My name is Dani Bianca and I am Vegan. My journey started in October 2015. I decided to participate in a vegan trial month, much like Veganuary. After, research, challenges and improvements to my health, here I am 15 months later, happier, healthier and still living this challenging, rewarding and important vegan lifestyle. Most new vegans will go through the same trials and tribulations that I will speak about here. Even if you are not vegan- simply keep reading to gain my perspective on my journey. Here is my story so far.
I am not a blogger; I just do not have the focus or time to keep one going right now(But I am a bit of a vegan Instagram foodie now- but more on that later). With that said, if I am passionate about something, I do tend to blabber on to anyone that’ll listen. There are a few subjects however, that many people do not want to hear about. One of these subjects is veganism.
So, when AntoineSpeaks showed an interest in my new lifestyle and asked me to write a piece about my vegan journey, I was more than happy to do so. I will be sharing with you some of my personal background and memories of my transition because sure, it is easy to find a fact filled article online about the health & global benefits of veganism, but it would have no soul or anything to relate to. This is my personal journey, but our individual stories are more connected than we often assume; and I think it is important to know that most of us have been in similar situations whether mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually; just at different times. I will also talk about with you how diet, patience and determination got my life back on track after being chronically ill for 15 years. I hope that the following can help to educate, inspire and guide people into a healthier and more sustainable diet, as well as further reinforce the decisions made by those of you that have already made the switch to a plant-based lifestyle.
I would assume that by this point most meat eaters would feel to stop reading because you ‘couldn’t go vegan’, you ‘just love meat too much’. Well let me tell you that you do not, as I said the same thing only 15 months ago. I switched to a vegan diet in October 2015. I did not drop certain foods gradually; I pretty much cut out all meat, dairy and eggs at once. About a month before that, I professed to my mum that I could ‘never be vegetarian’, as I chomped my way through freshly made pork scratching! I was a fan of most meat, cheese and dairy; now I’m pretty much 100% plant based. I will always say if I could do it, then so can you, it just takes really listening to a few hard facts. Now by this point, I hope that some meat eaters might slightly consider that the transition could be more possible than they first believed, and will want to stop reading so they can continue to claim ignorance about the industry they are supporting. Those people are not ready for what I have to say. But, if you are still interested in how I went from a craving carnivore to a veggie warrior within a few weeks, I thank you and urge you to read on; it could change your life.
‘I love animals.’ It’s a phrase that so many of us claim to associate with ourselves. But for as long as I can remember I have loved (and I mean really loved!) animals. Not exclusive to the furry pet type, no I was a proper nature girl growing up in London. I would build homes for caterpillars, I would play with the ants; and I would feel pain for the spider squished under someone’s shoe. So I know that if that little girl had been asked if she would wanted to eat the flesh of a dead cow for her dinner, she would have cried her eyes out in horror. But she was not asked, she ate what she was given, and like the generations before she became mentally disconnected with a certain few animals. They were no longer friends… they were food.
For over 20 years I enjoyed meat and dairy like anyone else, or I would be confident enough to say even more so; I’ve always been a huge foodie and love cooking as much I do eating! Fortunately, I have never had a particularly sweet tooth or craved junk food and fizzy drinks; so my diet was always quite good (close to the commonly taught ‘balanced’ diet).
However, January 2015 marked the beginning of a much-needed shakeup of my life. I became ill with M.E. at the age of 9 and have been living with it ever since. Similar to CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), it can cause extreme exhaustion and aches & pains among many other things. I had to stop a lot of physical activities I had enjoyed which also kept me fit and healthy. After over 10 sedentary years, even with a healthy diet, I was slightly overweight and at times could only be on my feet for minutes before feeling aches and tiredness. I had tried to overcome my M.E. before, but always pushed myself too hard too soon and only made things worse. By Jan 2015 I was scared to walk as my hip bones would often slip out of place from the weakness of my joints. That was the moment I knew I had to start focusing on my health with determination and most importantly, patience. I spent the next 10 months slowly but gradually building up my fitness. I kept to a good diet and often fasted twice a week to help with the weight loss as especially early in the year, my workouts were very basic and lasted only a few minutes each time.
Fast-forwarding to September 2015 – I had now lost over a stone in weight and was managing my M.E. quite well. However, I felt like I had hit a plateau and things were not moving so steadily anymore. Throughout this time I found myself becoming more open to and surrounded by a vegan diet, whether it was down to the changes I had already made, through new friendships or posts on Instagram. One friend had also just completed a ‘vegan month’, in which she claimed to have felt happier and healthier, while also losing some weight in the process. I think this gave me the inspiration to give vegan a go myself. Although health is and should always be our foremost focus, most of us still get more motivated by the way we want to look, and at the time, the opportunity of losing a few more pounds was very much welcome! I decided I was going to go vegan for the month of October.
