take a step back, bring my own food, and focus on the pleasure of being around people I love.It’s been a learning curve to being vegan, and by no means a short process. Since going vegetarian around seven years ago when I finally had a poz to myself again, I actively sought to learn all I could about food, its role in sustaining life, and how one could still eat heartily but healthily. Binge-eating myself to the brink of diabetes and having doctors constantly lecture me about its relation to PCOS, my aching joints, depression, and other ails and pains, the turning point came round about when a family member passed due to complications with diabetes. Seeing physical proof of how severely incorrect eating habits could destroy the body’s ability to function and cope to the point of shutting down was so shocking (when it souldn’t have been) that I resolved to become smart about the whole matter. My little sister was also born around that time, and seeing how amazing and wonderful she is, I didn’t want to essentially kill myself with food when I could get healthy and spend a lifetime getting to know this magical creature (and now, a little brother too!).
I was becoming rather sick of meat and eggs by that time anyway, and decided a focus on plants and beans would be a good start to addressing my problems.
99 of them, in fact! That’s how many pounds I’ve lost through this whirlwind of exploration and joy. When I went to go look it up, this is what weighs 100 pounds (or 45kg):
I could go on, but I think that last point is indication enough – now imagine carrying all that on your person! Ack! Either way, learning about protein, whole grains and natural sugars has been the key to changing my existence – I can walk and jog and do all sorts of things like everyone else! I don’t want to give the impression, however, that I equate vegetarianism/veganism with “diet” and that’s all about weight loss and lowering one’s blood sugar. It just happens to be a hellishly interesting (and unexpected) side benefit that has transformed the way I function, but veganism is firstly about conscious choice and being at peace with what I consume and my impact on the world. It is also a way for me to live the way I think.
A lot of times I get the “so what can you eat?” or “what do you do with yourself?” vibes, as if my lifestyle means a big list of fun things that I’ve cruelly crossed out in a bid to starve myself of happiness and ‘real’ food. Turns out veganism is the exact opposite – endless cheer and happiness! I’ve also found that veganism has in fact taught me just as much about human behaviour as it has about animals and how to co-exist peacefully with all beings.
Here’s what I know:
- We don’t need animal products to survive. As long as vegans ensure they get all their proper supplements (B12!) and eat a balanced, healthy variety of veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and protein, there shouldn’t be any problems.
- Veganism is not an eating disorder. People with eating disorders can incidentally be vegan, or may see veganism as a means of restrictive eating which appeals to them, but it is, at the core, not anything of the sort. Veganism is abundance of life and energy.
- Vegans don’t consider themselves to be perfect. They are also humans trying to discover themselves and the world around them! You get crazy vegans, bitchy vegans, happy vegans, and dogmatic vegans. Basically, people who just eat and exist in a certain way. That’s all!
- There’s no point in postulating what I’d eat on a desert island with only animals and no plants for company because I don’t have a passport. Nuff said.
- Vegans can be lazy, strong, athletic, obese, mindful or mindless. Again, they’re just generally people who happen to care for animals and the environment. Please don’t make assumptions about vegans!
- I don’t think omnivores suck. I love my family and friends. Do I wish they were vegan? Oh yes! Do I love them any less for being omnivores? No, but I’ll keep making vegan treats to bring along to family feasts! 🙂
- We feed our cats real cat food with animal byproducts in there because they require special gastro food, which is not available in our country in a vegan brand. Our cats are therefore not vegan (Gatsby’s gifts of feathers and headless corpses proves that). It’s sad but true!
I may not have a very sophisticated viewpoint regarding “why veganism” yet, but it’s my gut reaction, my go-to response from my soul. So even though I identify as vegan, I’m sure I’d get a mouthful left and right about something or other that I’m doing “wrong”. Nevertheless, I rather focus on what feels right, which is a life free from animal by-products but still stuffed with chocolate!