I’ll be honest with you. I originally went vegan after watching video after video of Freelee the Banana girl convincing me (along with her other tens of thousands of followers) that eating a high-carb low-fat vegan diet would give me the body of my dreams. For me that meant that if I followed that diet I would look like her. At that point, I probably weighed less than her, but because of an eating disorder that skewed my body image, eating 3,000 calories a day and looking like her seemed like a dream come true for someone like me who thought eating 1,000 calories was a day of indulgence.
So yes, I had an extremely vain reason for going vegan. And because I was underweight, dehydrated and extremely hungry—of course I gained weight once I made the switch. It was hard to come to terms with then and something I’ve struggled with constantly over these past 6 years. But over those 6 years, something else happened to me. Even though I gained weight—I stuck with it. I didn’t blame the diet for making me gain weight. Instead, I absorbed all the information I could about veganism. I watched documentaries, read journals and books, witnessed other people’s experiences. Once my eyes were open, there was no closing them.
During these past 6 years a few things have happened to and through me that are a result of being vegan. We get a bad name, us vegans, for being too “preachy.” But I feel compelled to share my story and own experience because it has been life changing. I may have turned to veganism in a vain attempt to be “skinny,” but I’m proud to say I am vegan still today because I whole heartedly believe it is the key to living happily and healthily in harmony with the yourself and the earth.
4 Unexpected Changes After Going Vegan
1. Deeper appreciation and connection to food
Before I went vegan, I ate nothing and I ate everything. The restricting and binging cycle of an eating disorder is furious. And then there was the purging. Food became something to fill a void and then just get rid of. I didn’t value it past its availability to me. When I went vegan, I began to view food as fuel—goodness that was feeding my cells and healing me. Now, when I eat, it’s something almost sacred to me. I feel good about it, I have no guilt, and I appreciate being able to have access to healthy, delicious food.
2. Healthier body image
My vegan journey hasn’t been without ups and downs. And because I come from a disordered eating background, I’ll always have a little voice saying “not good enough,” but being vegan has helped quiet that voice—a ton. Even it was just the step I took to become healthier physically, it led me to become healthier mentally through compassion—which has no bounds.
3. A connection to the earth and animals
I’ve always loved animals. But I don’t think you can deeply love them until you go vegan. It’s like a switch goes on in your heart. Once you see what they are subjected to and go through in order to become food on your plate, you develop compassion. And then there’s really no going back. Same goes for the earth. I was always a “eco-conscious” person, but going vegan deepened that.
4. A desire to help others
Once we get educated, we feel like it is vital to our existence to spread that information. Of course we don’t have the answer to every illness, although some do believe going vegan is the solution to every problem. We simply have the desire to share our life-changing awareness with others. This doesn’t end with spreading information on food and where it comes from. As I said, compassion knows no bounds, and neither does kindness.
How has being vegan radically changed your life?
Photos: Liftz, Smith, Sounds; Unsplash