I don’t have an exact date I can rely on as to when to celebrate this special occasion, but I’ve decided upon April 1st as the day I count as my “veganniversary.” Simply put, I have officially been eating a plant-based diet for one year.
Long story short, choosing to go vegan was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. I never thought too much about the future outlook of not eating animal products, but this decision has turned into a passion than just a dietary choice.
While I’d say most people would focus on the physical benefits of going vegan, that isn’t my biggest concern. I’ve never been very unhealthy, and the health aspects weren’t my reasons for going plant-based, but if anything, I would say I (knock on wood) don’t get sick as often. Growing up, I would always expect to deal with allergies and sinus issues at least twice a year with changing seasons, but this past year, I’ve had far less instances of that which is quite nice.
The biggest changes are mental. With my eating disorder tendencies, no matter how much I would say that I enjoy food, it still made me very uneasy. There was always guilt, always debates going on in my head, but veganism has improved that dramatically. It’s not like the food itself helped with that, but I find comfort in knowing that with everything I choose to eat, it is something that is beneficial to my body and the world. Food goes beyond my own meal choices and becomes a source of activism. I can enjoy eating again without being weighed down by uncertainty and negativity. Food isn’t the enemy anymore.
I have learned so much. I have learned about health, nutrition, and the power of our choices. I have gained a life devoted to helping others, animals, and the environment. This mindset has stemmed into everything I do, and I’ve become a more conscious and intentional person. I don’t feel like a hypocrite loving every single animal I see and calling myself a proud environmentalist. I can say that I’m making the best choice for me and my sustainable, thoughtful life.
But back to the food. I’ve been able to try and fall in love with such a diverse mix of new foods. Whoever thinks that veganism is just a mask to hide more restriction has not tried any vegan recipes. I’ve fallen in love with so many different fruits and vegetables I never would have touched before. If you told me I would actually enjoy eating foods like peas, squash, and even raisins, I wouldn’t have believed it. I don’t even see animal products as food anymore. And what a great time to be vegan with the abundance of so many new products and restaurants popping up. Finding new foods to try and love is exciting.
My connections with everybody I meet feels more genuine to me. Maybe an odd thing to explain. My relationships with my family and friends has improved tremendously as I feel like I’m living my truth and I’m more present. I’ve become comfortable getting outside of my comfort zone in situations that used to never cross my mind, like asking food service people and waiters about vegan menu options. Nothing too crazy, but something simple like that makes you a little more vulnerable and may open up an opportunity for questions and new interactions. Plus, whenever I stumble across a fellow vegan or vegetarian, the connection you can make is so special.
After spending years struggling with anorexia, I finally see a light on the other side. I can actually feel like I have a chance at life. Yes, it’s still an everyday battle. I’m not going to pretend I’m magically completely recovered and eating plant-based is the end-all solution for everybody. If anything, I recommend to simply become more educated and aware of the choices you make everyday, to become curious about where your food and products come from. Now more than ever it’s important to do everything we can to alleviate the effects of worldwide suffering and climate change, even if that means observing Meatless Mondays or bringing cloth bags to stores offering plastic ones. Little decisions add up to greater impacts that can also inspire others to follow your lead.
Looking ahead, my dietary preferences are now stemming far beyond my plate. I now rarely buy non-thrifted items and am interested in transitioning entirely to using only green beauty (non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty free products) and becoming more zero-waste. If you thought I was a tree hugger before, think again. My perspective has transformed into one that looks at those minute details and wants to ask questions and be more aware of what I’m ultimately supporting with my dollar. I’ve also grown more passionate about my future, knowing that in some capacity, my main goal is to help others.
I cannot wait to continue my plant-based journey. I cannot wait to learn more, receive some confused remarks about what veganism actually is, and continue becoming healthier every day. I really can’t picture a life that isn’t vegan, and for me, this lifestyle is one I’m so grateful to live. Truly live.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie