I decided to become Vegan last October and my experience has not been what I expected.
From the beginning
It was 1990, I was 15 years old and was really struggling to eat my dinners without imagining what the animal was doing before it was on my plate.
When I announced that I wanted to try vegetarianism there were mixed responses. Mainly that it was a phase I was going through and I'd outgrow it, that I was just trying to be trendy, mainly I was dismissed as being silly.
The ironic thing was that at 15 years old I really didn't like vegetables (I never did take the easy options). This lead me to become a very sick teen, pale, no energy, constantly getting sick. Eventually I went to the Dr. I thought at the time I was just hoping for some help, maybe to be referred to a nutritional therapist so I could get some guidance, even at that age I knew I couldn't survive on cheese sandwiches and feel good.
The Dr scoffed at me, told me I was being ridiculous eating a vegetarian diet and I would just have to eat meat again.
For anyone who knows me, knows that was like waving a red rag in front of a bull. I decided, after calming down, to look into it myself. I took control of my diet and started to feel better, as a vegetarian.
I have been vegetarian for 28 years, so why did I choose 2018 to go vegan? I have thought about following a vegan diet many times over the years, I was never comfortable with still eating dairy and eggs, but could never bring myself to make the leap. Maybe part of it was remembering the reaction I got when I decided to be vegetarian. Vegetarian in the early 1990's is similar to the reaction Vegan's get today. The other reason was I just thought it would be a big step and difficult to keep on top of. I mean it's bad enough trying to eat out as a vegetarian!
The reason I made the leap from vegetarian to vegan in 2018 was simply health. I had been gradually getting more and more swollen, sluggish, cystic, toxic. My health was being affected and the only food I could pinpoint (my diet was very healthy) was dairy, even though the majority of my dairy wasn't cow's.
I got to the point where my need was stronger than my fears.
Going full blown Vegan
Within days I could feel the swelling going down, my sleep improved, my skin improved, my energy improved, and it just kept getting better.
My first 21 days was amazing. I was getting interested in new food and recipes (I love cooking). Everyone kept telling me how well I was looking, they couldn't get over the difference in me. I felt great!
Then I got lazy! I started to rely more on bread, something I had really cut out of my diet for a long time, I was trying out the vegan products to share my thoughts with you guys and my clients. I stopped following my own number one rule, Keep it natural and simple. My energy started to drop, my skin got worse, I was tired again when I woke up, found it hard to get out of bed.
How to keep it healthy
I kicked my own butt and started to get back on track.
So what do I do?
So if I could pass on any advice to any other newly Vegan friends, it would be this:
Just because it's Vegan doesn't mean it's good for you (look at the popularity of Vegan Junk food), I mean as far as I know, LEGO is vegan but I wouldn't eat it. It's not all about what's not in your food, but more about what is in it. Keep your diet healthy to keep yourself healthy
Listen to your body
You can feel great on a Vegan Diet but you have to do it healthily.
Drop the shame - for yourself and others, just do your best and learn to be happy with that. If you want others to respect your choices you really have to respect their right to choose too.
Sending this out with lots of love and hoping it might just help make this journey a little easier for some of you.
Carina Kennedy was formerly a Nurse, now a Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist living in the west of Ireland. Her passion is food, health and teaching clients to gain control of their life with simple techniques.