My Journey as an Imperfect Vegan
"I love meat. I can’t live without cheese. I can never be vegan."
These were sentences I used to say before actually giving it a try. Especially in Germany, where I’m from, we eat a lot of meat, it’s almost a cultural thing. I’m talking about our famous Schnitzel, Leberwurst, Thüringerwurst, Currywurst.. and the list could go on forever.
It started around four and a half years ago when a friend of mine (shoutout to Simon) started implementing a meat-free diet due to environmental reasons. This gave me the input to think about my eating habits as well. At that time I wasn’t really conscious about what I eat and where my food comes from. I was merely a student and I was simply happy with everything that was tasty and cheap. I loved chicken curry, I loved spreading nutella on crepes, and especially those steaks topped with garlic butter.
Well, Simon sent me some interesting and educational documentaries like “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health”. I could hardly watch how the animals were being used and produced. I remember feeling disgusted, mad and sad. That was the moment when I decided not to be part of this anymore. Killing an animal to eat it wouldn’t be something I am able to do anymore and I didn’t want anyone else to do it for me either.
The decision was made – I tried what I never thought was possible: cutting meat out of my diet. Of course it was weird in the beginning. I had to look for new dishes that would satisfy and fill me.
"But we live in the 21st century and the internet is full of amazing ideas and recipes. A whole new world of food was waiting for me."
So I started as a vegetarian, but once I started to educate myself more about the meat industry, I soon learned even more eye opening facts about the dairy, egg and honey “production”, rather an exploitation, in my opinion. Ethically speaking, I couldn’t deal with being part of this. So, slowly and steadily I also started reducing the consumption of all animal related products. And guess what, I don’t miss it and I feel great. Not only because I know no one is harmed to fill my stomach but also because it’s so much healthier for my body, the vessel I am living in. Have you ever compared how your body feels after a greasy, loathy McDonald’s meal and after a hearty vegan poke bowl? For me, after eating meat I always felt tired and low on energy. On the other hand, vegan food gives me energy and makes me feel light most of the time. Another important aspect when I chose a plant-based diet is to save the planet from continuous destruction. So for me the advantages were much more important than the disadvantages, which are only sacrificing the taste of something I was used to. However, recently there are many meat alternatives that taste and look similar to “real meat”, like Beyond Meat, vegan Schnitzel and dozens of milk alternatives made from cashew, soy, almond, oat, coconut, hazelnut and more, there’s even vegan cheese! So I’m really not missing out on anything, in fact it’s the best for me, the animals and the environment.
"Honestly, finding food or cooking wasn’t the biggest challenge, as it gets harder to participate in social life."
Other than food, I started becoming more conscious of the things that I use and wear. So, whenever I buy something new like a new bag, shoes or cosmetics, I try to buy as resourceful and cruelty free as I can.
"I am not perfect! I still have Nike sneakers made out of leather and once in a while I still eat a normal pizza or crêpe with nutella."
Even so, there will be no doubt that I will still always opt for a vegan option, even if it’s double or triple the price.
One other thing about me is that I travel a lot. Sometimes I arrive in vegan heaven, for example Bali or Berlin, then I have nothing to worry about. The opposite applies for the Philippines or small cities in the countryside of Germany (at least this has been my experience so far), where most of the locals eat a lot of meat or fish. So most of the time I buy things like beans, rice, chickpeas, pasta and tons of fruits and vegetables and I prepare my meals in the hostels/apartments I live in. It’s always easier and cheaper than finding healthy, yummy and vegan restaurants.
"I am super happy with the decision I made four and a half years ago and cannot imagine myself going back to eating animal products regularly.
I don’t think the world needs to be 100 percent vegan, although that would be freaking awesome, but if everyone would be more conscious about where food on their plates is coming from and how is has been treated and produced, moreover reducing the consumption of animal products, we could all step into a brighter future for the earth and