After eating plants and refraining from animal products for over a year now, I’ve thought about my outlook on this lifestyle; how it has progressed and transformed. In the first stages of this major change, I labeled myself as a “vegan” and didn’t know there were additional terms. I told everyone about it and probably (definitely) scared them away. Learning how backwards the food industry is in America came as a complete shock to me, mainly from being oblivious/not paying attention/not wanting to hear it. I figured if I shared what I learned and how the documentaries changed my views of the food industry, they would come to terms with it as well and hopefully see a new point of view. Hopefully, it would spark a certain motivation and they’d want to do their own research about what they were eating and why. Not only for the animals but for their personal health and overall lifestyle, as well as the health of our environment.
Well that never happened! Not only was I disappointed, I felt worse and more alone in this unfamiliar way of eating (which is when I turned to blogging and instagram ;)). How can people write it off as unimportant? How are they not concerned with what they are eating, where it comes from exactly and how it affects them in more ways than one can even realize?
Quickly, this lifestyle taught me how, as humans, we can be so ingrained in our everyday habits, traditions and opinions that in order to spark a change, something big has to happen. Something big has to majorly impact our lives or emotions before we consider throwing everything from our fridge/pantry into the garbage and replacing it with fresh, unprocessed, colorful plant foods; no meat, no dairy products, nothing that comes from an animal.
Side note: Don’t try convincing everyone you know to go vegan! Don’t be that judgmental person who puts others down for their lifestyle choices. Let people come to you after they’ve noticed a change in your skin, body, hair, energy etc. and then explain all of the healthy changes you’ve made and what’s been working for you 🙂 When people ask questions, instead of you spewing out scary facts about factory farming and environmental hazards, they are less likely to write it off as crazy or something they would never be able to do.
I’ve realized that the label “vegan” turns many people off, almost immediately. It’s either too extreme, too restrictive or too complicated. So at first I was all about sharing my newfound healthy life until it became uncomfortable to talk about. Almost like a sore subject and either one or both parties would take offense. By then, it wasn’t worth my time to convince people that I was not only surviving without animal products; I was thriving. There is a time and a place to share your experience because eating habits are so personal. Plus I’m too sensitive and it’s rather draining to defend your eating choices.. It’s rare that I bring up “vegan” at all anymore. I’m all about promoting more plants but if people aren’t asking – then what’s the point? It’s much different here on the blog though ?
Being vegan doesn’t automatically mean you are this incredibly healthy person. There are a number of processed snacks and treats that just happen to be vegan or “accidentally vegan” as PETA likes to say (hello, Oreo’s!). Since I came to this lifestyle to live a vibrant life where I can thrive and glow, associating with “vegan” slowly progressed into “plant based” which aligns with the colorful, vibrant array of whole foods that I love.
It reminds me to eat ALL the plants! To eat the rainbow. To eat variety. To eat fresh and unprocessed. To eat what’s in season and buy organic as much as possible. It challenges my creativity to make new deliciousness in the kitchen. It affirms my path in life and how holistic, natural and chemical-free feels right, for me. It makes me snuggle with my fur babies that much harder and makes my heart ache for ALL of the animals living in fear and stress, whether they are in confined spaces or abusive homes – which pushes me to act upon this lifestyle even more.
For the questions I often receive – both plant based and vegan fall into the “no animal ingredients” on your plate category. I’ve noticed it can go multiple ways from there. For some, being “vegan” means refraining from wearing/purchasing all leather, wool, fur and silk. Being a vegan could mean you lean more towards politics and advocate for animal rights. It could mean replacing every cleaning product, makeup product, toothpaste, lotion, soap etc. with all natural, cruelty-free vegan products. Or it can mean eating whatever you please – processed or not – as long as it doesn’t contain ingredients derived from animals.
Some consider that living “plant based” only refers to the real, whole foods they eat. They may not have issues with wearing clothing like leather, wool, fur or silk. The term pertains more to a healthy, unprocessed meal.
Honestly for me, I follow a combination of both and the only difference I see in associating more so with “plant based” is the emphasis on a whole foods, unprocessed, colorful plant strong diet. I strive for a cruelty-free life and agree that everything and anything I buy or use to clean, shower with and apply on my skin should be in it’s most natural form, free of chemicals and animal ingredients. It’s by no means perfect. I still have a couple leather purses that I can’t seem to part with but I no longer purchase anything with leather, fur, wool or silk. My shower/makeup/beauty routine is all natural and cruelty-free. The cleaning products we use have improved and chemicals seriously freak me out. It’s all a process; there are so many items to take into account.
It’s about finding what works for you and your life. But heck, sometimes I want a snack that’s processed or some gourmet dessert from a vegan restaurant so finding a balance but always striving for plant based is what I try to do. Why does it have to be so confusing?!!
Sometimes I want to forget all of the labels and become a beach bum in Hawaii where I could eat 100% raw and live a simple life ha. Reading this article from Angela at Oh She Glows made me sad and had me questioning labels altogether. Is there such thing as not being “vegan” enough? It seems there are extreme’s with every dietary choice.
For now, I’ll stick with this bright and colorful cruelty-free “plant based” rainbow life.
Plant Based or Vegan? Or both? What does it mean to you?