Why We’re Vegan, Chapter 1: Robert, Kenzie, Ariana, and Daniel

Welcome to Chapter 1 of “Veggie Tales: Why We’re Vegan”. This post-series is the cultivation of a a conversation about veganism; a display of the diverse journeys, intentions, and identities of plant-based people. There will be 9 stories total, including two special-feature stories. There’s no such thing as the “average vegan”. Meet Robert, Kenzie, Ariana and Daniel.

Robert Howe, 54 years old

Robert

What inspired you to go vegan? (Animal rights, health, environment, etc.)  

My daughter lead me to choose to go Vegan…  I have had issues losing weight as I have gotten older and thought that this would be a healthy and safe way to do it.  I am also concerned with eating more healthily.

What physical, emotional, or otherwise related changes have you experienced since your transition to veganism?  

The only changes that I have noted are physically as I have lost 14 pounds in two months and I feel great!

What’s your favorite go-to vegan food, recipe, or snack?

Beans and rice with some onions!

What was the most difficult aspect of your transition to veganism?

Trying to find quick and easy foods as I like a lot of variety.

Were any parts of your transition surprisingly easy?

I was surprised that I did not crave meat as I had been an enthusiastic carnivore!

What myths or rumors about veganism have you debunked through your own experience?  

The food, unlike the popular myth, can be quite tasty!

A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would switch to a plant-based diet. Many of these people make jokes- or are downright mean- about veganism. Have you experienced this opposition before? If so, what do you say/do in those situations?

I have experienced it and I just laugh along with my friends.  I did get the opportunity to treat a number of them to a meal at “Loving Hut” and each one of them were pleasantly surprised!

Where would you direct friends and family who are looking for more information about veganism?

I would direct them to my personal “Veganism for Dummies” guru, Emma Howe.

Do you see yourself going back to a diet including meat and/or dairy in the future? Why or why not?

I do…  I believe that moderation is the proper catch phrase for me.  I enjoy meat and cheese, but feel that I can enjoy them in MUCH smaller quantities as it is healthier for me.

What shocked you most about a plant-based diet, that you think the public should be aware of?  

The public should be aware of how unhealthy our currently accepted diet is for us and that Veganism is a tasty alternative!

Have other areas of your life improved or been enhanced by your veganism? If so, what areas, and how?  

I think that the extra energy that I have found from eating right has helped me to focus better at work and the general feeling of healthiness is also a plus emotionally as well as physically.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I think that I would just add that convenience and flavor are huge factors in the American diet and as the popularity of Veganism grows, I think that there will be many more options and this will help busy families to choose good foods over less healthy ones.


 

Kenzie Feen, 20 years old, vegan for 1 year

Instagram: @fackenziemeen @gaianhearttribe

To listen to Gaian Heart Tribe’s song, “Plant – Based”, click HERE!

Kenzie

What inspired you to go vegan? (Animal rights, health, environment, etc.)

My wonderful partner, Patrick, inspired me to go vegan. I was already a vegetarian and we bonded through vegan cooking early in our relationship. I was also very sold on the environmental impact of the diet change. It creates a new way of life that truly feels like you are helping make the world a better place

What physical, emotional, or otherwise related changes have you experienced since your transition to veganism?

I have experienced many positive changes in my mental emotional health. I went vegetarian due to my struggles with mental health. Veganism has deepened my healing through clarity and deeper perspective on how our overall health (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) is connected.

What’s your favorite go-to vegan food, recipe, or snack?

Curry stir fry with rice or quinoa – Soup! – Hummus

What was the most difficult aspect of your transition to veganism?

Getting food when I’m out and about. It’s very surprising how much food unnecessarily contains milk! Snack packing and grocery stores!

Were any parts of your transition surprisingly easy?

Acceptance and support from my family! Co creating a harmonious kitchen space of omnivores and carnivores!

What myths or rumors about veganism have you debunked through your own experience?

It is NOT expensive to go vegan. You can buy a variety of protein powered plants at the same cost or less than a package of meat.

A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would switch to a plant-based diet. Many of these people make jokes- or are downright mean- about veganism. Have you experienced this opposition before? If so, what do you say/do in those situations?

I have experienced oppositions from people who are ignorant towards what veganism truly is. The best reply is to humbly lead by a silent example. That is, you live your light vegan life full of abundance and optimism and when it’s their time to gain knowledge they will ask questions. I hold respect and love to all diets. Their is a balance for everything. So live and let live.

