I've been vegan for two and a half years now, and animal rights has been a part of my life for much, much longer. Lots of people ask about what made me finally make the big change to become vegan, or what the story is, so I decided to finally write up a post to explain how I've been headed towards veganism since age 3 (seriously!).
Childhood // Looking back at my childhood, it seems pretty clear that I was destined to become vegan. I wasn't a fussy eater, but really wasn't keen on any unprocessed meat. If we had a roast dinner with lamb, I'd still be sat at the table an age after my family had finished, painstakingly trying to chew my way through it. It was the same with the turkey at Christmas. I'd devour the rest then struggle to chew and eat the turkey. I also detested bacon and everything about it (yep, I hated bacon, insert your horrified gasps here). Eating meat just did not come naturally to me, at all.
When I was 3, before I started school, my nanna would look after me whilst my parents were at work. We'd often walk into the lovely old-fashioned town she lived in, and visit the butcher. At this point, I was too young to understand that meat came from animals, but I did understand where the sheep skins and animal heads on the wall came from. I'd frequently 'tell off' the butcher for being cruel to animals and having dead animals decorating his shop. I was clearly a little activist in the making!
Going vegetarian // As I grew older, I began to understand more about where meat comes from. At this stage in my life, I wasn't questioning it because it was the norm, and my whole family ate (and still do eat) meat. At age 12, I went on a family holiday to an all-inclusive resort. One evening I came to the buffet-style dinner, and was horrified. There was a whole cooked piglet out on a plate. This poor sweet pig was layed out whole, with eyes, ears, trotters, tail - the lot. People were just sticking forks into her and helping themselves. I was so shocked and disgusted. I said to my cousin 'I don't think I can ever eat meat again' and he bet me a tenner I wouldn't last until the end of the holiday. Well, it's been over 10 years and I'm still waiting for that £10!
Developing My Knowledge // When I first became vegetarian, I was just becoming a teenager and my parents knew nothing about healthy vegetarian eating. Out of concern, my parents initially spent around 6 months pushing me into eating fish, before realising how serious I was and how important vegetarianism is to me.
I realised pretty quickly that I needed to know more to be equipped to defend my choices. I spent a lot of time looking at online resources, and discovered some horribly disturbing facts and footage. At this point, I knew that once I was an adult and could make that choice, I was going to go vegan. As a teenager, I slowly began to make little changes, such as switching to dairy alternatives to bring my diet closer to veganism. I also chose to use my voice for animal liberation, opting to do speeches about animal circuses for speaking assessments in school, for example.
Going vegan // During my time at university, I made my first attempt at becoming vegan. It was a disaster, but not in the way you're thinking. I didn't give in and eat a block of cheese or become malnourished within a week. Heck, it didn't last that long. My first 'act' as a new vegan was to buy a fruit bar instead of chocolate. Big mistake. One severe allergic reaction and very seriously almost dying later, and I found myself in an ambulance to the local hospital, and being told not to make any changes to my diet until they've worked out what the allergy is. So 'attempt one' lasted about 10 seconds, or 2 bites of a fruit bar. Good going!
Fast forward a year, and I was still awaiting allergy testing. I was writing my dissertation, which included interviewing and testing people on their environmental choices in regards to lifestyle choices and carbon footprint. I felt guilty that I was discussing the environmental impact of diet when I wasn't doing my best by the planet. One night, in my flat, I was eating cheesy garlic bread from the chippy, which, until then, had been my favourite treat. A few slices in, I suddenly realised that I don't need it. I didn't want it at all. I didn't finish it, and the next day, February 16th 2016, I started my vegan journey and never looked back.
(For anyone wondering, I did get allergy tested, and my severe food allergies are cashews, pistachios, and peanuts, and I have a whole scroll of non-severe allergies to things like animals, plants, and dust. Natural selection is coming for me!).
Now // Over two years later, and veganism is a huge part of my identity. It's given me a whole new attitude, relit my fire for animal rights and environmental issues, and brought so many new friends into my life. In just 2 years, I have made so many precious memories at vegan festivals and events, been lucky enough to review some amazing vegan products on this blog, and best of all, have been able to give countless other people guidance on their vegan journey. People think veganism is all about deprivation, but even my omnivorous mum says that I try so much more exciting and adventurous food as a vegan than meat-eaters do. Veganism doesn't take anything from your life, but it certainly does enrich it.
Fellow vegan bloggers, I would love to hear your vegan stories about what made you finally take the steps. As always, if you're considering veganism, or vegetarianism, or going cruelty-free, or just have some questions, please feel free to message me! Every journey begins with the first step, and I'd be delighted to help!