I’ve been vegan for over a year now. May 1st 2017 I came back home and told my man “you know, I think I’m going to stop eating meat”. That day I went vegan cold turkey, because I knew it’s just the right thing to do. However at that time I didn’t realized how much is going to change.

We often think about veganism in terms of health, environment and obviously ethical behavior. That’s great, those are three huge components of better life and better future not only for us but also the only planet we have right now. What surprised me after a while was the personal growth.

Here are few most important benefits of going vegan and what plant-based diet has taught me.

I don’t need a permission to change my life.

Honestly I didn’t wait for anyone’s acceptance for my plans, because if I did I could wait forever. Many people don’t understand what veganism is nor do they support this way of living. It doesn’t mean eating veggies is wrong, only breaking up with traditions, even those cruel ones doesn’t happen overnight.

Of course I explained this decision without forcing my boyfriend to do the same. As much I respect and value his opinion, I didn’t wait to hear if going vegan was right or wrong. We both take care of each other, he expressed his concerned about my health but in the same time supported this choice without doubts. Month later he also became vegan.

As long as you’re not hurting anyone, don’t use someone’s money and taking care of yourself then you’re good. If you want to dance, then dance. Wanna run your own business or walk down the street in a unicorn onesie? Go for it, that sounds awesome!

Being less self-centered will bring me the real joy.

I never considered myself as an egoistic person, I wasn’t people pleaser by full mean but always tried to think about others. Nonetheless I spend tons of hours thinking and worrying about myself, how I feel, what to do to make my happy and how to get what I want.

It’s super important to take care of yourself first but sometimes I was so consumed by self-centered thought, that I didn’t see the suffering of other life beings. Suffering that was caused by my daily choices.

Now it’s hard to imagine that I enjoyed eating meat or dairy, because the word “enjoy” is quite off. People argue that we need eat animals for health reasons, but c’mon nobody’s gonna convince me that Big Mac (typical modern dinner) should be considered “healthy”. It’s just the taste but no living being deserved to die because of its flavor. Besides, being kind tastes way much better!

Making changes makes me more confident.

After I went vegan I had to defend my decision and discuss the same topics over and over again. If I wouldn’t be so sure about veganism I could break down quickly and get back to eating meat and dairy. There was much more criticism than acceptance. At the same time it became much easier for me to stand up for what I believe in. Even though it was hard to see all those people who don’t care, I had to accept the fact that there will be moments when no one around will have my back. That’s fine, because I know how to handle myself.

Confidence spreads to other aspects of life. Making changes requires some level of bravery to break a pattern. Thor had his hammer and I have my veganism to do it.

Having core values makes me more confident.

At this point, my food choices represent not some kind of trend in a bikini body diet but my values. That’s why it’s so easy to stay true to myself and express opinion. I don’t remember all the numbers on how animal agriculture negatively impacts environment and health but it’s not a problem. I know that facts are on my side, it’ll take a second to check out the studies available on the Internet.

All I need is my values – they are way more powerful than someone’s views, so I won’t start drinking cow’s milk in an attempt to be understood or liked by everyone.

Racism, sexism, speciesism – it’s all the same, just foolish belief that some people are better than others because of their race or skin color. The thing is, it’s not my belief and I’m gonna keep it that way.

I shouldn’t care what people think about my look.

There are way more important things than not wearing foundation when you go grocery shopping. I’m a good person, try my best and some small spots doesn’t determine who I am. I still have some days when my skin is not that great but I don’t really care. Do you think that during that time, some stranger came to me and said “Oh, you really need to put some make up on, you look terrible”. Believe me, people are too busy thinking about themselves.

Besides, for years I’ve been struggling with acne, I was even too insecure to wear pony tail. Since going vegan, my skin cleared so much so for the first time I stopped wearing make up everywhere I go. Quick story – as usual I went running on a winter morning and one guy I know said to me “you look bad” instead of “hello”. Years ago it could crush me but this time I was only surprised by his rudeness. This kind of opinion is nothing to worry about.

I don’t have to feel bad for changing myself.

It’s okay to grow and take another path. Last few years I spend on trying to be a better person and becoming vegan was a huge part of it. I believe that this decision was crucial for my progress but of course someone may disagree. That’s because I’ve changed. I’m not the same person as I was before May 1st. I revaluated my life and my surrounding.

I’m happy for this change because it makes me more compassionate, so I try to spread those values on other areas. Segregate trash, reduce waist, don’t use plastic bottles, don’t consume beyond my needs and cut of the car as often as I can. So whenever someone says “you’ve changed” I can only respond “thank you”.

Compassion is not a rocket science.

Elon Musk wants to go to Mars and make humans multi-planetary species. So I think I’m able to replace slice of cheese on my sandwich with some veggies.

It doesn’t take much to make things better, where there’s a will there’s a way.

Small steps can make huge changes.

I always loved to be active, although sometimes it was hard to stay persistent. Rain, too cold or too hot weather, lack of company was an easy excuse to gave up on training. In reality it was nothing more than an excuse, it’s not like once I get wet I’ll never be dry again. Snowy, cold day was a little different – my immune system wasn’t the best and there was a great chance I’ll end up being sick for the next week. It didn’t have to be this way. As it turned out, on a plant-based diet health really improves! For the first time I could go for a run in a winter!

I never thought changing diet can turn my world upside down, in the most wonderful way. This whole list shows it best and it’s only part of a bigger, better picture.

We often hear “be confident” or “stay yourself” but it’s easier said than done. In order to be this way we need to take an action. 

I’ve become stronger both physically and mentally, because one day I said at loud “I’m going vegan”.

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