My journey to becoming vegan really started 20 years ago. I was raised in Michigan- a state where hunting is the state sport (much like football in Texas). My dad was a hunter and I would every fall have to walk through a room with a carcass hanging there. I started to draw the connection between that flesh hanging and the beautiful deer I saw running around. At first I stopped eating venison. Then I read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair and after about halfway through decided to give up all meat. I was 12.
I was a very unhealthy vegetarian at first. I would exist on potato chips, white bread, nachos, cookies, french fries, and apples (see- I did get some healthy fresh produce). In college a friend started noticing I seemed under nourished and taught me a little more in depth how to feed myself. Then some other vegetarian friends helped me as well.
Unfortunately I soon moved far away to Tucson, AZ. I went from being surrounded by vegetarians and vegans and natural foodists, to having all my neighbors and friends being fast food junkies. I remember (ok I don't remember but I was told by my friends) of the first stray back to meat. I had had a few too many to drink and for some reason that was what I wanted. I got very very sick.
I still maintained a mainly vegetarian diet for awhile. Then I got pregnant with my oldest daughter. I didn't know any vegetarians around and started craving protein. I was young- 21- and without any guidance or support, I went back to meat. I ate meat during my pregnancy and really didn't want to. After my beautiful Bella was born, I thought about going meatless again. The thought honestly overwhelmed me. I was a new mom and knew at this point I couldn't feed my daughter and myself on french fries. It all seemed so daunting to me. So I stuck with meat.
A few years later I started trying to be vegetarian again. At this point I was newly married and tried to get my husband in on the game- that didn't really work. It lasted a week. I was back and forth between eating meat and vegetarian for a few years. I was moving more and more toward healthy eating. I started eating "Kosher" well- not truly Kosher- but not eating bottom-feeders, pork, non-flying birds, etc. I started being concerned with the quality of my food (I never liked supporting feed lots and other commercial meat suppliers). I would eliminate all but fish (pescatarian) and include tons of fruits and vegetables.
About a year and a half ago I started searching for my "true self". I had gotten lost in trying to be like other people around me, having three babies and all the other things that I had been doing. I decided I would go back to being a vegetarian. At the time I had no interest in being a vegan. I thought being vegan would be too extreme. I said "I will never give up eggs and cheese". Well- never say never!!
The summer after going vegetarian I watched "Forks Over Knives" and learned how unhealthy eggs and cheese are for your body. You can find a wealth of information about that here I also joined a vegan forum and started learning from people about the entire process of veganism. I learned about PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). I started exploring the whole idea. I did a PCRM kickstart (21 days where you are challenged to eat plant based ).
I was all set to go completely vegan, but then because of my thyroid I went to a naturopath. The naturopath I later found out was so biased on a meat based diet it was crazy. She didn't know the research about eggs and cancer, or animal consumption and disease. She pushed me to add in eggs and cheese. It was so soon after my switch - I knew I would never eat meat again, but the others were so fresh that I gave up that it was too easy to switch back. I soon found out that she was not looking out for my health but her own agenda and started back down the vegan road.
This last winter I took another PCRM challenge and then read "Eat To Live". I joined a Facebook group for vegan parents that offered some support. I started watching You Tube videos by famous doctors who study plant based diet and health. I learned so many different things about your health and diet (I will include them in the next post). I also read "The China Study" and am planning on reading "Lean" and "The Starch Solution". I am constantly putting the information about plant based diet in my life in an effort to encourage me. I try and remember all the cruelty that is involved in dairy and egg industry. It is a difficult journey since cheese is addictive. For months after going "vegan" I would still sneak bites of my husbands ice cream or cheese nachos. If I didn't buy it myself- it didn't count, right?? I am finally at a point where I don't allow myself the occasional cheese pizza or bite of ice cream. I can find vegan alternatives and eat pizza with no cheese.
My husband did become a vegetarian in the process but not vegan. I try to have my kids eat mainly vegan and teach them why we eat that way. But it is ultimately their decision also. Being vegan is the best thing for my health, energy, etc. I know I am treating my body right. Right now I say I would never go raw....but never say never, right!?