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!
Growing up, it was never my intention to become vegan. In fact, I hadn’t heard of the term let alone know the meaning until after high school in 2004. I was active in sports until my late teens but once out of high school I started gaining weight and losing the motive to be active and healthy. The more days that went by that I wasn’t active, the less I wanted to be active. Fast forward seven years of inactivity and daily drive thru’s and I was 90 pounds heavier with extreme pains in my stomach area that had grown worse and more frequent the past year or so. I went to the ER and found out I had to have surgery.
That next day, I became pescetarian. I wasn’t sure why I chose to do that but something told me it was the right choice. Part of it had to do with me having a cute friend that was pescetarian and I saw how healthy she was so I went for it. From the time in the ER and the surgery a few months later I began to notice that when I didn’t eat any animal products, I’d feel better. I began to experiment and started on a vegetarian diet four months after the ER. A couple months later I had a flat polyp removed from my colon that was “capable of turning cancerous” but the doctors told me I was good to go and I could return to a normal diet. Something about those statements didn’t feel right. They didn’t seem like they were talking about the same subject.
After countless hours of research at the library I realized that what I was eating had more of an impact on my body than I’d ever imagine. It sounds almost foolish of me now to say that now, but like most, I had no idea at the time. My parents had raised me on skim milk and low fat frozen meals so that’s what I knew to be healthy. A month and a half after the surgery I realized that dairy also was making me sick and through all of the research I stumbled upon reading about things like shoes and clothes and shampoos and all sorts of products I’d never imagined came from such torture animals endured. From that point on it became bigger than this pain in my stomach.
Today I’ve been vegan for eight months. I’m eating about 50% raw and almost all organic products when I can. I shop the farmers market and grow my own food on the patio of my apartment when I can as well. I’m down almost 80 pounds from the biggest I was, I do an at home exercise program and a I follow a few videos online. The one thing I’ve been confronted about most is people’s concern with cost of food and living a vegan lifestyle. Veganism, as far as the diet is concerned, is far cheaper than being an omnivore. I don’t get sick, I don’t drink soda or eat junk food, I don’t eat fast food. I don’t want to because I know I feel better eating this way. Those right there can save you a ton of money. Even if you’re an omnivore and don’t drink sodas or eat out, no doctor bills, no medicines or cough syrups, no headache pills makes a huge difference. When you think about all the factors, veganism is far less expensive. I haven’t had an income and I’ve lived off of Food Stamps (some call it EBT these days) for the past five months. If I can do this on the little money I get from that, anyone can do it. If you’d have asked me two years ago if I’d be vegan and this compassionate about animals and myself, I’d tell you a very different story than the one I’m living today. It’s a great feeling.
As far as advice for those curious: Easing into it helped me. It helped give me time to research and figure out ways to leave the old eating habits behind instead of going from a cheeseburger one day to a raw taco the next. I set a goal and no matter what, I wasn’t going back. I struggled the first week or so of the transition but I forced myself to continue. Now I prepare some of the best tasting foods I’d have never imagined making if not for finding alternative combinations of foods. I make a great pizza with a base of blended sun dried tomatoes and raw mixed nuts. I used to be a guy who’d mess up making mac and cheese out of the box. Who knew?
There’s a lot to be discovered. If you’re interested in veganism enough to read this, I urge you to not take my word for it. Challenge the status quo and the media’s dogma and find out for yourself. Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
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.