Our vegan journey began three years ago shortly after the birth of our youngest daughter. Making the decision to embrace this lifestyle was such an easy one that I wanted to share how it all began.
During Georgie’s pregnancy with our youngest daughter she began to get feelings of disgust from eating animal products. Upon her request we had all begun to start occasionally having vegetarian options such as veggie sausages or lentil lasagne. I was very apprehensive, certain that I needed my protein which couldn’t come from anywhere other than animal products. I also didn’t understand the purpose of eating products which may resemble or mimic meat, but I slowly began to understand that it was so that vegetarians have an alternative, without the need for any harm.
During this time we also switched all of the animal products which we were still buying for the organic or free range options. Again, I was apprehensive about this due to the increased cost, but I had started to actually consider the welfare of animals. I was still convinced that we ‘need to eat meat’ and that it was all just ‘the circle of life’, with it being ‘a necessary evil’ though, but Georgie’s changing attitude toward animal products reminded me about a documentary film which I had started to watch with a friend about six months earlier. My friend and I had only managed to get through around 5-10 minutes of viewing before he insisted that I turn it off.
Shortly after our youngest daughter was born and I was home alone with her, while she was fast asleep, I looked up that documentary again. First I read the blurb about the film on a review site: “Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, Earthlings chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit”. Then, I loaded it up on YouTube and began to watch it, sitting intently fixated. This was the pivotal moment in which it all came together and all of our lives changed for the better. During those 95 minutes my eyes were opened to the absolute horrors which we all choose to turn a blind eye to. I burst out uncontrollably crying during several scenes – something which I had never really experienced myself doing before, certainly not while clear headed and sober anyway.
Since watching that documentary, my mind has removed all of the images from my memory, presumably as a coping mechanism. However, while they were still fresh in my mind, I told Georgie all about it once she came home. I told her we needed to become vegan, as I explained the way animals are exploited in every area of our lives: food, clothing, entertainment, pets and scientific research. We both immediately concluded that it was the only answer. It felt surreal and crazy. What on earth were we doing?! We knew nothing about how to get started, but it felt like something which we just had to do. That evening we told our eldest daughter that we were going to be vegan and exactly what that meant. She took it easily, probably assuming it was just some crazy idea which wouldn’t last.
Georgie and I spent the next few days learning as much as we could. We watched the ‘Forks over Knives’ documentary and Georgie looked up recipes while I researched plant based nutrition. Between us we discovered that not only could our dietary needs be met, but that many consider this way of eating to be far healthier than diets which do incorporate animal products. This compounded our decision, we were adamant that this was the right thing to do.
After the introduction of vegetarian products and then that pivotal moment on January 14th 2012 when we all decided as a family to be vegan, we have reaped such monumental benefits it is hard to even express them in words. Before Georgie fell pregnant with our youngest daughter, both she and I were habitual abusers of drugs, alcohol and junk food. Upon news of the pregnancy we had both cleaned our acts up, but it is only with the introduction of this compassionate and health promoting lifestyle that we have managed to heal our minds and bodies.
We have gone from a dysfunctional collection of individuals to a close-knit and tightly bonded family unit who are eager to learn and experience all which life has to offer. We took up fitness as an outlet for our overflowing energy which a plant-based diet provides for us and we all now run for the Vegan Runners UK running club. Georgie and I have ran five marathons between us and we consistently finish in the top 1% of finishers. I have gained a good for age entry and Georgie has gained a championship entry in to the Virgin Money London Marathon. Our eldest daughter has run the Parkrun 5km race on 16 different occasions in different towns and cities on our travels, and she ran her first proper race just a fortnight ago. Our youngest daughter is looking forward to completing her first 5km parkrun this year, at just three years old! We’re all just so grateful for our abundant health and energy!
Our journey in to the vegan lifestyle has been the greatest decision we have ever made. It is something we are so passionate about that we have devoted all of our spare time to learning and growing, and there’s not a day goes by where we don’t discover an exciting element to our new lifestyle which surprises us. Such as discovering products which are ‘accidentally vegan’, where the manufacturers never had the intention of making a vegan product, but it just so happens to not exploit animals in any way (there are thousands of these out there!), or finding a vegan restaurant on our travels (we recently stumbled upon a 100% vegan restaurant in the tiny island of Fuerteventura, so they are popping up all over the place!), or that someone else within your circle of influence is trying out the vegan lifestyle (this feels so rewarding to know that someone you care about is taking control of their health and saving innocent lives in the process).
Making the decision to switch to a vegan lifestyle is just that, a decision. It doesn’t need to be an immediate all-or-nothing proposition (although for many of us, this works best) and it needn’t feel overwhelming, simply implement the changes which you can, when you can, and most importantly never stop learning and growing. Six months ago we started to document our journey so far on a website which we created called Vegan Fitness, so please do swing by there if you have any questions about how to take control of your health and fitness in a compassionate way, because we’re always keen to share what we’ve learned so far. Our family will all continue to learn and grow, enjoying every step and treading lightly along the vegan path as we go.