My Vegan Story – Vegans From Around The World Share Their Vegan Journey
Inspire with your story
What better way to inspire others to go vegan than sharing your own vegan experience? Three lovely vegans from around the world share their vegan journey.
Every day people from 3 different parts of the world show us that veganism is an idea that cannot be held back by boarders, cultural background or tradition.
The only prerequisite for going vegan is an open heart and an open mind. Veganism is all about compassion, freedom and love. No matter where you come from, where you live, or how you were brought up, veganism is a lifestyle that can be embraced by everyone, anywhere!
veggiesavvy.com formulated a questionnaire that would allow participants to show many different aspects of their vegan journey.
A few words about our participants
Today’s article features 3 amazing individuals. First off, I want to personally thank everyone who took the time to answer the questionnaire and take part in this article that will hopefully inspire others to embrace a vegan lifestyle. Many thanks, you have been fantastic to work with.
Meet our lovely vegans!
Paul is 53 and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He is a visual effects camera operator by occupation. His personal interests include photography, anything with water and of course food!
Zoe is a 30 year old mathematician/researcher who lives in Denia, Spain. She loves animals, is fascinated by veganism and everything that has to do with mathematics! Zoe also has a vegan blog (www.thecrumbyvegan.wordpress.com) !
Vegan Blogger 78
Vegan Blogger 78 lives in Kent, UK. He is 38 years old. A volunteer that loves photography and art and has his own vegan blog www.veganblogger78.blogspot.com !
My Vegan Story – 3 Vegans From Around The World Share Their Vegan Journey
These 3 fantastic individuals were given a questionnaire about different aspects of vegan life. The participants tell us everything about their vegan lifestyle, from challenges they faced to the dramatically positive effects veganism has had on their lives. Hopefully, their honest approach will inspire other to follow in their footsteps!
Without further ado, here’s their vegan story!
How long have you been vegan?
P.M: 10 weeks
Z.G: I have been a strict vegan for 8 months (1st July 2016)
V.B: 20 years
Give us a few details about your lifestyle and diet prior to going vegan. Were you a vegetarian first?
P.M: I grew up on food in a box or a can. My parents were Depression babies and I was one of 5 kids, so nutrition wasn’t as high on the list as getting food in bellies. My wife went vegetarian at 16, and I managed to stay a meat eater with her for 18 years. Finally went vegetarian in 2011. Our daughter became vegan 2 years ago at age 13.
Z.G: Prior to going vegan I was vegetarian for two and a half years before becoming entirely vegan at home and eating dairy when dining out. Finally I had enough and after just over a year I became strictly vegan in July 2016.
V.B: Yes, i was vegetarian for eight years before going vegan. At 11 I simply switched overnight to vegetarian and never looked back. Usually at school the only vegetarian option was cheese hotpot or chips.
What/Who inspired you to consider veganism as an option?
P.M: My daughter and movies like “Forks Over Knives” and “Cowspiracy” were my biggest inspirations.
V.B: At 19, I realized other ingredients in cheese pies like whey powder etc and started looking more in the foods that I was eating. Suddenly I made the connection that even veggie felt wrong so I just went vegan.
Can you recall the moment when you first made the connection between food and animals? How did it make you feel?
P.M: I was in denial for a very, very long time. I made the connection when I met my wife, but I compartmentalized it, so that I didn’t have to really think about it. Today, I can’t imagine being that way. It’s just so wrong, but we’re trained from a young age, to disconnect by society-so that’s what people do.
Z.G: I made the connection probably around November 2012 when I transitioned from pescatarian to vegetarian. I became pescatarian because I didn’t care about eating meat and my friend had given up. It was only when I realized that fish feel pain and I was being incredibly hypocritical to not eat land animals but to eat fish that I made the emotional connection for sure.
V.B: At 11, a beef burger i was eating just made me feel bad inside. I was already feeling guilty about eating meat. I simply told my family: ‘I’m not eating meat again’.
How difficult was the transition? Did you find it hard to give up all animal products? How has that changed over time?
P.M: It was a lot harder in my mind than it was in reality. I’m lucky to live in an all vegetarian (3/4 vegan) household, so it’s not hard at all when I’m home. Traveling has it’s challenges, especially going to places like Dallas. Film sets are getting easier and easier, so I’m very thankful for that.
