If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can find it here.
When I was about 7 years old my cousin and I declared to my other Grandma (Mom’s mom) that we would no longer sleep on her pillows because they had down and we wouldn’t eat the honey sticks she bought us. She probably thought her 7 and 6 year old grandchildren were a handful.
So in October, 2015 my Dad called me to let me know that my Grandma had been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and that the doctors estimated that she would last until the holidays. No one knew how she developed lung cancer and while she lasted until the day before Valentine’s Day of this year (2016) it eventually spread to her brain and other areas.
In December 2015, I started looking into the vegan lifestyle by searching for vegan recipes on Pinterest and then progressed into searching for vegan meal plans. I found a few YouTubers and eventually watched Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives (which I highly recommend. If you need personal a reason to consider switching over to veganism, then start with Forks Over Knives. It’s highly enlightening).
After researching protein sources, vitamin deficiencies, examples of vegan meal plans, and watching some videos, I realized that a plant-based diet could give me control over my health and body.
During one of the last phone calls I had with my Grandma, when she was able to remember what she was saying and that I was still on the line, I remember her telling me “Sarah, don’t eat all that crap. Don’t eat meat or junk; take care of yourself so you don’t end up like me.” Now, I know that how she had cared for herself wasn’t the absolute cause of her developing cancer—that lung cancer can develop even if you haven’t smoked or smoked in thirty plus years—but what she said really struck a cord with me.
Seeing someone pass away slowly from a highly progressive form of cancer is one of the hardest things to experience. I knew my family’s heath history. I knew that a standard omnivore diet is unethical,not truly healthy, and not sustainable for the environment; and I knew what I really felt compelled to do and that was to transition to a vegan/plant based diet.
If you search comments on YouTube, message boards, and posts you’ll see a lot of people saying that if you go vegan for your health then you’re not a true vegan; that veganism is more than just a diet, it’s a lifestyle. And I truly agree, however as humans we are truly selfish creatures and sometimes people need a selfish reason to make such a big life change. Me not so much, but others might because ethical morals or compassion just might not be there yet. I’ve always been a very compassionate person and taking control over my life and health (especially after watching Forks Over Knives) felt, and still feels, like the right decision and choice.
I decided to transition to veganism in February after my Grandma passed away and thought that I could do it cold-turkey. I lasted about a month before I felt defeated from comments like “If you’re a TRUE vegan you will never slip up and have cheese. I’ve been vegan for a month too and I haven’t had dairy at all.” Before that comment I took my occasional consumption of dairy, particularly cheese, as an okay step because it didn’t happen all the time and I had just started.
It really got me thinking and I decided that I wasn’t ready to label myself as a vegan and I’m still not ready. I decided to eat a lacto-vegetarian diet and take my time cutting out cheese. Let me just say, I haven’t had cream cheese, yogurt, milk, ice cream, or sour cream since February. It was just straight cheese that I was having a problem cutting out.
After some months of tracking my macros myself I realized that I was consistently over on carbs by a ton and way under on protein no matter how much food I ate. I don’t necessarily believe that if you eat as much plant-based food as you want that you will naturally get enough protein each day. It didn’t work like that because I became full faster and I personally wasn’t going to stuff potato after potato and legume after legume down my throat without being smart. I found an Instagram account called @conscious_muscle and made the smart decision which was asking for help from someone with experience. Jordan created a personalized macro-sufficient meal plan for me using my goals and information and this has helped me a ton. Not only do I stay on track with eating a vegan diet, but I am also not worried about becoming deficient in protein or fats or carbs.
The biggest step you can take, especially when you are new to something, is reaching out and asking for help.
Four and a half months after deciding to transition and I still don’t like to identify as a vegan. I like to say that I am a transitioning vegan because I’m still working out my diet and I’m cutting out my non-vegan and animal tested personal products as I run out. Once my face wash was used up I replaced it with a vegan and cruelty-free wash from Alba. After my Colgate toothpaste ran out I replaced it with a tube of hello toothpaste that I found at Walmart (I’ll post a review once I use the tube up). Same thing with my makeup and hair products.
I’m still proud of my decision and I believe, along with other vegans like Freelee and High Carb Hannah, that any step no matter how small towards a more compassionate lifestyle is the right choice. I can tell you that no matter what happens I will NEVER eat any kind of meat ever again because I have become aware of how it gets to the table and it grosses me out. I feel it in my heart and even the simplest change such as that is a huge step in the right direction, especially if a lot more people made it. I don’t feel deprived because there is so much food to eat in the world and you most definitely do not need animal products at all. Also, have you tried cashew milk ice cream because that stuff is the bomb and it’s way better than normal ice cream.
It will most likely take a full year to use up my remaining personal products and most likely a full year to be fully acclimated to a vegan/plant based diet. For some people a transition like this takes time. For others it’s an overnight change.
What matters most is making conscious decisions to live more compassionately not only for the animals, but for ourselves.
My final advice to those of you who have found your way to my blog and have taken the time to read this long post is:
If someone else is going to knock you down because you’re using a shampoo you bought three months before you went vegan or because you had a small bit of cheese one month into your new lifestyle change, don’t listen to them. What matters is that YOU know that you are making progress and YOU know that this is a permanent change. That’s what matters because you are making conscious steps towards a more compassionate life and you have made the connection.