January 4 marked five years since I started my plant-based journey (six, if you include the year that I gave up pork, red meat, butter, and eggs in an effort to lower my cholesterol…read more here). Yay me! Am I a perfect vegan? No. Never claimed to be. I will say, however, that I am closer and closer to becoming a true vegan—lifestyle included—each and every day.
As you know, initially, my decision to forego eating animal products was strictly to live a healthier life. Today, health is still my number one priority in practicing a plant-based lifestyle. Throughout the years, however, the environment and animal ethics have come to play a role in how I live as well.
Over the course of the last year in particular, I’ve begun trying to consider where my makeup comes from or what cleaning products I’m using. As cosmetics and cleaning supplies ran out, I replaced them with plant-based alternatives that include no animal products and that are not tested on animals. Below you can check out a few of my favorite vegan beauty brands. 🙂 (NOTE: I have not been paid to endorse any of these products.)
As a result of adopting other aspects of the lifestyle rather than just the diet, I find that plant-based living is becoming more complex in some ways. Each time I use one of the leather purses that I was gifted or bought years ago, I feel a little guilty about it. I’ve realized, however, that I can’t change the past, but I can control how I live my life moving forward. That was my last leather purse!
Another valuable part of my experience with plant-based living has been mentoring. Somehow, some way, I’ve inspired people to live healthier, more considerate lives. THANK YOU! I am not an expert by any means, but I’ve done the research and I continue to research. I’m grateful that vegetarian and vegan diets are becoming THE way to nourish ourselves and protect the environment. (Did you know that sales of cow’s milk have decreased by $1 billion?!) I’ve had countless individuals reach out to me over the past five years looking to get started with their transformation and I’m honored to have been a part of their journey. ❤
Finally, I’m at a place where the occasional “cheat” is becoming virtually nonexistent. The first couple of years into my new diet, once or twice a year I would still treat myself to a piece of salmon or a handful of ribs; I now have no cravings whatsoever for even a once-a-year burger or chicken wing. I would consider myself 100% vegetarian and 95% vegan.
The pickings in our fridge were slim a few nights ago, so hubby suggested we order a pizza. Like a “real” one, with actual dairy cheese. The first few years into plant-based living—especially when I was pregnant and had all sorts of unusual cravings for crap food—I would have been all about that. My desire for such items has become less and less. We did order that pizza (vegetarian, but with cheese) and I told Travis that night that I think that that was the last time. I don’t need it, I don’t crave it…and I make my own vegan pizza that’s fresh and delicious anyway!
I also used to go out to restaurants and pick out a salad on the menu and think to myself, “Ok, I don’t really eat cheese anymore, but there is goat cheese on this salad and they aren’t going to lower the price if I ask for it to be removed, so I am going to consume what I’m paying for.” I’m proud to say that I don’t think that way anymore. Now, I think about how I can request an easy substitution that would still allow me to get my money’s worth out of the salad and fill me up if I decide to omit an animal-based ingredient. If there are cucumbers on the salad, for instance, I just ask the server if I can have extra cucumbers instead of cheese. If the salad comes with ranch, I ask to sub a vinaigrette instead. Always polite, I’ve never once been turned down.
If you’re interested in starting your plant-based journey, please reach out to me. I’ve been at the starting line and am now well into the race a healthier person with a bigger heart and smaller carbon footprint. It’s the gift to yourself, the environment, and the animals that keeps on giving!