Z.G: I found it incredibly hard to give up cheese and during the one year I transitioned I hadn’t really thought about going fully vegan. It was only after I started writing my blog (it was supposed to be my transition to veganism) that within two weeks I had become vegan. Once I was vegan it was incredibly easy. I have not once craved cheese again. It looks nice but I am more than happy to go without it given what I know about the dairy industry.
V.B: The first 8 years of going vegetarian I ate so badly. Most of the vegetarian stuff I ate were pies or chocolate.
What/Who helped you stay motivated at the beginning of your journey?
P.M: My wife and daughter!
Z.G: My husband (an omnivore) has been incredibly supportive and my family were all apprehensive yet excited for me. Although once I made the decision to be vegan, I don’t remember the feeling of a struggle. I had learnt too much so there was no going back.
V.B: I was simply self-motivated.
Which were your main sources of information at the beginning of your vegan journey?
P.M: My wife is probably the best vegan chef you’ll meet. I’ll look in the fridge and cupboards and go “there’s nothing to eat” and next thing I know she’ll have whipped together some awesome, nutritious meal. When she doesn’t know something, we tend to google it and look for the best resources. Can’t say we have one go to place online.
Z.G: My main source was the book ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer, otherwise slaughter house videos were my tipping point.
V.B: The vegan journey was difficult at first as i didn’t have internet access. I mainly used to eat Co-op vegan foods. Health food stores back then were too expensive for me. As I got older I decided to start attending vegan festivals and also joined a local vegan group.
Are you a raw vegan?
V.B: No, but I eat raw vegan foods as well.
Do you only eat organic?
P.M: Mostly organic. Maybe 70% or so. How else do you stay away from GMO’s , pesticides and insecticides. It’s crazy what is in and on our food.
V.B: Sometimes, but it’s down to price.
What do you usually eat in a day? Give us an example of three daily meals and snacks if applicable.
P.M: Breakfast-Almond milk latte, nuts, sunflower seeds
Lunch-Rice Flour Crust Pizza with BBQ sauce, broccoli, kale, onion, carrots, Field Roast Chipolte Sausage (Yum!), no cheese or cheese substitute and Sriracha drizzled on top.
Dinner-Quinoa, with steamed kale, broccoli and carrots with Tamari soy sauce
Snacks-Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, tortilla chips.
Z.G: This is super hard to do as my husband loves to try different food so our daily menu is always changing. Maybe something like porridge or french toast for breakfast. Then we will take dishes from a vegan cookbook or from online for lunch and dinner. For snacks we normally have fruit and cookies, crisps etc.
V.B: For breakfast I try to eat cereal but that is not always the case. Something quick for lunch and in the evenings a nice healthy cooked meal.
Are any of your family members, close friends or colleagues vegan?
P.M: Immediate family is plant based. My son’s school, Muse School, is actually the first plant based school in the country (as far as we can tell). A few friends are also vegan, but we are definitely looked on as outsiders when it comes to the food thing. It’s too bad too, because people don’t know what they are missing or gaining.
Z.G: No but I’m working on it!
V.B: My fiancee [VeganBackpacker80] is vegan as well as she has been for the past 3 years.
Have your relationships with omnivores changed since deciding to go vegan? Do you sometimes feel it’s hard to socially interact with people whose dietary choices don’t align with your ethics?
P.M: I have no problem interacting with others. I don’t try to pound it over their head, but given the opportunity I do try to educate.
Z.G: No not in the slightest. I actually really enjoy it. Not only do they have their own path to follow before becoming vegan but I also like to try and be a good example of a non-fussy vegan. When I’m out with omnivores I tend to get questioned about veganism (whether it be polite or in a patronizing manner) and I like to use these opportunities to be friendly and understanding of the other person’s opinion. I imagine everyone will slowly get there.
V.B: I never eat out with friends or family as it’s too awkward. The beauty of having a vegan partner is that we go to places together and do our own thing.
Since going vegan, what have you done with any products (food, clothing etc) that you owned that weren’t vegan?
P.M: Getting rid of things doesn’t bring back the animal, so be sure it is not wasted. It’s the best thing you can do for that animal, but I won’t buy anything now.
