Join Date: Aug 2012
I can tell you straight up that becoming vegan was one best decisions I've ever made in my life.
I was very naive as a vegetarian. That's not to say that you are naive, but I certainly was. I turned vegetarian at age six because I understood the very basic notion that meat came from dead animals, and that didn't sit right with me. Still, I always genuinely believed that milk and eggs came from happy chickens and happy cows roaming around in endless fields loving life. I fell for all the "free range" marketing schemes. I was blind.
People used to ask me why I ate eggs if I was vegetarian, likely because they thought that all eggs were fertilised. I explained to them that chickens didn't have to die for us to eat eggs, so it was okay. That's how naive I was. I justified my milk consumption in the same way.
I became vegan after watching a very confronting video about the egg and dairy industry on YouTube. I was eighteen at the time, two years ago. Originally, I had planned to watch it with my boyfriend to try and get him to transition into vegetarianism. The video ended up doing a lot more for me than it did for him. I was absolutely shocked by the content of the video and I cried hysterically. I felt so guilty and ashamed that I had been unknowingly contributing to such horror.
I immediately decided that I had to be vegan. I couldn't look at milk or eggs in the same way ever again. I told my mum about my decision and she was very supportive, which is fantastic, and I'm so thankful for that. I know a lot of young people don't have the same support from their parents.
I used to drink milk and eat cheese daily - I was the kind to rely on cheese to add flavour to every meal and I absolutely loved iced coffee and banana milk. As a vegetarian, I thought vegans were kind of crazy - "how do they live without cheese, flavoured milk, chocolate and ice cream? It must be horrible!" Ha, how wrong I was!
Over the next few months of being vegan, I gained heaps of weight! I absolutely revelled in the huge amount of vegan food that was available to me. I had no idea there were so many alternatives! I began to eat way more than I used to because I loved the food so much. It's like I had opened up this new world of fantastic food that I had never even considered eating before, and it was awesome. I've since lost the weight by taking greater care in what I put into my body, but I still love to indulge in some vegan mac and cheese or a donut on occasion. That's another very positive thing about being vegan - you are forced to be more careful about what you eat. When you're constantly checking labels and nutritional info, you start to realise just how many unwanted additives are in a lot of common foods. I think vegans are also automatically more conscious about their daily vitamin needs, which is very important for anybody, vegan or not.
Dairy products can be addictive, especially cheese, so it's understandable why some people find it hard to phase those foods out. I can tell you now, though, that after two years of being vegan, the smell of milk and cheese is absolutely repulsive to me. It doesn't even smell like food anymore. I no longer have any desire to drink milk or eat cheese. The alternatives are much more appealing now.
Unfortunately, having a vegan philosophy can have some negative effects, especially when it comes to relationships with other people. Alienation can be quite common depending on the sort of people you surround yourself with. Some people will automatically assume that your veganism is an attack on them and their beliefs and will become defensive and angry. I've experienced it myself and it's not nice at all, but it's important to remember that you are doing what is best for your body, your soul, the animals and the environment. Other people just need time to become accustomed to the lifestyle as it generally goes against everything that they have been told their entire lives - that we're supposed to eat meat and there's no other option. This notion has been ingrained into their minds due to years of misinformation and it's hard for them to push through it.
Regardless of that, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. The vegan population is growing rapidly and eventually people will grow out of their fear of the meatless lifestyle. I can assure you that you will not regret becoming vegan if you do it right, and I'm sure you will. It's been two years now and I will never look back!