From meat eater to vegan and everything in between

Going vegan, a story

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For an updated post on my journey into going vegan, click here and meet our new blog brownble.com!

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We´re getting personal today so let’s put our kettle on, get a yummy cup of tea ready and sit comfy on the couch. I’m going to tell you a story about a yoga class, my sister in law, an airplane ride and a book. Are you ready?

The first time I encountered a vegetarian in my life was at the age of 8. She was (and is) this incredibly gorgeous woman with bright skin and shiny hair, who was so sweet and kind to my family. When I asked her why she didn’t eat meat, she said that it was because of the animals, she loved animals so much and she didn’t think it was fair to eat them. Right there I thought she was a rockstar. Was it possible to make such a big decision simply for the love you had for them? Did her parents let her eat like this? (She was probably in her 20s and lived on her own, so this was super cute on my part don’t you think?). I loved animals too and she seemed like she had everything figured out. She was simply so cool and had incredible compassion for everyone around her. I waited to see my mom’s reaction to what she said, when mom spoke, she replied: “that’s so admirable!”. Ok! Mom approves… Super!

Every single time I’ve encountered a vegetarian since then, I’ve asked them why they do it, secretly crossing my fingers that they’ll again say it’s out of compassion for animals. Since most of them do, I became a cheerleader for vegetarians although for some reason I thought they must have super powers that us regular folk don’t possess. Surely I wouldn’t be able to do something like that. I loved my meat…I LOOOVED it! Everyone in my family ate meat, my friends ate meat, surely these awesome people were made out of something different and that’s why they could do it. However, vegetarians were held in the highest esteem over at the Sujo house… there was just something about them.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened next. Many years of meat eating later, I started doing yoga. After three months of practicing my tastes started to change. My cravings were now salads and lots of veggies, and sometimes the thought of meat didn’t appeal to me at all! Strange! I loved meat! I asked my teacher if this was normal and he said that many people went vegetarian after a while of practicing yoga. Again, strange. Did I still continue to eat meat? You bet! What was going to occupy the third portion of my plate?! Even though I didn’t feel like eating it as much, apparently, it still wasn’t my time.

About a year later my sister in law (another rockstar in my book) saw a documentary about how animals were treated in the meat industry and declared she was no longer eating meat. Although this didn’t last a long time for her (YET! she’s currently a happy vegan too!), something started stirring in my brain. If she, one of the most compassionate and animal loving people I know, had been so shocked with what she saw, then something was terribly wrong. Without knowing it she had planted the first seed. A seed that showed its first little sprout a few years later in a Barnes and Noble in New York City.

I was about to return to Spain from a trip to New York and I decided to make a final stop at Barnes and Noble for some in flight reading material. I saw a familiar face in one of the books and was so curious. Alicia Silverstone, the actress, had written a book called The Kind Diet. At the time I was reading a lot of books on healthy eating, and this combined with the fact that I was a Clueless fan made me buy the book. That plane ride was embarrassing. I cried, and cried, and cried. I was suddenly so happy my husband wasn’t with me! There will be a whole post on this incredible woman and what she’s doing for our animals soon, but let me just start by saying that everything in this book resonated with who I was and what I felt I needed to change in my life. It was also the first moment I actually read about the absolute horrors we put our animals through. It was a tough, tough ride. I read the book cover to cover and decided that when the plane landed I would start making some small changes. That’s right! I still wasn’t ready to go all the way. Why? I thought it was impossible! I thought my husband would never go for it and that I couldn’t do it without him. I thought my friends would never understand.

What followed were some strange 3 years in which I flirted with the idea but was even scared to say what I was doing. I tried to go vegan for two meals out of three after reading Mark Bittman’s book Food Matters, but that felt odd and simply confusing. I went back to small changes. Then I started buying organic meat. Then I started reducing the portions of meat. Then I went back to zero. The little seed was still there though, and now I knew some of what was going on in the industry. I couldn’t just do nothing. What happened next was the funniest year ever. I became a closeted vegan (sort of). That’s right, on the days when my hubby was out of town or had an overnight shift at the hospital where he works, I was a happy vegan. No animal products of any kind. I kept this up for over a year and I just felt so good when I did it. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to go deep into researching if this was actually possible every day of the week, and I had to come out of the closet if what came out of my research empowered me to make the change. I was NOT ready for what I was about to see.

I watched Forks Over Knives, Vegucated and segments of Earthlings (still can’t get through the whole thing), I read countless books and watched tons of speakers go over the ‘why vegan’, and tons of speakers go over the ‘how vegan’. I read Alicia’s book cover to cover again. I read excerpts of the book Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz and excerpts of the book Eat to Live by Dr, Joel Fuhrman. Suddenly the health and environmental aspects of eating meat started to shock me as well, and something shifted when I went from reading about the animals to watching the images. I couldn’t ignore it any longer and some of those images are still with me every day. I watched a couple of the films again with my hubby and told him about some of the things I had read. I told him that at least at home I wanted to be vegan, but that he didn’t have to. He was just as shocked as I was and he said “sure!”. Oh baby here we go! It took just one more week to go from being vegan at home to being vegan period.