Z.G: I have kept the clothes and worn them out. I haven’t had any non-vegan food (of my own) in my house as I’ve lived here for only two years. I have finished off all cosmetics also.
V.B: I gave them to family members.
Do you feel that sometimes others perceive your vegan lifestyle as an inconvenience?
P.M: For sure. Going to restaurants especially. Oh well-deal with it.
Z.G: Oh, absolutely. So I do my best to make it as easy as I can. One of my priorities when becoming a strict vegan was that I didn’t ruin the dining out experience for my husband. Given this I have a new ability to veganize a dish wherever I go to eat.
V.B: Yes, for sure as they don’t invite me and my fiancee especially since I am a strict vegan.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (one being extremely easy and 10 being extremely difficult) how hard is it to eat out at your current location? Elaborate if you feel it’s relevant.
P.M: 5. If I lived closer to the city it would be much easier.
Z.G: Surprisingly Spain is incredibly easy to go out and veganized dishes at restaurants so my rating would be a 1.
V.B: 5. There is a Sainsburys and Holland & Barrett but no vegan restaurants.
Does your local store/supermarket provide enough vegan options? Give us an example of a typical shopping list.
P.M: We have an amazing store called Erewhon (3 locations in LA). It beats Whole Foods and it’s the closest grocery store to us.
Z.G: I am very content with the amount of vegan options my local health food shop provides, although of course I would like there to be more. We don’t have a typical shopping list, although our last shopping list looked like this:
Sweet potato (Batata): 2
Quinoa (Quinoa): 1 packet
Mango (Mango): 2
Avocado (Aguacate): 2
Pomegranate (Granada): 2
Lemon (Limón): 2
V.B: No. My local Sainsburys don’t sell a lot of new vegan products as the manager said they are not in demand. They still sell enough to get me by though.
Who does the cooking in your house? If you are the cook, how often do you cook a meal from scratch?
P.M: My wife does most of the cooking, mostly cooking from scratch or close to it.
Z.G: I cook the majority of the food and I would guess that we cook from scratch approximately 90% of the week.
V.B: Me and my fiancee usually cook together.
Do you eat any vegan junk food or do you stick to a wholefoods diet?
P.M: Yes, Chips are the worst, but I’ve cut out a lot to reduce my sugar intake.
Z.G: Yes, we eat junk food every so often. I couldn’t be happy without my comforting junk food haha!
V.B: It’s half and half as we travel a lot so it depends on location.
Do you consume any vegan meat or dairy alternatives? If so, how often and how difficult is it to find at your current location?
P.M: Field Roast Chipolte is one of my favorites. Daiya cheeses, Almond Breeze milk, coconut milk yougurt, Beyond Beef and Quorn products.
Z.G: I live on the same street as a huge health food shop, so I’m pretty lucky! We have vegan meat maybe 1-2 a week. Drink coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk every day. We use vegan cheese maybe once every 2 weeks.
V.B: I eat a lot of meat alternatives as they are very easy to find in stores like H&B.
Do you feel that having an exclusively vegan store nearby would be convenient? Do you think people who still consume animal products would sometimes shop there as well?
P.M: So lucky to have one so close.
Z.G: I think it would be amazing to live near a vegan store. I would tell everyone, whether they ate meat or not, to shop there.
V.B: H&B sell a lot of vegan food so it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s exclusively vegan or not.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult is it to find vegan clothing at your current location?
Z.G: 10. The clothes here are not good so I buy online.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult is it to find vegan house cleaning products at your current location?
P.M: 1 (Thrive Market)
Z.G: 10. There are none!
V.B: Most pound shops sell Astonish which are vegan.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how difficult is it to find make up/personal hygiene products/grooming products at your current location?
P.M: 1 Thrive Market.
Z.G: 3. It’s ok here but I tend to buy online anyway.
V.B: There is a local Superdrug and they sell what I need.
What was your main reason for going vegan? Was it for health reasons, for the animals, the environment or all of the above? Elaborate.
P.M: Animal rights and the environment. I’m sure it’s healthier for me too, but I really can’t participate in the inhumane treatment of animals.
