Last Saturday was a big day. It’s the day I said the magic three words for the first time: „I am vegan.”
My personal journey towards veganism started this spring. Probably even a lot earlier than that, but that’s when I first noticed. It took me countless steps to get from there to where I am today.
Here’s a little summary of the most important ones:
1. I saw the pattern.
After having refused to be on Instagram for so many years, I finally decided to jump on the train and give it a try when I moved to Gran Canaria. And basically, I immediately got addicted. But that’s another story. The thing that I noticed after so many hours of scrolling through pictures was that most of the people that inspired me had one thing in common: They were all vegan. And therefore, as I then realized had actually already happened before, my preconceptions of “vegans” were challenged. Maybe it’s not just hippies living in their own world of flower power. Maybe it’s just a conscious way of eating and living adopted by all kinds of people. Also “normal” ones with a job and a house and a life and everything. And since there seemed to be so many of them in my virtual (and as I started looking more closely, also my actual) environment, I thought that maybe there’s something to it. Something that I couldn’t quite identify and see yet, but something I was curious about. So I decided to simply give it a try. I didn’t see myself going all the way, because I felt like it was too much of a restriction. But I decided to try having one vegan meal a day. Just to see what happens. Just to see if I can.
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I've recently been very inspired by vegan cuisine, because this is where I found the creativity, consciousness and love I think food should be dealt with. I don't see myself going fully vegan anytime soon, but my understanding and appreciation for those who do is growing day by day. So I decided to try having at least one vegan meal a day. This is the "veganized" version of the brunch plate I've developed: Baked chick peas with roasted sweet potatoes. I usually add a fried egg to that, but this time I threw in some tofu instead (keeping the dish rich in #protein). Plus I used coconut oil instead of butter, which tastes amazing with these Canarian white sweet potatoes. Only 2 minor adaptions and no losses in nutritional value or deliciousness – this vegan stuff is neat! 😉 @_evaklas_foodjourney #healthyfoodporn #veganfoodporn #veganized #veganbrunch #experimentalcuisine #creativecooking #foodlove #localingredients #lpgc #laspalmas #grancanaria #canaryislands
2. I saw the challenge.
I found it quite challenging and didn’t always make it. But that’s also what I liked: The challenge. To question the way I cooked and ate and lived and to consciously come up with alternatives, if only once a day. I still ate all the eggs (even though I at some point went from 3 to 1 a day) and occasionally meat and dairy. I didn’t want all the restrictions and especially not the commitment. I wanted to be able to eat anywhere and anything. I wanted to enjoy and not unnecessarily complicate my life. So I went on as a “part-time vegan” and a “full-time foodie” for a couple of months.
I even tried a fully vegan diet for about 2 weeks in June thanks to this “7 days pure plants challenge”. I loved it all the way and went on for another week or so, but I knew I wasn’t gonna stick with it. I didn’t want to. And then summer came, which is always some sort of a mess. I went on my graduation trip, which was just packed with alcohol, eggs, dairy and processed food. I even ate meat once, although I had already “officially” taken the step back to being vegetarian again.
Then I went to France and Spain – and seriously: What is France without cheese? And how can I not eat Spanish tortilla, the best dish in the world? I was in “holiday mode” again, so I didn’t really want to be bothered. No restrictions. Treat yourself. Living the good life. All that jazz. But guess what: I felt like shit. I was tired and pissed most of the time. My acne came back in its worst form. But I still didn’t feel ready to commit to what by now I knew would be the solution. When I got back from my travels, I tried to be “as vegan as possible”. If I cooked for myself, it was pretty easy, but if I ate out or with friends, I didn’t want to be “annoying” and was “just” vegetarian.
