Growing up with meat-consuming parents in the 80s and 90s on a plant-based diet - when vegetarian food was basically unheard of - did not result in my bones crumbling or not developing muscles or any other myths.
Already as a young teenager I grew up to be 6ft tall, later on I completed numerous half-marathons in both the US and Europe, and climbed one of the world’s seven peaks (Mt. Kilimanjaro 5,895m or 19,341 feet) – I am feeling strong and healthy, physically and spiritually. But why no meat so early – I get asked this all the time!
I am an “independent” vegan – I had decided on my own not to consume dead animals’ flesh, against the practice and the wishes of my parents and family members. In fact, my family and relatives were heavy meat consumers and other animal products considering my Balkan origins and I was often “forced” to eat the same. Refusing meat then was regarded as a sign of some sort of “madness” or as an exotic illness.
Still, even as a child, long before I had heard of the word “vegetarian”, eating butchered creatures simply never felt right to me – all blood is read and all forms of life are sacred. I always wondered, where were the other like minded souls who share my compassion for animals? I had never even heard before of “vegetarians”. Not until high school, in Munich, during one of my elective classes – Ethics – when the term came up for the first time when we were discussing religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. I felt so enlightened and relived that there were others like me out there asking whether we really need to slaughter another living being in order for us to eat? It was then when I officially became a confident and proud vegan.
Now couple of decades later, as a vegan, my goal is to live as compassionately as possible. My vegan lifestyle acknowledges our connection with others and especially our Mother Nature. It’s really easy not to miss foods that hurt you, animals and our planet. For me veganism is not only my diet, it has become my lifestyle, my foundation and my belief system. I cannot accept voiceless and defenseless creatures being raised in horrific conditions before they are killed for the meat industry.
Not consuming meat, I have reduced my environmental impact and my carbon footprint greatly, and I encourage others to do the same. So, let’s refuse to be complicit in the torture of billions of innocent animals for corporate profits! For yourselves, for your health, for the environment – everyone wins! Today, more than ever, adopting a vegan lifestyle is the most direct change we can immediately make to save our planet and its species, one meal at a time.
Now that you have read my story of how I “became” vegan, perhaps you want to take a gradual approach as well? Going vegan doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s back to the basics, so it’s actually simple. It’s real, living, whole foods found in nature and at the same time delicious, guilt-free and not processed. Just go at your own pace, educate yourself to the realities of the food industry, and watch the videos such as “Food Inc”, “Cowspiracy” and “Vegucated”.