Where would you direct friends and family who are looking for more information about veganism?

I would recommend Ralph Smarts YouTube channel Infinite Waters. He has lots of content on veganism and is a big promoter of the 7 Day Vegan Challenge. His entire channel contains amazing mind/heart opening knowledge. “It feels so good to be alive, Baby!” Hehe

Do you see yourself going back to a diet including meat and/or dairy in the future? Why or why not?

Never. The vegan diet is known as “The World Peace Diet” it is the most compassionate and mutual way to live on this planet as a human species. The perspective is through nutrients and energy. Our civilization has programmed us to eat based off taste, not nutritional value. When a livestock animal lives a neglected life caged, crowded, filled with disease, and antibiotics until the day it’s slaughtered the meat/dairy produced is FILLED with that creatures suffering energetically. This apathy and suffering is then charged throughout our thoughts, words, actions/reactions. It’s more than not eating meat it’s not eating meat that was killed with disrespect, greed, apathy, dominance, and fear.

What shocked you most about a plant-based diet, that you feel the public should be aware of?

Life is light, colorful, abundant, happy, clear, liberating, and love!

Have other areas of your life improved or been enhanced by your veganism? If so, what areas, and how?

I feel my visual artwork has improved through my change of diet. I have more energy, creative flow, clarity to create, and true self expression! I have cultivated a deeper sense of self love. Which has blossomed into overcoming fears, taking leaps of faith, trying new activities, and aligning to my higher self. I am manifesting a happier, healthier life full of love!


 

Ariana Bunker, 20 years old, vegan for about 2 months

Instagram: @awiebunks @bestveganfriends

Vegan blog: feelingoodariana.wordpress.com

Ariana

What inspired you to go vegan? (Animal rights, health, environment, etc.)

Initially, there were only two reasons that actually gave me the push to go vegan. 1, I live with my best friend and fellow vegan, Emma, and I decided to join her simply for ease within cooking, grocery shopping, and controlled diet. If I wasn’t vegan, I think living together would be much harder cooking two separate meals 24/7. 2, I felt gross all the time. Like, every single day…for hours on end until I went to sleep. I would feel massively bloated, almost like I was pregnant! My stomach just hurt constantly and I was so fed up with being in pain and feeling embarrassed from my extended stomach. After I actually took the plunge and went vegan, though, I have researched further into the animal rights and environmental factors and I am proud to say those are two more leading inspirations to keep me vegan.

What physical, emotional, or otherwise related changes have you experienced since your transition to veganism?

Goodness! So much has changed in such a little time and I didn’t realize until this question was posed to me. Physically, my stomach hurts WAY less than it ever did. I am rarely ever bloated, even after I eat a massive vegan meal. It feels so good I could cry! No more pain! I have also noticed my stomach getting smaller just by switching my diet. That’s a plus, too! I’ve heard it before from other vegans but finally feel it within myself: I feel lighter as a whole being. I feel generally more energy and not at all heavy as I used to on the Western Diet. It’s incredible. As for emotion, I think I just feel happier because not a day goes by where I don’t feel proud of myself for going vegan. It makes me feel like a better person and like I am actually doing something for once–therefore boosting my mood every day.

What’s your favorite go-to vegan food, recipe, or snack?

Bean salad. I just rinse and pour whatever beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, fresh herbs, and what ever else I want into a bowl and mix it up. You can put it on salad, on a taco, as a side, or just plain by itself. Whenever I feel hungry and I need something quick I just eat some of that and I feel full enough to accomplish what I need to.

What was the most difficult aspect of your transition to veganism?

Reading labels and knowing what isn’t good or okay for me. I still have so so much to learn, but I am getting better every day. I also think it is an eye opening experience to read labels because I’ll pick up something so simple like a salad dressing or trail mix and read “CONTAINS: EGG AND MILK” and I’m just puzzled and think to myself “why does this need egg…or milk…” The confusion of some products is also a hard factor for me, because know I think completely differently about my food. It is easy to get angry once you are looking from the outside.

Were any parts of your transition surprisingly easy?

I thought I was going to have these massive cravings every day that would be earth shattering and so hard to get by. However, the only time I even had cravings at all was during my period–and that was just for fried food (so I could still have french fries if they were vegan…crisis averted!!) It was so easy for me to get rid of my old diet, especially living with a vegan already.

