2 September 2014

how, when and why I decided to become a vegetarian

Todays post is going to be a little bit different from my usual ones, this one is as you can probably see by the title, why and how I decided to stop eating meat as some people have requested me to do this.

Disclaimer | This post includes my own personal story on how, when and why I became a vegetarian, I am in no means forcing my views onto anyone else or trying to say my choices are better than others in anyway. I do not look down on those who eat meat I only know one veggie in real life, it's all down to personal choice but I do believe people need to be informed on where their meat comes from and how it is produced, and then they can make an informed decision on whether they would like to change their eating habits or stay the same. 

When | I'm not sure how old I was but at one stage in my life, when I was quite young, I decided that I couldn't eat meat anymore as I thought it was wrong, all I had in my head was that it came from animals and that alone didn't sit right with me. As I was young and no one in my family were vegetarians I had no idea how to do it and quite obviously I couldn't stick with it. Fast forward a few years to approximately 2008, I'm pretty sure this is when I first found out about animal testing, it might have been earlier but I remember going into lush as they had their fighting animal testing campaign displayed on their window. I went in and was shocked that such a thing happened, I immediately signed the petition and from then on was interested in animal rights. In 2012 I was on holiday and found a vegan tumblr blog, I was so interested in everything she posted but at the same time horrified by some of the videos and photos. It was at that moment when I decided to research into it more. The first video I watched was the 'meet your meat' video even just thinking of that video makes me want to vomit and cry my eyes out, it opened my eyes to what really goes on behind closed doors and I knew from then on I couldn't turn a blind eye and continue to be a part of that. From that summer on I kept researching and gradually cut out meat from my diet, I think I officially stopped eating meat in January 2013 (more on that in the how section).

Why | For some people the taste of meat alone is enough to make them not eat meat, but I had ate meat from as long as I could remember and I did like the taste, for me why I stopped eating meat was because of ethical reasons. Whilst researching vegetarianism I came across some horrible undercover footage of factory farming and the way animals are treated in these situations, they honestly horrified me, made me sick with anger towards these disgusting heartless beasts who treat these animals with such little respect and so much cruelty. I wanted to go and murder all those disgusting men for doing such a thing! I felt helpless for these poor animals I kept fantasising over rescuing them. I don't know how anyone who has seen factory farming cruelty videos could still eat meat. Whilst researching one of the more less horrifying videos I watched was this video by Gary Yourofsky. He talks about the health benefits of not eating meat and everything he said totally made sense to me, it just clicked in my brain like "duhh Sophie how didn't you figure this out!" That video was the one to finally help me make the switch. 

How | Now onto the less sad side of things, how I made the switch. At first it wasn't so easy, I remember I was in Frankie and Benny's with my cousin for breakfast and I was deciding on what to get and knew I should be getting a vegetarian breakfast, but I kept thinking how tasty their 'the works' breakfast was, that time my greed over came me and I got 'the works' breakfast. Afterwords I felt so bad and so guilty knowing what probably happened to that poor pig just so I could be greedy. It took me a few months gradually cutting out different meat products from my diet, if I went out for a meal I would choose the vegetarian option or just something with out meat. What held me back for a while was the thought that I could no longer eat at Nandos, I couldn't let go of Nandos chicken wraps, but when I tried the veggie wraps I was hooked, they are so much more tasty than the chicken! I knew I could do it if I still had the option of eating piri chips! I would say it took me a total of two to three months to totally cut out meat from my diet. I didn't tell my parents at first, I just wanted to make sure I could stick with it and know for sure that I wanted to do it with out them saying anything. After a few months they noticed and were totally fine with it. Now if we eat out they go out of their way to make sure I am able to get something that I like and if not we won't eat there. 
If you are thinking about cutting meat out of your diet then I recommend doing it gradually and if you make a mistake and eat meat don't just give up, if you truly want to do it just start again. There are so many vegetarian options and alternatives you're not going to go hungry! 



