I became Vegan
I grew up in a very healthy household. Both my parents were vegetarian before my brother and I were born (my dad was even macrobiotic for some years during his Bob Dylan days). My mom used to give us very healthy lunches to school, to the point where I felt like an outsider amongst all my friends, because they had the “yummy foods” like crisps, sweets, sodas and processed cheeses and meats. I really wanted to be like the “normal” kids, and I used to beg my mom to buy those type of foods for us.
We used to get one treat a week (which was usually Friday nights) and maybe one dessert after our Sunday meal.
By the age of around 10, my parents gave us a monthly allowance, which was 30 Rand ( that’s equivalent to € 1.89 nowadays… haha), and I remember, as soon as I got that money, I would go to the corner shop, and buy gummy sweets, ice creams, chocolates, toffees etc. It was like I had a desperate need to eat these yummy foods, which I was “deprived” from.
By the time I went to high school, I stopped buying the monthly treats, as I was more concerned spending that same money (which increased only slightly) on going out over the weekends, and buying booze with it.
Same story as soon as I left school…. money went straight to booze, and the little bit of extra cash I had left after a big night out, would get me very cheap food, and very unhealthy food. I didn’t really mind that the food was unhealthy, because that’s exactly what I craved on a hangover- fatty, salty, unhealthy food. When I left school, I moved out of the house, which meant that I was in charge of what I ate, and I kind of rebelled against the way I grew up. I wanted to try everything I was not allowed to eat as a child. Needless to say, that definitely did not work in my favour, because by the end of my first year in college, I ballooned and picked up around 10 extra kilos. I did not feel good about myself, but also didn’t really make an effort to change anything, because then I would have to give up on “student life” , which completely revolved around getting pissed, and making bad food decisions. It was only after I left college in 2009, that I decided to look after my health a bit more. I was constantly tired, and I wanted to figure out why I was so tired.
I remember cutting out gluten first (for around 2 weeks) and I did not experience any change. Then, I cut out dairy too, with no changes. My last resort was to cut out red meat (which funnily enough, I never really cared for anyway… I was more into chicken), I just thought cutting out meat would be impossible- especially in a country like South Africa. South Africans LOVE their meat, and braai (which is like a barbeque, but with wood) is a way of life, not just a method of cooking food. After only 3 days of cutting out red meat, did I feel some massive changes. I felt more energetic, happy, and lighter.
Fast forward to 2012, I was working on a yacht as a cook in Spain. I prepared chicken and pork almost daily, and I got really put off by it, so I decided to cut that out too.
It was only when I moved to Malta at the end of 2013, and I had my own kitchen, that I decided to give Veganism a try. For me back then, it was all a matter of health, and it had nothing to do with the ethical side of it. I truly believe, that if you become a vegan for health reasons, the ethical part will follow at some point. For me, the ethical part came in gradually over the years, and it became stronger and stronger. It was only when I started to really educate myself about where my food comes from, that it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have been eating vegan for the past 4 years, probably 80% of the time. Where I would slip up was mostly at social gatherings (where I would eat what was given to me, like foods containing eggs, dairy or fish ) or having milk in my coffee, or the occasional piece of cheese.
It was only after I gave birth, that I realised how easy it would be for me to cut out all animal products completely. The reason for that is, while breastfeeding, they recommend you cut out dairy, as it may have a negative effect on your baby. For me this was a very welcoming challenge, because I was certain that it wouldn’t be hard for me to cut it out. I was happy about the fact that I finally had an “excuse” to say no to dairy. It was hard for me to say : “I am vegan”, so instead I would just say “ I cant eat dairy because I am breast feeding”…. I realised recently how stupid that really was of me, and that if I feel very strongly about becoming vegan, I should just go for it! So, here I am today, and I am proud to say- after all these years of gradually cutting out animal products, I am FINALLY Vegan!