What myths or rumors about veganism have you debunked through your own experience?

PROTEIN! I have heard stories, concerned parents, read articles, stupid comments, etc., all about protein. Its all bullshit. I know it isn’t as easy for some other vegans to get what they need in their diet and they may feel the consequences in their body from it, but I feel energized, full, and ready every single day that I have been vegan. I don’t feel fatigued or like I need anything extra in my diet–I feel fine–so I know I am getting my protein and what I need. If I wasn’t, my body would tell me and I would listen.

A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would switch to a plant-based diet. Many of these people make jokes- or are downright mean- about veganism. Have you experienced this opposition before? If so, what do you say/do in those situations?

Yes I have, I think every single vegan has experienced these situations. Nobody has been purposefully mean to me about it yet, but I do get disappointed looks, disgusted faces, or snide comments when I tell people I am vegan. Things like “Ugh, keep your vegan food away from me!” or “you’re just a hippie who eats plants” and so on. But, whatever! It tastes good anyway. I think the silliest thing for me was when I was at 99 Restaurant with my grandma and she was asking why I wasn’t eating the popcorn with her. I simply replied “butter” and she was genuinely disappointed in me because I could not have butter. Oh well, she’s from an older generation that I wouldn’t expect to understand, and she’s still cute as heck anyway.

Where would you direct friends and family who are looking for more information about veganism?

I would honestly say social media. It’s sometimes easier to look at people’s lives and say “ugh, I want that” than sit down and read a full book on veganism. I looked deeply into instagrams of vegan mothers, bloggers, body builders, and so on. I also watched YouTube videos of vegans and their lives, recipes, tips, and most importantly their struggles. It helped me to see problems that other vegans bumped into so I could know that I wasn’t alone. (Tip: my favorite vegan Instagrams are @earthyandy and @Rawvana)

Do you see yourself going back to a diet including meat and/or dairy in the future? Why or why not?

Right now, no. I want to be vegan for a long time because I feel much better this way. The only reason I could think of breaking veganism is if for some reason my body wasn’t being taken care of.

What shocked you most about a plant-based diet, that you think the public should be aware of?

I think what shocked me the most is how easy it was. You can whip up a full vegan meal in under 20 minutes. And I have a fun time doing it. People who are like “oh, that’s too hard and expensive, I could never do that” drive me nuts now because I know that its bullshit. If you want to feel better bad enough, it’s so easy to be vegan. Another thing that shocked me was how my view changed of animals. I am physically grossed out when I see people going to town on meat. Now when I see people eating meat, I think “ew…that’s a dead pig/chicken/fish/deer/etc”. I think if more people thought that they were eating dead carcasses, the world would have more vegans.

Have other areas of your life improved or been enhanced by your veganism? If so, what areas, and how?

My thinking has changed and I think that is one of the best things that could have happened to me. I feel more awake and in tune with the world because I have more of an understanding on what we are doing to Her and how we can change that. I think about the animals now–their lives, their feelings. I think about the trees, the oceans, the pollution, and human beings as a whole. It sometimes makes me sad because I know not many people think like vegans do…but if they did the world would be such a different and loving place.


 

Daniel Codd, 23 years old, vegan for exactly 1 year

Instagram: @daniel1994codd

Daniel

What inspired you to go vegan? (Animal rights, health, environment, etc.)

I wasn’t necessarily inspired as such, it was a very cold and emotionless decision to go vegan. I had been vegetarian for just over a year for the triad of reasons, compassion, health and the environment, however I got to a point where I realised that I was avoiding looking into the dairy industry so I could claim plausible deniability. I was keeping myself wilfully ignorant and it got to a point where I realised it was just the next step in aligning my actions with my values.

What physical, emotional, or otherwise related changes have you experienced since your transition to veganism?

I find it easier to stay slimmer, I used to put on fat quiet easily but now I find I’m a lot leaner, its great. Personally I haven’t noticed a change in any emotional circumstances but I went vegan shortly after I decided to give alcohol up for the year so it’s difficult to attribute any one emotion change to veganism but I’m much more emotionally stable now than I was a couple of years ago.

What’s your favorite go-to vegan food, recipe, or snack?

