“I care about animals!”
That’s what I used to believe and tell people really often in the past 10 years of my life. In review this turned out to be a big mistake.
“It’s horrible what happens to this pets in shelters all over the world”
…was another famous sentence of mine in the time I used to consider myself an omnivore. Sentences like these and the maxim behind them are not only my ‘problem’ but match for most of the people in our society. People are talking a lot like this but most of them don’t think about the real significance. Among other things this is the reason why my vegan journey is a longer story. Within this story I’m going to share with you now have been several influencers which step by step helped me actively and passively to go on. In this post I want to tell you in particular about three of them.
The first one was (and is) my sister. She, being a few years older than me, never ate meat since I can remember, but until last summer I couldn’t really understand her ‘way of living’. Therefore I’m feeling sorry today. Anyway, due to her mindset I always had a connection to the topic of a non-meat diet and topics in the area of animal abuse. She never was lazy to remind me about the source of the products I was eating and kept on sharing links to videos from investigations in slaughterhouses or online petitions and news about animal abuse. At some point last year she turned fully vegan.
With 18 I was a fresh high school graduate moving out from the place where I used to grow up – A small village with about 900 inhabitants at the border to the black forest in Germany. I moved to Stuttgart, our state capitol, and started my studies in a cooperation with a big international company. In the first flatshare I lived in I had two wonderful roommates. One of them was a student at the same company I was working at, but she was in a higher semester. She just had returned from an internship in the United States and was at the beginning of her vegan journey. We had a lot of discussions around cooking and the consumption of meat, dairy products and eggs which in review sensitized me for these topics and at least planted a new way of thinking somewhere in my head even if I did argue back a lot at this time. Her name is Nadja (Mango Mama on YouTube, go check her out!) and she was the second big influencer on my journey.
Last year, 2014, I had as well the opportunity to move to the United States for a summer internship. During this internship I’ve been living in White Plains, a city north to New York City, for three months. This was the time of my life where the real change of my mindset happened. Beside work I had a lot of time to think and question things going on in my life and I remember one visit to Stop and Shop really clearly which changed everything.
I went there for regular grocery shopping and was standing in the meat department looking at the ridiculous cheap price for 1kg of chicken breast (3,50$ and at this time equivalent to 2,75€). I questioned myself “how is this possible” and came to the immediate personal conclusion that there has to be something wrong in the system! This particular visit to the supermarket was the moment I decided not to go on with this lifestyle anymore. Certainly the influence I have been exposed to the years before were a subliminal part of this conclusion and decision at this moment.
I didn’t turn vegan firsthand because I had the same stereotypes and misinformation in my head like most of the people today (e.g. “Were to get my protein from?“, “Veganism is sacrifice!“, “All vegans are hippies!“, etc.). Still being in the United States I started trying to switch to a vegetarian diet which just worked partial. After returning from the United States in September I changed my diet to 100% vegetarian and was totally into the subject. People started to gift me vegetarian cooking books and I started to inform myself more and more. This information ‘marathon’ included reading various articles and watching various documentations and videos on YouTube. Thereby I came across a speech of Gary Yourofsky, an animal rights activist and vegan, from 2010. This was the BEST speech I’ve ever heard and really opened my eyes. He explained every ethical aspect of veganism and the absurdity of carnism. Right after watching his speech I decided to turn vegan and more or less I did so overnight. Therefore Gary was the third big influencer on my vegan journey who kicked my ass out of the comfort zone of modern society.
I started my vegan lifestyle by mid January 2015. And yes to a certain degree the beginning was difficult. Not because there was nothing to eat for me nor because living as vegan is just so though, but because of the following two reasons:
1) I still wasn’t enough into the subject. Since I started to study and live on my own I loved cooking and needed to discover the various vegan alternatives in terms of food. In addition I also needed more information on vegan clothes, drugstore articles, etc.
2) Arguing with other people, friends and family, and moreover the thought that you have to explain yourself to other people on your decision was though and debilitating.
It took me about two months to get a grip on the first issue. I discovered food I never had even heard of before (e.g. Seitan, which is just awesome), I discarded prejudices I had (e.g. Tofu doesn’t taste), learned new ways of cooking and detected the right amount and combination of food I needed to feel good.
To get a grip on the second issue was way more complicated and still lasts until today and maybe will never end. The major aspect I had to understand and internalize was that I don’t have to give account to others. After this cognition things got way easier. In addition informing myself helped me a lot and therefore I read books like “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others” by Melanie Joy or “The China Study” by Colin Campbell. These books not only assisted me by giving me more and more facts I could use in discussion about veganism but also helped me to grow confidence of what I was doing and understand the psychological and sociological basics of meat eating. This knowledge is more valuable than anything else and in my opinion should be a part of every vegan basic knowledge.
Today after about six months of veganism I just feel awesome and have to say Thank You to all this amazing people who supported my journey in so many ways. I’m full of energy and way more active than a year ago. Keeping myself fit physically and mentally got more and more important. A recent blood test I did showed excellent results. But even if I made the transition to a vegan lifestyle I want to help others to go this path. That’s why I started to get active on instagram, started this blog and signed up as a so called ‘Vegan Buddy’.
There will be more…way more. Stay tuned!
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Photo credit to www.splitshire.com.