To me, cooking a fresh meal at home was grabbing some veggies from the freezer or a can and dumping it on a plate with white rice and some sort of over salted sauce. Don’t get me wrong, at the time I loved it! But it came with its fair share of symptoms. Oily skin, constant lethargy, brittle nails and hair, and a very irregular menstrual cycle.
It was around the time I turned 12 that I finally stopped eating meat. My mom says I learned something at school one day and I came home and declared I wouldn’t be eating meat any more.
That was 19 years ago!
I must admit it wasn’t too hard for me though. I was never really a huge meat lover. I remember I used to pick at my plate and at my food because it was off putting to me. Funny enough, the meats I liked best were all the worst ones-pepperoni and hot dogs!
When I made the decision to stop eating animals, it didn’t make me automatically healthy though. I used to eat cereal for any and all meals and I heavily relied on mac and cheese! I used to also go to McDonald’s and order the cheeseburger without the meat patty with fries and BBQ sauce and call that a really satisfying meal!
Fast forward to 2013. It must’ve been a year of awakening for me because this is when I stopped using chemicals on my face and body. I removed lotion, fluoridated toothpaste, and other cosmetics from my daily routine and I began to make my own or use more natural products.
(2012, the year I threw away all my toxic products)
By late 2013 I moved down to Miami from Tampa and began my biggest awakening yet. It was my first time truly living on my own and away from family. It was the first time I could really do what I wanted to, when I wanted to.
I honestly can’t remember what triggered it, but I began to take steps towards veganism without ever declaring it as my goal. I started by removing milk and dairy from my diet. Then eggs. Last to go was cheese.
(Eating vegan donuts in San Francisco before I was 100% vegan)
I was visiting San Francisco in April 2014 with a friend and we woke up and got our coffee one morning. By this time I had given up milk, but was still drinking my coffee with creamer because without it, it just wasn’t as good, you know?
I stepped away from the table for a moment and when I came back I saw the cream for what it really was. I wasn’t even gone 5 minutes, but the creamer had left this oily filmy crusty ring inside my mug. I remember standing there just looking at it and thinking,
“What IS that?!”
It was the last time I had cream.
(San Francisco, 2014)
In 2015, I took my first trip to London to see my now husband- He had already been completely vegan for about 6 months at that point. I was in London for nearly 2 weeks and ate vegan the whole time, enjoying all sorts of Caribbean and other exotic foods I had never really eaten growing up in Florida.
On my way back home to Florida I had an overnight layover in New York. After a 6 hour flight I was really hungry, but what would be open at nearly midnight?
(A shared pizza- Half pepperoni for my brother, half cheese for me)
I loved pizza and it's something New York is so famous for too, so I didn't double think my choice at all. I stopped and greedily bought 4 slices of pizza.
When I arrived at my cousins house (where I was staying for the night), I sat down and took my first bite.
Something was immediately different!
It was the first time in my 28 years that I saw and tasted pizza for what it really was. Curdled cows milk on bread with sauce.
Ok, I admit, I'm being a bit dramatic. Those weren't my exact thoughts, but something was off putting about the pizza. After 2 weeks without cheese my body reacted to this foreign substance with disgust and dismay.
I had a decision to make right there and then: I could ignore the signal my body was sending me and continue down this harmful path of toxic foods or I could accept the fact that I was only addicted to cheese and the nostalgia of having eaten it for the last 28 years and I didn't actually need it to live.
I put that pizza down and walked away from cheese, milk and all other dairy, eggs, and meat forever.
I started my Vegan journey by removing one food at a time and by not overwhelming myself with information. I began purchasing more fresh fruit and veggies and I set upon relearning how to cook and prepare meals. I took it at a pace I was comfortable with while continuing to learn all I could about the relationship between food and health.
(My shopping cart contents in 2013)
Eventually I learned that real food is spices and seasonings and is totally tasty!
There are over 50,000 edible plants on this beautiful lush Earth, what are we doing eating the same handful of animals over and over?