My Vegan Journey

It is officially the time of my 2 year vegan anniversary! Woohoo! I don't think 2 years really sounds like a lot, but in retrospect, I am so proud of myself and so happy to be living a vegan lifestyle - I can only wish I had started sooner! 

When I think back to my childhood, to the girl who had a funeral for a bug she found outside, and had an obsession with animals, it kind of makes sense and almost feels like this was my destiny. However, as an adult (prior to 2 years ago) I never would have thought this was something I could do. Coming from an Italian family, meat, seafood and cheese are pretty much everything. While deep down, I think I always knew that I was doing something "wrong" it was so easy to turn a blind eye because the education wasn't there. I so vividly remember trying to go vegetarian for a short amount of time, and I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I think at that point, everything became about cheese, and dairy based products. I remember my face started breaking out like crazy, the worst forehead acne I had ever had in my life. It was mortifying, and I was convinced it was from my diet changes. This, plus the fact that I was living in an extremely unsupportive environment did not help. When chicken parm was being served for dinner and you had to explain to a group of italians that you didn't want to eat an innocent animal, you better believe they had plenty to say about it. A lack of support, and a lack of knowledge is just a recipe for disaster. I felt totally helpless. I broke my vegetarian diet with a chicken salad from the deli a couple of months later because I was just so hungry for a "real" meal.

I felt bad, because I knew it was something I wanted to do - but I literally didn't know how. Did I mention I was also a horrible cook at the time? (Not that I'm an amazing cook now, but I know what I'm doing.) So the least I was able to do was cut out red meat. It was a start. I stuck with things like turkey, chicken, and fish. Eventually I made my way over to dairy free. I started getting vegan substitutes for milk, things like almond milk were an easy switch. Ventured into dairy free ice cream, and eventually started to try dairy free cheese here and there. Now that I think back on that cheese, I'm pretty sure it still had lactose in it, but again....didn't really know what I was doing 100%. And not for nothing, but if I was going out anywhere - chances are I was going to order something with cheese on it. 

So at this point, I already had a little background as to some things I could do for substitutes, but the motivation wasn't fully there. In the spring of 2017, I had a friend stay with me for a week and she happened to be vegan, so I think that was pretty educational for me as well. Hearing about her diet, and her passion for being vegan definitely planted a seed. But I am a stubborn girl. I have to come to decisions on my own. Fast forward to another friend who was a heavy meat eater who told me that she had watched What the Health on Netflix and she began cutting red meats from her diet. I was shocked and figured this must be a pretty powerful documentary to get someone like her to change her ways.  I remember watching the documentary and just being utterly disgusted by everything I was seeing. The cruelty towards the animals, the dangers certain foods have on your health, everything. I continued to watch more vegan documentaries, youtube videos, look up recipes on pinterest. This was something I knew I had to do, but based on my previous experience with being vegetarian, I was scared and wasn't sure if I could do it. I promised myself I would do it for at least 30 days, and make a more informed decision from there. That same day, I threw out all the non vegan products in my apartment, and I have literally never looked back. The 30 days flew by and I knew there was no way I could go back to the "old lifestyle." 

I was also super lucky to be in a new work environment where the friends I was making were also vegetarian, trying to go vegan, or were already vegan. It was something we were able to go through together, and I felt so supported this time around. 

I remember I had started sleeping better, I had more energy, I felt more easily satisfied when I ate, and never felt sick after eating anything. I even eventually dropped a total of about 12 pounds (and I still look very healthy). I can't say it was easy, and that I didn't crave mozzarella sticks or spicy chick fil a sandwhiches on a regular basis, but I quickly came to learn that there is LITERALLY a substitute for everything. So there aren't really any excuses, it's just a matter of knowing what to get, what to cook, etc. 

I certainly can't say that I am the healthiest of vegans...maybe in the beginning I was, and then I discovered vegan junk food. I literally do not have to miss out on all the wonderful things people ask if I miss. Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, desserts, you name it - I can eat it vegan. It is SO much easier than people think, and honestly - just as delicious, if not more so. 

Keep an eye out on my Instagram page for pictures all of the delicious vegan junk I eat 😛 and stay tuned for more info on the basics of going vegan. This was my story, but everyone's is different! 

What sparked you to go vegan? If you're not vegan yet, and just thinking about it, what is holding you back? Share your thoughts below!

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