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The other day I came across a story this girl wrote about how and why she went vegan and it was really interesting to me. I didn’t intend to read the whole thing because I was just poking around online but I ended up sitting there reading it to the end. Her story is nothing like mine but I liked it a lot.
This kind of got me to thinking how my story of how I became vegan is complicated and it’s pretty hard for me to tell because there’s a lot of details in my story that are related to something very personal that happened to me that most of my family does not know about. Even the ones who do know don’t really know the gritty details of it.
This is a story that I have been trying to tell for years to various people in my family and I never end up actually telling it.
So the beginning of my story really has to start from when I was a kid. I have been a vegetarian for a lot of my life, or at least primarily vegetarian. When I was a young kid I started to refuse to eat me and that is something that stuck with me for a long time. I went completely a hundred percent vegetarian in college. I always wanted to be vegan but I just didn’t really know how to jump into that or how to stick to it. So it wasn’t until after I had graduated college that I really went vegan.
Me going vegan actually started with a one week challenge that I did with my husband (who was just my boyfriend at the time). We were going to do one week vegan just to see if we could do it. So we did one week and we both felt amazing at the end of the week. It just felt so much better. So after the first week I said hey I really want to do another week will you do it with me. He said yes and the second week came and went. Then we did a third. Then a fourth and after that first month it became a routine of ours.
There really was not any times that we didn’t stick to being vegan in the beginning. We primarily were vegan (with the exception of a learning curve. We probably ate a few things we didn’t realize weren’t vegan). The only hard part I would say was changing our lifestyle when we were used to it being a certain way. And other people are used to you being a certain way. Going and doing things with family or friends, it was an interesting and difficult transition for both of us. I think I stuck to being vegan in those situations a little better than my husband did. He would kind of go off the path a little bit now and then.
At this point he and I have been vegan for almost a year and a half now. I don’t have any regrets about going vegan and my husband really enjoys sticking to it now too. Sometimes when I think a particular thing is really going to tempt him he keeps surprising me by turning things down.
So in a nutshell that is the easy part of the story where I leave the hard things out out of it.
The reason that we had decided to try the one week vegan challenge was because we were home bored one night and watched What the Health on Netflix. We were so grossed out and repulsed by some of the stuff we didn’t know that you learn watching that documentary. So that was really what sparked the fire.
For me though, I was so desperate to feel good or better. It wasn’t a want for me but a need to do something good. I was really at a low point in my life where I was not taking care of myself at all. I was keeping a huge secret that felt like it was eating me alive from the inside.
It has been over three years now but at the time that we went vegan I had not had my second anniversary of this event yet (is there a better word for than event?). At this time I was almost twenty-two and I went out bar hopping with a group of girls for my friends birthday. I was drugged at one of the bars and taken home by this man. There is a solid eight hours of my memory of the rest of that night that I cannot remember. Based on the way my body felt the next morning, the black bruises/cut on my leg, and the naked man I woke up next to it was pretty clear to me what had happened. I think you can use your own imagination to fill in the blanks of that eight hour gap.
I am not afraid to be honest here about what I did. I fled the scene and got back to where I was meant to be. And I denied it. Pretended the whole thing had not happened. I drove home and went to work that same day. There was a stretch of time where I was barely eating, I couldn’t sleep for more than a hour at a time and never more than five hours a night, and I drank a lot of alcohol. I did at some point start to tell people, but I did not give them any details just that it happened.
Eventually I starting doing trauma therapy because I was very aware that without getting help nothing was ever going to be good again and my life was going to continue falling apart more and more. Trauma therapy was truly awful but necessary. I was kind of getting back to being more ok after many long expensive months but I was still having panic attacks everyday and sometimes streaks of depression.
I moved two hours away to live with my husband (boyfriend at the time). I got something of a fresh start after that. I told my husband every single last detail I could think of about what happened to me. I still had terrible anxiety. We often stayed in and watched movies and he would walk the dog when it was dark out because I was terrified of nighttime.
It was on one of these movie nights in that we watched What the Health. We did our one week vegan challenge.
After a month of eating vegan I realized that I hadn’t had a panic attack in a while. When you have panic attacks everyday, going a month without one feels like an eternity. It had never occurred to me that eating well could have an effect on my anxiety and depression. I will not say that eating vegan is a cure for those things. You have to put in the work. I will say that for me going vegan saved my livelihood and the quality of my life.
It took me years of being miserable and trying not to let it show, and years of keeping a secret I never had to keep, and now I feel like I can actually see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I haven’t had a panic attack since I went vegan. My general health is noticeably improved. It feels good to not contribute to violence against other living beings as has been done to me. There are a billion other reasons I stay vegan but for me these three are my big ones.
Sometimes I find myself being a “pushy vegan” (the type that everybody including myself doesn’t like). When I catch myself being that person I wonder how I could communicate how much my life has changed for the better since I went vegan. It has occurred to me many times that telling my story is the only answer to that. So I have tried to tell this story many times now but haven’t been able to find the words. I do not think the way I have told my story here is the perfect way to tell it. I have a feeling there will be people who read this and think its a bunch of bull. But this is my story of how I went vegan and why I stay vegan.