Hi, I’m Billie! I’m 28, a small business owner, a wife, a mother, and a vegan.
I can honestly say that I never thought I would ever be calling myself a vegan; even though I was a vegetarian pretty much all my life before this. I am one of the new batch of vegans who made the transition through Veganuary.
I had never even heard of Veganuary until December, 2016. I guess I’m not alone in that – the number of people taking part has jumped significantly, and over 50,000 people took part this year, which is incredible!
So, how did I get here? Well, it took me 28 years! Let’s go way back to five year old me…
When I was five years old I decided to go vegetarian. I had no idea about animal cruelty, or probably even what meat actually was. All I knew is that I hated the taste of it. After that, I didn’t eat it at all. I was lucky to be born into a supportive family, and even though they all ate meat, they accepted my decision. In fact, my mum took the time to teach me how to cook, so I was able to make lovely vegetarian food for myself.
So that was me; not eating meat, happy and (mostly) healthy. I hated eggs, but my biggest love was cheese. One of my favourite meals was a cheese board! I had no idea what was in the food I was eating, or knew anything about animal cruelty and the environmental impact of our food choices. I just ate what I wanted, and gave it no further thought.
But then, in 2016, I got ill. I repeatedly went to my doctor, who had no idea what was wrong. Tests came back clear but I still felt poorly. In the end I decided to do something about it myself. I changed my diet, and cut out dairy. I went vegan.
Luckily, Veganuary was coming up! I threw myself into it. I signed up to the emails, I joined the Facebook group, and I read and researched what being vegan was all about. Then I was given some documentary recommendations.
I fired up Netflix and my mind was blown.
Cowspiracy, Food Choices, Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, the list is endless. They shocked me to my core. At that moment I realised, for 28 years, I had been asleep. I think, once we learn the truth about animal agriculture, we can feel a strong guilt for how we used to live. For me, the guilt was for dairy cows. I had no idea of the horrors they go through and, as a mother, this really struck a chord with me. My journey had started purely for health reasons, but very suddenly became much more than that.
I’m often asked, “What do you eat?”. Sometimes I answer “Grass!” just to see their face. But seriously, vegan food (or food as I think it should be known) is unbelievable. There hasn’t been one single thing that I haven’t enjoyed. Clea from Veganuary (an ex-cheese addict herself) recommended Isa Chandra’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese recipe, and that was it. I was hooked! I can honestly say I’ve never missed cheese. For top foodie tips, I follow avantgardevegan and Bosh! on social media. Veganuary send you daily support emails with recipes and ideas and I got so much inspiration from them when I was taking part. In the end, you don’t think of it as vegan food, you just think of it as yummy, healthy food that happens to be cruelty-free.
Veganuary’s main message is not you MUST go vegan; it’s we would love you to try being vegan, and we are here to support you while you have a go. The Veganuary team are nothing but supportive. If you are worried about anything, they are there to help! You can still sign up because they support anyone at any time of the year. I think it’s a fantastic message that’s clearly working, with more and more people getting on board every year.
At the end of Veganuary, I took a moment to think if I wanted to carry on being vegan… I can’t ever imagine going back. Not only am I enjoying the food so much, I am feeling healthier than ever before! I also couldn’t go back for moral reasons. Knowing what I do now – about the awful things animals go through just so people can have a couple of minutes of pleasure while they eat – it’s not worth it. Cowspiracy also opened my eyes to the damage animal agriculture does to our Earth. I want to make sure I do my part to try and protect it as much as possible, especially for my children. So here I am, a shiny brand new vegan!
If you’re reading this and thinking you might try vegan. Do it! Sign up to Veganuary, they are here for you. Check out some vegan food inspiration, watch some documentaries, read some articles, talk to other vegans. This will motivate you!
My Top Tips
- Don’t go crazy and buy every single thing that says vegan on it. Take things slowly. Remember, you probably eat food that is vegan already, such as pasta in a tomato sauce.
- Prepare yourself – you might find you get some negativity thrown at you. Educate yourself so if you would like to answer the questions, you can. Remember to stay focused on why you want to do this.
- Finally, enjoy it! What you are doing is the future. I truly believe that one day the majority of the world will be vegan. Something has got to give… The world is getting sicker; our health system is under so much pressure; our Earth is dying; billions of animals are killed every year. It’s time to get in control of our health and start doing something to help the planet and the animals we love.
For me, it’s a no brainer.
That’s my story and it’s just the beginning! I’m on Instagram (carrotsncashews) if you want to follow my journey.