I was vegetarian from the age of 11. In April 2008, I found out how dairy is produced and went vegan overnight.
It was great! I felt calmer, more aligned with my thoughts, lighter, and daily living felt easier. I am quite slim already but, after going vegan, I lost some weight, which I didn’t count on. In addition to that, an unexpected bonus was that some tummy issues I had experienced for a few years disappeared.
Within a fairly short space of time, I began following a plant-based lifestyle.
What is plant-based living?
Plant-based living means I eat vegan. In addition to this, I wear vegan clothes and shoes, use vegan toiletries and makeup, and I buy vegan jewelry.
In addition to looking at ingredients, I look into how food and drink is processed, so that I'm not drinking something that's been sieved through an animal's intestine, or eating bread that has enzymes from pigs in it. For me, it's a conscious decision to think, walk, and talk a better lifestyle.
Clothes, shoes, jewelry, toiletries, and more
When I first became vegan, I had silk saris, leather seats in the car, wool clothing, and toiletries that weren’t vegan.
As I researched and learned more about non-plant-based materials I decided not to buy any more of these products, but I kept some of the ones I had. I couldn't dispose of everything in one go, and I wasn't ready to replace all of them either. So it seemed a good idea to continue to use some things, like the car. This wouldn’t work for everyone, but it was what I could manage at the time. However, some things were easier to renounce for reasons including those listed below:
• they were cheaper to replace
• I didn’t need them
• I didn’t use them much
• I needed new ones
I hadn’t accounted for emotion! There were some items that I gave away because I didn't look at them in the same way anymore. I just didn’t want them in my home.
There was one thing that I was consistent about, and that was avoiding waste. A living being was harmed to create these things, so I didn’t want to burn them (and harm the environment) or throw them away. So, anything that I could get rid of was given to friends, family, shops raising money for charity, etc.
It was so easy to buy synthetic Western clothes (i.e. without wool, leather, silk, suede, etc.). ‘Indian’ clothes were a little trickier, because clothes aren’t labeled in the same way. However, it was manageable as long as I made sure I went in the store with time and patience.
In terms of jewelry, I didn’t have any that wasn’t vegan. My family had items with ivory from back in the day. When I was old enough to understand more about it, much to my parent’s dismay, I gave it away! Other than that, I didn’t have anything with feathers or leather, for example.
I used up any toiletries I had, after which I only bought vegan ones and that was super easy. In terms of "mainstream" shops, Superdrug has a whole range of cruelty free goods, as do many supermarkets. If you want to support vegan businesses, which I try to do as much as possible, there are plenty of businesses that only sell vegan skin care, hair care, or makeup. There’s even a vegan hair salon in London.
There were bigger things like the car, which I couldn’t replace overnight. It’s ironic because, being a vegetarian, I didn’t want leather seats in the car but I was suffering a lot with a whiplash injury and made the selfish choice of going for a car with leather seats because that was the only way I could have heated seats. Heat helped me feel less pain and was great when I was in the car for long journeys and during the Winter months. I wouldn’t put my body before that of another being now, because my mindset has changed, but the focus was more on me then. I have found other ways to relieve pain and be warm. I changed the car when the time was right and went for fabric seats.
How I use my journey to help others
When I made the shift to a vegan diet and lifestyle, I wasn’t close to anyone else who was vegan. None of my friends or family were vegan and many of them didn't really understand what it meant. So I researched things myself, reflected on things I learned, and then worked out if I could implement them or not. I use these experiences to write posts on PlantShift.com. I also help those who want to shift to a vegan diet/lifestyle, as well as those who have made the shift and need a little support to maintain it. I do this through one to one coaching. Going vegan can be good for the body, the mind and the environment, but it’s definitely good for the animals.