My Plant-based Journey
I remember eating bacon and eggs for breakfast on the weekends with my parents and afterwards having to sit as still as possible while keeping my mouth closed, not even able to stand up, because I, honest to goodness, felt like puking. I always blamed myself for eating too fast, but no matter what I did, nothing changed… I guess you could say, I finally found a solution.
Thanks to a random diary entry I can pin down the exact date I went cold turkey and turned vegetarian overnight (or should I say went cold tofurky?). The wording sounds like turning vegetarian is like turning into a vampire, but trust us vegetarians can tell you that it’s nowhere near as painful, there’s no blood involved and whilst turning veggie makes you healthier, it does not make us sparkle (sadly).
On September 3rd 2015, I attended a uni event where one speaker, in particular, changed my life. James. Freaking. Aspey. There were 3 main points from his speech that I’ll never forget:
1. Descriptions of what occurs in slaughterhouses, chicken factories and dairy
farms that I had not been exposed to before.
2. “We can live and thrive on a vegan diet.”
3. The reasons we give for continuing to eat animals can be grouped into 3 reasons — taste, convenience and tradition. —
I did not think that these 3 reasons justified killing innocent lives.
Luckily it was the end of the week, so my fridge was pretty much empty, in a way that only a uni student’s can be. I switched to coconut milk, brought Nuttelex butter and cooked the same things just switching meat with plant-based proteins. My parents are from the Philippines and Germany, respectfully, which are not the first countries that would spring to mind when thinking of easy cuisines to turn plant-based. You could probably imagine the kind of food I grew up on… and I didn’t even hear the word vegetarian until I graduated high school and moved out of home for uni. Over the following months, under pressure from family and friends, I occasionally ate seafood, pizza, chocolate, ice-cream or donut when with them. Sweet things when offered by a friend are the hardest to refuse for me personally and that year I had joined a Pacific Islander university club, so the offers of Islander food were never-ending. I went through a relationship where towards the end they commented that “It’s hard dating a vegetarian.”, my only reply was “It’s hard dating a meat-eater.” I’m not gonna pretend it’s easy, but I’ll shout from the rooftops that it is worth it. Travelling was another hurdle, I adopted the motto “Do the best you can” just to deal with unknown soup broth in Thailand, menus where the best option was still filled with egg or trying kaya in Malaysia and just hoping against hope that it was vegan.
It’s funny how things work out, it wasn’t until I went back to visit my childhood town and met up with a friend from high school that a comment from her totally threw me, “But what about all the rainforest cleared for soybean crops and the animals that die during that?” Well I had no answer to that and that’s what led me to fall down the rabbit hole. I researched (found the answer to the question here) and watched as many documentaries as I could get my hands on (see the list at the bottom for all the docos I remember watching). What I read and watched about dairy there was no unseeing.
In January 2019, I finally went vegan and this was no small effort as I was at that time living with my boyfriend and his parents. But by day two, I had already noticed changes such as clearer skin, more energy, no bad breath in the mornings and no more congestion and swelling of the sinuses. There was no turning back now. My partner went vegetarian in mid-2019 and is pretty much vegan now. I’m not afraid to tell you that we made mistakes, because there’s no such thing as perfection, however if you are armed with the truth, you cannot ignore it, so you must do the best you can. We still eat pizza, chocolate, ice-cream and donuts, but now they are plant-based, so I never felt like I gave anything up.
Whether you go vegan due to animal rights, human rights, the environment or health, we should all support each other, because we are working towards bettering ourselves and society.
by Bernadette Steinmann
- Forks Over Knives (Netflix) - the OG plant-based doc
- What the Health (Netflix)
- The Game Changers (Netflix, Youtube, Prime) - sports angle
- What You Eat Matters 2018 (Youtube)
- Let Us Be Heroes - The true cost of Our food choices 2018 (Youtube)
- PlantPure Nation (Youtube) - About USA legislation
- For any vegans out there, I recently stumbled upon a podcast called Plant-powered People and the episode “How to conquer holiday convos?” really helped me with communicating about being vegan.