Z.G: Animals, animals, animals. Even if vegan were unhealthy then I would still do it for the animals.
V.B: The main reason was animals and the fact that I made that connection. I eat knowing that nothing died for my dinner plate. It was a great feeling at the time I went vegan and never looked back.
Do you advocate for veganism? If so, how and how often?
P.M: Mostly just on my Twitter account and when I get the opportunity to talk to others.
Z.G: I do as much as I can. I have a blog about veganism which I update every two weeks (www.thecrumbyvegan.wordpress.com). I have attended protests about veganism in the past. I’m also volunteering for Mercy for Animals at the moment and writing blog posts for them. I’ve also become the Happy Cow ambassador for Dénia to promote veganism here (we already have two vegan restaurants!). I’m also a member of Fast Action Network and Hen Heroes.
V.B: I do indeed as a vegan blogger and spreading the vegan word.
Do you do any activist work? Elaborate.
Z.G: I try to raise awareness for ending bull running in Spain. I started my own petition on the topic and I attend protests whenever possible.
V.B: Used to go to animal rights demos but these days I just blog and continue to volunteer for Nottingham Veggies Catering Campaign who i volunteered for 11 years. My fiance is also a volunteer.
Do you feel you often have to defend your vegan lifestyle to others in your social circle?
P.M: Not really. I think they should have to defend their stance, not the other way around.
Z.G: No. I’m happy to answer questions but I will never justify myself or my choices.
V.B: Yes, I do sometimes but I try to remain calm and ignore.
How often do you get asked typical questions such as ‘where do you get your protein from?‘ Are you willing to respond, explain and educate?
P.M: Not very often, but it’s a great opportunity to educate.
Z.G: I get asked these questions maybe once a week (if that). I love answering them. I find that when people see my passion and knowledge for veganism then they begin to respect my decision and it ‘plants a seed’.
V.B: They used to ask but theses days nobody can as as there are so many vegan products on the market.
For you personally, what is the hardest part of being vegan?
Z.G: Accepting that some people find the taste of meat more important than the life of the animal.
V.B: Nothing and wouldn’t change a thing.
What has been your favorite vegan moment?
Z.G: I found Veganuary and World Vegan Day were very effective.
V.B: When I first got involved with Nottingham’s Veggie Catering 11 years ago.
What is your favorite aspect of veganism?
P.M: Knowing that I’m doing something good for the planet and the animals in particular.
Z.G: The compassion that comes along with the transition. I have a new, fulfilling connection with all living things.
V.B: Well, these days is being a blogger and having some really great followers!
What cuisines do you prefer? What is your favorite vegan dish?
P.M: I’m a pizza addict. My other favorite is my vegan cheeseburger pizza.
Z.G: Too many to decide from! Maybe Italian as I love pasta. Pasta and home-made pesto is always a winner!
V.B: Vegan shepherd’s pie and vegan curry. Cannot separate which is my first and second favorite haha!
Do you feel like every recipe can be veganized?
P.M: Almost every recipe.
Z.G: Absolutely (but only if we want it to be haha!).
V.B: For sure. You just have to experiment with dishes.
What/Who is your favorite vegan cookbook/blogger?
P.M: The PlantPower Way by Rich Roll (it’s more of a lifestyle book with incredible vegan recipes).
Z.G: I really like Minimalist Baker.
V.B: Myself, haha! But seriously, Fat Gay Vegan and Vegan Olive are both amazing bloggers.
Do you believe that someday veganism will be the norm instead of the exception?
P.M: I think it will have to go vegan or at least cut back seriously on meat intake.
Z.G: Most definitely. I will work my hardest until that is the case also.
V.B: I feel that last year was the norm and it can only keep getting better and becoming even more popular.
Inspiring quote/motto you live by.
P.M: Vegan is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle (Another reason I like Rich Roll’s cookbook)
V.B: Just be yourself and speak your mind.
Personal thoughts/Inspiring message:
V.B: Keep vegan and love all animals.
If you are a new or aspiring vegan, I hope you found these vegan stories interesting and inspiring. If you are a vegan ‘veteran’ which story is more familiar to yours? Do let me know if you relate to any of our three participants! Should you want to share your own vegan story, feel free to contact me!