One of the best parts of having a vegan food blog is the conversations that start when people find out about it. Simply mentioning that I have a blog opens the doors to discussions I may not have had otherwise and with people with whom I may not have known had similar interests. Hearing about other peoples’ experiences with vegetarianism and veganism has been interesting, exciting and at times, even reassuring.
This is why today I’m starting a new series dedicated to sharing these types of stories. The first story in this series comes from Laura Bellefontaine in Louisiana who has graciously shared some insight into her transition to veganism.
How long have you been vegan?
Since March 31, 2013
There are many reasons people could choose a vegan lifestyle including compassion for animals, health and the environment. What were your primary reasons for going vegan and why?
I’ve always wanted to become a vegetarian. I remember being sixteen asking my mom if I could go vegetarian. She said “no” essentially. I struggled for the next two days living off pasta noodles and canned mandarin oranges until I gave up. Throughout the time period between when I was sixteen through when I was twenty-one I had wrestled with a mood spectrum disorder and insomnia. My parents continuously sent me to specialist to specialist seeking an answer. Throughout this time, I had been flirting with veganism while I remained on the standard American diet (SAD). Each time I attempted going vegan, I failed –miserably.
What was your road to veganism like? Was there one thing in particular that changed your thinking or was there an evolution?
I made slow transition straight to veganism after reading “The Kind Diet.” Alicia Silverstone hugely effected my decision to go vegan. Although, Alicia is a passionate vegan, she wrote her books towards people who were only flirting with the lifestyle. Through her book, I not only learned how to transition to veganism, but also, that it’s okay to fall off the bandwagon during my transition: just get back on! Early on, with all my attempts at veganism I felt it was all or nothing. That if I slipped and ate a muffin with milk and eggs in it that I failed and gave up completely. Instead, Alicia showed me an easier way. I started not to beat myself up during my transition phase, knowing that a vegan diet was possible. Not to mention, her recipes proved that veganism is not limiting, but exciting and delicious!
Did you go vegan all at once or was there a series of changes that you made?
In the fall of 2012, I began picking up a few vegan cookbooks and watching various documentaries on plant-based nutrition. I was amazed at the health benefits that the vegan diet offered. For about three or four months I slowly made a transition. I did not switch in a traditional sense; I ate what I wanted, yet started to notice how my education in veganism was rubbing off. I started noticing that I was reading the product’s ingredients and making kinder options. I soon got familiar with vegan options at restaurants and started learning to cook all vegan meals (and loving them)!
When you made the decision to go vegan, what kind of reactions did you encounter from your friends and family? Did you already know anyone who was vegan or have any kind of support?
My family has always been supportive. My mom even asks me too cook vegan meals when I come home to visit. They have faith this diet has helped restore my life. On the other hand, I lived in Louisiana with my husband near his family. They were not as supportive and criticized my new beliefs and lifestyle. At first, it was lonely living in Louisiana. However, after a year of veganism, they began to understand a bit better. I love my in-laws dearly and they have been extended much understand during this whole process. My father-in-law has even read the China Study.
What has been the most difficult part of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle? What has been the most rewarding?
The most difficult part was planning for the unknown. Its less convenient being vegan, as there are fewer options. However, after awhile I got use to it. I learned what to eat a restaurants and various other places where, “what can I eat” questions arise. The most rewarding? Health and compassion. I am a completely different person, in the best way possible.
What are some resources you would recommend to someone who would like to learn more about becoming vegan. Blogs, books, movies, podcasts, etc.
The books, blogs and films that helped me in my transition are numerous. In fact, I have an entire book shelf of books I collected over this period in time. To name a few, I read: Ministry of Healing, China Study, and The Kind Diet. My favorite documentaries include: Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., Meet Your Meat, Dying to Have Known and Earthlings. Blogs were my favorite, I felt as if I knew another vegan, when in reality, I did not. When I read the blogs, I felt as if I was not alone, that instead I had friends teaching me. Many of these blogs I still follow today: Oh She Glows, Choosing Raw and Fully Raw Kristina.
I feel like being vegan is a responsibility. That we should now teach the world! I also have created a company that is based around health, veganism and plant-based beauty-care. It is called Genuinely Simple. I try and support veganism through the message I send through my products. Many people are ignorant of true health and the benefits of veganism. I try to reach people who might not otherwise know about veganism or natural health through various forms of marketing. Knowing if they love my product, they can learn a little about veganism and the plan to save humanity.
If you’re interested in sharing your vegan story, please visit my Share Your Vegan Story submission page.