Welcome to my first post for Naturally Vegan. I’m really excited to have this platform where I can share my cruelty-free, plant based lifestyle with you. I hope I can encourage you to make better food and lifestyle choices.
Now lets talk about going Vegetarian!
How it all began
You can read about when my plant based journey started in my About me. I’ve had an interesting plant based journey with food. As a child I really disliked dairy products and there was a period where I had a pescetarian moment (consuming fish only) growing up, but it never felt right eating fish and there were times when I didn’t feel well after eating it. I knew at a very young age that it was wrong and didn’t make sense killing animals so we (humans) could eat. I always knew I would find a place with my nutrition that would be satisfying and cruelty free.
I don’t remember growing-up-vegetarian being a big deal, in fact it was easy. Probably because I didn’t have to cook for myself. My school friends never made it an issue for me either and I didn’t feel any different being the only vegetarian at school. I do remember eating lush chips and potato scallops walking home from school with my friends; and I really enjoyed eating banana’s. At school there wasn’t much vegetarian options apart from chips, baked beans, basic vegetable and salad options; so sometimes I took a packed lunch to school. At home I was still able to enjoy some Caribbean dishes without the animal produce and I also ate some meat alternatives that my mum was able to find.
Throughout my experience as a vegetarian I admit I didn’t do much research and I didn’t create any interesting meals. Yet, when I became vegan, I read a ton of books and I’m still enhancing my knowledge with new plant based literature and information other like minded people share. I also went on to study a Diploma in Vegetarian and Vegan Nutrition, brushed up on my cooking and prepping skills and have a long list of all the great places to buy plant based foods and products.
There is so much conflicting information about the vegan lifestyle nowadays and it also appears that everyone that gives up meat is calling themselves ‘vegan’, but still eating foods that may contain animal products, either eating eggs or fish ‘sometimes’ or there still wearing that leather jacket or donning that designer leather handbag. Personally, I take my lifestyle very seriously. I’m concerned about the environment and I don’t want to contribute to any form of animal cruelty. I also want to live holistically where I’m free from ill health a congested mind and spirit. I’ve also come to learn that plant based nutrition is medicine and very powerful in maintaining overall good health. Not only do you have clear glowing skin, you can manage your weight, have bounds of energy, have a clear mind, sleep better, tackle common illnesses and reverse many dis-eases within the body. Becoming vegan allows you to learn and listen to your body and only feed it natural plant based foods.
My nutrition doesn’t affect any aspect of my daily life, if anything it’s enhanced it. Mentally and intellectually I am eager to learn more about plant foods and what they do individually and combined to nourish and treat the body. Physically, I feel energised everyday.
There are so many variations of a vegetarian lifestyle and whilst your reading this, I’ve adopted more raw food into my nutrition and only steam food if I want to eat anything that is cooked, but I keep my cooked food to a minimum. For those of you who want to understand the vegetarian variations or just like giving yourself a label, below is some brief explanations of the popular vegetarian lifestyle options.
Contrary to popular belief a vegetarian diet does not consist of any meat/animal produce. There are, however, vegetarians who follow a vegetarian diet that does consist of some form of animal produce.
An Ovo-lacto vegetarian will consume a plant based diet that includes eggs, milk and other dairy products. Whereas an Ovo-vegetarian will only consume eggs alongside their plant based diet. Alternatively, there is the Lacto-vegetarian that consume milk and dairy produce with plant based foods. For some people who are transitioning from heavy meat consumption to a vegetarian lifestyle, they might start with a Demi-vegetarian nutrition plan which would reduce the consumption of meat and increase more plant based foods.
A vegan follows a strict plant based diet, that may also include removing animal byproducts from from their entire lifestyle. Unlike the Ovo-vegetarian, Ovo-Lacto and Demi vegetarian, a vegan does not consume eggs, dairy or honey. For those vegans that do remove animal byproducts from their lives, such as clothing, skincare, household goods and products, it is usually due to moral or religious reasons.
Raw Foodist & Fruitarian
Within the vegan community there are also sub-groups referred to as ‘raw-foodists and fruitarians’. Raw food vegans only consume uncooked plant based foods and where necessary will only use a dehydrator that uses low heat and a fan to dry out the food whilst preserving the enzymes within the raw food. A fruitarian will only consume fruit and possibly nuts and seeds.
How can you go plant based?
I believe that starting a healthy, nutritional, plant based journey early in a child’s life is the best gift a parent could give a child; and as much as I would have liked to have been born into a plant based family, I say respectfully that there’s nothing you can do about adult nutritional ignorance, as it’s passed down through the generations or introduced to different cultures who adopt a western lifestyle. For instance, when African people migrated to western countries they had to adopt a western diet, as they had limited access to the plant based foods they were raised on.
Personally, I would suggest throwing out all your meat products and heading to your nearest market and restocking. Purchase a bin so you can start recycling and donate or recycle your clothing and accessories that are made with animal produce. I would do the same with my skincare and beauty products. There’s so much cruelty-free health and beauty products available that there’s no excuse to hold onto your skincare range. Better still, make your own products! But I know that this is not a realistic or practical method for some people. I’m a firm believer that when you’re making changes in your life, significant changes, it’s important to be realistic; especially if you’ve been doing the same thing your entire life.
I don’t think you should contemplate to much about becoming vegetarian as it’s not that challenging; actually you will find that you have unlimited food choices and no difficulty eating out. But there might be things you might want to consider. Do you have a local market or supermarket that has an array of good quality fruits and vegetables? Are you confident preparing some of your meals from scratch? Why are you changing your lifestyle? Is this a permanent lifestyle change or just temporary? Do you care about what your family and friends will think about your new lifestyle, will this effect your relationships? There other questions I could pose, but you have to ask yourself these questions, especially if you are unsure about changing your nutritional lifestyle and you have concerns.
If your not strong willed enough to bin every animal product in your fridge and cupboards and start anew, then I would suggest that you introduce plant based meals a few days a week and gradually stop consuming animal products until you are only eating plant based foods. But set yourself a goal of when you want to be meat-free.
You could also watch documentaries such as Forks over knives
. Not only will these documentaries open your eyes to the trauma, pain and unnecessary death of animals, but it might encourage you to ditch the meat products immediately!
Becoming vegan was the best decision I’ve ever made and adopting a raw food diet is another exciting journey I’m enjoying too. I hope my brief insight into being vegetarian, gives you some encouragement to at least research or try a plant based lifestyle as the rewards are endless and selfless.