Other Animal Rights | As some of you may know for a long time now I have been cruelty free, that meaning I do not intentionally buy products that were tested on animals. I say intentionally as some companies say they don't test on animals when they really do so it is hard to really know who's telling the truth, but usually products that are labelled vegan are cruelty free. I recently have found the Beagle Freedom Projects 'cruelty cutter' app, which is an app that lets you scan barcodes of products and it will tell you if they test on animals or not which has really helped me when in stores as to what products to buy. Along with not agreeing with animal testing, I don't agree with animals being used for human entertainment, such as bull fighting, hunting, zoos (depends) and definitely not circuses. I learn a lot from PETA and other animal rights groups such as FARMAnimal Aid and Animal Equality. I am not sure what else to include in this section apart from that I no longer buy leather, fur (I've never bought fur) or wool.

Veganism | When I first started thinking about not eating meat I was in my head saying 'yes I am going to be vegan' but for me, going straight to being vegan was very hard! I was a fussy eater to begin with and I didn't eat any vegetables or anything very 'out there', if that makes any sense. So I was just a vegetarian for a year until I got used to it, last January I was dead set on trying to be vegan because I wanted to loose weight and I still knew in my head how much I disagreed with eating dairy and eggs, but I still am not fully vegan. I definitely don't eat as much dairy and eggs as I did for the first year, as my tastebuds have changed, I now eat a lot more vegetables and what I would call unusual foods. Where I live it is extremely rare to be able to get vegan options in restaurants and I eat out quite a lot with my family so it has been hard for me to be fully vegan, I eat fully vegan in the house but sometimes have to give in to pizza bases and pasta that is made with eggs. Many of you may be thinking theres no point in being vegan but if you research dairy and egg production you will be very shocked, in some cases it is worse than meat production. 



My Inspiration | For me it is important to have some people who inspire me and to look up to, a major inspiration of mine is Alicia Silverstone, you will probably know her as Cher Horowitz from the movie Clueless. She is vegan and I just love everything about her, she has raised her child as a vegan and he has apparently never been ill! I have recently purchased her book 'The Kind Diet' and it is all about her transformation and gives you loads of amazing recipe ideas and explains all kinds of nutritional questions you may have.


Another inspiration of mine is actually my bunnies, I love them so much it hurts me, they are my babies and I realise they are no different to any other animal, cows, pigs, chickens, they all feel pain and emotions and it makes me sad to think how spoilt and loved my bunnies are and there are millions of animals out there in so much pain and sadness I wish I could rescue them all! I hope to one day own an animal sanctuary, that would be my absolute dream. I heard about this fly zapper thing that electrocutes flies and that even made me feel sorry for the flies, as much as I don't like insects I always make my dad just release spiders rather than kill them! That may give you an indication as to how much I care about all living things.

The things that keep me going are how much better I feel not eating meat, and even more that I've really limited my dairy intake, I just feel so much healthier even when I eat vegan burgers and things that aren't as healthy I still don't feel disgusting afterwards! Vegan diets have also cured peoples illnesses and diseases, people on a vegan diet are less likely to develop cancers, heart disease or diabetes! One more thing is that meat production is so bad for the environment, a new documentary called 'Cowspiracy' is coming out soon which explains how bad it is.

Questions A few people on instagram asked me some questions to include in this post, so here they are.

hey__ellie - Is there any meat you miss?

The only thing I kind of miss would be pepperoni pizza but I don't miss meat now, at the beginning I did but thats because I hadn't done enough research on how to nourish my body in the right way.  

amaya_maria_ - Can you please clarify for me what the exact differences are between a vegetarian and a vegan?