I had done it, I had taken the plunge. I want to write an entire post about what happened to me after that, about the delicious food I ate, the absolute bliss I felt, the extra energy I had, the pounds that I lost, the feeling of freedom I felt. That deserves an entire post on its own. For now, I wanted to share my story with you. My vegan path is just beginning, but the process to get there took years! With every step I was doing something right and also took steps in the wrong direction. This is why I profoundly respect the process you might be going through, the fear of the changes in lifestyle and social acceptance. I get it. I’ve been there. I wrote this blog to share my experience with you and guide you through what helped me, until whatever point you wish to take it. Every single action helps, but going all the way isn’t remotely as hard as you think and I’ll do my best to show you. I’m going down this path right along with you since the full change happened recently for me. It’s been a magical ride. I do have one regret though, A BIG ONE, I only wish I had done this sooner.

UPDATE AND NEWS!

After several years blogging here at Little Green Kettle, we’ve made the blog bigger and better! Meet our new blog everyone!: www.brownble.com

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13 responses to “From meat eater to vegan and everything in between

    • I appreciate the detail you are giving on this subject in all your blogs. You have answered all the questions I have been searching for answers to. I am just finishing my first week as a vegan and now I know all of my symptoms are ok. I am so inspired to continue on. Thank you

      • Yay! Thank you Hannah! Keep going! You’re doing great, and soon you’ll learn a ton about food and your own body and you’ll be able to make adjustments and feel your best. I know I’ve never felt as good physically or mentally! Thanks for your patience in waiting my reply… we’re running around because our blog moves to our new website in 2 days! If you’re interested in reading more of our posts, you can visit http://www.brownble.com, we go live on Monday Oct 19th! Good luck with your journey to veganism. It’s a wonderful ride!

  1. Pingback: Rockstar #1: Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet | Little Green Kettle·

  2. Hola Kim, gracias por compartir este sentido testimonio. Llevo meses dándole vueltas a la importancia de la alimentación, leyendo artículos, viendo documentales y, sobre todo, reformulando mis patrones de alimentación. Por esta razón, me identifico mucho con una de las fases por las que atravesaste –una fase que pendula entre la teoría y la sensibilización-. Vengo de una familia que fue vegetariana durante un lustro. Vine a saber lo que era una Coca Cola a los 8 años y antes de aprender la palabra “Pepito”, ya había aprendido la palabra “glutamato monosódico” –que en mi mente infantil tenía connotaciones nefastas-. Mi mamá tuvo que invitar a comer a mi maestra de preescolar a la casa para explicarle que el hecho de que no me abalanzara sobre las golosinas no era un síntoma de depresión o de desnutrición crónica, al contrario, era simplemente que tenía una educación alimenticia diferente. Mis padres abandonaron esta práctica porque era cada vez más difícil combinar el ajetreo diario con la preparación de un menú balanceado y delicioso al mismo tiempo. Desde entonces, sobre todo recientemente, he estado en esa fase de coqueteo, acercándome también a los aportes de la medicina ayurvédica y otras formas de alimentación sana y balanceada. No obstante, el estricto vegetarianismo implica una planificación bien orquestada para no tener desbalances y carencias alimenticias. Y –por fin, después de tanto prolegómeno- mi pregunta es la siguiente: cómo hacer para sustituir los aportes del Omega (6 y 3), la vitamina D y el DHA que contiene el pescado? Fíjate que con esto de la epigenética y de los nuevos estudios en neurociencia, el pescado pareciera ser un factor esencial para prevenir enfermedades de todo tipo. En todo caso, mil gracias por este magnífico espacio que has creado!

  3. Hola Fabiola! Mil gracias a ti por compartir la tuya! Me encantó imaginarme esas situaciones cuando eras pequeña. Me alegro mucho de que estés investigando, leyendo y viendo documentales y cuestionándote algunas cosas. Yo intento a través de este espacio traer a la vista algunas de las cosas que lamentablemente uno no conoce hasta que comienzas a leer y a buscar, y principalmente intento mostrar que puede ser delicioso y muy sencillo al mismo tiempo porque esa ha sido sin duda mi experiencia. Los siguientes posts tratarán un poco el tema del ´Why vegan?´, y el siguiente tratará el tema de los nutrientes y las fuentes vegetarianas de cada uno. Como sabes no soy nutricionista así que lo que intento es llevar a los lectores a las fuentes de médicos y nutricionistas que se dedican a esto día tras día, y resumir un poco todo lo que yo he leído y de lo que hago uso todos los días. En ese post detallaré muchas cosas, pero por supuesto te resumo aquí algunas de las cosas que me has preguntado. En cuanto al Omega 3 y 6. Por lo general no tenemos problemas con el omega 6 ya que realmente está presente en muchas cosas, como los aceites vegetales, de maíz, de sésamo y en otros alimentos. El detalle está en tener el balance adecuado de omega 3 vs omega 6 que si es muy importante. Así que sí tenemos que enfocarnos en consumir los alimentos ricos en omega 3. Las dos mejores fuentes vegetarianas de omega 3 son las nueces y sobre todo las semillas de linaza molidas. Cualquiera de estas dos o ambas deben ser consumidas regularmente. En el post que te comenté arriba detallaré como consumirlas sobre todo la linaza que requiere ciertos cuidados de conservación. Estos constituyen fuentes de ALA, el cual la mayoría de las personas somos capaces de transformar en el EPA y DHA que el cuerpo necesita. El problema surge a veces porque un porcentaje pequeño de la población tiene dificultades para hacer esa transformación, en cuyo caso se recomienda tomar un suplemento directo de DHA de una fuente no animal (por lo general algas). La única forma de saber si uno puede hacer esta transformación es adoptar la dieta y luego hacerse un examen de sangre para ver como están los niveles. Por supuesto si es algo que te preocupa, se puede tomar un suplemento como medida preventiva. Ya profundizaré más en estos temas pero espero que te sea de ayuda! En cuanto a la vitamina D, la mejor fuente es tomar un poco de sol por la mañana.