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Ultimate brunchgoals: Finally getting a table at the one nice breakfast spot you could find in Brussels (only took around 2 years and 7 attempts), 🍽 ordering every single dish you would like to try and pass it around until everyone has found their favourite. 💚 Mine was the Huevos Rancheros and the bulgur-lentil-buns. 😊 (Not a single vegan dish on the menu, so might as well indulge in 🍳 and 🧀 a bit.🤷🏼♀️) #familystyle #brunchgoals #startyourdayright #startyourweekright #motivationmonday #veggiebrunch #byfarnotveganthough #flexitarian #mexicanbreakfast #huevosrancheros #tortilla #guac #bulgur #lentils #veggiebuns #hotanddelish #yummy #lekker #lekkersmekker #allthegoodstuff #allthecheats #livingthegoodlife #globetrotter #wanderlust #foodjourney #brusselsprouts #sprouttobebrussels #jadorebruxelles #mangerabruxelles #yetibrussels
3. I saw the documentary.
As I started getting more and more interested in veganism, the title of a documentary kept popping up: What the Health. Even though I knew I was gonna watch it at some point, I tried to put it off for quite some time. I just had the strange feeling that it would not leave me unchanged and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to accept these changes. I did eventually watch it after all and of course it blew my mind. Of course it made me want to go vegan again, but I still didn’t feel ready to fully commit. So I once again decided to cook vegan, but not be too strict about it when eating out. Which worked pretty well for most of the time, but still involved binge-eating when I was making “exceptions” and feeling like shit afterwards.
4. I saw the issue.
This is when I started realizing that I’ve been ignoring my instincts for way too long. I was actually close to being vegan as a kid. I never really ate meat, simply because I didn’t like it and saw no reason to do so. I hardly ate dairy, because I’m lactose-intolerant. I did eat eggs if they were part of a dish, but would never make an omelet or anything of the like. Pretty basic, pretty easy. But it didn’t stay that way.
As I started my hospitality education and ate at school a couple of times a week, I didn’t take my lactose-intolerance too seriously anymore. Dairy was simply everywhere and I didn’t really feel the immediate consequences up to a certain extent, so I didn’t really care. Looking back, I do realize that my body tried to tell me in different ways that it didn’t like what I was doing. But I was simply not ready to listen.
Then, when I was 18 and first spent my whole summer traveling and visiting friends, I started forcing myself to eat meat. I didn’t want to be “the odd one out” anymore who always needs some sort of special attention when it comes to food. I didn’t want to have to say “No, thank you, I am vegetarian” anymore. It simply annoyed me. And it didn’t fit the image of the careless, uncomplicated, easy-going person I was trying to create of myself. So I bit by bit got accustomed with the taste and texture of meat that has always disgusted me. And at some point, I even started liking it.
Looking back at these past years made me realize that basically all that going vegan would mean for me is going “back to the roots”. Back to before I started worrying about food and people’s opinion so much. Back to when I naturally put my instincts before my cognition. Back to showing my body some respect by simply listening to what it says and accepting the “limits” that creates. Basically, all of this was just a matter of self-respect.
5. I saw the benefits.
So after one last weekend of carelessness, I started a juice cleanse again to reset my compass and go all the way. After all those months (and years, for that matter), I was finally ready to treat myself right. And guess what: Just as when I first tried a vegan diet in June, I found it surprisingly easy. I hardly used any of the countless recipes I had already collected over the past months, because I was so inspired by all the new combinations and ingredients I could now experiment with. I fell in love with the simplicity and creativity a plantbased diet brings along. It’s been about 5 weeks now and I never even thought of going back. Quite similar to my experiences with „7 days pure plants„, I sleep better and quite oftenly even wake up before my alarm rings. I feel so much more energetic and focused. I’m less moody and just generally happy. I am super excited about every single meal and enjoy and appreciate food at a completely new level. I spend so much less time and money in supermarkets, because I can skip most of the sections. It just all makes sense now.
6. I saw the freedom.
It may have taken me some time to finally make the decision to “officially” go vegan, but I guess I needed every single one of the mentioned steps (and many more in between). It now feels like the only right thing to do. I don’t miss a single thing. I don’t feel like I’m restricting myself anymore. I feel like I finally managed to let go of what was no longer serving me. I’ve been so worried and reluctant to make this commitment, because I thought it would be limiting and stressful. But now that I finally did, I feel like I’ve freed myself from so many things that have done nothing but harm to me. I actually feel relieved. I swear, it really is magic, saying those three words, so here they come once again: I AM VEGAN.