Two years ago I made the decision to go from a total omnivore who loved steak (I really did love a steak) to fully vegan and it is the best decision I've ever made in my life. It took just 14 days to transition too. Here's my story.
I didn't go vegan to be healthier, I actually did it for the animals - for ethical reasons.
Yes it would have been easier to go veggie first but the funny thing is, I'd never considered even being an ethical vegetarian as a viable lifestyle choice for me.
I wanted to just completely change, but, if you're thinking vegan is too much too soon, then I'd suggest stepping stones with going vegetarian first.
So what exactly made me choose such a drastically different way of life?
Before, the thought of causing 'animal cruelty' was not nice and not something I would want to think about too much or get on board with. I'd happily play ignorant because I'd upset myself if I paid too much attention to what was on my plate.
I'd grown up eating meat, enjoying it, believing in the notion that any proper meal centres around animal protein and that lean white meats and fish, and eggs, were very healthy.
I thought humans had just been eating them for a very long time without any problems and the animals reared for this purpose were happy enough - or at least it wasn’t not 'my business' to think about how they might feel. It was just too abstract. I was just too detached.
And then, a good friend of mine went vegan. I'm a curious soul (I'm a journalist...) and I love asking questions.
Well, I guess I asked one too many. Or, I got one too many answers.
Here's what I realised: by consuming dairy, I was contributing to a brutal and disturbing practice that I had no idea was even happening.
The way the commercial dairy industry functions around the world, basically, requires a never-ending, systematic abuse of the miracle of bearing children - including rape, child murder, and torture to new mothers.
Except that it isn't humans, it's animals - cows mainly - that we're abusing for their milk.
I literally had never realised. I was ashamed that I had never previously asked, and it haunted me.
Once I’d had a good chat with my newly-vegan friend about the true perils of dairy cows, I spent a fortnight in despair.
I would cry while travelling to work on the train, reading articles online and trying desperately to find justification for eating even organic, free range eggs.
Here’s the deal: even organic, free range eggs come from hens who will be slaughtered at 18 months even though their life span can reach 8-9 years, and – the worst part – baby boy chicks are mostly all gassed or minced alive because they are useless to production.
Oh and the meat industry is just as disgusting, as the saying goes "if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarians".
Thus armed with this knowledge, I went fully vegan.
I made sure to quickly educate myself completely on how to stay healthy for life on a vegan diet. I actually read a book called Vegan for Life which helped a lot, but there are plenty of free resources online.
As with myself and others I know, there are many concerns for anyone who has or is thinking of going vegan. I was concerned about too much oestrogen from a soy-rich diet. It turns out that’s a myth. I was also worried about not getting enough vitamins which is also a myth...as long as you create a varied vegan diet for yourself.
There are plenty of protein-packed alternatives to meat, fish, dairy and eggs such as tofu and soy products including tempeh, seitan (protein extracted from wheat), beans, grains and pulses, nuts and seeds and so much more.
Rare steak was my favourite food before, and now I eat all of the above for protein. You can do it too.
I don’t even feel like I’m missing out and I enjoy discovering new recipes and restaurants and learning how to cook foods I’ve never tried before.
Since going vegan not only have I lost all of the guilt and worry about where my meat comes from, I dropped 10% body fat, 10 kilos and won 1st place Beach Body at the Miss Galaxy Universe European Championships 2016 – a prestigious figure contest.
So why on earth would I – or could I – go back?
I feel so much more wide awake, conscious – and good: like I’m doing the right thing.
My food still tastes great (yes, meat replacements are yummy too!) and
And as a bonus, my body is thanking me for it.