Thinking about the first food shop was as most new vegans can probably relate to… scary. We were heading into winter and all I was thinking was how am I going to get through a month of eating lettuce! When I did step into my local supermarket to stock up, as expected, I was pretty disappointed with how many of our everyday foods are made with animal products (especially dairy). However, what overpowered the personal frustration was the realisation of just how big the industry of animal exploitation is; there were milk powder or animal extracts in places you would never even expect them to be. This was one of the first things to stick with me from my vegan month; I can still remember that quite unsettling feeling today. But whilst I was founding out just how much was off the menu, I became aware of the amount of options that were in fact, vegan! My first plant-based shop turned into a trolley full of fresh fruit & veg, grains, pulses, some meat/cheese substitutes and even some biscuits and chocolate!
Vegan month day 1 ☺️ Started with a bowl of Oats So Simple Golden syrup porridge, with almond milk, strawberries and milled flaxseeds 😍. I’m hoping to document most of what I’m eating but as with the porridge, there’s going to be a lot of photos totally not worthy of Instagram 😅. They’ll be on my Snapchat though 👍🏽: daniellefearon. #breakfast #october #vegan #vegetarian #healthyeating #healthy #positive #fitness #motivation #fruit #veganchallenge #dairyfree #meatfree #instafood
October 1st and as I walked down the stairs, I could hear and smell my brother frying bacon! My favourite sandwich (bacon, avocado & mayo) jumped into my mind and the temptation was real! But, I was on a mission and managed to resist, instead I tucked into some Linda McCartney vegan sausages and baked beans. The need to substitute the meat on my plate for something else that looked or tasted similar was only with me for a couple of weeks. The more I experimented with satisfying and healthy vegan options like lentils and sweet potato, the more it became clear that I didn’t need fake meat.
Soon I was half way through veggie month and was already feeling the benefits. At the start, I had experienced a few headaches and some friends went through similar pains or uneasiness in the first few days, but just like taking cocaine from an addict, the body goes through the same withdrawal and cleansing stages when we remove other toxins from our system. Once this had passed, the sense of wellbeing seemed to just grow and grow; I wasn’t as fatigued in the mornings and didn’t even fall into my usual curry coma after an Indian takeaway! I just felt ‘lighter’.
With this newfound vitality, I knew that I could never go back to how I was eating before; to the diet that I thought was healthy! Now if this new lifestyle was based only around my own health, it’s a strong possibility that I would have reduced the animal products, but not cut them out completely. For someone that loves a good trifle and the odd KFC, I would have brought out the ‘its all about balance’ card. However, this month turned into a journey of awakening that I really hadn’t expected. When eating meat most of us don’t want to focus on what our food really is and the processes that take place in order to get it onto our plates; we claim naivety and ignorance because it’s comfortable. But during my vegan month, with a clearer conscience, it became easier to open my eyes to the real industry of animal agriculture and really comprehend the truth that so many of us are hiding from. I watched documentaries like Forks Over Knives, The Truth About Cancer, Cowspiracy, & Earthlings, learning and seeing something new with each. It wasn’t just about me anymore; how could I go back to a diet that was contributing to disease in my body, major greenhouse gases and the slaughter of innocent lives? I just couldn’t do it.
The end of October came… and it went. My plant-based journey had only just started. The following months brought new challenges as well as more awakening and wellbeing. Sometimes the temptation came back and in a few cases I tried that piece of meat or cheese that just looked so good! But with those few times, I knew it would strengthen my choice to go vegan, they really didn’t taste as good anymore. Wanting to eat animal products was just a lifelong bad habit and I was getting over it. Eating out was and is sometimes still a bit tricky, but the conscious community growing and vegan options are becoming a lot more accessible. I know that being open to learning helped me to quite easily switch to a vegan diet. If you too are trying to lessen your meat or dairy consumption, knowledge is the best way; watch the documentaries, ask questions and try out some new things! It’s hard to watch close family and friends going through common illnesses that can be totally caused or cured by what we choose to eat. After living with M.E./C.F.S. for nearly 17 years, I have just experienced my healthiest year yet; a big part of that I owe to my plant based diet.
We don’t need to eat meat, what we do need is to realize that we have been raised on lies and deception only to line the fat pockets of corporations that benefit from our ill health. Why live just to just survive, when we have the ability to thrive? But just seeing #govegan online is not going to make anyone go vegan. I feel that if we want to help each other, we need to talk about shared experiences, listen to each other’s worries and really try to educate rather than embarrass or shame. That’s why I have written about my story, hoping it will somehow find its way into your own.
I’m still growing, learning and changing the way I live for the better. The journey continues. Yours will be different to mine, and the next person. Start, and work towards a better future for yourself, the planet we call home, and those who we share it with.
Peace, love & light.
If you like this check out this vegan related post as well:
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