When I first heard the word 'vegan', the word 'extreme' came to mind. I never had any intention of becoming a vegan. The words 'save the animals', 'help save the earth' and 'stop eating meat' seemed to be force-fed to me whenever I encountered someone who was incredibly passionate about being a vegan.
That was until I started doing my own research because I wanted to understand why these people got so worked up whenever veganism was mentioned in a conversation. I understood vegetarians; I have many friends who are vegetarian (meaning they do not eat meat) and it took me a while to realize that vegans were just taking it a little step further. And by step, I mean a leap. You see, I really started getting into this veganism thing after doing some research about cruelty - free makeup for my own blog.
I had stumbled across a video on Youtube that exposed how animals were treated while they were in the laboratory for animal testing. I knew that many of my favourite makeup brands tested on animals, and still I chose to turn a blind eye. As I mentioned earlier, many of my friends and people I know are vegetarian/vegan and most of them do it to "save the animals" yet they still continue to wear makeup that is tested on animals. I was surprised to discover that there were so many vegan cosmetic and clothing brands. Without realizing it, curating my makeup collection to be entirely cruelty free was the first step I took to transitioning to becoming vegan.
My second step proved to be a lot more challenging, however. That was changing my diet which I decided was going to be plant-based. Meat and meat alternatives were easy to cut out for me because I don't particularly enjoy meat that much. It proved to be more difficult when I was with family because of my culture. For those of you who don't know, I am South African and in South Africa, we have what is knowing as National Braai Day (Braai is the South African equivalent of the American Barbeque - except we do it better). National Braai Day is literally a day dedicated to eating meat and it comes in a variety of different forms, so even being vegetarian at home is difficult because you are constantly surrounded by meat.
Milk and milk products (yoghurt, cheese, ice cream for example) weren't a challenge; I absolutely hate the taste of milk - it was cheese that was tricky to get over. Eggs were also a bit difficult as I often had one for breakfast but that was a routine that quickly stopped. I tried to be vegan and I was successful for 6 weeks until I caved on my birthday at a steakhouse. During the 6 weeks that I was plant-based, my body went through a lot of changes.
In the first two weeks, I was feeling sluggish as my body adjusted to it as I now had a lot of things to substitute to make sure I got the proteins and nutrients that I needed. After my body got used to it, I felt completely renewed. During those six weeks of being plant - based, I had more energy, problem areas on my skin had started clearing up, my skin started radiating a healthy glow, I had gained weight but my body was more toned, my hair was shinier and even my nails were stronger!
I'm not going to lie - it is difficult to transition from eating all animal products and animal byproducts to completely cutting it out of your diet. This is why it is important to do some serious research about the benefits, the alternatives and how to tell if a product is vegan. I can also say that it is 100% worth it and that is why I decided to go back to being vegan. I've started again and it's a little easier now that I know what to expect. 6 weeks of effort went down the drain in literally a single bite but this time I am more determined to stick to my goal. I am on day 6 now and it's been good so far. Once again my body is getting used to it but I don't feel as tired anymore. It makes me feel good knowing that I am putting healthy, nutritious food into my body instead of processed snacks and fast food.
My second tip is to remember why you want this change. Whatever your reason is, make sure to stick to it and try to keep a positive attitude. Many people have trouble differentiating between being a vegan and following a plant-based diet. Once again, do your research and begin planning your transition. Simply put, vegans and people who follow a plant-based diet live a similar lifestyle. People who are plant based avoid animal products in their food such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk etc. Vegans are vegan in not only their diet, but their lifestyles too. Typically this means no materials such as leather, wool, animal skin, fur, etc.
Above all, remember why you started and what inspired you to make this change. Whether you want to follow a plant-based diet or go completely vegan in your lifestyle, just make sure you know what it is that you are doing and that you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs. Remember, it's mind over matter and if you believe you can, you're halfway there.
About the Author
My name is Miah and I'm (trying to be) a plant-based baby. I am a Cape Town, South Africa native but currently a Rotterdam, Netherlands resident who drinks way too many cups of coffee and then complains that I don't get enough sleep. Hobbies include writing, daydreaming, collecting cruelty free makeup and sprinkling a little bit of happiness here and there.