Oooh that has to be my “Fr-icken Tikka Masala” !! I use the Linda McCartney Shredded Chicken and fry it with spices until it’s slightly charred, while making the sauce alongside using Alpro yoghurt. I think I prefer it to the Chicken Tikka I used to eat before going vegetarian. Its fantastic because it was the meal I missed the most.

What was the most difficult aspect of your transition to veganism?

I would have to say the most difficult part is planning to go out for a meal with my family. My dad is a particularly fussy eater and is only really happy with a burger and chips and my brother is a huge meat eater (much like I was before I went veggie) and so on my graduation day we spent ages trying to decide on a restaurant to eat at and eventually settled on Nandos. Not exactly the restaurant I wanted to be eating at on my graduation but tasty nonetheless.

Were any parts of your transition surprisingly easy?

Most of it to be honest. I wasn’t a particularly big cheese eater (just them pesky pizzas!) and I rarely had cereal and the only form of egg I ate was omelette. Overall it was a pretty easy transition. I’m not a huge sweet/chocolate person but it is occasionally a bit frustrating the lack of sweets but then again, it keeps me eating the right foods!

What myths or rumors about veganism have you debunked through your own experience?

Debunked? I guess I’d have to say the protein myth. A lot of people are worried they won’t be able to put on muscle on a vegan diet but that’s absolutely not true. I bulked up AFTER going vegan and found that actually I ache less and have more energy. I use to feel sluggish but now I really don’t.

A lot of people don’t understand why anyone would switch to a plant-based diet. Many of these people make jokes- or are downright mean- about veganism. Have you experienced this opposition before? If so, what do you say/do in those situations?

Oh absolutely, I get it a lot. I try and laugh along with them and I’m not afraid to make a few jokes about vegans myself. I think it’s important to not seem so uptight and to show them we are a happy-go-lucky, “care free” bunch with nothing but love in our hearts. I think there is too much negativity and too many toxic individuals in the vegan movement. I can completely understand it, but nobody wants to join a movement or change their behaviours if they think they’re gonna end hating the world and everyone in it. I try my hardest to stay upbeat and cheerful with nothing but love and compassion in my heart but it really can be quite challenging at times. However, when I see myself getting toxic I take it as a sign to step back, regain perspective and practice some self love, it typically comes about from getting burn out and being existentially tired. A little break does wonders.

Where would you direct friends and family who are looking for more information about veganism?

Veganuary is a great website to check out (and participate in) that or Challenge 22. I’d also send them to check out some YouTubers. VeganSpeak is great for miscellaneous vegan topics. Joey Carbstrong and Earthling Ed for street conversations and Silke Dewulf for “What I eat in a day videos” oh plus Bosh. Bosh are fantastic for vegan food ideas. I’d then obviously recommend the usual documentaries, Cowspiracy, What The Health, Before The Flood and Earthlings. Also keep your eyes open for the full length feature documentary Seaspiracy which should be coming out soon!

Do you see yourself going back to a diet including meat and/or dairy in the future? Why or why not?

Absolutely not! Once you’ve woken up to the horrors of these industries I really don’t see how you could willingly go back to contributing to them. I recently moved out of London and back to my hometown and my Aunt was like “I was wondering if, you know, now that you’re back in Ashford and away from the London scene, if you’d go back to having a little bit of burger here and a little bit of cheese there”. I was a little taken aback to be honest but I just reaffirmed my view points and explained again how I couldn’t willingly contribute to such industries.

What shocked you most about a plant-based diet, that you think the public should be aware of?

I was actually shocked at how tasty and how enjoyable the food can be. It took a little while to get into the swing of things but having so many different colours on your plate is amazing. Some of the vegan desserts are absolutely INCREDIBLE. The first time I tried Almond Dream ice cream I had to double check it was in fact vegan. I couldn’t believe it didn’t have dairy in, it was fantastic! (Plus EVERYONE should know just how much healthier these deserts are compared to their dairy counterparts!)

Have other areas of your life improved or been enhanced by your veganism? If so, what areas, and how?

Food, friends and health, what more can anyone ask for.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I would also like people to know that mostly vegans are actually incredibly nice people and they’re really easy to talk to. I struggle with conversation when meeting new people but at all of the vegan meet ups I’ve been to the conversation has been great and everyone has been really nice (even if they are occasionally a little bit quirky!)

 

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