    Si estás interesada en leer un poco más, te recomiendo estas dos fuentes, una de uno de los más reconocidos expertos en nutrición para veganos y vegetarianos Jack Norris: http://www.veganhealth.org y la otra, del Dr. Joel Fuhrman, uno de los principales expertos en ´plant based nutrition´ en el mundo. Puedes ver toda su página pero el link habla específicamente sobre el DHA. El Dr. Fuhrman también tiene recomendaciones de vitaminas y ofrece las vitaminas en sí de fuentes veganas, de las cuales he oído cosas maravillosas. http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/what_vegans_may_be_missing-DHA.aspx

    Gracias por visitar la página! Un beso grande!

    • Mil gracias Kim por todos los aportes!! Revisaré las fuentes que recomiendas y desde ya estoy esperando los siguientes post 😉 Un abrazo!

  4. Hi Fabiola I was impressed at the way you switched from Meat eater to vegan. I am an Indian vegetarian trying to be Vegan. I would like to give up milk and dairy products. But in our culture and family we depend so much on milk. My family will be shocked if i say I want to quit dairy products. Because religiously we use milk, yoghurt and ghee (clarified butter). I am thinking of becoming Vegan for few years now and everytime i come across so many questions from everyone. I read horror stories in dairy farms, how calves are killed because we are drinking their milk. I feel terrible. My friends all say being vegetarian is good enough but I am not convinced. I got great encourgement today after reading your post. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your kind words rums! I´m so glad you got a bit of encouragement after reading the post. You´re right, hearing about the cruelty involved in the production of dairy is such a shocker, but congrats to you on thinking about making changes. The world needs people like you to dare to make a change, and soon enough you´ll be inspiring people on your own! Simply with what you eat and drink. Simply by being vegan. Dealing with family members can be difficult, but hang in there, everyone gets used to it eventually and remember that once you were in the dark about these issues as well! Give them the information they need to be at ease that you´ll still be getting all of your nutrients and can be healthy on a vegan diet, this is usually family´s first concern. Once they see you happy and healthy they´ll be more supportive I promise you that! You´re doing amazing!

  5. I love your honesty. My daughter has just decided to go Vegan and going strong for 6 weeks. Coming from Italian and Hispanic background this would be a shocker, but we are supportive and proud of her discipline. I am concerned about the B12 factor constantly mentioned when going vegan. Pls let us know more of this since it’s a big factor?🙏🏼

    • Hi Leticia! Thank you so much for your comment!Congrats to your daughter on making this change and also to you for supporting her. I completely understand that shock factor since I’m Venezuelan myself, the land of parrillas and steak and cheese everywhere, but I promise you that what your daughter is doing is THE most health supporting choice ever. It has been for me. B12 is absolutely important no matter what you might read elsewhere. It’s essential that she take a supplement, but supplementing is really easy and once you get into the habit you don’t even have to think about it. Here’s my favorite resource on figuring out the proper dose by a certified dietitian and nutritionist: http://veganhealth.org/b12/rec Here you can find the recommended dose according to her age and life stage and whether she has been supplementing in the past or needs a boost. She can then choose to supplement with a small dose daily or a bigger dose only twice a week. Both are equally safe and helpful, the only difference I found for me is that the big dose gave me a bit of acne, but the smaller doses didn’t, so I take a smaller dose of B12 every day. My husband however didn’t have this problem so he takes the larger dose only twice a week. Both are perfectly fine options.

      Let me know if you have any more questions Leticia, I just wanted to let you know that this blog has moved to http://www.brownble.com where I’m blogging and making videos about many of these issues, so feel free to stop by and continue reading more current content there! Just today I published this blog post (which you can also listen to with our audio feature) about some of the mistakes vegans make in the beginning. I think you might find it helpful too: http://www.brownble.com/blog/2016/4/26/the-top-6-mistakes-people-make-when-going-vegan

      I hope to see you in the new blog Leticia, I’m there daily if you have any questions.

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