I do not throw into people’s faces that I am a vegan. However sooner or later most of them notice. The reactions reach from a long and slow „okaaaay“ which is mostly followed by a change of topic until something resembling „How did that happen?“. I will explain you how.
Some people are having an epiphany and become vegan overnight and never go back. I was not one of them. My journey has started in 1999.
My father loves to fish, always has. He keeps saying that fishing is his yoga. As a true daddy’s girl I wanted to join him, I wanted to catch a fish as my father did. I told him exactly that and he agreed to take me fishing under one condition: „If you catch a fish, you need to kill it yourself“. I was thunderstruck. The thought of killing a living being with my own hands was horrendous.
This was the first moment I realized where all the meat came from. As a 90’s child, I grew up with all the beautiful movies „The little mermaid“, „Bambi“ or „Babe“ in which the main character was an animal. I saw animals as my friends. So I wondered why anyone would want to eat their friends.
Vegans nowadays like to call this moment „making the connection“. I indeed made a connection in this moment. Instead of accepting my dad’s proposal I answered: „I do not want to eat meat anymore!“ I recall that my parents were surprised by that statement and asked me to explain which I did.
At this point, I need to thank my parents for their reaction in that moment. As an eight-year-old girl, you are depending on the food choices your parents make for you. They endorsed my decision and gave me their support. Years later my mother told me that they thought it was just a phase and that I would give up on that vegetarian idea after a while. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t.)
Another happening that will always stay in my mind is our first attempt to cook tofu. If you have never cooked tofu before let me tell you that putting it into a pan like a steak with just a pinch of salt does not do the trick. It was simply unenjoyable. We all had a steep learning curve over the years.
My diet did not change dramatically at the beginning. I would eat the same dishes as the rest of my family excluding the meat. This demanded some serious picking skills for sauces that contained meat. I would just pick all the meat from the sauce and eat the rest. I even used a strainer when the pieces happened to be too small. I was uncomplicated during this first phase. Over the years I would ask for a separate vegetarian sauce or cook it myself.
Most of the people around me have been supportive in their behavior, of course, there were exceptions too. One of my relatives would constantly tease me and make fun of the things I ate or better the things I did not eat. I have been a stubborn child and instead of being intimidated by his words I stood up for my beliefs and prepared my arguments to shut everyone up that dared to make fun of me. At no time have I questioned my decision to stop eating meat.
I have been living as a happy vegetarian for 16 years even though my doctor tried to get me back to meat as he feared for my health. (I am healthy, today even more than back then.)
Believing devoutly that I did everything it needed to help animals I was critical towards the crazy vegans that would only eat greens and suffer from malnutrition. My preconceptions were the same as the ones people have when I tell them that I am a vegan today. I said more than once that I could never do that!
2015 was the year that changed my views on veganism completely. Everything started with a diet. It was January and I wanted to loose weight and get fit. Therefore I went on a diet plan recommended by a friend which was based on meat and vegetables. As I would not eat meat I stuck to the vegetables. Suddenly a noticed that I was almost on a vegan diet. I bought myself a vegan recipe book („Vegan for Fit“ by Attila Hildmann) with a 30-day meal plan and decided to give it a go with the option to go back to vegetarian after I finished the plan.
Only then I started to do actual research on veganism and the reasons people have to stop eating dairy, eggs, and honey. I got obsessed with the topic and I spent hours reading blog posts, watching videos on youtube, and documentaries on Netflix. I am not able to explain everything I found right here because it would go beyond the scope of this blog post but I highly recommend to have a look at this documentaries if you are interested in the topics: Cowspiracy (about the environment, available on Netflix), Forks over Knives (about health, available on Netflix) and Earthlings (about animal rights, available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkax0-xufis Caution it contains graphic footage!)
After some time of research, I realized that my moral conception could not be satisfied with being just a vegetarian. I knew too much. The bubble of ignorance in which I felt so comfortable was popped and I had to face reality.
I never went back on a vegetarian diet, I became an ethical vegan instead which was the start of a whole new wonderful journey.
Hopefully, this blog post could give you some insights in how one becomes a vegan.