I know of five veggie type diets (there are probably more but these are what I've heard of)
1 - Pescetarian - This is someone who avoids eating meat and animal flesh but still consumes fish and may or may not consume dairy and eggs
2 - Vegetarian - This is someone who avoids eating meat, animal flesh and fish but still consumes dairy such as milk and cheese, and eggs 
3 - Vegan - This is someone who avoids eating all forms of animal products, they will not eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey. Vegans also most commonly do not wear any animal flesh such as leather or fur and do not use products tested on animals. I have been trying to become fully vegan since the beginning but I have been struggling due to my current lifestyle, which is no excuse but more on that later
4 - Raw Vegan - This is the same as vegans but who will not cook their food which sounds weird but it is probably the most healthy and natural diet you can have (rawvana)
5 - Fruitatarian - Someone who only eats fruit. This is relatively new to me but I was introduced to it since finding Freelee The Banana Girl's youtube channel I am obsessed with incorporating more fruit into my diet

I know you didn't ask for all of those but I thought it would be interesting for you haha!


idkpoppyy - if you have children when you're older would you encourage them to become vegetarian or let them make their own choice?
I would raise them on a vegetarian/vegan diet (what ever I was at the time) until they were old enough to make their own decision. I wouldn't cook them meals that included meat, I hope to never have meat in my kitchen (when I have my own house) and it would be an absolute dream to have a vegan boyfriend but I totally wouldn't force my diet choices onto him if he didn't want to be vegan, if that makes sense?

megan_bangall - how do you still keep a strong health/get all the nutrients?

There is no nutrient you can get from animals that you can't get from plants, I am not missing any vitamins or minerals by not eating meat. Where do you think the animals get their nutrients from? Plants! 

allexandrapenny - what are your favourite veggie/vegan goodies?

I could live off falafel wraps and hummus! I love bananas, kale chips, tofu, nakd bars, and Amy's Kitchens vegan rice mac and cheeze, oh my god its delicious! Although this may sound strange since its Nandos but their veggie wraps I could eat all day everyday, they're my all time favourite veggie food and sweet potato!! I can't live with out it!

Thinking of going veg? | I really hope this post has helped you understand vegetarians and veganism a little bit more and maybe inspired you to cut out meat from your diet. If you are thinking about trying it I would say the main tips are to take it as slow as you feel comfortable with, eating meat is a habit and it takes approx 21 days to break habits so keep at it and see how much better you feel! Try out some meat replacing products such as Quorn, their frozen sausages and chicken fillets are lovely! This is a really good video to watch if you're just starting out! (although I don't agree with her saying not to eat much fruit, I agree with Freelee about fruit intake)

Below are a list of my inspirations and what helped me through the transition and are still helping me to this day which I highly recommend checking out,

Freelee the banana girl - the main person who helps me everyday make better food choices!
Rawvana
Vegan starter kit - great for beginners
Instagramers such as - @brusselsvegan @roadtoeverywhere @eatwithapurpose @thehealthypursuit @veganistic @rawintentions @_rachelbutler 


As with anything new research is key so get googling! I'm so sorry this post is so long but if you have made it to the end well done! I just wanted to include everything I could think of to help you as much as possible! Again if you do have any more questions please ask away and I will try my best to reply! I am also thinking of doing a blog post in the future about how to make some of my favourite meals so if that is something you are interested in let me know.
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2 comments

  1. I'm also a vegetarian and have been for about 4 (i think) years now, I absolutely love animals. I wanted to become vegan and so for a month earlier this year I was vegan but i found it so difficult and it was quite expensive so I stopped. One of my inspirations to become vegan and who helped me was also Alicia SIlverstone, I used to look at her 'The Kind Life' blog a lot. Although I'm not vegan anymore I'm going to slowly start cutting out dairy just as you said to take it slow, as I think that would be a lot easier. I really like both of your instagram accounts and enjoy reading your blog and seeing how passionate you are about animals. Ive just seen that you have youtube too so I look forward to watching your videos. I don't really know what the point of this was, but keep doing what you're doing and I'm sure you're an inspiration to many just like you are to me.

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    1. Aw I think a lot of the vegan alternatives are so expensive, I bought some vegan burgers from a local vegan store and they were like £5 for a box of 2! Its so annoying, but I try to eat a load of fruit and veg which isn't as expensive and just have a few of those ready made vegan things :) Aw thank you so much that means a lot! Ahh my youtube isn't so great, I originally made it to be a beauty youtube but now I'm thinking of going more down the 'lifestyle' path and including my bunnies in it more because thats what I'm more interested in, hopefully it will go well!

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