Early in 2012 I started reaching out to vegan friends on twitter to ask them to share their testimonials. My hope was that by getting vegans to share their stories we could educate and inspire others and give people first hand accounts to replace perceptions or stereotypes. I’m incredibly grateful to those that have participated. Their stories speak for themselves! If you enjoy the series please let us know!
I first started even learning about the world of vegetarianism in 2010. I had recently gotten engaged, stopped drinking alcohol, and really wanted to get healthy and in shape (it didn’t hurt that I had a wedding & honeymoon in the near future that I wanted to look good for!). In my quest to discover healthy food options, I stumbled upon a recipe by Nava Atlas in a magazine. I made it and remember saying to my husband “if more vegetarian meals were like this I’d have no problem eating that way!” I quickly ordered a few of Nava’s books in order to find new and tasty ways to get in my veggies. I wavered on and off with a vegetarian diet for the remainder of the year. In late 2010 I was thinking about trying out a vegan diet for 7 days to see how I felt. It was then that I found out I was pregnant and I didn’t want to make any drastic changes to my diet because I wasn’t sure if there would be any shock to my body. Unfortunately I miscarried a month later on the same day that my husband left for Afghanistan. I spent about a week feeling really sorry for myself (and devouring an entire chocolate cream pie in the process) and then I finally decided to do something positive for myself.
So in January of 2011, I began a 7 day “vegan experiment” and lo and behold…it stuck!! I got excited about finding new vegan foods to eat and was surprised I could be full and thrive without meat or dairy. I found the Happy Herbivore cookbook and got really into vegan baking. It was at this time that I discovered blogs for the first time…as well as twitter! I was doing anything I could to reach out and connect with other vegans. This meant buying up tons of cookbooks and health books, googling like crazy, and finding blogs that really spoke to me. I was lucky enough to stumble upon www.ohsheglows.com, a healthy vegan blog that is still my favorite to this day. Thanks to Angela, I learned very early on that vegan meals could be vibrant and delicious without having to rely on faux meat and cheese substitutes and thus skipped the awkward transition phase of not knowing what to eat!!
I spent the entire time my husband was deployed really delving into a vegan lifestyle. I actually credit going vegan for keeping me sane because I had something new to learn about and focus on. Becoming vegan (and learning about raw foods and juicing) was something positive and healthy I was doing for myself and I believe this really helped keep me from being in a funk about the deployment and miscarriage. Things were a little rocky after my husband returned…we had to learn to live with this new change, but it didn’t take too long before we got in a groove with our two different ways of eating. My husband is not vegan and has no plans to become vegan in the future but we live by a mantra of “you don’t judge what I eat, and I won’t judge what you eat.” Luckily, he has been open to trying my vegan meals so I am able to at least feed him healthier meals and more veggies (he even loves green juice).
I recently hit my 1 year vegan anniversary and I feel like this is truly the lifestyle for me. Being vegan has released me of a guilt I didn’t even know I felt over eating animals and animal products. As a lifelong animal lover, I really had a disconnect between the pet that I considered a member of my family and the animal on my plate. Only after going vegan did I realize that no life deserved to suffer or die in order for me to live. It’s just not necessary, vegan food provides all of the nutrients that I need (save a b12 supplement). I do get a little tired of the “where do you get your protein” question but after a year of not only surviving but thriving on a vegan diet, I prefer to just lead by example. Since going vegan I have gotten into the best shape of my life and went from a fairly sedentary lifestyle to a 2 time half-marathon finisher.
Things might be a little difficult at first, but in time being vegan seems as natural as any lifestyle out there. I do have to roll my eyes when someone asks “so is eating that way kind of normal now that you have been doing it a while?” I assure them that yes, eating vegetables is pretty normal and I really like to do it! You just have to stick to your convictions and don’t let any judgemental person sway you or make you feel bad about yourself. It’s not the easiest way to live, but it is so worth it. Ultimately, I consider it the best decision I have ever made in my life. You can read more about my vegan lifestyle and see my whole foods, vegan recipes at Mile High Healthy. Also, feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions about veganism, I am happy to help!
You can follow Shelley on twitter @shelley827 and her blog here.
I also featured Shelley as a guest chef and you can see her awesome recipe for sweet potato black bean soup here!
If you’re feeling inspired and want to submit your own vegan testimonial please read this post. You can also read the interview Kasey Minnis (@veggiemightee) did with me about this project on This Dish is Veg.